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Not the Odd Couple You Might Expect: Dodge Charger vs. Kia Stinger


Are you looking for more horsepower or more luxury features for less? Here’s a look at the 2021 Dodge Charger against the 2021 Kia Stinger.

American Muscle or South Korean Refinement

You may find it unusual to compare these two cars. After all, one is a modern interpretation of an American muscle car, while the other is Kia’s interpretation of a German car. However, they have more in common than you might think. Let’s compare these sports sedans and see whether the Dodge Charger or the Kia Stinger are the car for you.

Sizes and Exterior Designs

2021 Dodge Charger - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
2021 Dodge Charger - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

The Dodge Charger is a bigger car than the Kia Stinger in all dimensions. The Charger is about eight inches longer, one inch wider, and three inches taller than the Stinger. That means the Dodge is a bit more family-friendly with a bigger back seat, which we’ll get more into shortly, but it also means the Stinger is more maneuverable partly because of its smaller footprint and lighter weight.

2021 Kia Stinger - kiamedia.com
2021 Kia Stinger - kiamedia.com

As for styling, the Charger has an imposing muscle car presence, while the Stinger has a more refined European appearance. The styling of each communicates the performance these cars deliver, though in different ways. The Charger is brasher and the Stinger is more sophisticated. Which one looks better depends on your tastes (let’s call it a draw).

Similar Interior Space, But the Stinger Gives More

Despite the Charger being larger on the outside, these two cars’ interior volumes are very similar. The Stinger has more cargo space thanks to its liftback design, but the Charger has four more inches of rear seat legroom. Front seat passenger space is very similar, and these both make good family cars able to seat up to four people comfortably. Things get tight in both when you attempt to insert a third passenger in the back seat.

When it comes to interior design, the Stinger is more modern. The materials’ quality is better, and the seats are more comfortable in the Kia, consistent with its European aspirations. The Charger’s interior design isn’t terrible, but it’s a bit uninspired and dated compared to the Stinger.

Both cars benefit from excellent, user-friendly infotainment systems, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. The Stinger is more generous with standard driver assistance technology, including blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and lane-change assist. The Charger comes standard with rear parking sensors and not much else in terms of modern safety tech. They both come standard with a backup camera.

Fun Performance in Either Car

The Stinger has two available engines and the Charger has four. Both come standard with rear-wheel drive. The Charger is available with all-wheel drive when equipped with the base V6, while the Stinger has AWD available on every trim.

Kia Stinger Engines

2021 Kia Stinger twin-turbo V6 - kiamedia.com
2021 Kia Stinger twin-turbo V6 - kiamedia.com

The base engine is a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four that develops 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It delivers 22 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg in combined driving in the rear-wheel drive models. You can expect 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined in all-wheel-drive models.

The Stinger’s optional engine is a 3.3L twin-turbo V6 that’s good for 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. With the larger, more powerful engine, fuel economy drops to 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway/20 mpg combined for either drivetrain configuration.

Dodge Charger Engines

2021 Dodge Charger 3.6L V6 - carsforsale.com
2021 Dodge Charger 3.6L V6 - carsforsale.com

The base powerplant is a 3.6L V6 that produces 300 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque. The V6 earns an EPA rating of 19 mpg city/30 mpg highway/23 mpg combined (RWD), and 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway/21 mpg combined (AWD).

The Cars of the Cars Movie

The next step up is a 5.7L HEMI V8 with 370 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy comes in at 16 mpg city/25 mpg highway/19 mpg combined. Beyond that is another normally-aspirated 6.4L HEMI V8 that develops 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is 15 mpg city/25 mpg highway/18 mpg combined.

The top is a 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8 that produces an astonishing 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is the lowest of the bunch at 13 mpg city/22 mpg highway/16 mpg combined.

2021 Dodge Charger HEMI V8 - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com
2021 Dodge Charger HEMI V8 - media.stellantisnorthamerica.com

As you step up through the more powerful engines, the prices go up at the same time. We didn’t find it necessary to achieve a satisfying blend of good performance and respectable fuel economy. So, no matter which model you choose between these cars, you’re getting something that’s more fun to drive than your average sedan.

The Charger outpaces the Stinger because of the higher-performance V8 engines available. The twin-turbo V6 in the Stinger GT is comparable to the 5.7L HEMI V8 in the Charger R/T, but there’s no variant of the Stinger that can touch the Charger R/T Scat Pack or the Charger SRT Hellcat in terms of horsepower and torque.

Unlike the Charger, AWD is available on every trim of the Stinger. If you want a Charger with AWD, you must settle for the base V6, though it would be great for the Charger were available in AWD one of the Charger’s V8 engines.

Pricing Differences Between the Charger and Stinger

2021 Dodge Charger - dodge.com
2021 Dodge Charger - dodge.com

The base 2021 Kia Stinger with the 255 horsepower four-cylinder engine starts at $33,090. Upgrading to the Stinger Premium with the base engine adds more features and starts at $40,635 for RWD or $41,390 for AWD. There are multiple trims adding more equipment to improve both performance and luxury, going all the way up to the GT2 model, which starts at $51,435 for RWD or $53,635 for AWD.

2021 Kia Stinger twin-turbo V6 - kiamedia.com
2021 Kia Stinger twin-turbo V6 - kiamedia.com

The Charger used to have a notoriously long list of different trims available, but the lineup has been simplified a bit. The base Charger SXT with the 292hp V6 starts at $29,995, and upgrading to AWD will cost $33,595. The GT trim upgrades the V6 to 300hp and adds a cool appearance package starting at $31,995. The most affordable V8 model is the R/T, which starts at $36,995 and packs the 370 horsepower 5.7L V8. Next up is the R/T Scat Pack with the 485 horsepower 6.4L V8, which starts at $41,670. Finally, there’s the mighty SRT Hellcat with a stunning 707 horsepower developed by its supercharged 6.2L V8, and it starts at $69,995.

Raw Power or More Bang for Your Buck?

media.stellantisnorthamerica.com | kiamedia.com
media.stellantisnorthamerica.com | kiamedia.com

If your top priority is getting the most horsepower for your money, then you’ll love the value proposition in the 2021 Dodge Charger. However, if you want a more sophisticated sports sedan, then the more modern Kia Stinger may be more satisfying. The Stinger is more luxury-oriented and offers more dynamic handling than the Charger, making it an excellent budget-friendly alternative to a luxury European brand’s sports sedan. That said, it’s tough to beat a V8-powered Charger when it comes to raucous burnouts and raw, straight-line performance.

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Art Michalik

Art Michalik brings a career full of experience in the automotive industry to his writing. He has guided marketing at two major tire companies, represented some of the biggest names in the automotive aftermarket at an ad agency, built the enthusiast social media presence at a major online retailer and even managed one of the most famous racing schools in the world.

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