2009 Kia Borrego Review

Consumer Reviews
1 Review
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
September 26, 2008

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.

Experts on SUVs from TheCarConnection.com have driven the all-new 2009 Kia Borrego. Our team has also scoured competitive reviews on the new Borrego SUV to create this comprehensive review. Because of this experience, TheCarConnection.com is able to provide a clear assessment of this body-on-frame SUV to help you discover what's truly important when you are making a decision about buying.

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.

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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).

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2009 Kia Borrego

Styling

It may be a bit late to the party, but the 2009 Kia Borrego arrives in high style.

The 2009 model year brings quite a few redesigns and new vehicles in the automotive industry, and among them is the first V-8-powered SUV to sport the Kia badge—the 2009 Kia Borrego.

The 2009 Kia Borrego is, according to Cars.com, a "mid-size, body-on-frame, seven-passenger SUV" that comes in LX and upscale EX trim levels. Among the many redeeming qualities on the Kia Borrego (and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the redeeming qualities are quite numerous), the first one that consumers will notice is the exterior styling. The exterior is characterized by "twin hood bulges and a Nissanesque tail" that Motor Trend calls "handsome in an anonymous, safe way." Cars.com appreciates the "upscale touches" that abound on the exterior of the Borrego Kia, including "body-colored side mirrors with integrated turn-signal lights." Motor Trend reviewers also find many styling cues reminiscent of the Borrego Kia's inspiration, "the Mesa Concept that made its debut at the 2005 Detroit auto show," and they commend Kia for "keeping the production vehicle true to its inspiration." They describe the Kia Borrego's exterior as "bold and somewhat square, but not nearly as boxy as the shell on the new Honda Pilot."

Not to be outdone by the handsome sheetmetal that adorns the exterior of the 2009 Kia Borrego, the interior also boasts some very pleasing aesthetics. Road & Track loves the "well-styled" interior that greets passengers once they sit inside the Kia Borrego, and Motor Trend feels that "all the controls are easy to find and use." ConsumerGuide agrees, heaping praise on the "user-friendly controls and well marked, easy to operate switch gear," as well as "the optional navigation system [that] has touch screen controls with clear graphics." The only real complaint with the Kia Borrego's interior also comes from ConsumerGuide, where reviewers feel "the climate control system's readout occasionally becomes unreadable due to glare."

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8

2009 Kia Borrego

Performance

The 2009 Kia Borrego does everything a midsize SUV is supposed to do, including towing heavy loads.

The Kia brand doesn't exactly have a reputation for high-performance vehicles, but the 2009 Kia Borrego offers some impressive capabilities. A pair of engine and drivetrain choices adds increased flexibility to the Borrego Kia.

The 2009 Kia Borrego is available with two engine choices: a "3.8-liter V-6" that Road & Track says "delivers 276 horsepower," and a "V-8-equipped model" that "produces 337 hp from its 4.6 liters of displacement." While the V-8 gets most of the press and the praise, ConsumerGuide does report that, when "equipped with the V6, Borrego has adequate power in most situations." Impressions of the larger V-8 are much more enthusiastic, with Motor Trend claiming the Kia Borrego "had no problems effortlessly climbing steep mountain grades...or passing lines of big rigs on I-5," and they also note "zero-to-60 shouldn't take any more than 7.0 sec, which is impressive for a rig weighing 4600 lb." The V-8 is a very capable towing engine as well, and Cars.com says the Kia Borrego "can tow up to 7,200 pounds."

The 2009 Kia Borrego comes with one transmission matched to either engine, which Motor Trend reports varies between a "six-speed automatic with the V-8" and a "five-speed automatic with the V-6." The versatile Borrego Kia also comes in "both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive," according to ConsumerGuide, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show the transmissions are acceptable, if not spectacular. When equipped "with four-wheel drive," the Kia Borrego "can be shifted with a dash-mounted switch from on-road all-wheel drive to high- or low-range four-wheel drive for adventures in the wilderness," observes Cars.com. ConsumerGuide reviewers remark that "both transmissions shift smoothly in normal driving," but they also throw in that "the five-speed automatic transmission needs a deep stab of the throttle to downshift when going uphill."

The 2009 Kia Borrego handles pretty well for a truck-based SUV. To that extent, Cars.com finds that the Kia Borrego offers "confident handling," and Motor Trend raves about the "commendable handling,” while ConsumerGuide approves of the "steering [that] feels accurate."

Unlike many vehicles that trade less-powerful engines for increased fuel economy, the 2009 Kia Borrego offers similar numbers with both the V-8 and the V-6 engines. Cars.com notes "Kia touts the fuel economy" on the Borrego Kia "as best in the class," but seeing as this is a 4,500-pound-plus SUV, best in class is a relative statement. The official estimates from the EPA are that the V-6 will achieve 17 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway in 2WD mode, while the 4WD version gets 16/21 mpg. On the bigger V-8, the 2WD estimates are for 15 mpg city and 22 mpg on the highway, with the 4WD-equipped V-8 returning 15 mpg city and 20 mpg on the open road.

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7

2009 Kia Borrego

Comfort & Quality

Kia meets the considerable challenge of crafting a roomy, high-quality, and comfortable SUV with the 2009 Kia Borrego.

The 2009 Kia Borrego may qualify as a mid-size SUV, but it's surprisingly spacious inside in all three rows. The Borrego Kia boasts respectable build and materials quality, though the lack of ride comfort is a weakness. That said, the consensus among reviews read by TheCarConnection.com is that Kia's first attempt at an SUV is a resounding success.

Kia's all-new Borrego Kia SUV is designed to seat seven, and unlike some mid-size SUVs that make the same claim, the 2009 Kia Borrego is actually quite capable of holding seven passengers in comfort. Up front, Motor Trend observes that "the perforated leather seats aren't nearly as soft as those of, say, a Mercedes, but they're good enough to be compared with popularly priced Japanese brands." Motor Trend also praises the Kia Borrego's front seats for their "excellent lateral support," which, combined with the "excellent driving position, makes long hauls short." ConsumerGuide reviewers report the Kia Borrego also features a "very roomy 2nd-row seat with plenty of space for two six-footers and good headroom even with the sunroof." The praise extends even to the third row, which tends to be laughably cramped on competing mid-size SUVs, with Road & Track finding the back row "easily accommodating children for long periods of time and adults for short trips." Car and Driver reviewers also appreciate the flexibility of the interior passenger space, noting "the middle bench has adjustable recline and slides forward to create more space for the tail gunners, so adult-size head and leg room can be found even in the third row."

The 2009 Kia Borrego also excels when it comes to daily usability, as Kia designers have clearly spent a lot of time maximizing the utility of the interior. Road & Track points out "space efficiency is a strong point" on the 2009 Kia Borrego, and ConsumerGuide rates the Borrego Kia above the class average for cargo space; their reviewers find that the "second- and 3rd-row seats fold flat, and both are split to favor passengers or cargo as the situation warrants," while "in-cabin storage includes door pockets front and rear and covered space in the console." Motor Trend took their calculators to the Kia's interior measurements and discovered that "cargo volume behind the third row (12.4 cu ft) is more than that in the 4Runner (12.1)," and overall, they say the Kia Borrego offers "a larger interior volume (156.8 cu ft)" than either the Nissan Pathfinder or Toyota 4Runner.

It's not uncommon for the first model year of a vehicle's production to suffer from quality problems that will be addressed in subsequent versions, but early indications are that the Kia Borrego is well-finished. Motor Trend looks to the Kia Borrego as "proof that Kia and sister company Hyundai are spending lots of money and quickly refining interior quality," as the Borrego Kia boasts "switchgear [that] looks and feels of quality and panel fit and parting lines are tight." Road & Track agrees, opining that the Kia Borrego "features a well-styled and constructed interior with material quality reminiscent of that found in the latest Infiniti models," and even the typically conservative reviewers at ConsumerGuide say the Kia Borrego's "interior features attractive materials and solid assembly."

One of the many benefits of solid construction is that it usually indicates a quiet ride. That is certainly the case with the Borrego Kia, and Motor Trend claims the Kia Borrego can make "90 mph sound and feel more like 60." ConsumerGuide adds that the Kia Borrego is "quite serene for a truck-type SUV," noting outside noise is typically "audible but not annoying."

Several reviewers remark that the Borrego suffers from an especially harsh ride, which may detract from the quiet interior and comfortable seating. Cars.com contends "the suspension system is harsh, transmitting road shocks" frequently back to passengers. Car and Driver also derides the "viciously stiff damping," which "bobbled heads on the freeway and actually made a baby cry" during their test drive.

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2009 Kia Borrego

Safety

An impressive list of safety features, including some geared for the off-roading crowd, show the 2009 Kia Borrego doesn't skimp on protection.

The 2009 Kia Borrego is an all-new vehicle, and as such, it has not yet been crash-tested by either NHTSA or the IIHS, the two crash-test authorities in the United States. Fortunately, with today's ever-increasing emphasis on safety, Kia designers have incorporated a wealth of standard safety features on the Kia Borrego designed to enhance occupant safety and crash survivability.

The 2009 Kia Borrego may not have been crash-tested, but ConsumerGuide reviewers point out the Borrego Kia features "traditional truck-type construction," and while that may not bode well for the Kia Borrego's rollover characteristics, it does indicate that the frame should be sturdy enough to hold up well during a collision. In addition to its solid construction, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the 2009 Kia Borrego features "a full complement of safety equipment," according to Cars.com, including "electronic stability control, antilock brakes, side airbags and side-curtain air bags." ConsumerGuide also adds that "front-seat active head restraints" and a "tire-pressure monitor" come standard on the new Kia Borrego. For those who plan on driving the Borrego Kia off-road, Motor Trend offers some good news, reporting that all 2009 Kia Borregos come standard with "Downhill Brake Control (keeps the vehicle going straight and steady down steep grades) and Hill Start Assist Control (prevents the vehicle from rolling backward when pulling away from an uphill gradient)."

For a body-on-frame SUV, the 2009 Kia Borrego offers impressive visibility from the driver's seat. Visibility is aided by the high seating position, and for the often-tricky task of reversing in an SUV of the Kia Borrego's size, Road & Track reports "a back-up warning system" comes standard on all Borrego Kias.

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8

2009 Kia Borrego

Features

The 2009 Kia Borrego is loaded well beyond its price range and can even be had with—get this—a user-friendly navigation system.

For a vehicle with a sub-$30,000 starting price, the 2009 Kia Borrego easily exceeds expectations when it comes to features. This seems to be a general trend among the Kia lineup, but the 2009 Kia Borrego goes above and beyond and even introduces a new "first" for Kia.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are suitably impressed at the long list of standard features that come on the 2009 Kia Borrego, whether it's in LX or EX trim. Reviewers at Road & Track report that the Kia Borrego "features a slew of standard items including a back-up warning system, Sirius satellite radio with USB and iPod jacks," and "integrated tow hitch." Other features that come standard on both trim levels are "cruise control, remote locking, and power windows and mirrors," according to Cars.com. ConsumerGuide says the upscale EX trim of the Borrego Kia includes "dual-zone automatic climate controls" and a "leather-wrapped steering wheel w/radio controls," along with "automatic headlights" as part of its standard features loadout.

Optional features, some available individually and others grouped into packages, are found in abundance on the Kia Borrego. Motor Trend reviewers are impressed by the list of package items, which includes "an $1,800 premium package (sunroof, Infinity audio, rear A/C, runningboards)" and "a $1,500 luxury package (leather for the first and second rows, heated front seats, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel)." Some of the more noteworthy stand-alone features on the Kia Borrego are an available "navigation system," the first ever on a Kia vehicle, and "DVD entertainment system," though ConsumerGuide points out the DVD system is not available with the navigation option. While many automakers with much more experience in the onboard navigation system department struggle to design user-friendly interfaces, Motor Trend is pleased to report that Kia's first effort "is intuitive." The other major option ConsumerGuide says is available on the Kia Borrego is a "wireless cell phone link" that can be added to either trim level of the Borrego Kia.

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July 23, 2015
2009 Kia Borrego 4WD 4-Door V6 LX

I can take all my grand children in it and feel safe .That's a peace of mind for me. Safety

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I have owned mine for 2yrs now and I have only 2 complaints , one I wish the ride was a little smoother and got better gas mileage . I like the look and the big one is safety. I can take all my grand children... + More »
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