2022 Kia Stinger delivers performance value in a comfortable package

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One of the best practical daily-driver options on the market for an enthusiast isn’t selling.

Kia sold just 13,517 Stingers in the U.S. in 2021, down 20% from the model’s peak sales of 16,806 in 2018 (which was its first year on the market). Despite the refresh for 2022, the rear-wheel-drive hatchback’s sales are down 13% year-over-year.

With a tweaked exterior with updated lighting elements, larger touchscreen, more standard safety equipment, and more power, the Stinger is more compelling than ever.

Kia sent me a (nearly) base 2022 Stinger GT-Line painted in gorgeous Ascot Green to determine if the update is a compelling proposition. Spoiler: The answer is yes.

A new 2.5-liter turbo-4 spins out 300 hp

Power to the people

The biggest change for 2022 is what you can’t see. Pop the hood and the base Stinger now features a 2.5-liter turbo-4 spinning out 300 hp and 311 lb-ft, which is an increase of 45 hp and 51 lb-ft over the outgoing 2.0-liter turbo-4.

Power still goes to the rear wheels—all-wheel drive is an option—through an 8-speed automatic transmission that snaps off clean shifts. Kia said the new turbo-4 pushes the Stinger from 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds (down from 5.9 seconds), and my butt dyno said that feels about right.

The available 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 with an uprated 368 hp and 376 hp will really lay on the power, but the new turbo-4 provides plenty for day-to-day driving.

Base 2022 Kia Stingers ride on new 18-inch wheels

Base 2022 Kia Stingers ride on new 18-inch wheels

The turbo-4 feels lighter up front than V-6 models and rear-wheel drive allows for some frisky movements around corners. The steering is well weighted even in Comfort mode. The larger turbo-4 features terrific throttle response, but toggle the powertrain to Sport mode and the throttle really wakes up as the transmission kicks down a gear or two. Annoyingly, Sport mode locks out top gear and has the powertrain at about 2,300 rpm on the highway instead of a more relaxed, and efficient, 1,800 rpm. Quicker response cost me at the pump.

The suspension is well sorted on the street with controlled body roll. Even on Minnesota’s broken and pockmarked roads it’s hard to upset the Stinger. The longer wheelbase over its Genesis G70 cousin pays dividends in ride comfort, though the tuning of the Kia is a bit softer.

Every 2022 Kia Stinger features a 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system

Every 2022 Kia Stinger features a 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system

More screen

Inside, the Stinger carries over lovely analog gauges that could’ve been ripped from an Audi. My GT-Line tester’s flat-bottom steering wheel is thicker than the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s, but its perfect size provides a great driving position. The front buckets with thick bolsters are comfortable and hug in all the right places.

But it’s the new 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment screen replacing the 7.0-inch screen that grabs the eyes. Its easy-to-use interface remains, but so does its lack of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto despite a wireless smartphone charging pad.

Long and lean, the Stinger has the right proportions in the right places

Long and lean, the Stinger has the right proportions in the right places

Long and lean, the Stinger has the right proportions in the right places

Long and lean, the Stinger has the right proportions in the right places

Long and lean, the Stinger has the right proportions in the right places

Long and lean, the Stinger has the right proportions in the right places

Spotting the refreshed Stinger will take a keen eye. The standard LED lightning has been tweaked and the standard 18-inch wheels feature a new design along with widened exhaust finishers. But the rear-wheel drive proportions, functional duct work, and flared body panels all remain the same.

2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD

2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line RWD

Safety and value

The refresh also brings more standard safety features including automatic emergency braking, active lane control, automatic high beams, and blind-spot monitors, along with adaptive cruise control and rear parking sensors.

With a starting price of $37,135 including $1,045 destination, the 2022 Stinger costs $3,000 more than last year’s less powerful model. My tester featured the $2,300 Sun and Sound package, which added a 720-watt Harmon Kardon 15-speaker sound system, a sunroof, and 8-way power front passenger seat with 2-way lumbar support. At $39,715 it felt like a steal in today’s market.

The Genesis G70 might be a bit more compact and sportier, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class might be a bit classier and glitzier, and the Alfa Giulia might be a bit sharper, but the Stinger feels like a near perfect compromise in base form with its larger turbo-4 and comfortable interior.

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