At 17,000 miles into our long term test of the Kia Sorento, we had found it trouble-free, and we were becoming happily accustomed to this mid-size SUV's combination of room, ride comfort, and fuel economy. A staff favorite for road trips, the Sorento was our choice for a recent jaunt to Phoenix, where it again performed flawlessly...that is until the trip home, when cruising along at the posted limit of 75 mph and passing a truck, there was a loud boom. At first, I thought the 18-wheeler had blown a tire. But not seeing any debris or the vehicle swerving, I started looking around and noticed a sound like a window was open.  None was, but when I opened the shade that hid the sunroof, I discovered the source of the wind noise -- cracked glass and a small hole in the rear glass panel.

Fortunately, we were able to continue.  The hole wasn't very big, and the closed shade offered protection from the loose glass chips. Searching the web after my return, I discovered that there were several other instances of similar shattered sunroof panels and that in March, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an engineering analysis on 2011-2013 Sorento involving 65,347 vehicles on the basis of 26 complaints.

Kia's response

We took the Sorento into Kia of Irvine, and they gave us a customer-service call-in number to report the incident. The customer service reps were professional and took down all the details regarding our experience, and the dealership said they would replace the panel. We also notified the press department at Kia, and they also took a look at the vehicle and promised to get back to us. The panel replacement generally runs about $700 and was covered by insurance

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Kia's report back to us was that the roof was probably shattered by road debris, although I don't recall seeing anything bounce up in front as I passed the big rig on the right and began following another semi that was about to move back into the right lane. Further, Kia says that 2014 models aren't involved in the engineering evaluation, though the incident sounds quite similar to other reports.  Whatever the cause, the glass mostly held together, and the pieces that did break off had rounded edges like all good automotive safety glass. 

Anomaly or problem?

With inconclusive evidence on what caused the panel to shatter, we'd put this down as an anomaly until the NHTSA engineering analysis is complete. We still like the vehicle and won't hesitate to take it on another road trip.  What we can say about the issue is that the Kia dealership reacted quickly and professionally to fix the problem even before we let them know that our Sorento was a long term loan from the parent company. So from the customer service perspective, put us down as impressed. 

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