- Power from V-8
- Smoothness of six-speed transmission
- Surprising interior room with standard three rows of seats
- Overall quality
- Covered standard trailer hitch
- Industrial plastics covering backs of rear seats
- Leather on plush LX feels like vinyl
- Faux-metallic trim on dash and doors mars easily
The 2009 Kia Borrego isn’t the type of vehicle that’s especially popular or fashionable at this time, but it’s a home run against the competition.
The 2009 Kia Borrego is an all-new, mid-size SUV and an alternative to luxury-brand SUVs, according to Kia. But actually, it does exactly what Kia does well with its cars: provide a handsome, competently engineered, well-executed vehicle with loads of features, offered at a bargain price.
As shoppers flock to newer car-based crossover utility vehicles because of their typically better ride, handling, and fuel economy, the 2009 Kia Borrego has a trucklike body-on-frame layout and an available 337-horsepower V-8. Even as such, the Borrego’s fuel economy ratings of 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway (two-wheel drive) are better than what drivers of the most mammoth SUVs have been living with.
The 2009 Kia Borrego’s exterior is attractive and totally free of anything controversial. With the wheels set wide to the corners, the SUV rides on a broad, hunkered-down stance. The chrome grille dresses things up. A nice detail is the trim cover that hides the standard trailer hitch receiver.
Inside, the Borrego’s interior has a rounded edges and a prominent, wide center console, made a little more exciting with a contrasting two-tone theme. The 2009 Kia Borrego gains fame not so much for its luxurious fitments but for its ample room (more than a Ford Explorer), high level of equipment, and the thoughtful layout of its controls. Three rows of seats are standard, and the third row is not a penalty box as it is on some SUVs such as the Toyota Highlander. A six-foot-five driver fit with almost an inch of headroom to spare.
While the interior is certainly not one of an economy car, it is equally not the match of a luxury SUV. The features are there (voice-activated navigation, Bluetooth connection, iPod connection, etc.), but a blind person would never mistake the inside of a 2009 Kia Borrego for a Lexus RX350. The feel of the leather isn't so supple, the plastic on the door pulls is inelegant, and the amount of industrial plastic covering the floor and sides of the rear cargo area can be measured in square yards.
The 276-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 provides completely adequate acceleration, but the 4.6-liter V-8 (based on the one developed for the Hyundai Genesis sedan) and ZF-sourced six-speed automatic performs especially well. The stout four-wheel disc brakes are strong enough to haul the 2009 Kia Borrego back down to speed from high velocity with genuine alacrity.
The 2009 Kia Borrego handles exceptionally well for a vehicle with its truck-based layout. Even over broken pavement, the body stays well controlled, and very little noise and vibration make it into the quiet passenger compartment. We did not venture off-road, but 4x4 Borrego models utilize a full-time Borg-Warner transfer case that includes a low range. Thanks to the body-on-frame construction and available V-8 power, the Borrego can be outfitted to tow up to 7,500 pounds.
As we have come to expect from all Kia vehicles, the company loads its vehicles with standard safety features. Six airbags are standard, including a side curtain system that extends back to protect all three rows of seating. On 2009 Kia Borrego V-8 models, an airbag for the driver's knees are included, too. A full contingent of safety acronyms is also standard, including ABS, ESP (electronic stability program), DBC (downhill brake control), and HSA (hill start assist).