Date of testing: 2022 The Kia Stinger GT AWD Maintains Its Position

A car can undergo a mid-cycle refresh and be completely redesigned at other times. New engines, new bodywork, and a new interior: this is the Overhaulin' treatment in its fullest sense. When this occurs, it is frequently due to the fact that the original product was subpar enough to warrant a quick redo. The other end of the spectrum is that when a company has nailed it in the first place, a car may receive a steady-as-she-goes refresh that brings minor updates to an otherwise appealing package. The Kia Stinger, which will debut in 2022, falls squarely into the second category.

We were so taken with the Stinger when it was first introduced in 2018 that we drove one for 40,000 miles and included it in our 2019 10Best list, along with its upmarket Genesis cousin, the G70. It was the base engine of the Stinger (and, for that matter, the G70) that we found to be the most disappointing aspect of the vehicle. It produced 255 horsepower and was a real disappointment. Kia has rectified the situation: the 2.5-liter turbo-four engine will be the new standard engine for 2022 models, and it will power a variety of Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis vehicles. As a result, it produces 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, making it a more appropriate engine to match the Stinger's feisty attitude. We say "should" because we haven't put that one through its paces yet. Instead, we followed the advice we'd give to anyone looking to purchase a Stinger, which is to start with the V-6.

The optional twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6 in the big Kia is one of the sweeter engines of its kind, smooth and powerful from idle to redline and seemingly endlessly powerful. That's only a slight exaggeration; the vehicle's 376 pound-feet of torque is available at 1300 rpm and remains at that level until 4500 rpm. Three horses more than last year, the V-6's 368 horsepower represents a slight increase over the previous year's output. That is something you will not notice. However, you will notice the new active exhaust system, which gives the Stinger a throatier growl when you apply the throttle and makes shifting the eight-speed automatic transmission with the paddles mounted on the steering wheel more rewarding. The addition of some more feedback, as well as an increased sense of drama and participation, was something else on our wish list. The new soundtrack undoubtedly contributes to this.

As for the interior, you'd almost have to park an older Stinger next to a new one in order to notice the differences, much like you'd scrutinize comic-page cartoons after arguing about the latest "Family Circus" episode. With the 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, which is an improvement over the previous 8.0-inch screen, there is also the option to listen to prerecorded sounds of a fireplace or, strangely, a crowded restaurant, which is a welcome improvement over the previous 8.0-inch screen. There's also new stitching on the seats, as well as some new trim pieces to enjoy. However, this is largely the same attractive and well-executed cabin that we praised at the Stinger's introduction.

The exterior of the 2022 model has been subtly updated with new headlights and taillights, as well as new wheel designs. The most noticeable difference, however, is the new Kia badge, which looks like something a goth kid would have sprayed on the wall of an abandoned sewer substation during a rave in 1997, according to the manufacturer. That is, of course, meant as a high compliment on our part.

While the 2022 Stinger's uncorked exhaust makes it sound like it's going much faster than it actually is, our test results show that its gusto is merely mental theater, with acceleration figures that are identical to those of a similar all-wheel-drive GT we tested in 2018. The new car reached 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, which was the same time as the previous version, and completed a quarter-mile in 13.1 seconds at 107 mph, which was the same time as the previous version but with a 1-mph slower trap speed. The vehicle's skidpad grip, on the other hand, was a less-than-impressive 0.85 g. That's largely due to the Michelin Primacy Tour A/S all-season tires on our test car; the previous car, which was equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires, had 0.91 g of stick on the road. All-season tires also contributed to a lengthy 187-foot stop from 70 mph, despite the Stinger GT's Brembo brakes with four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers and four-piston rear discs. The old car came to a complete stop from that speed in 164 feet, but at least fade wasn't an issue this time around, unlike our previous Lightning Lap experience in 2018. The new all-wheel-drive Stinger does not have a drift mode, in contrast to the latest G70 and the previous Stinger GTS. If you're looking to drift, the rear-drive Stingers will do the job just fine.

The base price of $37,135 for the rear-drive 2.5T GT-Line represents a significant increase over the previous year's $34,135 starting price. But at the very least, you get a significant increase in horsepower for your additional investment. Considering that the base Stinger GT is no longer available for $40,635, stepping up to the V-6 requires at least $44,735 for the GT1 trim—which is actually a discount from last year's GT1, which cost $46,535. The most expensive vehicle in the lineup is a V-6 in AWD GT2 trim, which costs $54,535. To that model, you can now add the new $1295 Scorpion package, which blacks out some trim and the exhaust tips, as well as model-specific 19-inch wheels and carbon-fiber interior accents, to customize it even further. Our acquaintance has modified his 2019 GT2 in a similar manner, which suggests that Kia is paying attention to its own customization scene. We'll know for sure if they follow in his footsteps and include optional methanol injection as well as KDM (Korean domestic market) badges on their vehicles.

The introduction of some sort of 500-hp monster Stinger (code name: Super Scorpion) would've been fantastic, but for the most part, we're relieved that Kia is keeping their large rear-drive hatchback in production at all. Kia sells approximately 10,000 Stingers per year, which makes it financially viable but not something you'll see on a daily basis. More than its sales numbers would suggest, this is still an important car for Kia, in part because it has a strong community surrounding it, complete with an aftermarket and forums where owners brag about their quarter-mile times and other achievements. The Stinger is something that only those in the know are aware of. However, please allow us to reiterate our message.

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