Hurtling down a northern Missouri interstate at speeds of up to 118 mph, Lauri Ulvestad was convinced that her car was driving itself. She called family, she called 9-1-1, she tried to turn the car off.
But the only thing that seemed to work was gripping the wheel of her 2011 Kia Sorrento like an offroad racing driver and avoiding hitting other vehicles. Luckily, the car decided to stop driving fast at some point, too, and slowed down 35 minutes later. By that time, Ubelstad had traveled nearly 60 miles and was in the next state.
The cops were convinced that Ubelstad did everything humanly possible to try to stop the car, including engaging the emergency brake and trying to turn it off. But her Sorrento features a push button start, and she said there was no key off option. Slicing through traffic in a cheesy cute ute at 100+ mph speeds definitely aren't ideal conditions for decision making.
While this type of thing probably doesn't happen often, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Defects Investigation has received 256 complaints about the 2011 Kia Sorrento, covering everything from sudden acceleration to no acceleration at all. Some of the complaints even linked turning the lights on-and-off to transmission function.
Sounds vaguely reminiscent of GM's malaise-era wipers-connected-to-every-electric-accessory-in-the-car issue.
UPDATE: Kia sent us the following statement ,indicating that they were unable to duplicate the issue.
Kia Motors America (KMA) places a priority on vehicle safety and takes reported customer concerns seriously. Upon learning of this incident from the customer, KMA requested an initial inspection and test drive of the vehicle by authorized Kia service technicians and alternate transportation has been provided to the customer. Our technicians have been unable to duplicate the issue and this appears to be an isolated incident. KMA will continue to investigate and analyze the facts of this situation and will work with the customer to resolve the matter in a timely manner. As always, any Kia customers with questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact KMA's Consumer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (4Kia).
Photo credit: Missouri Highway Patrol