2009 Kia Borrego Review – Kia goes B-I-G

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Kia Borrego

When I first walked up to the Borrego, I was surprised at the sheer bulk of this Kia. It was much larger than the many Sorentos and Sportages I was used to seeing. However, when I first pulled away from the curb, I was pushed deep into my seat as the Borrego jumped into the street. Over the few days that I drove the SUV, I gradually learned to carefully apply pressure to the gas pedal and prevent passenger whiplash, but the massive power available was impressive. In many ways, the Borrego does feel like a large, heavy SUV, but not when accelerating in a straight line. Stopping was also done well, although bringing more than two tons of speeding metal to a halt does take some space. The powerful disc brakes can bring the Borrego to an uncomfortably abrupt halt.

Unfortunately, driving an SUV requires more than traveling in a straight line over smooth roads, which is where the Borrego needs some improvement. It felt heavy while steering, leaned significantly in turns, and communicated all bumps to the passengers with jarring regularity. More than one of my rear seat passengers commented on the surprisingly rough ride. While the ESC and TCS kept the vehicle in safe operation with no spins outs, slippage or loss of control, the driving experience was closer to a U-Haul rental than an Acura MDX.

2009 Kia Borrego

Kia shaped the Borrego into a solidly formidable SUV. While my first reaction was utter surprise at the size of the Clydesdale I’d be driving. When I calmed down, I realized that the designers had cleverly put together a well-proportioned vehicle that effectively camouflaged its bulk. The large tires and brawny wheel covers appropriately scale to the full-size Borrego so that when viewed from a distance, it could be a mid-size SUV. Only when you walk up to the truck do you realize its complete dimension. To be fair, the Borrego, the Buick Enclave, the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander are all within inches of each others dimensions, so Borrego is no enormous monstrosity. It’s just damn big for a Kia. The Borrego does nail the “I’m a big, solid SUV” message, with muscular but conservative curves. It would look completely at home in an average American driveway.

The Borrego would be a fair competitor against Ford or Buick, with 4×4 capabilities and good standard features. However, the similarly sized, featured, and priced Toyota Highlander will be a tough nut for Kia to crack. Depending on the deal you can get, the Borrego can certainly be a great value for a mid-market SUV. It seems to be built with good quality, is backed by a lengthy 100,000 mile power train warranty, has lots of acceleration and plenty of room. If you are looking for a truck-like driving experience, the Borrego can be an excellent choice.

2009 Kia Borrego

The Borrego is a good initial effort by Kia to launch into the American market for full sized SUVs. They put a powerful engine into a spacious and well-proportioned truck and sprinkled some nice luxury features on the top. There are certainly some short-comings on the handing and performance of some of those fancy features, and this Borrego suffers for it. I’m sure Kia will correct that in future models. For this year, however, I expect dealers will be discounting off the current asking price to sufficiently sweeten the deal for many buyers.

Build Interior Performance Handling Styling Value Overall
Rating 4.0 3.5 4.25 3.0 4.0 3.5 3.7/C+

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