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 3 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #85

Nov 132013

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles


Will intermittent turn on during driving and stay on. If you stop and turn off car and then restart may or may not return on. Car as a bit of a shake to it some times. Had cruise control not turn on. Electrical seems wacky in the vehicle. Also had it been stuck in park or times could not move the shifter to park or reverse. Seriously needs to be reviewed. All these issues happen intermittent and never when near the Kia dealership. Vehicle 90% of the time has been wonderful, however there are issues that need investigated and corrected for example all the above I have listed.

- Stockton, NY, USA

problem #84

May 022011


  • 20,000 miles
I started the car, put it into reverse and as I was backing the car goes out of reverse and into neutral. The R indicator on the dash disappears and the car revs real high then slams into gear and lurches forward and makes a sound as if I have hit something. I bought the car in Oct 2012 and the dealer didn't disclose this. I've had it in 2xs to another dealer and they cant duplicated he issue. As time goes on it happens more and more frequently.

- Aurora, IL, USA

problem #83

Aug 162012


  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia sorrento. The contact stated that while driving 20 mph, she depressed that brake pedal and the vehicle jerked. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection where they stated that they could not determine the cause of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 45,000.

- Dougulas, WY, USA

problem #82

Sep 122013

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 44,000 miles


2 days ago while driving heard loud sound, whoa, could not determine what caused it. This morning in my garage started for daily drive, when I put car from park to reverse was loud clunk sound. Put back in park did this 3 or 4 times loud clunking with jolting seem to lunge forward. Violent sound and feel. No warning lights are husband got in car, he experienced the same. I called Kia service, they told me to call roadside for tow. He told me then it would be a 1 day job. He seemed familiar what I described. Towed to dealer, they called me later of course they could not replicate the problem. We explained over the phone it has to be something due to loud sounds, clunking metal sound, could not put in gear. They kept the car over night, to try again in the morning, they are contacting Kia manufacturing for advice. Now I am reading all these complaints, some sound exactly like my experienced. I have no recall letter or notifications. From Kia losing faith in Kia and afraid to drive this vehicle.

- Flower Mound,, TX, USA

problem #81

Sep 092010


  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that she attempted to reverse however, the shifter could not be moved for over 30 minutes. In addition, the radio would sporadically power on independently and drain the battery. The vehicle was taken to the dealer but the technician was unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The VIN was unavailable. The approximate failure mileage was 75,000.

- Ballground, GA, USA

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problem #80

Apr 182011


  • miles
From point of purchase (November 2010) the vehicle always had a hard start, the seat belt was incorrectly installed and the gas lid fails to open without manual prodding. In April 2012 the engine failed to start, and then this continued to happen multiple times thereafter. The dealership changed the battery and service the vehicle. In the following months a series of issues continued, windshield washer pump stopped working, failure start, loud knocking sound in the engine while idle and driving, and then the car started to stall and thrust hard forward. The car was serviced again, oil changed, the changed the pump and filters, all reported problems persisted through 2013. For three months the car remained in the dealership service shop where the engine was serviced, and some "tappets" were replaced. The dealership cracked the engine cover, replaced it, without informing me. All engine, fail start, and windshield pump issues continues to persist to date (September 2013) despite multiple services.

- St Thomas, VI, USA

problem #79

Sep 022013

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 37,600 miles


While pulling into parking space, car became non-responsive to gas pedal input, but brakes sill worked. Hill asst and etc lights lit up on dash, car would not shift past neutral. Turned car off and on and was able to shift to park. Car started normally after being shut off.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #78

Aug 312013

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 37,500 miles
While driving out of a parking lot at about 10 mph the vehicle shut down and all the dash lights illuminated. I turned the key off and on and the car restarted, drove rest of day without incident. Car stalled a second time two days later.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #77

Jul 062013


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that after shifting into reverse, the gear erroneously shifted into neutral and failed to respond to acceleration attempts. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the failure could not be replicated. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was 30,000. The VIN was not unavailable.

- North Richland Hills, TX, USA

problem #76

Jul 062013

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 33,000 miles
Vehicle had transmission sensor fixed in December 2012. Vehicle was jerking and would not get into gear. Supposedly fixed. This time my daughter was driving at night with a friend on a two way road, the vehicle stopped..cold...thank god no one was hurt. The vehicle had been unable to get into gear the last few miles. The vehicle was left to cool and she was driving it to the dealer. Now being told at 33,000 a new transmission is being ordered. The car apparent, starts in third gear. Still under warranty, but the car stopped dead. This could have been a fatal accident had someone been behind her. People must be warned.

- San Diego , CA, USA

problem #75

Jun 152013

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 29,000 miles


Found this on another web site: (see below for description) very interesting: Apparently this defect has been going on since 2002!! well it's still happening I have the 2011 6 cyl AWD and found out it's still a defect in the 2012 and 2013. Nothing more to say but 'shame on Kia motors' your lack of taking ownership for this defect is just discusting. NHTSA please help us.....lives need to be saved; I am bleary eyed reading all the powertrain defects for the 2011 Kia Sorento. The Kia Sorento is prone to catastrophic engine failure, according to a class action lawsuit filed in New Jersey. Plaintiffs allege in the Kia Sorento class action lawsuit that Kia motors knowingly concealed that its 2002-2009 Sorento crossovers were manufactured with a defective engine part called the crank sprocket. This alleged engine defect leads to a catastrophic chain of events that starts with severe heat buildup, the release of debris, and then leads to loss of steering control, engine failure and the potential for a hazardous accident, according to the class action lawsuit.

- Port Jefferson Station, NY, USA

problem #74

Jun 152013

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 29,000 miles
Chapter 2. NHTSA id number: 10519967 the problem occurred Saturday 6/15, dealership closed. Called dealership this morning and was able to bring the car right in. Left the car all day and then received the news, they cannot reproduce the incident. So of course nothing was repaired. So I drove home in the 'death wish' car and prayed all the way home. The car is a 2011 Kia Sorento 6 cyl AWD manufactured in August 11, 2010. I have search the internet nightly and I am finding more and more people who have exact issue as I experienced. This is making me sick knowing that Kia Corp knows about this defect and is not taking action to correct this potentially deadly defect. How do we get their attention that this defect needs to be corrected. Do we have to check off the fatality box on this form before Kia pays attention to us. Please if someone has had a good result with their dealership as far as getting a repair done without reproducing the error code, please contact me with that information. The lemon law in my state is 5 attempts at repairing the problem and no resolve...I only have 4 more to go! Kia help us please...this defect is in your 2011, 2012 and 2013 Kia Sorento....something is extremely wrong with your powertrain in these cars. Take ownership of the defect and save our lives.

- Port Jefferson Station, NY, USA

problem #73

Jun 152013

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 29,350 miles
While driving my 2011 Kia Sorento it just lost power, it would not go forward but the engine was still running and all the dashboard idiot lights lit up. I was in a parking lot with no one behind me otherwise I would have been rear-ended if this happened driving on the road or highway. The car would not go and there was no steering response. I turned off the key to kill the engine and then restarted the car. The car started and I was able to get to my destination and park. I checked this problem online by searching Kia Sorento stalling and found a dozen or more video's from people experiencing the same issue that I just experienced. Some of the drivers found that if you use the car in the manual shift mode the stalling did not seem to happen. This is a real potential disaster. You loose power and have no way of moving the car to get out of the way when you are in traffic on a riding in a 'death wish car'. the video's also stating that they experienced the stalling many times and once it started it got worse. They also stated that Kia dealerships were of little help since they need to reproduce the stalling and since it's just random that is not easy. The videos were taped when the issue was actually taking place and showed the tach at about 15 RPM's all the engine lights lit but no steering response or power to move the car. I am hoping this can become a recall and Kia will fix this stalling problem and keep the people in these Kia Sorento's safe! if this is a computer problem then there should be an error log to show when the car lost power for no reason. Kia needs to take ownership of this defect and fix this potential deadly problem.

- Port Jefferson Station, NY, USA

problem #72

Jun 042013


  • 52,700 miles
Vehicle rolled down my driveway while in park, went across a two lane street into the neighbors driveway only being stopped by their vehicle parked in their driveway. The keys were not in the vehicle and when I got to the vehicle it was in park. After getting in the vehicle you could put it in gear without having the key ignition or your foot on the brake.

- Versailles, KY, USA

problem #71

May 122013

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 26,120 miles
Stability control and downhill assist light came on while driving. Once stopped, shifter would not go past neutral. In order to get past neutral, had to turn off engine and restart.

- Diamondhead, MS, USA

problem #70

Jun 022013

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 28,500 miles
Traveling at 70mph with cruise control engage, a large "thud" was felt in the cabin as if something had been hit. Pull off side of highway to examine for damage. No damage of any kind was noted. Upon leaving the side of the road, the acceleration was sluggish and at highway speed RPM was 4500, not normal. Pulled off the side if the highway again and turned the car off. This reset the car. Pull off the shoulder again and transmission operated normally again.

- Beaver, PA, USA

problem #69

May 142013


  • 60,500 miles
Stability control and downhill assist light came on while driving. Once stopped, couldn't get the shifter to go into park. Had to turn vehicle off and restart. Once I was finally able to get into park, the lights came on again and I couldn't get it to go back into any gear.

- Washington, PA, USA

problem #68

May 132013


  • 54,200 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that while driving 75 mph, the vehicle shifted into neutral independently and without warning. The vehicle was towed to the dealer however, the technician was unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileage was 54,200.

- San Antonio , TX, USA

problem #67

May 062013


  • miles
Stability control and downhill assist light came on while driving. When vehicle was stopped, shifter would not go past neutral. In order to get past neutral, had to turn off engine and restart.

- Clarkson, KY, USA

problem #66

Apr 132013


  • 44,217 miles
Driving at 65mph with cruise control set; when suddenly there was a violent jerk/hesitation, and an extremely loud bang, as though I had hit something. Stopped on side of the road, vehicle not making any different noise or running different, placed without a problem into park. Checked around vehicle nothing out of order, no fluids running under vehicle, tires ok, unable to locate a problem. It seemed like a miss or something with the transmission, didn't notice lights or any thing abnormal on warning system. Got back in car and continued on no abnormal noise, shifted with out incident, not sure but I am wondering about a transmission issue, hope it doesn't happen again.

- Terril, IA, USA

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