Debuting in 2002, the first generation Sorento was a traditional truck-based body-on-frame SUV. It was offered in two trim levels: LX and EX. All American Sorentos also came with dual front airbags and dual side-curtain airbags in the front and rear. An optional four-wheel drive system with low range received praise for adding to the vehicle’s off-road ability.
It had two transmission options: a 5-speed manual or 4/5-speed automatic transmission (pre-2005 models have a 4-speed automatic, whilst 2005 Sorentos come with a 5-speed tip-tronic style automatic transmission). First generation Sorentos are equipped with a Hyundai-manufactured 3.5L 24-valve DOHC V6 producing 192 hp (143 kW) at 5500 rpm, and 217 lb·ft (294 N·m) of torque @ 3,000 rpm.
Common features of the Sorento family are 4-wheel disc brakes (standard on all models), optional anti-lock braking system (ABS), and a 21.1-gallon (79.9 litres) fuel tank.
The 2007 Sorento received upgrades, such as the transition from the 3.5L to the 3.8L boosting horsepower from 192 to 262 and doubling towing capacity to 5000lbs. Projector beam head lamps were added, along with new tail lamps. The 5-speed manual transmission was no longer available; the 5-speed Sportmatic tip-tronic automatic transmission was made standard for all vehicles. The 2007 Kia Sorento earned a five-star crash safety rating, the highest rating possible, for all seating positions in frontal and side impact crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Layout Front engine, front-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
2.4L Theta II I4 petrol
2.7L Mu V6 LPG
3.3L Lamba II GDI V6 petrol
3.5L Lambda II V6 petrol
2.2L CRDI R-Line I4 diesel
Second generation (2010–2015)
The four-cylinder model returned to the lineup for North American models after being absent between 2007 and 2010. The engine is transverse, and the suspension is all-independent. The change in body construction as well as the loss of a low-ratio transfer case means it weighs 475 pounds less than the old one model for model, to gain in performance and economy. The vice president of marketing for Kia Motors America said in an interview that Kia considered changing the name because the Sorento replacement is a car-truck crossover while the older model is a straight-up SUV. The new Kia Sorento went on sale as a 2010 model, and is the first to have Kia UVO.
As of January 2011 the KIA Sorento is available in 3 models, the LX, EX and top of the line SX models. The SX is only available with the 3.5L 276 hp (206 kW) V6. The LX comes standard with the 2.4L straight-4 175 hp (130 kW) and EX has the GDI version of the same engine which is rated 191 hp. The V6 is available as an upgrade for both the LX and EX.
The 2011 Sorento has been awarded the maximum 5/5 stars safety rating from the crash safety experts, European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) and Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). The XM Sorento awarded ‘Top Safety Pick’ from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the United States.
Kia updated the Sorento in 2012, although this was delayed until the 2014 model year in the US. However, given that this so-called new model was really just a facelift of the existing model. many motoring journalists do not recognize this vehicle as a new model at all.
Introduction of 3.3-liter GDI V6 engine (SX Model)
2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder engine becomes standard in the LX and EX, replacing the previously-standard 2.4-liter MPI 4-cylinder
6 speed automatic transmission with sport shift
Electric Motor Driven Power Steering replaces the hydraulic unit
FlexSteer offers drivers a choice of three steering modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport
all-new chassis that increases torsional rigidity by 18-percent
optional strut-tower brace increases chassis stiffness
new independent front suspension that incorporates a stiffer H-shaped sub-frame cradle
redesigned front and rear fascias
redesigned instrument panel
optional programmable power liftgate
led headlight accent lighting
optional power folding side view mirrors (SX model)
interior led accent lighting (choice of blue,red,green)
redesigned panoramic sunroof with a one piece power-operated shade
integrated 2nd row sliding sunshades
available dual ventilated air-cooled front seats
a 115-volt power inverter
illuminated door handle pockets
blind spot detection system
UVO eServices Infotainment System with Voice Command Navigation
Sorento SX Limited (based on Sorento SX) include:
Choice of Ebony Black, Snow White Pearl and Titanium Silver body colors
self-leveling Xenon HID head lights
exclusive 19-inch chrome wheels
red painted brake calipers
Nappa leather trimmed seats
wood-trimmed, heated steering wheel
heated rear seats
exclusive soft-touch head liner and pillar accents
The vehicle was unveiled in 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show, and was set to go on sale in first quarter of 2013. Early models include choice of 2.4-liter GDI (LX, EX) and 3.3-liter GDI V6 (optional in LX, EX; standard in SX and SX Limited) engines.
Third generation (2016-)
The newest generation of Sorento has received the IIHS top safety pick and is a very versatile vehicle. The crossover competes with variously sized vehicles including the compact Jeep Cherokee, markedly larger Grand Cherokee, and even the family-hauling Toyota Highlander.
The reason for such a wide variety of competition, is that the new Sorento is available in five trim levels including L, LX, EX, and top-of-the-line SXL – the fancy SXL 2.0T with all-whell-drive is priced around $45k. That’s a difference of almost $20k, with the least expensive trim level.
The variations between models can be found everywhere from the engine to the dashboard and if you pick the right trim level, the result is a very luxurious feel.
Regardless of which trim you spring for, you’ll find plenty of space. Rear-seaters will find good knee- and legroom, and even taller passengers should be content with headroom. Indeed, while Kia has extended the proportions of this third-gen Sorento – length and wheelbase swell by about 3.0 inches apiece – height has been reduced 0.5-inches. The latter doesn’t really translate into reduced cabin space, and the optional panoramic sunroof keeps things airy and open.
The V6 has 290-hp, with a very linear power curve. Power is appropriate, except for the discernible lag if you mash the gas at highway speed. The 2.0T on the other-hand is almost absent of lag and feels quite a bit peppier. A little slower off the line, but better gas mileage and more torque, puts the 2.0T on a higher rung in my opinion. If you plan to use the 3rd row more often and need to be able to tow up to 5,000 pounds when equipped with AWD, then the V6 is what you are looking for.
No matter the engine you choose, you will appreciate the precise linear steering. That is something that the older models were lacking in and can feel a bit sloppy.
Great lengths were taken to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), employing insulating and drag-reducing panels on the underbody.
The Sorento’s higher, sporty grille makes a bold statement upon first viewing and the LED positioning lights are quite striking. HID headlights are available in the $2,500 Tech Package, which also includes smart cruise control, a lane-departure warning system, surround view monitor, forward-collision mitigation and an electronic parking brake.
Some Reported Pre-owned Model Problems:
Many Kia vehicles seem to have a shorter than normal headlamp and taillamp life. The Sorento is no stranger to this problem. It is not something that has been resolved aside from replacing a headlamp, just something to be aware of.
If the A/C isn’t working, it is likely the AC Compressor at fault and among the more common problems reported. There are clutch kits on the market, and it can be a DIY project for around $100.
There was a revised Crankshaft Pulley Bolt produced for 2003-2007 and 2013 models. This is something that should be done soon after purchasing a preowned Sorento. If that bolt breaks, you could be stuck with costly repairs (+/- $2,000) and damage potential to the crankshaft sensor and timing belt. Not to mention being stranded when it happens.. Be certain to ask for proof of this repair, or plan to get it done.
The airbag warning light may illuminate erroneously. This can be caused by an internal defect in the control module. Replacement of the airbag control module with a revised part may be necessary to correct this concern.
An engine misfire may develop due to a failed ignition coil. One coil is used for each cylinder. If one fails, often times another is not far behind. It may be worth considering replacing all the coils if a failure is encountered.