By Suburban Dad on March 20, 2008
I couldn't get too close to the new Borrego in Detroit, and I couldn't find it in Chicago, but I was finally able to spend time with Kia's new full-size SUV in New York and was fairly impressed by it. The Borrego has a very truck-like feeling to it, very much in line with the Toyota 4Runner and Ford Explorer, both of which, Kia says, are smaller than the Borrego. I drove a 4Runner last week on a business trip, and in terms of inside space the two feel very close in size. I liked the amount of space in the second row of the Borrego; with the driver's seat set to where I normally have it, my knees weren't smushed back there. Headroom in the driver's seat was tight, but the model on the show floor had a sunroof, which usually steals a few inches of headroom. I doubt I'd buy one with a sunroof.
The controls up front were good but not extraordinary, though I did like the AUX hookups; Kia offers a USB port for your iPod as well as an MP3 jack. If your family is like mine, some of your kids may have iPods while younger ones are blessed with less-expensive (thus less expensive to replace) MP3 players. Both sit under a flip-up cover, which makes it look like the designers built the Borrego with iPods in mind, not as an afterthought. In addition, there's a recessed storage area directly in front of the AUX jacks to rest whatever type of MP3 player you've got.
Getting into the third row is a little dicey. On the passenger side, there's a lever that pushes the 40% portion of the second row forward to let kids climb into the third row. There's no such lever on the driver's side, and while I understand that it's always safer for kids to enter curbside, in the driveway it's a lot faster loading the car when kids can get in from both sides. You can move the 60% portion of the second row out of the way, but it's a two-hand move, and it's a pain.
Leave the Borrego's third row for the kids. The seats are not as comfortable (by far) as the front two rows, and headroom is limited. Still, both the second and third rows have hard plastic backs, which makes for easier cleanup but which may also let your groceries and luggage go sliding around if you're not careful.
The only other issue I have with the Borrego is the limited storage space in the front. The glovebox is fairly small, and the storage space in the center console was also smaller than what I've seen in competitors.
I haven't been able to drive the Borrego, but I've liked Kia’s other SUVs and minivans (full disclosure: I own a Sedona). I'm looking forward to trying this one out around town -- though with the Borrego's V-8 and Kia's history of building gas-guzzling SUVs and vans, that could be a pricey trip.