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Josh Rosenberg By Josh Rosenberg
Updated Feb. 29, 2024

Older Kia Sorento Overview (2011 - 2015), Reliability, Possible Maintenance Problems, Overall Pros And Cons

Related: How To Get The Lowest Price On A "Brand New" Kia Sorento

While historically high new and used car prices have forced many buyers to look for "older" vehicles that may have aged well as a way to save money, the issues of reliability and dependability have become even more crucial.

2014 Kia Sorento

So, the big question for an older Kia Sorento is, "how has it fared mechanically over the long term?" And by older, I'm really referencing those generally in the 10+ year-old range.

For the Sorento, that would be its second generation, those produced from 2011 - 2015.

Well, history has proven that its reliability record from those years has been a bit mixed. While many owners have reported satisfactory experiences with their vehicles involving mostly routine maintenance, others have encountered various mechanical issues.

Sometimes, such variability in results involving specific vehicles comes down to factors such as the maintenance history, environmental conditions, and driving habits of the previous owner(s).

History has also shown that a well-cared for Sorento from this production run can be expected to last in the 150,000 - 200,000 mile range, while there are examples of some going much further. But again, the key is "well-cared for".

Plus, perhaps a little luck, which is the case with all vehicles.

So here, ...

- We'll do an overview of second Kia Sorento generation, produced from 2011 to 2015.

- Then we'll list the possible mechanical issues for this production run that have been reported by owners so they can be checked before buying one today.

- And then we'll summarize the overall pros and cons of an older Sorento worth consideration for potential buyers.

But first, and very importantly ...

Things To Do When Considering An "Older" Sorento

Locate Lower Mileage Vehicles: They are certainly out there to be found with careful and patient shopping. Be willing to drive a distance if you have to.

Vehicle History and Maintenance: Ask for the vehicle history report (CarFax or AutoCheck) as well as documented maintenance and repair records. If not provided by the Dealer or private seller, it's usually best to move on.

Pre-Purchase Inspection: Have the vehicle independently inspected before making a final decision. This usually will cost in the $150-$200 range but is well worth it given the potentially thousands in savings over the long term.

Second Generation Kia Sorento (2011 - 2015)

2012 Kia Sorento

This generation represented a significant leap forward in terms of design, performance, features, and overall refinement compared to its predecessor, which made it a more competitive option in the midsize SUV segment.

Platform and Design: The second-gen Sorento moved to a unibody platform, departing from the body-on-frame construction of the first generation. This change resulted in improved handling, ride comfort, and fuel efficiency.

Additionally, the exterior design received a refresh, with a more modern and sleek appearance.

Interior Quality and Features: Kia focused on upgrading the interior materials and overall build quality, giving the cabin a more premium feel.

The second-gen Sorento also introduced a range of new features, including available infotainment systems, advanced safety technologies, and comfort amenities such as heated seats and dual-zone climate control.

Engine Options and Performance: This version offered a wider range of engine choices, including more fuel-efficient options. Additionally, improvements in engine performance and refinement were made, enhancing overall driving dynamics.

Improved Ride and Handling: With the transition to a unibody platform, the Sorento gained better ride quality and handling characteristics compared to its predecessor. The revised suspension tuning contributed to a smoother and more composed driving experience, both on-road and off-road.

Enhanced Safety Features: Kia bolstered the safety offerings with the addition of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Depending on the trim level and options, features such as blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control were available.

Increased Cargo and Passenger Space: The switch to a unibody platform also resulted in increased interior space for passengers and cargo. Also available are some Sorentos with third-row seating.

Facts And Features

Powering this Sorento is a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 175 horsepower and 169 pound-feet of torque. It's mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission on all models except the base which has a 6-speed manual.

The EX model also had an optional 3.5-liter V6 that pumps out 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque and is coupled with the 6-speed automatic.

EPA gas mileage estimates range from 21 mpg city and 29 mpg on the highway for the front-wheel drive four-cylinder Sorento with the automatic to 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway for the all-wheel drive EX V6.

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Available in base, LX and EX trims, even the base model is well-equipped with standard features such as full power accessories, air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, alloy wheels, a tilt/telescoping multifunction steering wheel, and a CD audio system with satellite radio and a USB audio jack.

And used LX and EX models can be found with standard and optional amenities such as dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, a ventilated driver seat, a rear entertainment system, a back-up camera, rear parking sensors, navigation, UVO voice activation, and an Infinity audio system.

It should also be noted that there was a facelift in 2014, which included a modest styling update, an upgraded interior, and a more powerful V6 engine ... a direct-injected, 3.3-liter V6 good for 290 horsepower.

In addition, the previous base four-cylinder engine was dropped, leaving the midrange 2.4-liter four-cylinder as the entry-level engine. Ride quality and steering feel were also improved, as was Kia's Uvo voice activation system.

Finally, a new range-topping SX-L trim debuted as Kia stiffened the body structure, fitted a new front suspension, and retuned the rear suspension to improve both ride comfort and handling.

Other SUVs of similar size and features (although likely more expensive) that you may want to consider include the Ford Escape and the Honda CR-V. A capable off-road competitor would be the Nissan Xterra.

2007 - 2014 Kia Sorento Mechanical Problem Watchlist

2011 Kia Sorento EX

While many owners found their Sorento held up well, others reported some common problems that should therefore be included in an inspection before buying one today:

Engine Issues: Some owners reported issues with engine knocking or premature engine failure, particularly with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6 engines.

Transmission Problems: There were occasional reports of transmission problems, such as rough shifting, slipping, or failure to engage gears.

Suspension and Steering Components: Some owners experienced issues with suspension components, such as worn-out bushings, ball joints, or control arms, leading to noises, vibrations, or uneven tire wear. Steering problems, including excessive play or stiffness, were also reported by some owners.

Electrical System Malfunctions: Electrical gremlins, such as malfunctioning power windows, door locks, or infotainment systems, were reported by a small number of owners.

Brake System Concerns: A few owners reported brake-related issues, such as premature brake pad and rotor wear, brake fluid leaks, or a soft brake pedal feel.

HVAC System Problems: Some owners experienced issues with the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, such as inadequate cooling or heating, strange odors, or airflow restrictions.

Overall Pros And Cons Of An Older Kia Sorento

Older Kia Sorento Pros

Cost Savings: Clearly, buying an older Sorento can potentially save a significant amount of money upfront. However, this has to be weighed against the higher risk of costly repairs going forward.

Affordability: Compared to some competitors in its class, the Sorento often offers a competitive price point, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious buyers.

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Depreciation: An older Sorento has already undergone the majority of its depreciation, thereby reducing the overall cost of ownership over time.

Available Features: Even though it's an older model, the second-generation Sorento still offers a range of features and amenities, especially in higher trim levels, including advanced safety technologies, infotainment options, and comfort features.

Interior Space: The Sorento boasts a spacious interior, especially in its three-row configurations, making it suitable for families or those needing extra cargo room.

Decent Off-Road Capability: With all-wheel-drive (AWD) options and decent ground clearance, the Sorento can handle light off-road duties or adverse weather conditions better than some competitors.

Older Kia Sorento Cons

Potential Mechanical Issues: There's always a risk of encountering mechanical problems, especially as the vehicle ages. Budgeting may be needed for potential repairs or maintenance.

Outdated Technology: Compared to newer models, the second-generation Sorento may lack some of the latest technology advancements, such as advanced driver assistance systems, connectivity features, and fuel efficiency improvements.

Fuel Economy: While not terrible, the Sorento's fuel economy might be less impressive compared to some rivals in its class, particularly in the larger engine configurations.

Interior Quality: While spacious, the interior materials and build quality might not feel as upscale as some competitors.

Ride Comfort: Some drivers and passengers might find the ride quality to be a bit firm, especially over rough pavement or longer journeys.

Third-Row Space: While the third-row seating is a nice option to have, it might be cramped for adults, and accessing it can be cumbersome.

Also, Always Know The Value Of Your Trade-In!

Whether you are trading or selling on your own, it's just a good idea ... even whether you are in the market or not at the moment. You can then use this important information for a number of purposes ... to negotiate with a dealer, or to know how to price your car in the retail market, or simply to know the value of one of your assets, which is always a good idea.

Getting trade-in values online tend to vary a lot from site to site. But I've found the one at Edmunds Trade-In Quotes is particularly comprehensive and accurate.

It's free, it's quick and there's no contact by any third parties. I think what helps its accuracy is the inputs will include either your plate# or VIN#. They really focus in on the specific vehicle.

Lastly, Suggestions For Getting A Low Sorento Price

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a very effective method.

Here's another method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.

In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them.

And for those of you who might be interested in a "brand new" Kia Sorento if the price was really good, here's info on exactly How To Get The Best Price On A New Kia Sorento. This works just phenomenally well.

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