Used 2003 Kia Sorento SUV Consumer Reviews
I bought my 2003 Kia Sorento EX 4x4 automatic brand new in 2003. I was the original owner and as of this posting (2017) had $130K. I've since sold the Sorento in favor of a Toyota 4Runner because the new Sorento is no longer a body-on-frame truck platform. The new Sorento is a unibody car platform. I wanted something more rugged and durable and the 4Runner is a true SUV. I took great care of the Sorento which is the main reason it lasted 130k miles. The engine, transmission, and suspension, steering have been solid as a rock. Even after 130k miles, all the rubber suspension bushings looked like new condition! I've only had a few issues. The transfer case stopped shifting into 4x4 due to lack of use, but still operated in 4x2 mode. One engine sensor needed replacing, along with normal hoses, and the fuel temperature senor and thermostat which I replaced myself. It also needed new shocks, which is normal for the age. (Get Bilstein shocks, they are the BEST shocks!). Other than that it has been a workhorse, and reliable. The engine has considerable low end torque so it appears fast for 190 HP. It is spacious inside, with plenty of cargo room. With the proper wet traction tires the Sorento feels very safe and controlled in the rain. Without proper winter tires it is terrible in snow and ice. As a used vehicle the first generation Sorento is a great bargain. Just make sure the timing belt and water pump have been replaced. The BIG Achilles heel for the Sorento is the CRANK SHAFT PULLEY BOLT. There is a recall due to it being weak. If it breaks or timing belt breaks, either can destroy the engine. There is a new, stronger crank shaft bolt replacement. MAKE SURE this has been replaced and if not sure than factor that into your after purchase expense, and replace it right away! If considering a Kia Sorento of this era, talk to Kia service to determine the cost to replace the timing belt, water pump, crank shaft pulley bolt, and drive belts if they have not already been replaced recently. Talk to Kia about that crank shaft pulley bolt recall. UPDATE: six months after I sold the Sorrento - After driving my 4Runner for a while I now realize how stiff and harsh the Sorrento suspension springs really were. With the first generation Sorento you will feel every bump, every pothole, every imperfection in the road. However, the trade-off with a tight suspension is that you will gain precise, controlled steering. The Sorrento does not wander or weave and tracks straight on the road even in a torrential downpour. If you want safety and handling more than ride comfort then the first generation Sorento is for you. I must say though that the new Bilstein shocks that I installed enhanced the precise accurate steering but did not compromise ride quality. The very stout and stiff stock Sorento suspension springs are what causes the harsher ride. In contrast my 4Runner has less precise steering than the Sorento, however the the trade-off is the ride quality in the 4Runner is smooth and comfortable. So it's a trade-off with vehicles - Precise, tight handling and stiff suspension with a harsher ride, or pillowy soft ride and mushy handling. Some newer vehicles have what is called "Active Handling Suspension" that solves this issue and combines great handling and comfortable ride, but those systems are expensive to fix. So, In conclusion, a well-cared-for, first-generation Kia Sorrento is a good vehicle choice - Just know the issues, get a pre-purchase inspection, get any issue fixed, keep up the regular maintainance and you should have a good vehicle for years to come.
I bought this car as a third owner in 2011 with 138000 miles. The car was poorly maintained. Thats what I got for the price I bought it for. But I am so glad I bought this car. I had to change the brakes and tires, some bulbs, oil change, and I had to change the spark plugs. The car started running like new. I had no major problems with the car, just maintenance. I had my check engine light on for a couple of months but later on I found out it was because of a faulty throttle position sensor which was easy to change. After that, the check engine light went away till this day. I had a A/C leak but I managed to find the leak and fixed it myself.
This Sorrento was a replacement for my previous vehicle. It was used and abused. Previous owner did no maintenance on it. Spent a couple of hours under the hood cleaning MAF sensor, throttle body. Had my buddy replace the oil and all the tires. Not to mention complete brake fluid change( no charge for any of it. For which I am eternally grateful) it now runs like a champ. Roomy , comfortable, fun, and a pleasure to drive. Still needs to have a few little things done. The fact it ran as good as it did considering what wasn't done in it 255,000 miles of service is testament to its build quality. Called KIA about recalls. Booked in same day.
Minor problems like horn, clock not working. Had to replace the U-joint front and back. Everything else is fine and working. Minor leak in sunroof, was adjusted. Paint on side mirrors came off and the same for the tail hatch. Made out of plastic.
I bought the Sorento for my company car and 227,000 miles later am amazed at how it's held up. No it's not a Lexus, but with only minor problems in 5 years I am looking to buy another one. I have owned GM, Ford and Toyota cars and this Korean one has been by far the least trouble and the overall best ride. I have recommended it to many who were skeptical when I purchased it!