2020 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD First Test: Buy This Killer Sport Sedan Before It’s Too Late

Little has changed about the Kia Stinger in the years since its launch in 2017, and the 2020 model is no exception.

We auto enthusiasts are a fickle bunch. We demand manual transmissions or rear-wheel-drive platforms (or both) but then don't buy them. Pontiac G8? Dead. Chevrolet SS? Gone. Ford Fiesta ST? See ya. It seems like every time an automaker designs and builds a car with us in mind, it ends up getting unceremoniously dumped after a truncated production run. Some time spent with the 2020 Kia Stinger GT AWD reminded me that we'd be remiss if we let that fate befall Kia's fantastic sport sedan.

Little has changed about the Kia Stinger in the years since its launch in 2017, and the 2020 model is no exception. The premium trim has been eliminated and the new GT-Line base trim added, which gives all Stingers, regardless of engine package, the same basic exterior trim. Standard on the Stinger is a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 making 255 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Our near-loaded Stinger GT2 AWD model sports the optional 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6, which produces 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. No matter the engine choice, every Stinger comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive, as found on our tester, is a $2,200 option.

How Fast Is the Kia Stinger?

One would expect all-wheel drive to help the Stinger's performance numbers, but while quick, our handsome HiChroma Red Stinger GT tester proved to be slower than the rear-drive Stinger GTs we've tested. Our tester accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and on through the quarter mile in 13.6 seconds at 104.8 mph. The quickest rear-wheel-drive Stinger GT we've ever tested ran to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and through the quarter mile in 13.1 seconds at 106.9 mph.

Our all-wheel-drive Stinger didn't perform as well on the skidpad or figure eight, either. It averaged 0.90 g of lateral acceleration on the skidpad and ran a 25.2-second figure eight while averaging 0.77 g. Respectable numbers, but the same rear-drive Stinger GT quoted above pulled 0.93 g on the skidpad and lapped the figure eight in 24.8 seconds at 0.79 g. One advantage our all-wheel-drive tester did have was in braking; it needed just 104 feet for our 60-0 mph test, while the rear-driver needed 110 feet.

How Does the Kia Stinger Drive in the Real World?

Outside the confines of the test track and out in the real world the Stinger GT AWD is a treat to drive. Its twin-turbo V-6 has a muted but pleasing exhaust note, and, more important, more than enough power to throw you back hard into your seat. The Kia's eight-speed auto shifts smoothly, but when really pushing the Stinger I found it far too conservative—both upshifting early and downshifting late. Manual mode helps a ton here.

The Stinger is most in its element when on a good winding road, where it feels balanced, eager to tackle the next bend, and most important, fun. Its steering is both quick and talkative, and the Kia's chassis is composed and eager to rotate. Unfortunately, unlike the rear-drive version, the all-wheel-drive Stinger doesn't quite hold up the same way when truly pushed hard. The Stinger's weather-focused all-wheel-drive system doesn't do any favors for the car's turn-in behavior, which devolves into heavy understeer. Enter a corner hard, and the car's two ends fight each other, the front scrubbing and pushing while the rear end wants to rotate. A little less steering and a little more throttle input gets the rear-drive Stinger turning quicker, but that trick just doesn't work on this all-wheel-drive model. The Stinger GTS offers a more performance-oriented all-wheel-drive system with a drift mode, but we haven't had the opportunity to test this model.

How Much Is the Kia Stinger?

Prices for the 2020 Kia Stinger start at $34,125 for a rear-drive four-cylinder Stinger GT-Line; next up the ladder is the V-6-powered Stinger GT, which stickers for $40,535—neither an insignificant amount nor truly a great expense for the amount of car you get for your money. The next step up, the Stinger GT1, costs $46,435 and adds an upgraded Uvo infotainment system and features like a sunroof and a premium audio system. Our fully loaded Stinger GT2 tester—the most luxury-oriented trim in the lineup—started at $53,535 and stickered for $54,180. Although enthusiasts at the higher end of that pricing spectrum will be tempted by German metal out of Ingolstadt, Munich, or Stuttgart, truth be told, at the Stinger GT's price point, there are few cars that can truly compete with this smile-inducing ride. Kia sold just 13,884 Stingers last year and 16,806 the year before, and although the brand has never publicly hinted at dropping the Stinger, we'd be remiss if we let what happened to cars like the Chevy SS happen to this rear-drive sport sedan.


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Automotive Magazine: 2020 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD First Test: Buy This Killer Sport Sedan Before It’s Too Late
2020 Kia Stinger GT2 AWD First Test: Buy This Killer Sport Sedan Before It’s Too Late
Little has changed about the Kia Stinger in the years since its launch in 2017, and the 2020 model is no exception.
Automotive Magazine
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