When it was introduced in 2017, the KIA Stinger sports sedan won the hearts of many Asian enthusiasts. Everything felt right about the car, except for one annoying detail: the base engine was considerably underpowered and took away much of the driving experience.
Thankfully, half a decade later, KIA listened to the market feedback and brought a new generation Stinger to life with the most important upgrade out there: a proper 2.5-liter engine to move the well-built chassis around with grace.
Not killed, but revamped
Rumored to be taken off the KIA lineup in 2020, the Stinger got another chance at life, coming back in the spotlight with a redrawn body, improved interior and a more powerful drivetrain. The best part is, all these changes haven’t risen the MSRP above $40,000 which is surprising to say the least.
Now that the 255-hp 2-liter turbo is out of the way, the new 2.5 liter turbocharged inline-4 unit brings a whopping 300hp. The 45 hp power hike is a pleasant surprise, especially since the more expensive V6 option only gets 3hp. The GT-Line 4-pot makes use of 311 lb-ft of torque to get the car sprinting. In exchange, the engine demands a considerable amount of fuel, with 22/32/25 MPG (city/highway/mixed) EPA estimates.
The GT-Line sedan gets bigger vents and a meaner looking front bumper, leading to a sports-oriented fascia. The rear is now plastered with a full-width taillight while quad-exhaust tips complete the picture. More colorways have been introduced to the lineup, all going well with the black accents on the grille, mirrors and door dots. The GT-Line now benefits from the larger 18-inch wheels, inherited from the full-blown GT model which is now sporting 19¨ rims.
In terms of cabin styling, options of red, beige and black leather are available. Sadly, the Nappa leather treatment is only available for the GT model. Still, the perforated leather seats featuring the GT-Line logo stitched to the headrest make for a pretty sight when getting into the car. The central touchscreen is larger – 10.1 inches – compared to previous generation and feels easier to read.
How’s the new engine doing?
Yes, there’s a considerable increase in power output thanks to the extra 0.5-liters of displacement and a revised turbocharging system. But how does the whole package act and feel when driving the 2022 KIA Stinger GT-Line? In short, heartwarmingly nice.
It gets from 0 to 60 mph half a second faster than the old 2-liter (4.7s vs 5.2s) and thanks to the considerable boost in torque, passing cars doesn’t break a sweat. Midrange revs let the quad exhausts throw out a deep grunt while the car moves quickly around town roads. Things aren’t as pretty in the low-end spectrum, as the engine seems to work considerably to get the speed up to 60 due to a lack of torque.
The Stinger comes with just the 8-speed automatic gearbox in all its trims. It does a decent job moving through gears and doesn’t respond inadequately most of the time. In sport mode, the transmission lets the engine rev higher but sometimes tends to hang the revs. Thankfully, there’s a quick fix for that; take control of the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel and command the ratios all by yourself.
Steering is where the new Stinger truly shines. The electronically-assisted power steering is weighted perfectly and responds quickly to input. It allows the road to send feedback to the driver and, coupled with a stiff suspension that asks to be pushed to the limit, makes the Stinger a worthy sports steed. There is no adaptive damper setup available, as KIA reserved it for the GT bigger brother. This means some body roll is to be expected, yet nowhere near enough to cut the fun out of the GT-Line.
Conclusion: It’s not just the cheapest Stinger
While the big burly GT brother may have plenty more power and looks, it doesn’t throw the GT-Line trim into the shades. Thanks to the long awaited, adequately powered new engine, the 2022 KIA GT-Line can sprint around corners and please the driver when pushed to the limited.
Add the sweet driving experience to the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating and NHTSA 5 Star rating and you’ve got a great sports sedan for under $40k when fully equipped.