Steer Clear of the 2016 Kia Sorento If You’re Shopping Used

The 2016 Kia Sorento came strong out of the gate. Consumer Reports named it to their list of the Best Cars to Buy in 2016. The Sorento rode the wave created when J.D. Power called Kia No. 1 in its 2016 Initial Quality Study. When looking for a used car, the Kia Sorento should be a good bet, right?

Not so fast. The Sorento was plagued with problems from 2011 to 2015, and it didn’t get better with the 2016 model. According to, the top issue is engine failure. Considering that the average cost to repair the engine is $6,400, that could significantly impact the savings you are trying to achieve by buying a used vehicle, not to mention concerns about safety and reliability. 

Reliability – experts versus consumers

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The experts don’t seem to see a massive problem with reliability. U.S. News gives it a 3.5 out of a possible 5 on its reliability scorecard. Since that one is based on J.D. Power ratings, maybe it’s a holdover from Kia’s heyday as No. 1 in Initial Quality. However, even Kelley Blue Book rates the used Kia as a 4.7 out of a possible 5.0 overall, with a score of 4.8 on reliability. 

That’s quite a departure from some of the consumer reviews on

  • In a review titled, “Worst Buy Ever,” the owner states that they had to have the engine replaced and, after waiting two months for the dealership to repair it, the check engine light came back on within two days.
  • Another dissatisfied Kia consumer introduced their review with “Catastrophic Engine Failure at 64,700 Miles”. With no notice except the loud pop and white exhaust as they backed out of the driveway, this consumer was told by the dealership that they had catastrophic engine failure. Despite proof of regular maintenance, they had to pay $8200 for repairs.

Interestingly, none of the six recalls for the 2016 Kia Sorento are for engine problems, despite the fact that it is the No. 1 complaint.

The 2016 Kia Sorento – engine problems abound

Car Complaints notes that the complaints of engine failure occur at approximately 51,000 miles with a severity of 8.5. What does that mean for used car shoppers? Well, if the original owner had it repaired under warranty, then you can cross your fingers and hope for the best. But you have to wonder, where do the replacement engines come from if the factory engines fail, and are those in for the same fate in 50,000+ miles?

If the initial owner sold it with low mileage, the engine failure could be looming in your future. As one disgruntled reviewer stated, the powertrain warranty only goes to 60,000 miles for the second owner. Depending on where you get your service, the cost to repair could be anywhere from $6,400 to $8,200 or more. 

Not only are there reports of engine failure, but there are other engine problems, as well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a total of 94 engine problem complaints combined with the CarComplaints total of 17. The engine problems overall were given a 10 in severity. While there are no details of precisely what the issues were, they presented themselves around 74,336 miles and caused at least 11 fires. 

It’s clear what you should do

Should you listen to the first reviews or the complaints that have occurred in the years since? Considering the relatively low mileage when the engine failure occurs, the number of engine complaints and the cost to repair them, it is probably wise to steer clear of the 2016 Kia Sorento.