In summer 2008, the 2009 Kia Borrego will join the growing class of seven-seat SUVs, but in an endangered form: as a body-on-frame, or truck-based, SUV, which is less fuel-efficient than the car-based crossover type. The rear-wheel-drive Borrego also offers four-wheel drive with a choice of engines. Though the construction seems out of date, the Borrego follows the Kia playbook, offering modern features, amenities and interior quality along with a generous warranty — all at a low price.
The Borrego's grille has drawn comparisons to that of the current Subaru Tribeca crossover SUV. Perhaps due to the use of an independent rear suspension, the Borrego doesn't ride as high as many truck-based SUVs do, which makes it look more like a crossover. Upscale touches on the Borrego include body-colored side mirrors with integrated turn-signal lights, aluminum roof rails and chrome trim on the door handles, liftgate and grille. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are an option claimed to increase offroading capabilities.
The rear window opens independent of the liftgate for quick or close-quarters access to the cargo area.
The Borrego has a relatively high-quality interior with roomy first- and second-row seats, and a serviceable third row for kids. Standard and optional amenities include power-adjustable pedals, a rear sonar system and a backup camera. The stereo is an in-dash six-CD system from Infinity that includes USB and iPod connections and the option of Sirius Satellite Radio, a first in a Kia. Also a first for this brand is the optional navigation system.
Under the Hood
The standard engine is a 262-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 with a five-speed automatic, and optional is a 300-plus-hp, 4.6-liter V-8 with a six-speed automatic. Kia says a 3.0-liter clean-diesel V-6 will come in 2010. It promises 247 hp and 398 pounds-feet of torque. Towing capacities aren't given yet for this engine, but the V-6 is claimed to pull 5,000 pounds and the V-8 is good for 7,500. These specs are the main (some would say only) advantage of the truck-based construction.
Unlike some trucks, the Borrego has coil springs, front and rear, which should provide a more carlike ride.
Safety features abound, including two-stage front airbags, side curtain airbags for all three rows of seats, antilock disc brakes, an electronic stability system with traction control, and offroad aids like downhill assist control and hill assist control.