Amongst dads who drive, the nearly limitless vehicle choices out there mean that there’s pretty much a best-fit option for any and all preferences. For those looking for a balance of value, performance, and practicality in their family sports sedan, the 2022 Kia Stinger GT Elite tested this week at Daddy’s Digest might be right up your alley. In a sea of vanilla crossover sport utilities and minivans, this four-door from South Korea is refreshed for this year and seeks to punch well above its weight in everything it does.
Although it starts at a not-so-low $50,495 Canadian and tops out at $53,295 as-tested for the optional GT Elite Suede Package, the Kia Stinger is packed full of features and has a specification sheet that aims for European and Japanese cars that might sticker for $10,000 to $20,000 more. For your money, you get bold styling and a roofline that might conjure up comparisons to the Audi A7 or Tesla Model S, and thankfully, the Stinger is more than just a pretty face.
The base GT Limited Stinger gets leather seats, Harman Kardon premium audio, a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen with navigation, wireless phone charging, and a sunroof. The GT Elite is $52,995 and adds blind-spot camera monitoring, a heads-up display, and premium Nappa leather seats. The Suede Package is $300 extra above the GT Elite and gets suede seat inserts and dashboard trim, as well as red accent stitching and red seatbelts.
With a 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine under the hood making 368 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, there is more than something to be said about the available power on tap. Response is instant as soon as you hit the throttle, and the exhaust note is more than satisfying as the sedan kicks up to breakneck speeds. Very few sporty sedans do better than this; the BMW M340i xDrive could be described as better, but starts at over $66,000 and crosses over the $72,000 mark before it’s similarly equipped as the Kia.
An eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is the only gearbox available, and all Canadian Stingers come standard with all-wheel drive. For 2022, a limited-slip rear differential is added for the uplevel GT Elite trim and is a phenomenal piece in terms of increasing traction and control while turning under hard throttle. Americans have the choice of a smaller 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, as well as either rear or all-wheel drive, but unlike Canada, they cannot get the limited-slip differential with all-wheel drive.
While the engine and transmission work together to give the Kia a high level of refined performance, fuel economy doesn’t do so hot. Canadian consumption ratings are pegged at 13.7 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 9.6 litres per 100 kilometres on the highway (17 and 24 miles per US gallon, respectively), and both figures are based on premium fuel use. By comparison, the BMW M340i xDrive will easily use 20 percent less gas.
In general, driving dynamics are a pretty strong suit on the Kia Stinger, and for regular road driving, the steering and suspension are precise and responsive and don’t sacrifice comfort on longer trips. Large Brembo brakes provide plenty of stopping power, but compared against its peers, however, the handling does get a little more easily flustered when cornering on bumpier roads. Like other Kia products in general, South Korean (and even Japanese) automakers still aren’t fully there when it comes to good shock and strut damper tuning like the Europeans.
For dad and family duty, there’s plenty of space for five, although the rear seat hip and shoulder room are slightly narrower than that of mainstream midsize sedans like the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Rear-facing child seats are easily installed with ISOFIX/LATCH anchors that have a spring-loaded cover, and the ample rear legroom means that front passengers don’t have to sacrifice their own comfortable seating position very much at all. Rear cargo space features a long trunk and more than enough space for daily use, and the hatchback format pairs with a power liftgate to make the Stinger much more practical than a regular sedan.
Boasting both function and form, the interior of the 2022 Stinger is quite a nice place to spend time in, although the design and materials of more expensive Japanese and German competitors will edge out the sporty Kia. The Suede Package’s suede dashboard and red accent stitching give an extra air of classiness to the cabin, and thankfully, all controls are placed ergonomically using plenty of distraction-free hard buttons. The 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen features an updated interface that’s relatively intuitive, and there's also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone pairing capability. The front seats are power-adjustable, and for the driver, there are memory settings and a ton of adjustability.
Aside from blind-spot and 360-degree camera systems that are available only on the GT Elite, all trim levels of the Kia Stinger get a full safety suite of driver assists. These features include forward collision warning with automatic braking, blind-spot collision avoidance steering assist, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and a rear cross-traffic alert warning system. There’s also Kia’s UVO Intelligence remote services, which add to your smartphone various functions, including remote locking/unlocking, remote engine start, and the ability to view vehicle status.
With its exterior refresh and incremental updates for this year, the 2022 Kia Stinger GT Elite doesn’t stray too far from what’s been a very good formula. It’s a fun four-door that competes at a much higher level than its price suggests, and while things like interior materials and handling when pushed to the limit don’t beat out its rivals, buyers will have to shell out a boatload of extra money in order to do better. Combined with its sharp good looks and delightful engine, it does considerably better than the likes of the Infiniti Q50 and Acura TLX but isn’t as good as the (much pricier) BMW M340i xDrive. When ranked in between that kind of company, we at Daddy’s Digest have to give a big round of applause to Kia.
Jerry Vo cut his teeth in writing as an automotive journalist and is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Having reviewed cars since 2015, he takes pride in providing relevant and technically savvy consumer advice, and is extending that over into reviews in various other categories at Daddy's Digest. He is a proud dad of one and is letting the wonderful journey of parenthood teach him new things every day.