Which Kia Sorento Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

The Kia Sorento is a mid-size crossover SUV that first debuted in 2003. It has evolved into a highly regarded vehicle with several amenities, including three rows of seating. Kia has sold four generations, with the most recent one debuting in 2020.

Kia Sorento bad model years has very well know (often ‘catastrophic) engine problems. The years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016, as well as a few more, are the Kia Sorento years to avoid.

I will tell you which Kia Sorento years to avoid in this article. Based on my research from users’ experience and clear statistics, you will not regret your final decision! Of course, only if you take it after reading this article.

Kia Sorento Years to Avoid (with Reasons)

Kia Sorento has a good overall reputation since it’s introduction. And not just in the RepairPal or Cars or any other websites. But the real users enjoy it to.

Except when they stumble upon the worst Kia years. Bad engine, transmission problems and body paint issues are consistent in most bad years. Here’s more discussion on it:

Avoid the following Kia Sorento years if you’re looking for a used car:

• 2011 Kia Sorento
• 2012 Kia Sorento
• 2013 Kia Sorento
• 2014 Kia Sorento
• 2016 Kia Sorento

2011 Kia Sorento Problems:

The check engine light keeps flashing and the engine might stop mid-way. Before stopping it is prone to stuttering. Some users swear they’ve heard a loud ticking noise too.

NHSTA has reports of multiple seat and airbag issues. These pose serious threat to the driver and passengers.

There also happens to be problem with lighting. The most prominent is the low beam assembly melting.

2012 Kia Sorento Problems:

This is the model with the worst kind of engine issues. Not just failures, the fuel economy is also devastating. The users reported the engine stuttering, spitting, misfiring, knocking loudly and finally stopping entirely.

If you buy this one, make sure not to hit a bump on the road. Otherwise all hell will break loose.

The airbag lights always seem to stay turned on. The seat belt gets stuck with the change of altitude. It may also tighten, which may cause discomfort to the driver. These are some additional issues.

2013 Kia Sorento Problems:

A blown motor causes the engine to shut down or stall. Engine failure also occurs due to engine overheating, that may also cause serious vibrations. The acceleration may go out of control sometimes which is a serious risk.

Multiple electrical and accessories failure occurs. Starting with the bluetooth, seat back release lever, seat warmers, cluster lights and many more.

2014 Kia Sorento Problems:

The engine gets a blown cylinder (particularly the 4th one). You may see some hiccups when gaining acceleration. Hard start may also be a symptom but not usually.

Body paint peeling or fading is a sign of the poor paint adhesive quality. Electrical components fail all the time on this one!

2016 Kia Sorento Problems:

Stalling at acceleration, excess oil consumption are some problems. But all these problems come without a check engine light being on.

The alternator dies frequently and poor quality wiring exists. People also experience an unnatural battery drain on this one.

What Are The Worst Years of Kia Sorento?

  • Kia Sorento 2011:This one has the most reported problems. Starting from engine problems, transmission issues, electrical blips and many more.
  • Kia Sorento 2013:2013 model year Kia’s have the most costly repairs as frequent problems show up.
  • Kia Sorento 2014:The blown cylinder is a pain in the pocket and mental health for the owners. The additional problems make this one the third worst in the list.

Most Common Problems of Kia Sorento

The Kia Sorento years to avoid are more likely to have major engine issues. Some of the most prevalent issues are listed below.

Engine Issues:

Sorento’s engine is prone to failure, which is a common dependability issue. The engine failure was mostly seen in 2011, 2016, and 2017 models. These were caused by a leaky head gasket. Sometimes the 4th cylinder would blow too.

This causes the coolant to mix with the engine oil. The combination of these substances can seriously harm an engine.

Airbags and Seat Belts:

Airbag lights stay on without a reason. However the airbags not working has not been reported so much. That is a good thing.

The seats and seat belts can be malfunctioning as well. For example, the seat belt tightening or getting stuck.

Electric and Accessory Issues:

More bothersome than hazardous, unhappy owners reported that the Sorento’s doors will not open from the outside.

Additionally, due to malfunctioning door handles, owners who utilize the child-lock feature got even more dissatisfied. The majority of the complaints come from owners of 2011 Sorentos.

Hundreds of customers claimed that the headlight bulbs on their Sorentos from 2002 to 2009 were prone to prematurely burning out. Furthermore, additional components of the headlights were allegedly burned, according to some stories.

There should have been a recall for this issue of reliability, but there wasn’t one. Replacement bulbs cost $100 to $600 for those who were affected.

Which Kia Sorento Years are Safe to Buy?

The following is a list of safe Kia Sorento model years:

  • 2009 Kia Sorento
  • 2010 Kia Sorento
  • 2018 Kia Sorento
  • 2020 Kia Sorento
  • 2021 Kia Sorento

Kia’s automobile warranties are among the finest in the industry. The2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 are the safest Kia Sorento model years to buy.

The 2009 model of Kia Sorento is gawked on by users. They flud it with praises as it is one of the most reliable, safe, comfortable, spacious and solid built models out there.

The 2010 follows the 2009 model as well. Although a little less spacious than the latter. You will rarely need replacement shocks or struts for 90,000+ miles. This is very easy on the tires and easy to handle.

The 2018 model can challenge any of the CRV, CX-5, Tiguan, Highlander, Pilot etc. vehicles. There is plenty of room in the front and middle rows for passengers. It’s nice to have a third row.

The car’s handling and active safety measures make it a joy to drive. The 5-year bumper-to-bumper guarantee and the 10-year/100,000-mile gearbox warranty are excellent, providing a sense of security. There is no better engine for the vehicle’s weight to accelerate than the V6.

Similarly, there’s enough of horsepower in the Kia 2020 Sorento, and it’s a pleasure to drive and ride in. A well-built vehicle with a smooth ride, plenty of room, and simple maintenance.

In addition, the visibility is excellent, the design is beautiful, and the dashboard is quite user-friendly. When compared to the other model years stated before, they have minimal complaints.


Which Kia Sorento Year has the most engine failures?

2016 Kia Sorento Year has the most engine failures.

How costly is it to fix engine problem of 2016 Kia Sorento?

$6,000 to 7,000.

When was a heavy fined recall ordered for Kia?

2020 (for $137 million)


Kia Sorento mostly has good reputation and good vehicles. Except the costly engine problem, which almost always needs repair.

You already know which Kia Sorento years to avoid and which ones are solid if you’ve read this far into the article. Hope you take the best decision for your Kia Sorento purchase.

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