Here Are The Kia Sorento Years To Avoid

If you are in the market for a sturdy, reliable, and well-performing SUV, the Kia Sorento might be on your shortlist. It’s lauded for its robust features, roomy interiors, and dependable performance, but like every model, not all years are created equally.

Certain years of production have experienced issues more frequently than others, so it’s vital to do your homework before making a purchasing decision. This post aims to provide a comprehensive guide to identifying the most reliable years of the Kia Sorento and to help you avoid potential pitfalls associated with certain model years.

What Kia Sorento Years Are the Most Reliable?

1.     2019 Kia Sorento

The 2019 Kia Sorento stands out as one of the most reliable years for this model. With a mid-cycle refresh that brought about significant improvements in safety features, such as forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring, this vehicle year became a favorite among car enthusiasts and families alike.

Consumer Reports also highlighted the 2019 Sorento for its dependability, acknowledging minimal complaints about significant mechanical issues.

2019 Kia Sorento exterior.

2.     2017 Kia Sorento

The 2017 Sorento is known for its strong reliability ratings and excellent safety scores. This model year benefitted from a complete redesign in 2016, carrying forward the enhancements into the 2017 model. These include better handling, fuel efficiency, and an upgraded interior featuring an intuitive infotainment system.

Fewer complaints were lodged against the 2017 model year, reflecting its better overall reliability.

3.     2015 Kia Sorento

The 2015 model year has been praised for its strong performance, ample features, and overall reliability. It provides a comfortable ride with its powerful V6 engine option and delivers excellent safety scores.

While this model year did see a few complaints regarding the engine and brakes, they were considerably less frequent than the troubles faced by preceding years, making it a reliable choice.

4.     2021 Kia Sorento

With a complete redesign, the 2021 Kia Sorento came with a host of technological upgrades and hybrid powertrain options, offering impressive fuel economy. The safety features also got a significant boost with standard driver assistance features like lane keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and more.

5.     2020 Kia Sorento

The 2020 Kia Sorento holds strong reliability ratings, further bolstered by impressive safety features and a well-designed, comfortable interior. With the inclusion of high-tech convenience features like the standard 7-inch touch screen infotainment system and available safety features like pedestrian detection, the 2020 Sorento is both user-friendly and secure.

2020 Kia Sorento SUV rear interior.

As with the 2021 model, the 2020 Sorento received fewer complaints than some of the older models, indicating a trend towards improved reliability.

It’s worth noting that while these years are deemed the most reliable based on various factors, every vehicle’s longevity and reliability will depend significantly on how well it has been maintained by the previous owner(s).

Always make sure to check the vehicle history, get a pre-purchase inspection if buying used, and keep up with regular maintenance if you want your Sorento to stay reliable for years to come.

 What Kia Sorento Years Should You Avoid?

1.     2011 Kia Sorento

The 2011 Kia Sorento stands out as a year to potentially avoid. This model year is known for significant issues, particularly concerning the engine. There were frequent reports of catastrophic engine failure, often occurring unexpectedly and requiring costly repairs or replacements.

Some owners reported that these failures occurred even with regular maintenance and at relatively low mileage. Aside from engine problems, the 2011 Sorento also faced complaints about brake wear and issues with the interior accessories.

2.     2003 Kia Sorento

The 2003 Kia Sorento is another model year with a high number of reported problems. The most frequently reported issue was a failure of the crankshaft pulley bolt. This defect could lead to a loss of power steering and potentially cause an accident.

In addition to this, owners reported issues with the vehicle’s electrical systems, such as frequent headlight burnouts and failures in the power door locks and windows.

Technician fixing front headlight.

3.     2012 Kia Sorento

Owners of the 2012 Kia Sorento have reported several issues, with engine problems again topping the list. Reports included excessive oil consumption, stalling or shutting down while driving, and instances of complete engine failure.

Many of these issues required expensive repairs, which added to the vehicle’s overall cost of ownership. Additionally, there were several complaints about the vehicle’s cooling system and issues with the air conditioning failing to function adequately.

4.     2005 Kia Sorento

The 2005 Kia Sorento was another problematic year. This model was affected by multiple recalls for issues including brake light defects and a malfunctioning crankshaft sensor, which could cause the engine to stall while driving.

Additionally, there were numerous reports of driveshaft issues that led to a wobbly driving experience, as well as interior accessory issues, including problems with seatbelts and airbags.

5.     2014 Kia Sorento

While it didn’t suffer as many issues as some other years, the 2014 Kia Sorento had its share of problems. The most common complaint was about the vehicle’s steering system. Owners reported difficulties with the electric power steering, which sometimes failed without warning.

Engine problems were also reported, although not as frequently as in previous years. Other issues included problems with the vehicle’s lights, interior accessories, and transmission.

These summaries highlight some of the potential issues associated with particular Kia Sorento model years. However, it’s important to remember that individual experiences with these vehicles can vary widely.

A car’s condition and reliability are largely dependent on factors like maintenance history and how the car was driven. Always get a thorough pre-purchase inspection and check the vehicle history report when buying a used vehicle to ensure you’re making a well-informed decision.

What Are Some Typical Problems With the Kia Sorento Models?

1.     Engine Problems

A common issue with some Kia Sorento models, particularly those produced around 2011 and 2012, is premature engine failure. Owners have reported instances of the vehicle suddenly losing power or the engine making unusual noises, with some experiencing total engine failure. These issues often necessitate expensive repairs or replacements, causing significant inconvenience and cost.

Auto mechanic working with car diagnostic tool in a repair shop.

2.     Electrical System Issues

Some Kia Sorento models, particularly the 2003 model, have reported problems with the vehicle’s electrical systems. Issues range from frequent headlight burnouts and power door lock failures to problems with interior accessories like the radio or navigation system. Inconsistent and unpredictable, these issues can be both irritating and costly to fix.

3.     Transmission Problems

Transmission problems have also been reported in certain Kia Sorento model years. These issues often manifest as a noticeable hesitation when accelerating, difficulties shifting gears, or an uncomfortable jerking sensation. At worst, complete transmission failure can occur, which can be an expensive problem to rectify.

4.     Cooling System Issues

There have been reports of issues with the Kia Sorento’s cooling system, particularly in the 2012 models. Complaints often involve the air conditioning system not functioning as it should, failing to cool the interior of the vehicle adequately, or the system blowing hot air.

5.     Power Steering Failure

The 2014 Kia Sorento, in particular, had some reported issues with power steering. In some instances, the electric power steering would fail suddenly, making the vehicle much harder to control and posing a potential safety risk, especially when driving at high speeds.

6.     Brake Issues

Several Kia Sorento models have had problems with their brake systems. Common complaints include premature brake wear, difficulty braking, and a malfunctioning anti-lock braking system. While these are not as common as other issues, they’re significant due to their potential impact on vehicle safety.

Car brake disc.

7.     Interior Accessory Problems

Problems with interior accessories, like malfunctioning seatbelts, issues with the airbags, and faulty door locks, have been reported in some Kia Sorento models, particularly those manufactured in 2005 and 2011. These issues can be annoying and potentially impact the comfort and safety of the vehicle.

8.     Driveshaft Issues

Some owners of the 2005 Kia Sorento have reported driveshaft problems, which can cause a wobbly or uncomfortable driving experience. This issue is less common than others but can still contribute to a less than optimal driving experience and might require costly repairs.

Alternatives to the Kia Sorento

1.     Hyundai Santa Fe

The Hyundai Santa Fe is a reliable and well-rated midsize SUV. It offers a similar level of space and comfort as the Sorento, with an impressive list of standard safety and tech features. The Santa Fe also boasts strong performance and good fuel efficiency.

2.     Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is one of the best-selling compact SUVs for a reason. It offers a comfortable ride, spacious interiors, and excellent safety scores. Its reliability ratings are generally strong, making it a worthy alternative to the Sorento.

3.     Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander is a midsize SUV that offers plenty of space, excellent safety features, and a reputation for durability and reliability. It also has strong performance, with a comfortable ride and good handling for its size.

2023 Toyota Highlander Limited 4dr SUV exterior.

4.     Ford Edge

The Ford Edge is a midsize SUV that stands out for its powerful performance, comfortable and quiet ride, and spacious interior. It also offers an intuitive infotainment system and a long list of standard features.

5.     Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is a unique alternative, combining the comfort and ride quality of a wagon with the capability and practicality of an SUV. It comes standard with all-wheel drive, offers ample cargo space, and has a reputation for reliability and longevity.

What Is The Most Reliable Year Of The Kia Sorento?

While it’s hard to definitively declare one model year as the most reliable, the 2019 Kia Sorento stands out for its high reliability ratings. This model year received a mid-cycle refresh with significant improvements, especially in terms of safety features.

Consumer Reports highlighted this year for its dependability, noting a decrease in significant mechanical complaints. Of course, the condition and reliability of any used vehicle will also heavily depend on its maintenance history and usage.

Which Kia Sorento Model Is The Best?

Choosing the “best” model depends on what you prioritize in a vehicle. However, the 2021 Kia Sorento stands out for its host of technological upgrades and hybrid powertrain options, which offer impressive fuel economy. Its safety features received a significant boost, with standard driver assistance features like lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and more.

Does The Kia Sorento Have A Good Engine?

In general, Kia Sorento models are equipped with strong and capable engines. They often come with either a four-cylinder or a V6 engine, both offering a decent balance of power and fuel efficiency.

However, as mentioned earlier, some model years, like the 2011 and 2012 Sorentos, have had significant engine issues. As long as you avoid these problematic years or ensure that any issues have been addressed, a Kia Sorento can provide a reliable and potent engine.

What Is The Average Life Expectancy Of A Kia Sorento?

With regular maintenance and care, a Kia Sorento can last well over 200,000 miles. Like all vehicles, the lifespan of a Sorento depends greatly on how it’s driven, how regularly it’s serviced, and how well it’s taken care of. Some owners have reported their Sorentos running well even after reaching 300,000 miles.

Does Kia Sorentos Hold Their Value?

Like many vehicles, the Kia Sorento will depreciate over time, but it holds its value fairly well compared to other vehicles in its class. As per Kelley Blue Book, the Kia Sorento’s depreciation is about average for midsize SUVs.

However, factors such as the vehicle’s condition, mileage, location, and the current market can significantly influence its resale value. Vehicles that have been well-maintained and have lower mileage will typically hold their value better.

What Interior Accessory Problems Are Commonly Reported In The Kia Sorento?

Close up of a woman fastening seat belt in car.

Some Kia Sorento models, particularly those manufactured in 2005 and 2011, have experienced problems with interior accessories. These issues range from malfunctioning seatbelts and issues with airbags to faulty door locks. These problems can diminish the comfort and safety of the vehicle, making the driving experience less enjoyable.

How Does The 2021 Kia Sorento’s Technological Upgrades Contribute To Its Standing As One Of The Best Models?

The 2021 Kia Sorento saw a complete redesign that included numerous technological upgrades. It offered hybrid powertrain options for better fuel economy and a host of new standard and available tech features for increased comfort, convenience, and safety.

This included an updated infotainment system and a suite of driver-assist features, contributing to its standing as one of the best models in terms of performance, safety, and reliability.


In conclusion, while certain model years of the Kia Sorento have experienced some issues, others have stood out for their reliability and overall performance. With regular maintenance and care, a Kia Sorento can be a reliable and durable vehicle.

However, when considering purchasing a used Sorento, it’s essential to get a pre-purchase inspection and check the vehicle’s history report. Potential buyers should also consider the alternative vehicles listed if they’re in the market for a midsize SUV. Always remember, the best vehicle for you will depend on your unique needs and circumstances.

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!