in 2009 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $12,221 - $15,909
Original MSRP: $26,245 - $32,995
MPG: 17 City / 21 Hwy
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2009 Kia Borrego Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Overall, test drivers said driving the all-new Borrego was pleasant, but there was a major caveat -- its truck-based chassis made the ride seem harsh compared with the competition. Still, the Borrego has two powerful engines, a very good tow rating and capable off-road skills.

  • "The Borrego EX handles impressively on the highway, nothing like the off-roady, roly-poly Sorento. There's the kind of body roll you'd expect in a truck-based SUV, yet the Borrego is stable and predictable through turns. It reminds us a lot of the Ford Explorer." -- Edmunds
  • +"In Borrego's favor is that it feels tauter and crisper than most truck products. Both the V-8 and V-6 early-production test trucks were sporty and satisfying to drive. Not as refined as a well-done crossover, but commendable nonetheless." -- USA Today
  • "Driving Borrego, I tried to imagine what it would be like to own one. The ride was competent, controlled and classy. Not bad for a company's first shot at a midsized SUV." -- About.com
  • "A powerful V8 engine isn't the first thing that comes to mind when talking about Kia, but the Borrego has a dandy one. It's a version of the V8 that powers the Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan and features variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts." -- MSN
  • "It's hard not to be affected by the vehicle's harsh ride. Designed for towing and heavy loads, the fully-independent suspension spends less time focusing on road imperfections. This truly feels like a truck." -- Auto 123

Acceleration and Power

The Borrego comes standard with a 3.8-liter V6 engine that makes 276 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. The available 4.6-liter V8 -- a first for Kia -- makes 337 horsepower and 323 pound-feet of torque. Towing capacity is competitive at an expected 7,500 pounds for the V8.

While the V8 is recommended for its power, lower fuel economy as compared to the V6 lessens its appeal. According to the EPA, the rear-wheel drive model nets 17/21 mpg city/highway with the V6 engine and 15/22 with the V8. Four-wheel drive models net 16/21 and 15/20 with the V6 and V8, respectively.

  • "Both transmissions shifted up and down crisply - not always true even in pure luxury vehicles. And both provided a manual-shift mode that was easy and inviting to use." -- USA Today
  • "Although most of the torque is hidden in the midrange, this V8 is soft-spoken like a Toyota engine, so you're scarcely aware of the effort it's expending when you floor the gas pedal on a highway incline." -- Edmunds
  • "Both the V6 and V8 engines had plenty of power for around-town driving, though we preferred the six-speed tranny from the V8 in all circumstances." -- Autoblog
  • "Three words best describe the Borrego's driving experience: comfortable, controlled, and quiet. We focused on the V-8 model, and while it doesn't feel as strong as its horsepower number indicates, it's got plenty of punch for all situations. The 0-to-60 run takes 7.1 seconds and is class competitive for V-8, three-row sport/utilities." -- Truck Trend
  • "Equipped with the V6, Borrego has adequate power in most situations, but the 5-speed automatic transmission needs a deep stab of the throttle to downshift when going uphill." -- Consumer Guide
  • "While the 3.8-liter V-6 provides ample power -- 276 horses and 267-pound-feet of torque -- the highway revealed a soft underbelly of bad performance and awful gas mileage." -- The Detroit News

Handling and Braking

The Borrego shares a platform with the smaller Sorento SUV. It features a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension. Test drivers were impressed by its precise steering and maneuverability, but many complained about the trucky, bouncy ride.

  • "Ride quality was very good considering this was a body-on-frame vehicle as opposed to the current rash of unibody crossover vehicles now plying the nation's highways. Steering was direct and responsive, thanks to the double wishbone setup up front and the multi-link suspension in the rear." -- Left Lane News
  • "The four-wheel independent suspension is too soft for the dirt, but provides a pleasant ride in most day-to-day driving conditions. Harsh pavement telegraphs a little too much information to the driver and passengers, but a nice smooth straight road delivers a quiet, comfortable, controlled ride." -- About.com
  • "Albeit fairly smooth over most surfaces, there was no mistaking the Borrego for anything other than a body-on-frame truck. Dreams that the SUV will ride like a car are quickly broken on poor road surfaces. ..." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Even with independent suspension at both ends, the 2009 Kia Borrego isn't able to duplicate the compliant ride quality of most crossover SUVs. Our EX tester's P265/60R18 Hankook RA07 all-season tires keep everything smooth and quiet on pristine asphalt, but on rain-grooved freeways and rough two-lane roads, the Borrego bounces around like a truck." -- Edmunds
  • "The body rolled all of the time: Exiting the highway, entering the highway, turning at a corner and, sometimes, on windy straight aways. It seemed severe and was always punctuated with a thunk from my suitcase hitting the wall of the SUV." -- The Detroit News

Four-Wheel Drive

While the Borrego comes standard with rear-wheel drive, full-time four-wheel drive is available. Those who tested it reported that it's a useful system in off-road and foul-weather conditions.

  • "Put to the test in slightly muddy conditions and on a few rock faces, the Borrego fared pretty well, overcoming obstacles while never complaining. The stiff chassis (ladder frame and not unibody) enhances stability and capability. So, beyond a regular SUV, the Kia Borrego is also a solid workhorse." -- Auto 123
  • "Like other body-on-frame SUVs, the 2009 Kia Borrego has a fair amount of off-road ability. A four-wheel-drive Borrego has a locking center differential and low-range gearing, as well as hill-descent control and hill-start assist. This is enough to get the Kia up some fairly steep trails, though in stock form, its standard P245/70R17 all-season tires (P265/60R18s are optional) and modest ground clearance become limitations as soon as loose sand and deeper ruts enter the picture." -- Edmunds
  • "4x4. Borrego's the good kind. You can leave it in automatic four-wheel-drive mode or lock into 4x4 high for challenging roads or 4x4 low for true off-roading. Kia says the system sends up to 35% of power to the front wheels and anticipates the right power split based on acceleration and other factors." -- USA Today

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