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 4 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #65

Nov 152012

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 37,000 miles


On several occasions, the vehicle does not want to go into/out of gear. When staring in the morning, I often have to pump brakes, or turn car off and re-start in order to get the car to move into reverse. On one occasion, it would not move out of drive and into park. While this hasn't caused any accidents/injuries, it could have on several occasions. Had my teenaged daughter been driving it at any of the times that the vehicle didn't cooperate and move out of drive, it could have been disastrous.

- Lexington, , KY, USA

problem #64

Feb 272013

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 33,922 miles
Reversed car from my driveway. Felt as if I had crashed into something (heard loud grinding sound). Put the car into drive and came to stop. Upon pressing the brakes, felt as if the ABS had engaged and gripped all four wheels. Heard loud grinding sound and car jolted (as brakes were pressed). I had my five year old and three old sons with me; they screamed from the jolt. I slowly released the breaks and applied the breaks again, and same thing occurred only with less force. Turned off the car and called for towing. Also, a howling whining noise is heard inside the car. The dealership had it for two weeks, and under the guidance of the field engineer they replaced the transfer case. The howling/whining noise continues. The dealership really tried to resolve the issue. The manager herself test drove the car and also heard the whining/howling sound. I did contact the manufacturer, but frankly felt disappointed. I had asked if anyone has called in with similar complaints and was not given an answer. I feel unsafe and very anxious about driving the car. They dealership stated the breaks were fine, and that no error code was detected. I was not given a definitive answer as to what caused the breaks to behave this way or what is the howling noise that is occurring. This is the third major issue we had with this car. I have an AWD vehicle and the current recall only covers the 2wd issue (that also has this howling sound). I have read numerous other complaints in which other 2011 AWD Sorentos are having similar issues. Please investigate; someone could be seriously hurt or worse.

- Elkton, MD, USA

problem #63

Mar 102013

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 106,000 miles
We have previously had 2 transmissions put into our 2011 Kia Sorento. Today we were traveling home from san antonio and the dbc indicator and ESC indicator lights came on while driving. I pulled over to see what it was and tried to put the car into park. The gear shift would not move. It did it several times during our trip. It also sometimes makes loud bang noises when putting it into gear. I feel that the transmission is faulty again. We have been dealing with these issues since we purchased the vehicle.

- College Station, TX, USA

problem #62

Feb 132013

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 26,112 miles


Single clunking noise whenever decelerating, which was verified by Kia service advisor at NY Kia dealership.

- Williston Park, NY, USA

problem #61

Nov 012012


  • 34,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that while driving approximately 50 mph, all of the instrument panel lights illuminated as the vehicle stalled. The contact also stated that there was a sudden loss of engine power. There was a sudden increase in engine rpms and the vehicle failed to shift gears while the contact was traveling 15 mph. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the technician was unable to diagnose the failure. The vehicle was taken to the dealer on five separate occasions. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 34,000 and the current mileage was 38,000.

- Harrisburg, PA, USA

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problem #60

Dec 132012


  • 70,000 miles
When pulling into a parking space today, the ESC and dbc lights came on and I could not get the car out of drive or neutral. I tried to put it in reverse or park and it would not move into that position. Finally, I turned the car off and turned it back on, the lights went off, and I was able to get it into park. This is a huge problem.

- Ochelata, OK, USA

problem #59

Nov 042012


  • 24,000 miles


Wheel assembly appears to have completely given out. Vehicle traveling at ~35mph when it rose slightly then gave out. Vehicle hit side of parked car and flipped on to side and into retaining wall - full side curtain airbag deployment. Entire front passenger wheel well completely vacant. Everything laying on street including suspension springs. Witness to support events. Vehicle under 25K miles (2011 model, incident 2012). Vehicle totaled by insurance.

- Conroe, TX, USA

problem #58

Nov 092012

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 33,309 miles
Attempted to park car while waiting for a relative to get off work. Car would not shift to reverse or park- no further than neutral. Was able to put car in neutral and brake to stop car. After dropping relative off at home (had to stop car in same manner as above), had to stop in a near empty parking lot, as I still was unable to put the vehicle in reverse or park. Contacted Kia dealership by phone and was told by representative to pump the break several times in order to shift the car to neutral/park. Did not work. Was told by rep that the braking "solenoid" " (spelling") has malfunctioned and that I should use something like a small screwdriver to push down a button in a small box at the top right of the shifter. Further stated that this would release the break so that the car could be put in park. Was told that car would now be unable to be taken out of park unless the same process was repeated. I've owned this vehicle just over 3 months. Certified per-owed. Less than 34000 miles. Will attempt to take to dealership for repair. Unaware if service center will repair on Saturday. This is the second time this has happened, but it was quickly remedied when I cut the car off and turned it back on while depressing the brake. Thought it was a fluke until today. Should have kept my 2006. This is my 3rd Kia. 1st vehicle with an issue like this.

- Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #57

Aug 142011

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 22,000 miles
This is my wife's vehicle, but given the issue she is afraid to drive it..... driving up hill with my foot on the gas pedal at 50 mph. My vehicle lost power ( as if I slammed on the brake ) my body went forward and was stopped by the seatbelt. My head whipped downward. Then the vehicle surged forward. My head and body slapped back into the seat. It was so abrupt and violently. It will scare you to death. This has happened to many times over the last year to count. I have tried to document the events in a journal because the dealer has been able to duplicate it only once. Some days it can happen up to 3 times a day for weeks on end. Some times I can duplicate it driving up hill and sometimes nothing. The worst times are when merging into traffic or when someone is following to close behind me. My fear is that I will hurt another motorist or a passenger in my vehicle. A term called " limp mode " has been said to me. Where the transmission shifts to a hi gear to protect it from damage. My vehicle still does this at least once every other day. I have been to the dealer 14 times. The tranny was replaced a year ago and a backfire code was found recently. A computer software update that didn't help was the last thing done in over a year, unless you count paying for rental vehicles doing something. There is also a suspension/steering issue. A hard pulling left/right and bump steer. The vehicle will pull the steering wheel out of your hand in turns and veers as it hits bumps.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #56

Sep 022012


  • 39,000 miles
After start up when shifting from park to reverse the transmission will shift violently and will produce the same reaction if you try to shift it back into park. This has occurred intermittently and otherwise the transmission shifts normally. If you attempt to drive the vehicle once this occurs it feels underpowered as if the transmission is locked in a higher gear and there is no eco indication or indication of what gear the transmission is in. We took the vehicle to the dealer where it was purchased on 10/13/12 and picked it up on 10/15/12 and were told that the software had been upgraded to prevent this. Since this upgrade the transmission has slipped out of gear twice while backing out of the driveway. When you shift back into park it produces the same violent shift. I have contacted Kia's roadside assistance and they are coming to take the vehicle back to the dealership on 10/23/12 since the last attempt to repair this concern did not work.

- Chesterfield, SC, USA

problem #55

Feb 012012

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 25,000 miles


When shifting from reverse to drive, vehicle clunks and then jolts forward. When shifting into drive, vehicle whines, doesn't move and so I then shift back into park which results in clunking noise. This has happened numerous times. I brought this to the attention of my dealership on 8/28/12 and they couldn't find the problem at that time. I was advised to keep a log of when the problem occurs which is often but intermittent. Just recently vehicle lost power at a stop sign (had plenty of gas in tank) and after several attempts to keep it running it jolted forward and ran fine.

- Atascadero, CA, USA

problem #54

Sep 122012


  • 55,000 miles
At complete stop, car would not shift into reverse. 10 miles later, attempt to park. The vehicle would not shift past neutral. Dash light illuminated steer assist and downhill park. I finally drove around until it allowed me to shift into park and restarted and was able to engage into park. 5 miles down the road did the same thing. Made it to work and shut car off.

- Paris, TX, USA

problem #53

Sep 112012

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 20,566 miles
On 11 September 2012 I attempted to place the automatic transmission in park and it would not go into park. This is the 5th time this has happened with this vehicle. Kia motors will say there is no problem.

- Douglasville, GA, USA

problem #52

Sep 072012


  • 31,900 miles
Incident #1 while traveling 45 mph car lurched, and gas pedal was non-responsive. Engine was running, but no response. Only forward motion was "idle" speed which was not enough power to make it up hill. Stopped car in median. Towed car back O dealer. Check engine light stayed on. Dealership replaced a recall brake switch, and said as there was no computer code they couldn't find anything else to fix. Reset the computer to clear the check engine light. Incident #2 less than 50 miles (24 hours) after taking the car - at 60mph same issue occurred. Shut off engine, restarted & drove back to dealer. After starting/stopping about 4 times the check engine light went off. Car seemed to respond appropriately. The car is not safe to drive in this condition. Should this happen while merging, on a bridge, or in heavy traffic accident would occur.

- Reed, KY, USA

problem #51

Sep 062012


  • 52,500 miles
On several occasion during the last two (2) weeks, I have had difficulty shifting gears (e.g. into drive, into neutral, into reverse, etc); gear shift was stuck. Only after several minutes was I able to shift gears again.

- New Orleans, LA, USA

problem #50

Aug 312012

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 19,200 miles
The other day, I was driving down the highway at about 60 mph in my 2011 Kia Sorento when I heard a horrible sound and felt a terrible jerk. It felt like I had hit something or had been hit, but there was nothing in the road. My rpms went up to about 4,000 and stayed there. I could hear an unusual sound but couldn't put my finger on where it was coming from. When I came to a stop, I put the car into park, then reverse, then drive. Each time, the car jerked and I heard a sort of clunking sound. I called roadside assistance, and the car was towed to the nearest Kia dealer, which is where I had purchased it. We were told the following day that they could find nothing wrong with the car. I told my husband that I did not feel safe driving this car and was not going to pick it up until the problem was diagnosed and fixed. We did some research and found that there was a recall issued involving the transmission in these cars. We called Kia of America 2 days ago and were told that our VIN number did not fall under the recall. We were given a case number and told that we would be notified by the regional office within 2 business days. We also spoke to the manager of the service department and they're going to continue to drive it to see if they can recreate the problem. We're still waiting to hear back from either place.

- Donovan, IL, USA

problem #49

Aug 292012

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 38,800 miles
Vehicle stuck in drive when I was pulling into a parking place. I was able to brake but engine kept running. After several tries, I managed to force it into neutral and the curb maintained my car stationary since I was unable to put it in park. Because I was unable to put my car in park, it idled in neutral until the tow truck arrived (20 min later) by which time it had begun to overheat. The incline light was on, but I was not on an incline. The traction light was on and I have no clue why since the car was not in motion. I also called the Kia dealer and spoke with someone in the maintenance dept. Who directed me to repeatedly pump on my brakes and at the same time to keep turning my steering wheel back and forth. After several tries, I was finally able to get it into park but the traction light and the incline lights remained on and the car was overheating. I encountered another incident a couple of months ago, when I was on a road trip. At that time the vehicle's mileage was about 35,000. I was going 70 mph on hwy 281 S heading to san antonio when my engine began to lose power and the engine light came on. Luckily, I was able to make it to a Kia dealership in the area. They worked on it for about a week and a half but since then I've experience odd things such as the car jumping or popping when it changes gears. Also, it tends to overheat when the car idles for more than 10 min. As well as cruise control issues. I'm very disappointed my Kia Sorento and I truly feel it is a safety hazard.

- Bangs, TX, USA

problem #48

Jun 132012


  • 300 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Kia Sorento. The contact stated that while driving 20 mph, the vehicle stalled. The contact mentioned that he was able to restart the vehicle immediately after which was working normally. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who was unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 300 and the current mileage was 14,800.

- Fort Pierce , FL, USA

problem #47

Aug 012012

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 34,000 miles
My husband was on private property. He got in the car, put the car in reverse and backed up. He heard a loud pop. He put the car in drive, and his foot was still on the brake. The car began to accelerate on its own with his foot on the brake until the vehicle got up to 60 miles per hour. Trying not to hit the house, or the person outside of the property he maneuvered the car into the back yard. The car was steadily picking up speed and his foot was on the brake the entire time. He could not get the gear to shift or the brakes to work. The vehicle struck a tree and that impeded the movement of the vehicle. He turned the car off and got out of it.

- Crockett, TX, USA

problem #46

Aug 122012

Sorento 4-cyl

  • 37,000 miles
At complete stop, car would not shift into reverse. 1.4 miles later, attempt to park. The vehicle would not shift past neutral. Dash light illuminated steer assist and downhill park. Depressed emergency brake and turned vehicle off with gear shift in neutral. Restarted and was able to engage into park.

- Blythewood, SC, USA

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