2009 Kia Borrego EX 4X4Posted on February 8th, 2009
By Nina Russin
When Kia introduced out the new Borrego last July, industry insiders worried that the automaker was swimming in shark-infested waters. Although product planners can’t anticipate ebbs and flows in commodities, the roll-out coincided with a record demand for crude oil. For the first time in history, Americans confronted four dollar-per-gallon gasoline, and the market for large trucks went through the floor.
What Kia did anticipate was some tough competition from automakers it was relatively unfamiliar with. Lexus, Acura, Volvo, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all have bread-and-butter products in the mid-sized SUV segment. Although Kia expected some Borrego customers to come out of smaller models in its own lineup, it would have to conquest from other brands as well.
But the Korean manufacturer had faith in its tried-and-true strategy of combining value with a high level of content. Its ten-year warranty, about twice the industry average, didn’t hurt either.
Pricing for the two-wheel drive Borrego starts at about $27,000: a significantly lower price point than competitors such as the Lexus R330 and BMW X5. A buyer can upgrade to four-wheel drive, add a comfort and convenience package, and still come out under $30,000 for the six-cylinder model. A comfortably-equipped Borrego LX is an ALV best value.
Upscale off-road machine
The test car is the upscale EX four-wheel drive grade: pricing starts at $32,995 not including a $750 delivery charge. Except for its optional running boards, the test car has a tough exterior, with all of the features necessary for off-road driving.
The full-time four-wheel drive system has a low gear range for navigating uneven terrain. Downhill brake control and hill start assist, both features that help the driver maintain direction control on steep grades, are standard equipment.
Ground clearance of 8.5 inches is ample for clearing obstacles on the trail. Standard underbody cladding protects chassis parts from rock damage.
The Borrego’s wheelbase is 114 inches, making it longer than the Chevy Trailblazer and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Though the extra length translates to more room for third row passengers, it also makes the Borrego less maneuverable through narrow turns.
Although both V-6 and V-8 models exceed our minimum ALV towing standards, I’d recommend the eight cylinder engine for anyone who plans to haul trailers with regularity. A standard integrated tow hitch saves buyers the expense of hardware normally limited to option packages.
The Borrego is an extremely heavy truck: over 4,600 pounds for the four-wheel drive EX. Even without a trailer, the V-6 can hesitate on a steep grade.
The eight cylinder engine is a modified version of the block used in the Hyundai Genesis. Buyers who opt for the bigger engine will lose about a mile-per-gallon of fuel economy, compared to the V6. A six-speed automatic transmission on the test car stretches the gas mileage to about twenty mpg on the highway.
Although it adds weight, the full-sized spare tire is a necessity for anyone who planning to drive the Borrego off-road. Optional eighteen-inch rims and performance tires on the test car dress up the exterior. Buyers who plan to drive off-road should stick to the standard rims, and might want to add trail-rated tires.
Easy to drive in traffic
Despite its robust dimensions, the Borrego is a very easy car to get around town in. Power rack-and-pinion steering gives the seven-passenger sport-utility vehicle a thirty-six foot turning radius. Engineers opted for an independent front and multi-link rear suspension to enhance towing stability. Drivers should find the ride to have enough compliance for day-to-day commuting as well.
Visibility around the car is better than average, thanks to a narrow rear pillar that minimizes blind spots. A standard backup warning system on all grades sounds an audible alarm when the truck’s rear bumper comes too close to an obstacle.
An eight-way adjustable driver’s seat and four-way passenger seat are quite comfortable on long drives. A luxury package on the test car ($1500) adds leather trim, front seat heaters, and two position memory, so multiple drivers can share the car.
Considering its weight, engineers were smart to put large disc brakes on all four wheels with standard four-channel antilock braking. Despite its weight, the truck stops in a firm, linear fashion.
Standard traction control limits wheel-spin on slick surfaces, while vehicle stability control prevents excessive yaw from causing the driver to lose directional control.
Seating for seven
Buyers who plan to carry passengers in back should opt for the premium package that adds rear air conditioning controls. Sixteen vents throughout the interior do a good job of circulating air on a hot day, to keep third-row occupants comfortable.
The same option package upgrades the standard audio controls to a MP3 compatible Infinity system, and a sunroof that brings ambient light into the back of the car.
All passengers should find plenty of small storage areas and cupholders in their vicinity. Front-row passengers have access to a two-piece center console storage bin.
Three overhead reading lamps come in handy at night. The Borrego has multiple power points, including a twelve-volt outlet in the cargo area.
A lever on the second row seat tilts it up and slides it forward to improve third-row access. The third row has enough head and legroom for the average adult to feel comfortable.
Both second and third row seatbacks fold flat to create a large cargo floor that easily meets our bicycle-friendly standards. An under-floor storage area is handy for stashing smaller items.
All models come with front, side, and side curtain airbags. Models equipped with the eight-cylinder engine also have a driver’s knee airbag. Other standard safety features include electronic stability and traction control, antilock brakes and active front head restraints.
Kia’s standard ten year powertrain warranty includes five years of twenty-four hour roadside assistance.
The new Borrego is on display at Kia dealerships nationwide.
Likes: The mid-sized Borrego is a well-rounded offering, with similar content to other luxury sport-utility vehicles with a much lower starting price. A low gear range is ideal for drivers who want to venture off-road. The V-8 model’s 7500-pound towing capacity is double our ALV standards.
Dislikes: Poor fuel economy
Model: Borrego EX 4X4
Base price: $32,995
As tested: $39,295
Horsepower: 337 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 323 lbs.-ft. @ 3500 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 15/20 mpg city/highway
Comments: Base sticker price does not include a $750 delivery charge.
Leave a reply