It’s not uncommon for acquaintances and other motorists to comment positively on any new Kia we drive. We typically reply with, “Yeah, Kia’s really stepped up its game in the last decade,” or some other statement that similarly distances its rickety also-ran vehicles of yesteryear from the solid, stylish vehicles it builds today. See the Sorento for evidence: The model on sale now is better than its predecessors in every way. As for our long-term 2021 Sorento SX, this made-in-the-U.S.A. SUV is proving to be as high quality as when—wait, what’s that noise?
Kia Dealership Keeps It Easy—Mostly
Our Sorento has received two scheduled services at about 7,000-mile intervals, for which we visited the local Kia dealership. The process proved satisfactorily straightforward. After booking online, we arrived and handed over the keys for a few hours. This location is close enough to MT HQ that office colleagues could shuttle us to and fro, but its waiting area and amenities were such that hanging out would’ve been perfectly fine.
Work completed during both visits was routine as could be—oil was changed, filters were swapped, tires were rotated. However, during the second visit Kia recommended we purchase an enhanced fuel system cleaning service for the turbocharged 2.5-liter direct-injection I-4 engine. Rather than spend the proposed $300 on the spot, we declined so we could research what it entailed.
After finding no solidly convincing answers, a Kia customer care representative eventually told us, “The only maintenance that is required to be done is what is listed in the owner’s manual.” Given our owner’s manual listed only fuel system inspections as being necessary, and since the service was pitched pre-inspection, we didn’t return to purchase it. So far, that decision has had no tangible effect on our Sorento. We don’t expect it to cause any harm for its future owners, either.
Up the Creak
Rather, our Sorento feels as vivacious as ever, remaining enjoyable as an around-towner or, as is equally common, a road trip cruiser. But as the 20,000-mile mark approaches, it’s gained a mildly irksome tendency that it didn’t have when new: Slight creaking noises now emanate from various corners of the cabin. They’re mostly audible at low speeds, particularly when the body takes torsional loads, such as entering a driveway diagonally. Perhaps the giant hole in the structure that Kia cut to fit our Sorento’s sweet panoramic sunroof compromises overall rigidity, and, indeed, most of the creaks come from within the headliner. Others float up from the floor, but to a lesser extent.
We attribute them to various joining points settling in. If the Sorento is rattling itself loose, it’s not to the degree that anything else feels even slightly different than when its odometer showed four digits. But as most of the vehicles we assess have odometers showing four digits—if that—these creaks are auditory evidence of the types of things we aim to uncover as we drive our long-termers well into the fives.
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