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2021 Kia Stinger Review

The 2021 Kia Stinger ranks near the top of the luxury small car class. It has a premium and spacious interior, an easy-to-use infotainment system, good predicted reliability, balanced handling, and zesty engine performance.

Pros & Cons

  • Muscular engine lineup
  • Poised ride and handling
  • Roomy seating and cargo space
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Relatively low starting price
  • Subpar fuel economy ratings

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Kia Stinger's #4 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Small Cars category. Currently the Kia Stinger has a score of 8.5 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 30 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.5

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.9
Performance: 8.2
Interior: 7.7
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.8 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Kia Stinger?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Kia Stinger a Good Car?

The 2021 Kia Stinger is a great car. It has an upscale and stylish interior with an intuitive touch screen, comfy seats, ample headroom and legroom in both rows, and a large hatchback cargo area. It feels athletic and fun to drive on winding back roads, yet it still rides comfortably day to day over rough pavement. Two turbocharged engines are available, and both scoot the Stinger along briskly. Better still, the Stinger comes loaded with standard features, it rates highly for predicted reliability, and it’s backed by Kia’s excellent 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

There isn’t much to dislike about the Stinger, apart from its fuel economy. Most rivals are more fuel-efficient.

Why You Can Trust Us: 30 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 30 Kia Stinger reviews, as well as data points like reliability ratings and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible. This 2021 Stinger review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2018.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Kia Stinger?

The 2021 Kia Stinger is definitely worth consideration if you’re shopping for a luxury small car, especially if you’re bargain hunting. The Stinger offers a lot of performance, refinement, and practicality for its $33,090 starting price, which is one of the lowest in this class. That being said, this segment is packed with great luxury cars, from stalwarts like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class to newcomers like the Genesis G70, which is the Stinger’s corporate cousin. You may want to give these highly rated alternatives a look before you buy.

Find a 2021 Kia Stinger for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Kia Stinger: What's the Difference?

There aren’t any major differences between the 2020 and 2021 Stinger models.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Stinger »

Here are the key changes for the Kia Stinger over the last few years:

  • 2018: launched as an all-new vehicle
  • 2019: gained standard blind spot monitoring (previously optional) and an available surround-view parking camera system
  • 2020: number of trim levels reduced from six to four
  • 2021: no major changes

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Stinger, 2019 Stinger, and 2020 Stinger reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Kia Stinger Cost?

The 2021 Kia Stinger has a base MSRP of $33,090, which is one of the lowest starting prices in the luxury small car class (only the Acura ILX costs less). The Stinger’s price increases to $39,500 for a V6 model, and it tops out at around $52,600 for a fully loaded Stinger GT2.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

Kia Stinger Versus the Competition

Kia Stinger vs. Audi A5

The Kia Stinger and Audi A5 Sportback are both great options in the luxury small car segment. Both provide user-friendly infotainment systems, roomy seating space, large hatchback cargo areas, and many active safety features. The Stinger and A5 both ride and handle nicely as well, and they offer similar engine performance.

The biggest differences are value and interior quality. Stick with the Kia if you have a tighter budget. Its starting price is lower by around $8,700, and it’s backed by a much longer warranty. On the other hand, go with the Audi for an interior that can truly dazzle.

Compare the Stinger and A5 »

Kia Stinger vs. Genesis G70

The Genesis G70 has a lot in common with the Kia Stinger. In fact, both of these luxury cars are built at the same Hyundai factory in South Korea (Hyundai is the parent company of Kia and Genesis). You’ll find many of the same tech and safety features inside these cars, as well as the same engine under their hoods. There are some significant differences though.

The G70 has nicer cabin materials, and it’s available with a manual transmission, whereas the Stinger is automatic-only. The Genesis also feels a bit livelier and more agile when driven fast. The Stinger’s play is value and practicality. Its starting price is lower by about $3,000, and its hatchback provides far more cargo room than the G70’s trunk. Overall though, both are great cars.

Compare the Stinger and G70 »

Compare the Stinger, A5, and G70 »

Stinger Interior: Premium Meets Practical

Stinger Cargo Space

The Kia Stinger has 23.3 cubic feet of cargo space with its rear seats upright and 40.9 cubic feet with these seats folded. That’s far more cargo space than most luxury small cars offer. These dimensions are slightly larger than those of the Audi A5 Sportback but not quite as large as what you get with the Volkswagen Arteon. A power liftgate is available.

How Many People Does the Stinger Seat?

The 2021 Kia Stinger is a four-door hatchback with five seats. The front seats are well-padded and supportive, with generous headroom and legroom, even for taller occupants. The driving position is low and sporty but still comfortable for longer outings behind the wheel. The rear seats are unusually spacious for this segment. There’s enough room for three kids or two adults to sit comfortably, at least for shorter trips. The interior also does a nice job of muffling road and wind noise. Apart from the engine note, the cabin remains very quiet at cruising speeds.

Leather upholstery and heated front seats are standard. Ventilated front seats and heated rear seats are available.

Stinger and Child Car Seats

The Stinger has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The lower anchors are difficult to maneuver around, and they're set too deeply in the seats.

Stinger Interior Quality

The Stinger has a sleek interior with clean-cut styling, and it’s trimmed with mostly quality materials. There are numerous soft plastic surfaces, as well as metallic accents and upholstered areas. The fit-and-finish is easily on par with rivals like the Lexus IS and Cadillac CT4 though not quite as high-end as the Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series.

Stinger Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Kia’s UVO infotainment system comes standard and features a 7- or 8-inch touch screen. The system benefits from simple menus, sharp graphics, and additional buttons and knobs for the main audio and climate controls. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard as well. These apps allow users to integrate their smartphone interface with the car's touch screen. Overall, the Stinger’s infotainment system is user-friendly, but it’s occasionally slow to respond to inputs.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD Radio, satellite radio, six speakers, and a smartphone charging pad
  • Available infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, nine speakers, and a 15-speaker Harman Kardon sound system
  • Additional standard features: keyless entry, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Other available features: a sunroof

Read more about interior »

Stinger Performance: Highway Hero

Stinger Engine

The 2021 Kia Stinger is available in two basic configurations. The Stinger GT-Line has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 255 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The Stinger GT, GT1, and GT2 models have a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 engine with 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard with both engines; all-wheel drive is available.

The Stinger GT-Line makes a strong case for itself as a fun daily driver. The four-cylinder feels punchy at low rpm, it revs eagerly to higher rpm, and it can hustle the Stinger from zero to 60 mph in a brisk six seconds. The eight-speed transmission provides smooth and prompt gear changes, and it enables swift passing power on the highway.

It’s the V6 that transforms the Stinger from "sporty" to sports sedan though. It rockets the Stinger up to speed with authority – zero to 60 mph takes just under five seconds – and the exhaust emits a hearty growl under hard acceleration. Throttle response is quick, and passing power at higher speeds is immediate. Ultimately, the biggest drawback to these engines is their thirst for fuel.

Stinger Gas Mileage

The Stinger gets below-average fuel economy estimates for a luxury small car. The four-cylinder Stinger yields 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway with rear-wheel drive and 21/29 mpg with all-wheel drive. The V6 Stinger returns 17/25 mpg city/highway. Both models are less efficient than Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class models with similarly sized engines.

Stinger Ride and Handling

This Kia has great driving dynamics. The steering is responsive and nicely weighted, and it makes the Stinger an easy car to maneuver and park in tight areas. The well-tuned suspension has enough cushion to soak up rough pavement, yet it still keeps the Stinger feeling surefooted and agile on curvy roads. This is especially true of the GT1 and GT2 models, which feature adaptive shock absorbers that can quickly stiffen or soften to iron out bumps and dips.

Braking performance is hit or miss. The large Brembo brakes and performance-oriented tires found on the GT, GT1, and GT2 trims provide excellent grip and strong stopping power. The GT-Line’s smaller brakes don’t slow the Stinger down as confidently.

Read more about performance »

Stinger Reliability

Is the Kia Stinger Reliable?

The 2021 Kia Stinger has a good predicted reliability rating of four out of five.

Kia Stinger Warranty

Kia covers the Stinger with a five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Stinger Safety

Stinger Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Kia Stinger an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. The Stinger received four stars in the frontal crash test and five stars in the side crash and rollover tests.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not tested the 2021 Stinger, but the organization gave the nearly identical 2020 model excellent ratings across the board.

Stinger Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert

Available advanced safety features:

  • Front parking sensors
  • Forward collision warning
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Surround-view parking camera system
  • Head-up display
  • Driver drowsiness monitoring

Read more about safety »

Stinger Dimensions and Weight

The Kia Stinger is 15.9 feet long, and its curb weight ranges from 3,611 to 4,023 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Kia Stinger Built?

Kia builds the 2021 Stinger in South Korea.

Which Kia Stinger Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Kia Stinger is available in four trim levels: GT-Line, GT, GT1, and GT2. Each trim adds a few more standard features than the last, but the biggest difference is found under the hood. The Stinger GT-Line has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, while all the other trims have a twin-turbo V6. Choose a V6 model if you want a true sports sedan experience. Otherwise, the GT-Line should please with its ample power and numerous amenities.

Kia Stinger GT-Line

The Stinger GT-Line starts at $33,090. It’s equipped with a 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. Upgrading to all-wheel drive costs $2,200.

Standard features include a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD Radio, satellite radio, six speakers, a smartphone charging pad, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver's seat, a manually adjustable front passenger seat, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, and 18-inch wheels.

The only option for this trim level is a $2,900 Sun and Sound package, which includes an 8-inch touch screen, a navigation system, a 15-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, and a sunroof.

Kia Stinger GT

The Stinger GT starts at $39,590 for rear-wheel-drive models and $41,790 for all-wheel-drive models. This trim features a 365-horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine and adds a limited-slip rear differential, high-performance Brembo brakes, 19-inch wheels, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, nine speakers, and front parking sensors.

Kia Stinger GT1

The Stinger GT1 starts at $45,490 for rear-wheel-drive models and $47,690 for all-wheel-drive models. This trim gains an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, a 15-speaker stereo, ventilated front seats, a sunroof, an adaptive suspension, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, driver drowsiness monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Kia Stinger GT2

Lastly, the Stinger GT2 starts at $50,390 for rear-wheel-drive models and $52,590 for all-wheel-drive models. This trim adds a power liftgate, heated rear seats, a head-up display, a surround-view parking camera system, and adaptive pivoting headlights.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

See 2021 Kia Stinger specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Kia Stinger may not wear the badge of a luxury marque, but in a way it’s a better car for it. The Stinger boasts well-polished handling and a comfortable ride quality. It hustles up to speed quickly, and it has plenty of power on tap. The interior is upscale, spacious, and packed with standard features. The icing on the cake is the price. The Stinger costs thousands less than luxury-brand rivals, yet it gives up almost nothing in return. If you’re shopping for a luxury small car, the Stinger is a must-see.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Despite its mainstream brand name, the 2021 Kia Stinger offers the performance, features, and desirability to go up against the German sports-sedan status quo." -- Car and Driver
  • "In the Stinger, Kia has created a performance sedan with adept handling, a potent twin-turbocharged engine and all the luxury you might expect from a car in this class, but with a price tag that lays waste to just about every competitor, foreign and domestic. The Stinger is a stunning looker of a car, but it's also a pretty practical and sensible car." -- Autotrader (2020)
  • "In a world overrun by SUVs, a car like the … Kia Stinger is a welcome change of pace. While some might still think of Kia as a builder of quality family transportation, the Stinger is set to change hearts and minds, one thrilling mile after another." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
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