Feds Investigate Kia Sorento With Lambda II 3.3L V6 Over Motive Power Loss Allegations

Codenamed UM, the third-generation Sorento is under investigation in the United States following no fewer than 13 complaints alleging motive power loss allegations. The Office of Defects Investigation has recently opened a preliminary evaluation into this concern, and given time, chances are that Kia will be forced to recall up to 127,617 examples of the breed.
Kia Sorento 9 photos
Photo: Kia / edited
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The ODI singled out the 2016 to 2017 model year Sorento with the 3.3-liter V6, a naturally-aspirated mill from the Lambda II engine family. Codenamed G6DH, this version of the 3.3er was also used by other front-biased Kia and Hyundai vehicles from that era.

Equipped with direct injection as opposed to port injection for the G6DF, this lump originally developed 290 horsepower at 6,400 revolutions per minute and 252 pound-feet (342 Nm) at 5,300 revolutions per minute. According to the ODI resume attached below, owners experienced rising engine temperatures due to coolant loss, and/or "smoke" coming from the engine compartment.

Siad owners further alleged the loss of motive power, followed by the inability to restart the six-cylinder lump. The aforementioned failure was diagnosed to either the head gasket or head bolts. In this case, dealers recommend engine replacement. A costly fix, which is all the more shocking when you remember that we're talking about 2016 and 2017 models.

The federal watchdog's Office of Defects Investigation further published a list of 13 report identification numbers. Most complaints include the failure mileage, which varies from 51,248 to circa 143,000 miles (82,476 to 230,136 kilometers if you prefer metric units). A dealership based in Cheyenne, Wyoming indicated that more than 20 vehicles had stopped by the service department over this issue.

Kia Sorento
Photo: Kia
Whatever the root cause may be, a naturally-aspirated V6 failing this prematurely in a unibody mid-size sport utility vehicle is unacceptable. To whom it may concern, the manufacturer's powertrain warranty for the 2016 to 2017 model year Sorento is five years or 60,000 miles (just under 100,000 kilometers). That generation of the Sorento isn't a heavy-duty truck in terms of curb weight, meaning that said engine doesn't work hard in order to move the front-biased crossover.

Closer to the present day, the Sorento has been refreshed for the 2024 model year. Only the internal combustion-only Sorento is due to arrive in dealer showrooms in the first quarter of 2024, though. The hybrid and plug-in hybrid are scheduled for the second half of 2024 as 2025 models. In the meantime, the 2023 model is currently listed by Kia's online configurator as follows: $30,090 with internal combustion, $36,690 for the hybrid powertrain, and $49,990 for the generously-spec'd plug-in hybrid.

Trim levels range from the LX front-wheel drive to the X-Line SX Prestige all-wheel drive, X-Line being the designation for vehicles capable off the beaten path. The X-Pro is more capable still, but alas, the Sorento sadly isn't available in X-Pro attire. Looking at the glass half full, that will change for MY2025.

When it comes to fuel economy, the combustion-only Sorento tops 26 miles per gallon (9.0 liters per 100 kilometers) on the Environmental Protection Agency's combined test cycle. The hybrid, which is sold as a 2024 model alongside the plug-in hybrid, is good for up to 37 mpg (6.4 l/100 km). As for the plug-in hybrid powertrain, the all-electric driving range is estimated by the EPA at 32 miles (51 kilometers).
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 Download: Kia Sorento 3.3L V6 engine failure investigation (PDF)

About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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