Bought my 2006 Sorento in 2009 with only 15,000 miles on it. If you'd have asked me 5 years ago if I'd buy a Kia, I'd have told you no. This one had all the bells and whistles I wanted (heated leather seats, moon roof, etc). Being the 2nd owner, I still had 45K miles left on the bumper to bumper warranty when I purchased it and, here I am at 57,000+ miles and still thrilled. Is it a BMW? No, but I knew that going in. After 2 years of ZERO issues, I'm pretty happy. Oh, it does tend to need headlight and tail lights changed frequently but whatever.... even me, a girl, was able to do that myself and for cheap. Would I recommend, yes, definitely.
Overall, a comfortable (I'm 6'3") solid vehicle, but poor fuel economy and many electrical problems. Dome light diode (whoever heard of such a thing), door lock actuator (never had one fail even in the GM garbage of the 70's and 80's), heater blend door actuator, and crankshaft angle sensor ($900 repair to replace shitty magnetic pick up, but buried in engine). The sunroof plastic guide rail broke at 5 years with little use, so roof will slide but won't tilt. Temperature gauge has never worked reliably, even after 3 trips to dealer when new. I finally gave up as it wasn't important. Factory replacement windshield wiper blades last only 18 mos! Most of the problems are just annoying, but the crankshaft sensor problem is way too frequent...should have been a recall. Also, seat belt retraction springs are going bad. The build quality on the new models looks worse, so it will be a Honda, Nissan, or Toyota next time. I also have an 18 year old Infiniti with 70,000 miles, and have had less than one- fourth the problems! Update 8-22-16: Valve lifter (tappet) now ticks if the car sits more than a day or two without being driven. Not burning any appreciable amount of oil. Gas mileage down to 15 mpg using the E10 fuel now sold here (was 16 mpg with 0-5% ethanol). Have had to replace another failed electrical part, the A/C & heat temperature door actuator. Got the Kia brand part on the internet for about $70, replaced myself so no labor cost. Still driving the vehicle because it is much more comfortable to sit in (excellent leg room) than most others, and property tax is very low. Overall impression of an average quality SUV remains the same. Update 2-23-17: Replaced brakes and turned rotors at 58,000 miles. No more vibration when stopping. Have not experienced the crankshaft bolt/pulley failure but received notice of class action settlement regarding this frequent problem. Tailgate lift struts no longer work. Vehicle remains what I would term "average" quality, on par with most of the American products. I keep driving it because the seating position and comfort remain excellent and the overall cost of ownership, even with some problems, remains low.
Defective part that can cause catastrophic failure
written on 09-06-2016
Model years 2002-09 contain a defective engine crank sprocket that when the bolt breaks, causes you to loss your power steering and the engine is JUNK. The bolt broke while I was on the highway doing 65 MPH. When I went to steer on to the on ramp, I had NO power steering and almost went off the road. I had the car towed to the dealer and they told me the crank shaft bolt broke and I needed a new engine to the tune of $5000.00 I purchased the car used 6 months before for $8900.00 and there was less than 91,000 miles on it. I ended up losing my shirt on this piece of junk that Kia KNEW was defective. They don't seem to care that someone can get killed when this happens.
I really love the look of my Sorento, however it has been a disappointment. The brake lights have gone out so many times I've lost count, the headlights have burned out, interior lights have burned out, the windshield wiper fluid won't come out, the brakes have been replaced, the tires have been replaced and the jack is too small for the SUV. I had to use 3 different jacks from my neighbors just to clear the tire from the ground to change it. I have just over 61,000 miles on it so the warranty is now out and I have the windshield wiper issue and the light on my console is out. I don't know if it's worth repairing but the sad thing is that I only have 1 more year before it's paid off.
I bought my used Sorento about a year and a half ago with 48,000 miles on it and I cannot rave about it enough. Purchased it in Milwaukee and have driven it down to Austin, Texas, back to Milwaukee, back down to Austin, out to New York City, around NYC in the hardcore NY traffic for 5 days, then back to Milwaukee, not to mention a year and a half of miscellaneous city driving. It got me through the Great Blizzard of 2011 this past week too - kicked it into 4-wheel drive and it hummed through apocalyptic levels of snow, wind, and cold like a champ, didn't even flinch. Haven't had a single problem with it. If you're looking for a smaller SUV, have a look at a Sorento. Durable. Reliable. Fun.