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Here Are The Kia Sorento Years To Avoid

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White Sorento

Kia Sorento by Vauxford — CC BY-SA 4.0

The Kia Sorento debuted in 2003 as a mid-size crossover SUV. Over the years, it has grown into a highly rated model that offers plenty of features, including three rows of seats. Kia has sold four generations and introduced the latest generation in 2020.

In this post, we’ll tell you which Kia Sorento years to avoid. We’ll make it easy for you to pick a used Sorento that won’t have you spending most of your days at the workshop for unnecessary repairs. Let’s dive in.


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Quick Answer: Avoid Kia Sorento Years 2004, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016

Since Kia has marketed and sold the Kia Sorento, buyers have reported experiencing several faults. These models have costly problems that are common among them. We recommend avoiding the following model years: 2004, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016.

The common issues include engine problems, electrical problems, airbag problems, seat belt problems, lights problems, and body/paint problems.

The worst issue that plagues these Kia Sorento models is engine failure. This occurs when most consumers have accumulated an average of 62,000 miles. We recommend staying clear from them, as they may cost you more money in repairs.

Which Year Models of Kia Sorento Are Safe to Buy Used? 

The Kia Sorento has been in production for almost two decades. Like many other cars in its market segment, not all models rolled out are perfect from the factory. Some have had their defects. Despite this, there are others that you can choose from. This is especially true if you want to avoid those mentioned earlier.

Below is a list of Kia Sorento model years that are safe to buy: 

  • 2003 Kia Sorento
  • 2005 Kia Sorento
  • 2007 Kia Sorento
  • 2008 Kia Sorento
  • 2009 Kia Sorento
  • 2010 Kia Sorento
  • 2015 Kia Sorento
  • 2017 Kia Sorento
  • 2018 Kia Sorento
  • 2019 Kia Sorento
  • 2020 Kia Sorento
  • 2021 Kia Sorento

The safest Kia Sorento model years to buy include 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. These have few complaints when compared to the other model years mentioned earlier. 

For many of them, the worst problems recorded include engine problems, a failed A/C compressor, electrical problems, lights, and AC/heater problems. Most of them are also minor issues that don’t cost much to repair. These are, however, among few car owners. 

Some of the worst car problems recorded in earlier models include broken parts, failure of multiple lighting systems, and issues with the crankshaft. It’s good to note that these problems are in vehicles that have accumulated more than 90,000 miles. 

Read on to learn more about the most reliable model years for the Kia Sorento, the least reliable, the most common issues, and anything else you should know before investing.

The issues are also spread out among a few owners. It’s less likely for them to occur in a Sorento that’s properly maintained and has low mileage. The least problematic models include those from 2007 to 2010 and 2015 to 2021. The 2016 year is an exception—it is not as reliable as the others in the later years.

Which Kia Sorento Years to Avoid

The Kia Sorento model years mentioned above should meet your family and daily driving needs without a fuss. In addition to smooth handling, an upscale interior, and plenty of nice features, you also need a reliable car. Here, we provide more information about the model years that don’t make the cut.

Avoid the following Kia Sorento year models: 

  • 2004 Kia Sorento
  • 2006 Kia Sorento
  • 2011 Kia Sorento
  • 2012 Kia Sorento
  • 2013 Kia Sorento
  • 2014 Kia Sorento
  • 2016 Kia Sorento

The most common problems among these model years include engine problems, electrical problems, lighting problems, seat belts/airbag problems, and body/paint problems. These cut across the board, with many users reporting almost the same issues. 

The 2011 Kia Sorento is the one that you should avoid the most. It ranks top for having the most complaints from owners. It has the highest chance of encountering an engine problem, an airbag and seat belt problem, a drivetrain problem, and a brakes problem. 

The most expensive issue recorded for the 2011 model year was an engine that stopped working at 77,000 miles. This problem is a $4,600 fix. Other severe problems recorded include an airbag issue at 92,000 miles that cost $2,000 to repair and a problem with the doors at $94,000 miles that cost $400 to repair.


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The other model that you’d want to stay clear from entirely is the 2016 Kia Sorento. It has higher repair costs and more problems than other models at lower mileage. Engine problems rank highest, followed by steering problems, body/paint problems, and faulty lights.

The worst recorded failure involves the engine at $62,000 miles. This cost $6,100 to repair. Other owners reported spending as much as $600 to replace wires chewed by rodents. One particular user had his car stall at acceleration at 22,000 miles.

Common Kia Sorento Problems

Kia has one of the best warranties for its vehicles. However, that doesn’t mean you should be less discerning, especially regarding reliability issues. Here are the most common Kia Sorento problems across all model years:

  • Engine problems - One prevalent reliability issue with the Sorento is that its engine tends to fail. Primarily experienced in 2011, 2016, and 2017 models, the engine failure happened due to a leaking head gasket - causing the coolant to mix with the engine oil. The mixture of these liquids can cause severe engine damage.
  • Faulty doors - More annoying than dangerous, frustrated owners said that the doors of the Sorento won’t open when accessed from the outside. Additionally, owners that use the child-lock feature became even more frustrated due to faulty door handles. Most of the complaints are from 2011 Sorento owners.
  • Headlight bulbs burning out - Mostly seen with 2002 to 2009 Sorentos, dozens of consumers reported that the headlight bulbs were prone to burning out prematurely. On top of that, some accounts said that other components of the headlights were also melted. This reliability issue seems ripe for a recall, but there were none. Affected owners had to buy replacement bulbs for around $100 to $600.
  • Vibrations/noises from A/C compressor - The 2002 to 2009 Kia Sorentos’ A/C compressor was reportedly prone to failure. Owners have reported hearing rumbling or high-pitched whining noises from the A/C compressor. This was determined to be an issue with the clutch failure of the compressor. As a result, the A/C system stops producing cold air, and the most common fix is to replace the faulty compressor.
  • Noisy startups - Many Sorento owners have experienced rattling noises while starting their vehicles. This issue can be due to low oil levels. However, if the oil levels are normal, the noise is likely caused by a defective timing chain tensioner. Once the timing chain fails, the engine will stop working and even damage other components.
  • Defective ignition coils - Frustrated Sorento drivers have reported they had to replace the ignition coils of their vehicles. With bad ignition coils, the engine will misfire and may even cause significant damage if left unattended. Thankfully, this particular issue was mainly reported at around 100k miles or more, which makes sense for the coils to be replaced. Ignition coil replacements are available for about $20 to $140.

Kia Sorento Problem Counts by Year

Below is the average number of complaints each model year has in our crowdsourced dataset from,, Car Talk Community, and other similar platforms. 


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Frequently Asked Questions: Kia Sorento Years to Avoid

Q: Which Kia Sorento years should I avoid?

A: Avoid the Kia Sorento from 2004, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016 due to their reported issues, including engine failures, electrical problems, and more.

Q: Are there any Kia Sorento years known for engine failure?

A: Yes, engine failure is particularly notorious in the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2016 Kia Sorento models, often requiring costly repairs or replacement.

Q: Why is the 2016 Kia Sorento model particularly advised against?

A: The 2016 Sorento is advised against due to the high number of reports for problems at lower mileage, including engine and steering issues, which are often expensive to repair.

Q: What should I look for when buying a used Kia Sorento to ensure I’m not getting a problematic year?

A: When buying a used Kia Sorento, look for a model outside of the years 2004, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016. Check the vehicle’s history for any major repairs, especially related to the engine and electrical system, and consider a pre-purchase inspection.

Are Kia Sorentos typically reliable?

The Sorento has been a staple in Kia’s crossover lineup for over 20 years. And while most model years are dependable, a few are anything but.

How much does a used Kia Sorento typically cost?

CoPilot Price Pulse reports a wide range of Kia Sorento prices, varying by age, condition, and other factors. The typical asking price for a 2011 Sorento is $9.587, while a 2020 example goes for $25,798. Crossovers are in high demand in a market with tight supply, causing prices to rise by as much as 30% compared to normal times.

Is the Kia Sorento a good car to purchase?

With careful research and thoughtful shopping, the Kia Sorento can be an ideal used car purchase. The key to a satisfying ownership experience is identifying the best year of the Kia Sorento before plunking down your cash.

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