2020 Kia Sorento Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

SUVs continue to grow in popularity, including the 2020 Kia Sorento models. “Let’s get epic” is what the automaker has to say about this SUV. However, the only thing “epic” about this model is the defective powertrain and faulty electrical system.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2020 Kia Sorento

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Power Train
9
Unknown Or Other
6
Service Brakes
3
Steering
2
Lane Departure: Blind Spot Detection
2
Engine
2
Electrical System
1
Firerelated
1
Air Bags
1
Seat Belts
1

Problems with the Transmission

The main part of the powertrain is a transmission. Some vehicles come equipped with smooth-shifting transmissions that make the ride enjoyable, but that’s not the case with the Sorento.

One NHTSA complaint states, “I have a 2020 Kia Sorento V6. When the engine is cold or has been sitting for an hour or so, the transmission shifts erratically between 20 and 40 mph. When coming to a stop, at the same speed, the vehicle surges forward. I have taken the vehicle back to the dealership 3 times. They reprogramed the transmission module 2 times with no improvement. This problem happens in all 4 driving modes. I purchased this vehicle 10-22-2019 and the problem started about 3 or 4 days later and continues through today 2-23-2020.”

What is causing the transmission problems on the 2020 Kia Sorento?

It turns out that Kia is fully aware of this model’s powertrain malfunctions. Service Bulletin #TSBTRA086 even talks about the replacement of the four-wheel-drive coupling assembly pressure sensor, harness and actuator motor because of oil leakage and abnormal noise while driving. If the word “epic” is said to mean impressive, Kia needs to come up with another way to describe this SUV. Maybe puny or mediocre would fit the bill better.

Problems with the Electrical System

Another top issue with the Sorento seems to stem around the malfunctioning electrical system.

Reference this Cars.com review to see what’s going on. “The functionality of the traffic collision detection is really slow almost got into an accident many times because of that.”

As more people get behind the wheel of the Sorento, it’s expected that there will be plenty more accidents to talk about. Modern vehicles should have well-running driver aids that prevent accidents, but this model seems to want to cause damage. Sadly, Kia hasn’t wanted to talk about the malfunctions, simply leaving owners in the dark. Let’s face it; there’s nothing “epic” about rear-ending a car in traffic.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Kia pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Complaint Data

CategoryElectrical System
DateOct 04, 2022
StateVA
Description
The contact owned a 2020 kia sorento. The contact stated that while the vehicle was parked, her daughter saw smoke coming out of the vehicle. The contact stated that as she opened the vehicle, she saw flames on the front side of the vehicle. The contact was able to extinguish the fire with the assistance of the fire department. A fire department report was filed. There were no injuries sustained. The vehicle was towed to a tow lot where it was totaled. The dealer was notified of the failure. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and sent out a field technician to investigate the cause of the failure. The manufacturer later sent a letter to the contact stating that the cause of the failure was undetermined. The contact associated the failure with nhtsa campaign number: 22v703000 (trailer hitches) as her vehicle was equipped with a trailer hitch. The failure mileage was approximately 26,000.
CategoryFirerelated
DateSep 26, 2022
StateTX
Description
Driving back from vacation from california to texas we smelled smoke and then within minutes of trying to pull over from highway the car was on fire. Got burt on my face and hand,second degree burn. Cw
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateSep 26, 2022
StateNC
Description
My problem is the "emergency" key on the key fob. I've never had the problems with other fobs that I've had with this one. The other day I was in a food store and had my keys in my jacket pocket and I must have leaned forward and all of a sudden my horn started blowing fiercely. I heard it when it started because I was in the store and about 100 feet from my car. Several times I've accidently depressed the rear hatch button and it would go up. I feel these fobs are a great hazard because you may not be close enough to hear the horn, or notice when your rear hatch goes up. People could walk by and steal whatever you have in the back. I'm always worried when I leave my vehicle in a parking lot.
CategorySteering, Unknown Or Other
DateSep 12, 2022
StateOH
Description
Unknown. There is a rattling noise coming from behind the steering wheel. I have it on video on 2 different occasions. I took my vehicle to a kia dealer and had it looked at they cannot figure out the issue or hear it. It comes and goes and happens when I accelerate. I spoke to kia customer service and they advised me to make a complaint on here.
CategoryAir Bags
DateAug 25, 2022
StateOH
Description
The contact owns a 2020 kia sorento. The contact stated that while driving approximately 65-70 mph when another vehicle swerved in front causing them to rear-end the vehicle in front. The air bags did not deploy. The contact's vehicle, as well as, the other vehicle had been damaged. The contact sustained injuies to her head, neck, and back. The contact had a passenger in the vehicle who sustained abdomen and neck injuries. Medical attention was needed. A police report was filed. The vehicle was towed however it had not been decided if the vehicle was totaled. The vehicle had not been taken to the dealer as of yet. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure was 37,000.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateAug 25, 2022
StateTX
Description
My daughter's father was involved in a car accident on 12/17/2020, his vehicle fully engulfed resulting in his death
CategoryLane Departure: Blind Spot Detection, Power Train
DateFeb 23, 2022
StateFL
Description
Here's the deal, what I would is for the dealership to accept a fair trade of equal monthly payments on a new kia sorento 2022. So here's the deal I have a 2020 kia sorento lx looking to do a even trade for a 2022 kia sorento, same monthly payments of 540. I've filed a complaint with corporate about a issue I've had with my current kia which it has had a issue running around 4k rpm in sport mode and won't drop down below normal ranges until in smart mode when I brought it in for its routine maintenance they said that the transmission was just catching up to the speed? Well on february 11th my wife was driving my car and the car experienced a issue were the engine was loud and car was slow an couldn't get above 60mph. My cars drive syncup got this error code transmission range sensor circuit malfunction (prndlinput) (p0705), took it into kia east the next day, they claimed everything was safe and they couldn't find anything wrong with it after having 3 techs look at it. On february 13th on alabama highway going 70mph my blind spot collision warning came on, car made a clunking noise from the transmission, felt like we got hit, went from 70mph to 30mph. Completely unsafe, had to restart the car an seems to run normal for now but I do not feel safe in this car anymore. The same issue I got the second time was the same code that I got the first time, I have reached out on social media to see if others have had this issue since kia should have started a investigation to determine the root cause of this issue an have had another person step forward with the same experience. This is completely unacceptable and unsafe to have to second guess a vehicle that I was ensured would be completely safe after having it looked at. I've already contacted corporate about the issue, they are looking into it now. I have yet to hear back from the kia general manager, they are offering to trade the car in but yet have more negative equity on the car, how about a fair trade.
CategoryService Brakes
DateJan 09, 2022
StateTX
Description
Was approaching a light at 40 mph when light turned green. Road was slightly wet. Applied break and it would not engage. Went thru red light and fortunately no car had started thru intersection. Pumped breaks snd they finally engaged but engine was not steady. Kind of up and down on speed 1/8/2022 at snot 4 pm
CategorySeat Belts
DateOct 26, 2021
StateOK
Description
I was driving on the highway at 65 mph with other flow of triffid. As I was crested a hill, I had notice ahead there was emergency vehicles ahead about half-three quarter mile and I had let go of the accelerator. By the time I had looked down in front of me there was a vehicle that appeared to not have stopped due to not seeing any brake lights. By the time I realized the vehicle had stopped, I rear ended him. During the collision the was six people in the vehicle including myself. Me, my wife and four of our children. Ages 13, 11, 7 & 2. The 2 yr old was in a car seat. Out of the the 6 seatbelts that were buckled were dislodged from it receptacle. The 11 yr old daughter was flung to the front of the vehicle hitting her head into the dashboard causing a concussion and neck pain. The front facing car seat had its buckle dislodged but the 2yr old did not sustain any injuries. Both of them sitting in the 2nd row. The 13 yr old in the 3rd row, his seatbelt was dislodged and sustain bruising and scrapes on his right side of his face. The 7 yr old complained about his stomach, but his seat belt did not dislodge. And my wife had sustained bruising around her waist and a broken collarbone. Theses seatbelts should not have dislodged from its receptacles if the were clicked in. I always make sure that everyone has there seatbelts on before operating the vehicle.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateSep 26, 2021
StateTX
Description
The moon roof is not closing. When trying to close it, it makes clicking noises and goes slow to close but then just goes half way of less and opens all the way up. The inside cover is the only thing that closes. I've checked to see if any debris is stuck but nothing is there and I cannot close the window at all.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateJul 17, 2021
StateFL
Description
I was driving on my way to work and suddenly I heard a boom and the car turn off, all the warning signs came on, no power steering while I'm driving at 45 mph. Few seconds later the car turns on by itself. All this while I was driving. I was so scared. There was other vehicles around me, I was afraid to hit them or them to hit me.
CategoryEngine, Fuel/propulsion System, Steering
DateMay 03, 2021
StateGA
Description
My car stalled as I started to drive. As I started to park again it shut down. I waited a few minutes and it started again. My intention is to get it to the dealership asap.
CategoryUnknown Or Other, Wheels
DateApr 28, 2021
StateMS
Description
I bought a brand new kia sorento. After about 7000 miles I noticed chunks of rubber missing from my tires. I called khumo they told me to take it to kia. I took it to my dealer and they did nothing. Now I have 20000 miles on my vehicle and the same tires are cupping. This is going to end up with someone dying and I do not want to be that person.
CategoryVisibility
DateApr 19, 2021
StateNY
Description
Tl* the contact owns a 2020 kia sorento. The contact stated that the trim piece located under the windshield reflected a distracting glare from the vents onto the windshield. The contact stated that the reflection obstructed his vision while driving. The manufacturer was notified of the failure but offered no assistance. The vehicle was not taken to be inspected. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 0.
CategoryService Brakes
DateApr 05, 2021
StateTX
Description
Vehicle stopped in front of us on a state highway. I slammed on the brakes. The car failed to stop within reasonable distance and pulled hard to the left. Causing us to strike a concrete wall destroying the car and masonry wall. Three occupants sustained minor imjuries. Brakes always felt weak but since we bought it as a new car we didn't know any better. Upon looking over the crash scene only a single skid mark was observed from our car. It appears that the brakes on the right side of the car did not engage or the abs system malfunctioned causing only the left side tires to brake fully. I am aware of brake issues with this model car and it may have contributed to the crash. Car was seemed a total loss.*dt
CategoryVisibility/wiper
DateMar 10, 2021
StateIL
Description
Right rear passenger window catastrophically exploded. Residential street approx 10mph. Breaking for stop sign. Temperature 63f. Overcast. Winds relatively high(approx 20+ mph). No sign of impact. Ive had the vehicle 7 months. Could have cause optical injury if a small passenger or child seat was in that location. Window shattered into thousands of small pieces covering 1/2 of the rear seat area. No previous damage to vehicle.
CategoryEngine, Power Train
DateFeb 21, 2021
StateTN
Description
I have a 2020 sorento that has ~9,000 miles on it. I was driving on the highway when the engine overheat chime started going off and the temperature gauge went hot. I pulled over and called for help, then tried to go a smidge further up the road. Within 200 yards it chimed again and the temp went hot. Put an entire jug of coolant in and my rescue driver informed me that there was a trail of coolant pouring out behind me. There is no visible damage to the underside of the vehicle or from looking at the engine with the hood up. We were told that due to the weather (middle tn) kia roadside doesn't have any tow truck drivers available, and neither did my insurance company. A local towing company is retrieving my vehicle tomorrow and taking it to the kia dealership that I purchased from.
CategoryService Brakes
DateFeb 20, 2021
StateTX
Description
The abs does not work correctly. When I contacted kia they said that the brakes are supposed to pulsate my kia does not do that when I have to slam on my brakes the brakes do what I call skip where my foot is usually pushed off brakes and stops braking completely. Due to this my family almost lost our lives when I could avoid a deer that ran out into the road when I was evatucating for hurricane delta.
CategoryLane Departure: Blind Spot Detection
DateJan 11, 2021
StateCA
Description
Vehicle was purchased aug 2020. As of jan 10, 2021 "check blind spot collision warning (bcw) system" light came on about 6 times. If the light comes on while driving, the vehicle feels like it downshifts. Light has also come on while waiting for a red light. The bcw system was turned off the last two times the warning light came on. The last time it came on was jan 10, 2021 at approximately 10:45pm. I was driving on a city street. The bcw system was turned off & there were no vehicles next to me. The transmission again felt like it downshifted. I have attached a picture of the warning light that came on on jan 4, 2021.
CategoryPower Train
DateNov 19, 2020
StateKS
Description
I bought this can brand new 4/30/20. I noticed small erratic stuttering in the engine while cruising at 30-40 mph. I wasn't sure what it was or that I did something to create it. A friend was riding with me and ssk what what causing the issues. I said you can feel that? I took the car in in oct @ the first oild change 6kmiles on the care at this point. The drive mode would be different each starting as well. The dealership was able to recreate the issue. They reset the drive modes and said that should fix it. Here we are a mth later at 7k miles on the car. Its still happening as well as lurching when stopped. Took it in today and they said there's nothing wrong and could not recreate it. From what I understand this is an ongoing issue that they don't seem concerned about getting the issue resolved. This will be my last time dealing with a kia!!!
CategoryPower Train
DateOct 29, 2020
StateTX
Description
We purchased the 2020 sorrento v6 with the 8 speed automatic transmission. From the very beginning the transmission had an erratic shift when it was cold. Took the vehicle to the dealer and they said they were going to install a new transmission in it. Found out when I pick up the vehicle up that they in fact installed a rebuilt transmission, vehicle now has 1100 miles on it. Problem was not fixed. Took the vehicle back and the dealer I was informed that a kai rep was going to come out and look at the vehicle. That is exactly what he did he looked at the vehicle and drove it. The kia rep then drove another sorrento on the lot and reported back that my sorrento was 'operating as designed'. I also drove two other v6 8 speed sorrento's that were on the lot and they were both having the same problem. In my 45 years of driving I have never had a transmission behave like this unless there was a problem with it. I have escalated the issue to the kia customer care center (800) 333-4542. The customer care center are like lemmings and only read back to me what the dealership and so called expert entered in to the system. I was advised by the customer care representative that if I wanted to fix the problem myself I could do so and if kia did put out a service bulletin or recall I could be reimbursed for my expenses.
CategoryPower Train
DateAug 10, 2020
StateNH
Description
When car is cold it acts like it skips taking off on a hill. ( transmission shifts erratically) took car to dealer for service that said this is normal I think it will be a lot worst this winter when it gets real cold as the car hesitates when taking off and pulling out into traffic
CategoryPower Train
DateAug 02, 2020
StateAZ
Description
Transmission stutters or hesitates when shifting, and it is especially bad until the car has been driven for at least 10 minutes. It is worst when shifting from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd. I have only owned the car for two months and it has acted this way from day one.
CategoryPower Train
DateMay 28, 2020
StateNC
Description
The day after I purchase my new kia I had started to work the motor was cold and when trying to shift gears it slipping when you first started out until motor has warmed up I took it back to the dealership and they stayed to just drive it until the first oil change and they would check on it then I feel that the car is going back down when driving it. *tr
CategoryPower Train
DateMay 26, 2020
StateSC
Description
The transmission will act in a very erratic manner when the car is first driven after sitting cold for several hours. This problem appears when accelerating, and persists until the car has been driven a few miles. *tr
CategoryPower Train
DateFeb 23, 2020
StateAZ
Description
I have a 2020 kia sorento v6. When the engine is cold or has been sitting for an hour or so, the transmission shifts erratically between 20 and 40 mph. When coming to a stop, at the same speed, the vehicle surges forward. I have taken the vehicle back to the dealership 3 times. They reprogramed the transmission module 2 times with no improvement. This problem happens in all 4 driving modes. I purchased this vehicle 10-22-2019 and the problem started about 3 or 4 days later and continues through today 2-23-2020.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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6 COMMENTS
  • Lyle

    I have a 2020 Kia Sorento EX V6 AWD and have driven it 26000 miles. The only issue I’ve had is occasionally the Apple Car Play disconnects and I have to unplug it and plug it back in to get it working again. I bought a new cable but still does it off and on. Kia checked it and found no issues with USB port. Other than that it’s been a great vehicle. Avg 26.5 MPG on trips and I am a fast driver so that’s not bad. I wanted the SX but none were available . My next car will be the Telluride Sx if I can find one.

  • Jollery

    I also bought my 202 Kia Sorento in August of 2020 and have issues from the very first day of my purchase. My screen goes black for no reason, both my back window engines have gone out and I’ve been waiting 4 months for the second window to be repaired, the interior wood trim pieces have peel off and been replaced 3 times and I’ve been waitn 4 minths for the 3rd repair. My windshield was broken and I’ve been unable to get a facory windshield from my dealer, so was forced to replace it with a non factory windshield. This has affected the sensor connections that automate my entire air conditioner, heater, and defrost system. I live in Arizona and Texas…which are the 2 worse places to live without air conditioning, heater, or a defrost and no working back windows.

  • Jonathon C

    My 2020 Kia Sorento keeps having alternator problems. The vehicle has 104k now and since it’s no longer under warranty they want me to pay. I know for a fact a alternator is supposed to last longer than 6 months

  • Bryan W

    We bought a 2020 Kia Sorrento EX-V6 AWD August of 2020 and it is absolutely the best Automobile that we have ever had. We currently have over 26,000 miles on it and it drives and rides extremely well. We have not experienced any of the problems that have been stated by others so far. This vehicle has made numerous trips from the east coast to the mid-west and we have always felt safe and comfortable. We religiously perform all required maintenance and will continue to do so. Sorry to hear that some are experiencing problems. We still believe it has been the best vehicle decision we have made.

  • Corey Y

    Bought my 2020 Kia Sorento EX in August of 2020. After the first oil change it started shifting erratically between 20 and 25 mph and sometimes up to 40 mph especially when the AC is on high and when the vehicle is cold. Also having problems with the lunging forward when breaking. And not impressed with the front collision cameras. The vehicle to date has 17,000 miles on it and the brakes have been squeaking for at least six months now too. Took it in to Kia and they say there’s nothing wrong with it. As soon as I got in and took off and started doing it again.

  • Davante C

    Bought a kia around August -September and had no problems. Recently gotten an oil change and now my screen goes black on startup. My transmission lunges forward when I come to a stop. I can literally drive 5mph without touching the gas.. not supposed to do that.. Try to press the gas gets no power and takes longs to shift and accelerate. Suppose to be a 2020 EX gdi. Please help. Only had the car less than 2 months.

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