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Types Of Gas A Kia Sorento Takes (Explained)

Types Of Gas A Kia Sorento Takes (Explained)

Writing about Kia is almost a daily practice on this blog. Today we will look at what type of gas is best suited for the Kia Sorento. The Sorento was launched in 2011 in the United States and has been a relative success. However, it’s available in multiple engine configurations, and therefore it can be confusing what type of gas it needs. Here’s a quick answer:

All generations of the Kia Sorento made from 2011 onwards take regular, unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 87.

However, this doesn’t tell us the whole story. The article below will discuss what kind of gasoline is used for what type of engine. Furthermore, we’ll discuss different additives that can and can’t be used to ensure the longevity of your Sorento, what percentage of ethanol is acceptable, and the gas tank size of the different Sorento generations. Read on!

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Infographic explaining the fuel types for a Kia Sorento.

Regular Or Premium Gasoline For The Kia Sorento?

Whenever regular gasoline with an octane rating of 87 is advised, many car owners start to wonder whether it isn’t a better option overall to still opt for gasoline with a higher octane rating (89 or 91, for example). However, this is not the case.

Using higher octane gasoline in an engine that isn’t designed for this won’t do any harm. However, it also won’t improve the vehicle’s performance or the durability of the engine and the fuel system.

Only cars designed to use premium gasoline can benefit from it. In the case of the Sorento, as well as other Kia models like the Kia Sportage, Kia Optima, and Kia Sedona, this means you better stick with 87 octane since this is also the cheapest available fuel for the Sorento.

Interestingly enough, 87 octane is also recommended for the 2.0L turbo found in the third generation of the Sorento made between 2016 – 2020.

What Types Of Gasoline Can And Can’t Be Used?

Reformulated Gasoline

First, we need to discuss the use of reformulated and non-reformulated gasoline. Reformulated gasoline is the gasoline that is designed to burn cleaner than non-reformulated gasoline. For this reason, it has become widely popular in many regions of the United States. It has even become mandatory in many states to use this kind of fuel.

Therefore, it’s good to know that all engine configurations in the Kia Sorento are designed to take both reformulated and non-reformulated gasoline. Consequently, you don’t have to worry about what kind of gasoline you put in your engine (at least not for this criteria).

However, we have to say that Kia recommends using reformulated gasoline whenever possible. Like other carmakers, Kia realizes that using this type of gasoline is better for the environment. Furthermore, this type of gasoline doesn’t diminish the performance of your engine in any way, shape, or form, and it also carries the same price as non-reformulated gasoline.

Gasoline/Oxygenated Blends Or E-85

Secondly, we have to talk about using oxygenated blends of gasoline in the Kia Sorento. Oxygenated blends of gasoline consist of regular gasoline mixed with ethanol or methanol. Ethanol and methanol are both made from biosources and, therefore, they burn cleaner. However, not every car is compatible with these kinds of oxygenates.

Kia Sorento made before 2017 can take gasoline with a maximum of 10% ethanol (also known as E10). From 2017 onwards, Sorento became compatible with 15% ethanol (E15). For this reason, the use of FlexFuel (also referred to as E85) is strictly forbidden. FlexFuel contains 51 – 83% ethanol, depending on the region and season you’re in. FlexFuel will severely damage the engine and fuel system of your Sorento.

The same can be said about the use of methanol in the Sorento. This is strictly forbidden and will damage the engine and fuel system.

Gasoline With Added Materials

Furthermore, we need to talk about gasoline with added materials. Typically, these additives are advertised as octane boosters or fuel system cleaners. However, these types of additives can do more harm than good, as explained in the 2021 owners manual of the Sedona:

Using fuels that contain Silicone (Si), MMT (Manganese, Mn), Ferrocene (Fe), and other metallic additives, may cause vehicle and engine damage or cause misfiring, poor acceleration, engine stalling, catalyst melting, clogging, abnormal corrosion, life cycle reduction, etc. Also, the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) may illuminate.


Instead of using additives, Kia recommends using gasoline with all the proper additives mixed into it. Typically, this type of gasoline is sold by TOP TIER retailers. It’s highly recommended you use this type of gasoline to keep your engine in optimum condition. Find a TOP TIER retailer in your area at

What If I Hear A Knocking Noise From The Engine After Refilling?

Hearing a slight knocking coming from the engine is an entirely regular occurrence. Especially when the car is performing at peak levels, such as when you’re towing with your Kia Sorento, a slight knocking sound can be heard. However, if this knocking sound becomes very audible and happens right after refilling, you may have more significant problems.

First off, in this case, it’s very likely you’re using gasoline with a lower than recommended octane rating. For example, in the Kia Sorento, we would be talking about gasoline with an octane rating lower than 87. This will almost always result in an engine knock.

This knocking noise tells you the engine is misfiring because it can’t handle the octane level used. It’s best to stop your car immediately and call your dealer or garage. Your car will need to be drained from its fuel, and the fuel filter will need to be replaced. Continuing to drive will result in severe engine damage.

What’s The Fuel Economy Of The Kia Sorento?

To fully understand the Sorento and its fuel use, we also have to have an image of its fuel economy. In the tables below, we’ve gathered all the data of the three generations that have been available in the United States so far. We understand from this that the Sorento isn’t a fuel-efficient car. Only the final generation (and the hybrid/PHEV that comes with it) can be considered fuel-efficient.

Second generation (2011 – 2015)


Third generation (2016 – 2020)


Fourth generation (2021 – Present)

1.6 Hybrid353336
DrivetrainElec+gasGas only
1.6 PHEV7934

What’s The Gas Tank Size Of The Kia Sorento?

From 2011 – 2014 the Kia Sorento had a fuel tank capacity of 17.96 gallons or 68 laters. From 2015 onwards, the Kia Sorento has a fuel tank capacity of 17.4 gallons or 67 liters.

Closing Thoughts

In summary, while all Kia Sorento models from 2011 onward can run on regular, unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 87, the type of engine in your specific model may influence other factors like fuel additives and ethanol content. So, while the general rule simplifies the choice of gasoline, a deeper dive into your vehicle’s specifics can help you optimize performance and longevity. We hope this article has provided a comprehensive guide for Sorento owners on everything related to fuel, from types to tank sizes. Safe driving and happy fueling!


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