Not at all. The reason it stayed cheap in the US was marketing. The 2022 has been the best selling SIG in Europe. The French chose it for the entire domestic security force. (They take security seriously, I witnessed it) Meantime in the US the company tried to sell other models. SIG is a heavyweight advertiser but the 2022 was rarely seen in the glossy magazine ads. Anyway it has caught up on its own and the word of mouth, I guess. As far as quality, and this is also first hand, it is totally equal to anything in P Series. The only meaningful difference is the polymer frame, and (maybe) the removable pin instead of the disassembly lever.
I think it's my favorite Sig, I've shot most of the models an this one feels the best to me. I got mine on sale for $400 and it came with the Sig rail mounted laser($159). This was when it first came out. Now they are $500-600 at LGS.
As far as replacing the guide rod. I really don't like mods that mess with the internals of the gun. Feel it could throw off the timing balance and weight of the gun once you start customizing like that.