Notes: Kia really changed the design of the Sorento in the 2011 model year. Instead of a truck-like body-on-frame more capable of offroad adventures, the newest Sorento is a unibody construction and is much more crossover than sport utility. The changes brought a whole slew of problems, including a frustrating problem where the door that won’t open. Is it too late to go back?


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
7 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
37,880 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2011 Kia Sorento drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2011 Kia Sorento Owner Comments (Page 2 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #105

Jul 202015


  • 32,700 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that while driving at 25 mph, making a left turned and depressing the accelerator pedal, a riddling noise emitted from the vehicle. The vehicle failed to go forward. The vehicle was towed to a dealer, where it was diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 32,700. MA 10/2

- Greensburg, PA, USA

problem #104

Jul 182015


  • 112,000 miles
My 2011 Sorento lost all power after a high pitched whirling noise while driving on a 55 mph highway. We had it towed and learned the transmission was gone. Once the vehicle was taken apart, the intermediate drive shaft was excessively worn, warped and obviously in need of repair. Quick research on your site and Kia's site showed the recall concerning right sided drive shaft leading to transmission failure if not taken care of and the made on dates which included my car's date (March 16, 2010). My calls to Kia motors, my local dealer, and the service manager only uncovered that my warranty was no longer valid. I have explained to everyone I am well aware of this but would like an explanation as to why my vehicle with a March 16, 2010, born on date, with excessive wear on the drive shaft that lost power while driving on a 55 mph highway just as the recall states (almost to a T) was not covered. No one and I mean absolutely no one can explain to me why it is not covered.

- Adairsville, GA, USA

problem #103

Nov 012014


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that while driving approximately 45 mph, there was an abnormal noise coming from the front of the vehicle without warning. The failure recurred on several occasions at various speeds. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic and was diagnosed that the vehicle needed an alignment and the two front tires were worn out. The vehicle was repaired, however, the abnormal noise persisted. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 11V258000 (power train). The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 50,000. MA 10/22/2015

- Valley, NE, USA

problem #102

Aug 152012


  • 3,500 miles


When slowing down, the transmission would bang forward. This has been happening all the time the car's speed is reduced. We have complaint to dealer many times. The last time we brought the car in for servicing the mechanic said there was something wrong with the transmission, but could not find the problem. He said he adjusted it back to factory start, what ever that means. We are still having the problem to this day.

- Effort, PA, USA

problem #101

Jun 302015


  • miles
Started vehicle and put into reverse, once in reverse I began to back up, the gear slips out of reverse into neutral. If placed back into gear park, reverse or drive it pauses for a few seconds then shifts hard with a clank sound. If you proceed to drive it shifts like it is going from first to third gear. It will not correct itself once driving. Sometimes when this happens I can turn the vehicle off and restart it and it works fine with no slipping or shifting problems, the check engine light does not come on. However today it will not correct itself and the check engine light has come on.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

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problem #100

Mar 312015


  • 72,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. While the vehicle was parked, it rolled away and crashed into two headstones. A police report was not filed and there were no injuries reported. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the shift interlock solenoid failed. The vehicle was unable to be repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 72,000.

- Grimes , IA, USA

problem #99

Mar 102015


  • 76,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that when driving over a bump, there was an whining sound coming from the vehicle. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and stated that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 11V258000 (power train). The failure mileage was 76,000.

- Cleveland , OH, USA

problem #98

Jan 192015

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 69,900 miles
A vehicle abruptly stopped to turn left and I had to swerve to avoid rear-ending it resulting in head on collision with a utility pole.

- Liverpool, NY, USA

problem #97

Oct 152014


  • 77,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that when attempting to shift the vehicle into reverse, the transmission failed to recognize the gear for which the lever was shifted. The contact mentioned that the vehicle had to be turned off and restarted in order for it to resume normal operation. Also, the contact mentioned that the vehicle would make a loud knocking sound when the transmission was forced into reverse. The vehicle was not inspected or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The approximate failure mileage was 77,000.

- Pheonix, AZ, USA

problem #96

Aug 012014

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Vehicle started by losing power on take-off. Later violent jerking/shifting over 30 mph. I have taken the vehicle to both dealer and personal mechanic. Crank and cam sensors were replaced. Issue is not resolved. The vehicle sometimes shuts off upon take-off. Sometimes it immediately starts again, other times I have to put into neutral and restart. This issue is also not resolved. Positive battery cable was removed to reset the computer. This temporarily fixed the problems for a day. When placed into "sports mode", the vehicle shifts without driver input (second gear and above). Note: Unscrupulous dealer mechanic voided engine warranty for "sludge" in engine and incorrectly removed a sensor, resulting in breakage of said sensor. Personal mechanic saw normal traces of "sludge" in engine. Vehicle is acting similar to previous recalls of the same year, make/model, but does not fall into VIN/date ranges for recall repair..

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #95

Aug 282014


  • miles


The vehicle would not start finally it started in the drive position, have been complaining to the dealer that the vehicle shifts on its own from drive to another position. In addition all the lights remain on in the dash board. Vehicle was taken out the repair shop on 8/25/14 and this problem was rectified. The airbag light is on now since 8/25/14.

- St. Thomas, VI, USA

problem #94

Aug 172014

Sorento 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start intermittently. The dealer replaced the transmission, but the failure persisted. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 34,000. Updated 10/02/14 updated 3/2/2015

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #93

Jun 262013


  • 73,000 miles
I was parked in a parking spot, put the car in reverse to back out, when I tried to put it in drive it wouldn't shift past neutral. It has done this six times in the last year since the first incident but has become more frequent. This last time, the same thing occurred every time I parked (four times in one day). Also the ESC and dbc lights come on when this happens. I finally decided to call the dealership and schedule an appointment because on this same day, as I was driving on the highway the ESC and dbc lights came on and stayed on until I pulled over and turned the car off.

- Pleasant Hill, MO, USA

problem #92

Feb 202014

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 56,243 miles
1) the vehicle has stalled out six (6) times during my ownership. This has occurred after stopping. I was able to restart the vehicle four of the six times by stopping, putting the vehicle in park, and pressing the "start" ignition button. Two of the six times the gear was locked into drive and neutral only. The vehicle would also not shut off. Both times 911 was called for California highway patrol assistance was contacted as I was stranded on the freeway. This occurred on 2/20/14 and 6/03/14. On 5/17/14 the vehicle was brought into the Kia car pros carson facility for the 60,000 mile maintenance and passed with no issues. 2) the backup camera flutters intermittently (about 10-15 times a month) mostly in the morning on start up and sometimes at night. Kia of cerritos had replaced the navigation/radio module 3 times, but official records show it was replaced only twice. This has not rectified the issue as it still persists. 3) the radio inconsistently (about 2-5 times a month) does not start for about 20 seconds after starting the vehicle up. I am not confident that the issues are resolved and I fear for the safety of myself and all who ride in the vehicle. The Kia car pros carson facility replaced the drive assist part and cleaned the electrical contacts for the first incident in Feb 2014. I was told this would rectify the issue. On 6/03/14, I was told a software update to the ECU (electrical control unit) was performed, but they do not guarantee that the problem has been resolved. I want the facility to retain my vehicle and perform a full diagnostic on the vehicle until they can guarantee that it will not stall and lock up on me again. Corporate Kia said the vehicle can be released and the facility will not investigate any further. I do not believe Kia is taking this matter seriously.

- Torrance, CA, USA

problem #91

Jun 032014


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to shift to park and rolled forward. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 100,000.

- Gatesville, TX, USA

problem #90

Mar 032014

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 49,000 miles
The vehicle abruptly jerks or changes gears when reducing speed. When taking the foot slowly off the gas pedal the vehicle jumps causing the vehicle to almost stop. The transmission also makes a very loud noise. Sometimes it just turns off by itself. Car is only 2 years and a half old and it's already having signs of breaking down and having problems that could cause accidents. Kia says they don't know what the problem is. I have taken the car to the dealer twice. The first time they cleaned the throttle body, but it didn't fix the problem. I have taken the car to the dealer again, still waiting for solution. Researching the internet, I found there are many similar complaints where Kia just won't do anything. Actually I found this web page as a recommendation from one of the forums. Hope you can help.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #89

Mar 302014


  • 84,000 miles
When the Sorento reaches a speed above 60 it hesitates before abruptly jumping into the next gear, causing the entire vehicle and all passengers to jerk forward. The jumping of the gear is so forceful that it sounds as if the engine is about to fall out of the vehicle each time it's placed in gear.

- Hendersonville, TN, USA

problem #88

Jan 302014


  • 36,000 miles
When switching from park to drive a loud pop will be heard from the vehicle usually occurring (loudest) during cold moist days. In the same conditions when the vehicle is in motion the car begins to stutter and vibrate when switching gears (this is usually felt initially driving off or during hard brakes at lights). Car at one point stalled in middle of traffic. When going to dealer they said software updates should have fixed it, however the problem simply persists (though the car did not stall thus far).

- Brookhaven , PA, USA

problem #87

May 012013


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that while turning left, the vehicle suddenly lost acceleration power. The failure was recurring. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who stated that the transmission fluid was low. The transmission was fluid was filled but the failure recurred. The vehicle was returned to the dealer where it was scheduled for unknown repairs. The manufacturer was contacted about the failure and informed the contact that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 11V258000 (power train). The failure mileage was approximately 70,000.

- Norwalk, IA, USA

problem #86

Jan 082013


  • 95,035 miles
Kia Sorento infrequent and unpredictable loss of power during moderate acceleration. During certain conditions, which have included moderate uphill climbs, highway driving and city under 50mph and at moderate acceleration, the vehicle will suddenly loose power, fail to upshift when needed, or show no signs of power, followed by erratic shifting and a loud clunk. At other times on highway driving, the car will, for no apparent reason, downshift on flat sections when speeds are between 45-65mph. Multiple trips to the dealer: 1/8/13, 95,035 miles- dealer could not replicate, inhibitor switch bracket installed, did not resolve the issue 7/26/13, 106,574 miles-electronic stability and ABS light come on, similar to stop lamp switch, dealer could not replicate, did see error codes but did not provide them to customer, reset the computer. Not resolved. 10/3/13, 107,842-transmission still jerking, dealer tried replacing automatic transmission fluid, did not resolve the issue. Took to alternative dealer-road test with customer-advised the problem will need to become worse and more frequent to diagnose. This is leading to unsafe conditions due to unexpected loss of power.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

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