Discover the Worst Kia Sorento Years to Avoid and Reliability Issues

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you considering purchasing a pre-owned mid-size crossover SUV that is affordable and reliable? Then, welcome to the world of Kia Sorento!

It’s a fantastic car, but you also want to avoid investing your hard-earned money in a model year that won’t cost considerable fees for repairs.

In this free resource, you’ll discover the Kia Sorento years to avoid due to common problems such as engine and transmission issues as reported for 2004, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016 models.

We’ll also share the Kia Sorento best years to buy used models. We aim to equip you with the latest knowledge to make an informed decision about your Kia Sorento purchase to confidently select the perfect model based on reliability, performance, and easy maintenance cost.

Kia Sorento Years to Avoid

The Worst Model Years to Avoid

First Generation Years (2002-2009)

The first-generation Kia Sorento, specifically the 2004 and 2006 models, had their share of issues, which can cause headaches.

Some common problems during these years included head gasket cracks, rod knocks, and electric system issues.

Post-First Generation Years

Moving on, you should be wary of the Kia Sorento model years from 2011 to 2014 and 2016.

These models encountered various problems such as engine failure, electrical problems, airbag issues, seatbelt problems, lighting troubles, and body/paint issues. Some 2011 to 2016 models even had a fire risk.

Recent Model Years

While more recent Kia Sorento models have seen significant improvements in quality and reliability, staying informed about specific issues that may still emerge is essential.

For instance, the 2017 model had minor issues, but according to multiple sources, the 2020 Kia Sorento is the best-used Sorento model to look for.

To summarize, here are the Kia Sorento model years you should avoid to ensure a smoother driving experience:

  • First Generation: 2004 and 2006
  • Post-First Generation: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016

Common Problems and Complaints

Engine Issues

Kia Sorento owners have reported several engine problems, including failure and overheating. In some cases, blown cylinders occur, and excess oil consumption has also been reported.

As a result, it’s essential to stay aware of any unusual noises or performance issues with your vehicle. The 2011 and 2012 models are well-known for engine issues and catastıc engine failure.

Transmission Problems

Transmission issues have been reported in specific Kia Sorento model years, which may lead to poor shifting performance and check engine lights.

Many owners have noted that their vehicles tend to slip, jerk, or hesitate while driving, which could pose a severe risk on the road.

If you experience these issues, ensure your vehicle is inspected and repaired promptly.

Airbag and Seat Belt Issues

Another area of concern for some Kia Sorento owners is airbag and seat belt issues.

There have been reports of faulty seat belts that may not adequately secure passengers, or the airbag system might not function correctly during a crash.

In some cases, recalls have been issued to address these issues, so watching for any related announcements is essential.

Door Handles and Body Paint Problems

Kia Sorento owners have also reported common problems with door handles and body paint.

Some owners mention that their door handles no longer extended function or break, making entering or exiting their vehicles difficult.

In addition, there have been complaints about peeling paint or clear coat on specific models, which can compromise the appearance and protection of your vehicle.

Headlight and Lighting Issues

Lastly, headlight and lighting problems have been identified among several Kia Sorento owners.

Issues may include dim or flickering headlights, as well as issues with other exterior and interior lighting systems.

These problems compromise your vehicle’s appearance and impact your visibility and safety on the road.

In summary, while the Kia Sorento has received praise for its fuel economy and overall performance, it is crucial to be aware of the potential issues listed above, especially considering one of the affected model years.

what year kia sorento to avoid

Recalls and Reliability Ratings

Some years to avoid include 2004, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016. These models have known common problems that can be costly to fix.

Regarding reliability, it’s essential to check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for any safety recalls.

As of now, there have yet to be any safety recalls for the 2023 Kia Sorento. The NHTSA investigates potential defects and oversees recalls when necessary to ensure your safety on the road.

When looking for a reliable Kia Sorento, it’s helpful to consult resources like Consumer Reports for their reliability ratings.

These ratings help you gauge the quality and dependability of the vehicle based on their extensive evaluation of data and owner experiences.

Regarding warranty, the 2023 Kia Sorento comes with a five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty.

It’s essential to know what the warranty covers and how long it lasts to ensure you’re protected in case of any issues with your vehicle.

To summarize, when looking for a reliable Kia Sorento, be sure to:

  • Avoid the model years 2004, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016.
  • Check for any safety recalls with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Consider the reliability rating from Consumer Reports.
  • Know the details of your vehicle’s warranty coverage.

Buying a Used Kia Sorento

Low mileage

First and foremost, you’ll want to focus on a low-mileage, well-maintained vehicle. This can increase the likelihood of finding a reliable car.

When searching for a used Sorento, look for models with a good service history and those that have received regular maintenance according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.


Regarding safety, you may be seeking a top safety pick, and newer models of the Sorento have indeed received this distinction.

However, older models might have different safety features or ratings. Perform proper research to ensure that the used Sorento you’re considering is equipped with the safety features that are important to you.

Here are some valuable tips for buying a safe and reliable used Sorento:

  • Look for used Sorentos that are newer models or have undergone recent redesigns.
  • Ask the seller about any recalls or service bulletins that may have been issued for the vehicle.
  • Make sure to test drive the vehicle thoroughly, paying close attention to its performance and handling.
  • Examine the car’s interior and exterior for signs of damage or excessive wear.

Remember, transparency is essential. A genuine seller will provide all the necessary details, such as maintenance records, accident history, and any known issues.

Sorento Models to Consider

The following years have been praised for their spacious interiors, safety features, and overall reliability.

2009 Kia Sorento

The 2009 Kia Sorento model is quite popular among consumers due to its spaciousness. In addition to providing ample space to accommodate passengers and luggage, this model year is also known for its reliability, comfort, and solid construction.

2010 Kia Sorento

The 2010 Kia Sorento carries over the positive traits of its predecessor, with a bonus of fresh design updates.

This model year comes standard with three rows of seating, providing extra room for your passengers or additional cargo.

The 2010 Sorento is known for its all-wheel-drive capabilities, making it a top choice for those who need a dependable vehicle in various weather and road conditions.

2017 Kia Sorento

For those seeking a more recent Sorento, the 2017 model is an excellent option. This year, the Sorento received a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, with top scores in crash tests.

Its available safety features include Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW), providing an added layer of protection for you and your passengers.

This model year is known for its reliability in critical components such as the engine, transmission, and drive system.

2018, 2020, and 2021 Kia Sorento

The Sorento continued to build upon its reputation for reliability and safety in the 2018, 2020, and 2021 models.

These years come with various safety features and offer three rows of seating to accommodate your family’s needs comfortably.

They also have the option for all-wheel drive, ensuring you can confidently navigate various driving conditions.

These years have been praised for their safety features, roominess, and overall reliability, ensuring you and your passengers enjoy a comfortable and secure driving experience.

Close Kia Sorento Competitors

We’ll examine their strengths and weaknesses to help you make a more informed decision when considering an alternative option.

Hyundai Santa Fe

The Hyundai Santa Fe is a popular alternative to the Kia Sorento. With a comfortable interior, reliable performance, and good safety ratings, the Santa Fe is an excellent choice for family-oriented buyers.

However, remember that both the Sorento and Santa Fe come from the same parent company, so some similarities between the two models are inevitable. Here are Hyundai Santa Fe years to avoid!

Volkswagen Tiguan

The Volkswagen Tiguan offers a sophisticated and refined driving experience. Its European influences are evident in its handling and overall precision on the road.

The Tiguan also features a more upscale interior than the Sorento but may come with a slightly higher price tag.

Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is another solid option to consider. Known for its robust capabilities, the reliable Explorer model is perfect for those who need a vehicle that can handle various terrains and weather conditions.

Additionally, the Explorer has a spacious interior and advanced safety features. However, be aware that the fuel efficiency of the Explorer may not be as impressive as the Kia Sorento.

Nissan Murano

In your search for an alternative to the Kia Sorento, you may also come across the Nissan Murano. The Murano is an appealing driver with a stylish exterior design and smooth performance.

The Murano also offers a comfortable cabin with generous cargo space. However, the Murano’s fuel efficiency is less potent than the Sorento’s. Also, discover which is better between the Nissan Murano and Rogue.

Lexus RX

Lastly, the Lexus RX might be the right choice if you consider a more luxurious option.

The RX is a premium SUV with a wealth of advanced features, high-quality materials, and excellent safety ratings.

While the RX comes at a higher price point, its attention to detail and prestigious reputation may be worth the investment for some drivers. However, the Lexus RX models, including the RX-3650, have the worst model years to be avoided!


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