The Kia Sorento is a mid-size SUV produced by Kia in 2002. This SUV has 20 model years in its lineup from the 2003 model till present.
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Just like it is with every vehicle, not all the 20 Kia Sorento models provide enjoyable rides. Whereas some are seriously dreadful, like the 2011 model, quite a few others like the 2010 version have proven to be highly remarkable.
So, in this article, we present the best and worst Kia Sorento models with a view to aiding you in your buying decision.
Check also: 0-60 MPH times for all Kia models.
The Best and Worst Years for Kia Sorento Are:
The 2010 and the 2020 the Kia Sorento models have remained the best so far. On the other hand, you’d love to avoid the 2011, 2014, 2013, 2016, 2015, 2012, 2018, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008 and the 2006 models.
What Kia Sorento Years Are the Most Reliable?
The Kia Sorento is one of the few vehicles that have received loads of complaints on almost all of its models. But it has two models that you can rely on.
Here are the two Kia Sorento models that are the most reliable:
1. 2010 Kia Sorento
2010 was a great year for Kia, as it saw a significant hike in the sales of the Sorento. Unlike in 2009 where the brand sold only about 24,460 Sorento units in the US, the SUV had a staggering 108,984 sales in 2010, marking over 500% increase in sales.
Aside from sales, the 2010 Kia Sorento has also emerged as the best so far amongst its peers.
In a market where almost all Kia Sorento models have hundreds of complaints on different components, the 2010 has the fewest; just 4 mild complaints on Car Complaints as of the time of writing this review.
The 2010 Kia Sorento is available either in 2WD or 4WD systems. It comes with a slightly longer body to look more spacious, modern, and sporty. So, all the seven occupants it’s designed for will enjoy enough legroom, headroom, and shoulder room.
2. 2020 Kia Sorento
The 2020 Kia Sorento is another model year you can rely on. It offers high-end interior materials and user-friendly infotainment system while maintaining an affordable cost price. No wonder it emerges as US News’ winner of the best 3-row SUV for the money.
Mind you, the 2020 Kia Sorento has some few issues with its drivetrain, which a few owners have complained about.
You need to note that the transmission of this model sometimes shifts erratically, most especially when it’s cold. But it performs just normal after you’ve driven it for a few minutes.
You might find this quite uncool for the ride, but when compared with other Sorento models, you’ll agree that the 2020 edition offers a high level of satisfaction.
Moreover, this SUV has a reliability rating of 86/100 from J.D. Power, and other critics like Edmunds and KBB have also rated it excellent.
This is amazing considering the low price point for the Sorento models.
What Kia Sorento Years Should You Avoid?
Here are the Kia Sorento models you should avoid:
1. 2011 Kia Sorento
Kia experienced the highest number of sales of the Kia Sorento in 2011. While the second generation Sorento models sold far more than the first in the United States, 2011 was a most remarkable year.
However, the 2011 Kia Sorento is almost an apology of a ride. Older Sorento models have maintained a truck-like body-on-frame model until Kia decided to modify the 2011 model.
So, this model comes with a unibody construction, giving the Sorento a more comfortable ride and better fuel economy. Compare the Kia Sorento with 4 other cheap mid-size SUVs with the best gas mileage here.
However, the change in body construction brought about a series of issues with the SUV. In fact, the 2011 Kia Sorento has remained the worst Sorento model ever.
On Car Complaints portal, this model has received 278 complaints on its body construction, 340 on its engine, 118 on its exterior lights, 57 on the transmission, and 220 negative reports on its electrical system.
These are aside from the 214 complaints it has received on its drivetrain, 107 on the brake, 52 on the suspension, and tens of negative reports on other components.
There have been loads of complaints on the vehicle stalling unnecessarily, the engine leaking oil, and inability to start the vehicle.
Aside from the brake, other prominent issue with this model is the inability to open the driver’s side door from the outside.
It’s either the door latch is defective or the change of body design has resulted in some form of imbalance in the door assemblage.
Moreover, the paint of this vehicle seems to be weak as well. A number of owners have also complained of how the body paints peel off after using the vehicle for a short while.
There are just loads of issues with the 2011 Kia Sorento. Note that the vehicle also suffers from defective headlights, jerking transmission, and faulty rear brake.
2. 2014 Kia Sorento
The 2014 Kia Sorento is also labeled with a series of faulty components, and owners have reported the ugly experiences they’ve had with the SUV.
As of the time of writing this review, the 2014 Kia Sorento has received 339 complaints on the engine, 136 on its electrical components, 91 on the exterior lights, 59 on its brake, and 53 on the drivetrain.
This shows that this model is also not one to recommend.
While a few owners have complained about the vehicle stalling unnecessarily, just like it is with the 2011 version, the 2014 Kia Sorento has its own unique problem.
The engine seems to be a weak one, as it blows and requires a replacement just within an average of 74,200 miles, as reported by various owners. You might want to check how long Kia Sorentos last here.
Other prominent Kia Sorento issues like peeling body paint, faulty driver side door latch, and the defective headlights system are also very common with the 2014 Kia Sorento.
3. 2013 Kia Sorento
The 2013 Kia Sorento didn’t come with any remarkable feats on the engine either. In fact, it has more complaints on the engine than the 2014 and the 2011 models.
For the numbers, this model has a total of 522 complaints on the engine alone (as of the time of writing this), with tens of negative reports on its other components.
There is no new issue to write about on the engine of the 2013 Kia Sorento, aside from the notable engine stalling and total breakdown issue.
No impressive feedback on the exterior lighting either, as it has 61 negative reports from users and owners. Unless you hardly drive at night, you’d also love to avoid driving a vehicle with defective headlights.
In case you might want to ask, the flaking body paint is also a common problem with the 2013 Kia Sorento.
4. 2016 Kia Sorento
The 2016 is a more recent Sorento model than several others. So, it is expected to come with noticeable improvements, especially on the engine performance.
The truth is, the 2016 Kia Sorento comes with a high level of disappointment, just like its predecessors. Of course, it takes over all the issues owners have complained about in the older Sorento models.
As of the time of writing this review, this model has received 447 complaints on its engine alone on Car Complaints.
Not only that, even the flickering headlights and the flaking body paint still remain prevalent in the 2016 Kia Sorento.
Also, at an average of 29,944 miles, several owners have complained about the vehicle making a knocking noise when accelerating.
That shows that the fuel ignites wrongly, which is one of the reasons that hasten the damage of the vehicle’s engine.
Aside from the numerous negative feedbacks from users, J.D. Power has also only rated the 2016 Kia Sorento a little above average. The vehicle scores just 3.5/5 on reliability.
5. 2012 Kia Sorento
Just like all other second-generation Kia Sorento models, the 2012 Kia Sorento is not also a model you can rely on. This is because of the numerous complaints it has also received on its engine and other components.
With 484 complaints on its engine, 64 on the exterior lights, and 97 on the electrical system, it is best to avoid this model as well.
The engine is like the heart of a vehicle. So, when it fails, the vehicle becomes useless. Besides, replacing an engine doesn’t always come at a cheap price, even if you’re going for a used one.
Mind you, Kia has issued a recall on this model to fix the engine.
Note that all other notable issues with the Kia Sorento are also prominent in this model. You just have to do your research extensively if you’re to buy one.
6. 2015 Kia Sorento
The 2015 Kia Sorento offers loads of standard tech features and impressive cabin, but it still has numerous user complaints on the engine.
Aside from the fact that its standard four-cylinder engine offers a somewhat subpar performance, you’d expect its engine to function effectively and last longer.
Afterall, the engine is the major concern of many Sorento owners.
As a matter of fact, Car Complaints has recorded a total of 305 complaints on the engine of the 2015 Kia Sorento as of the time of writing this review. Other issues, like the erratic headlights and peeling body paints, are also prominent.
However, the transmission seems to offer better performance in the 2015 Kia Sorento than the other second-generation models.
What Are Some Typical Problems With the Kia Sorento Models?
Below is a list of some of the typical problems with the Kia Sorento.
- Engine failure
- Oil leak
- Inability to open the driver’s side door from the outside
- Peeling body paint
- Defective headlights
- Jerking transmission
To learn more about this, make sure to read about the problems of the Kia Sorento here.
It is common for many vehicle manufacturers to have issues with defects of imperfection with the first set of models they’d introduce. This is, however, not the case with the Kia Sorento.
While the first-generation models of the Kia Sorento have received hundreds of complaints about different abnormalities and defects with their components, the second-generation models (2011 – 2015) come with even more faults.
It is quite unfortunate for the Sorento that even the third and fourth generation models didn’t fare any better. The truth is, almost all Kia Sorento models have issues with their engine and electrical system.
Mind you, the Kia Sorento has a lot of impressive features and it boasts excellent ratings from critics and reviewers.
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.