2009 Kia Borrego
Nice Vehicle, Bad Timing

We Like: Interior appointments, nice engine, quiet cabin, true utility.
We Don't Like: Suspension feel when the going gets rough, lacks some essential features.

Kia Execs have got to be beyond tired of seeing the phrase above pop up whenever the discussion turns to the Borrego, the Korean automaker's stout, all-new midsize SUV (sorry, Kia, had to go there again). Despite a market that's run screaming from traditional truck-based SUVs, Kia remains confident its first seven-passenger SUV will be a sales success. After hustling it around our test loops, we're pretty sure the Borrego will more than hold its own.

Not some sissy car-based crossover, the Borrego is a brawny, body-on-frame lad capable of towing up to 7500 pounds with the optional 337-horse, 4.6-liter V-8 (the base 3.8-liter V-6 pulls up to 5000 pounds). We have the loaded-up, 4WD V-8 mated to a smooth-shifting, six-speed automatic with a manual mode. It's a solid freeway cruiser, with more than enough power for any pavement-pounding situation. Steering feel is nicely-weighted and direct, and the brakes are strong, stopping the 4872-pound vehicle in 130 feet from 60 to 0 mph.

The Borrego's well-executed center console features a smartly designed nav system, along with plenty of standard and available entertainment options. We haven't heard a lot of noise in the leather-trimmed cabin at freeway speeds, and its fit-and-finish appear first-rate. It's an interior that should help snuff out any lingering cracks about Kia's quality. Praise continues for the Borrego's sheetmetal, with a prominent grille and traditional SUV looks that aren't breaking any rules, but not breaking any mirrors, either.

So why no Calipers for the Borrego? For one, the stiff suspension tends to get out of sorts, especially over rough pavement and during the off-road portion of our test loop. Our tester also has an annoying rattle in the back we've been unable to diagnose (although to be fair, other Borregos we've driven didn't exhibit that noise). It lacks a power rear lift-gate, the backup camera is only available only on the top trim level, and the V-8 4WD is thirsty, delivering only 13.6 mpg during our testing. But, overall, a nice piece at a typically competitive price. We hope for Kia's sake the market will rebound and notice.
- Michael Floyd

2009 Kia Borrego
Base price range $26,995-$33,745
Price as tested $39,295 (EX V-8 4WD)
Vehicle layout Front engine, RWD/4WD 7-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 4.6L/337-hp/323-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 4872 lb (54/46%)
Wheelbase 114.0 in
Length x width x height 192.1 x 75.4 x 71.3 in
0-60 mph 7.2 sec
Quarter mile 15.5 sec @ 90.5 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 130 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.77 g (avg)
MT figure eight 28.9 sec @ 0.57 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy econ 15/20 mpg
MT observed fuel econ 13.6 mpg
CO2 emmisions 1.15 lb/mi
Engineering ***
Design ****
Interior/functionality *****
Performance ****
On-road refinement ***
Off-road ability ****
Value ****
A solid, if not landmark, entry into the crossover segment that gets the job done.