Oh Kia Borrego, we hardly knew you. This large, old-school truck-based SUV went from all-new to all gone in a single model year. In retrospect, it wasn't a surprising fate. While most automakers couldn't crank out car-based crossover SUVs fast enough, Kia chose to utilize traditional body-on-frame construction, an available V8 engine and low-range gearing for models fitted with four-wheel drive. This approach gave the Borrego respectable off-road performance and towing capacity, but sales were dismal.
The Borrego itself was a pretty decent SUV. But even assuming you find one as a used-vehicle purchase, we'd recommend staying away. Its incredibly short production life will likely mean trouble getting parts down the road.
Most Recent Kia Borrego
The Kia Borrego midsize SUV debuted for 2009 and never lived to see another model year. It was available in two trim levels: LX and EX. Both models were available with a choice of two engines: a 3.8-liter V6 that cranked out 276 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, or a 4.6-liter V8 that produced 337 hp and 323 lb-ft of torque. Transmissions varied depending on engine choice, with the V6 models getting a five-speed automatic and V8 models a six-speed automatic. The base LX and EX were two-wheel drive, with four-wheel drive available as an option. Properly equipped, the V8 could tow a healthy 7,500 pounds.
The Borrego's exterior design was relatively clean and no-nonsense (you could say anonymous as well), with a somewhat low and wide stance that enhanced vehicle stability. Inside, the overall quality of materials was high, and for the most part, the layout of controls and instrumentation was straightforward and easy to use. All trims featured three rows of seating, giving it seven-person capacity, and were relatively easy to stow and put back into place. In terms of cargo space, with the 50/50 third-row seats folded flat, this SUV could swallow up plenty of gear, furniture and family pets. Unfortunately, with all the seats up, cargo capacity was reduced to a meager 12.4 cubic feet. The Borrego also lacked a power liftgate.
The Kia Borrego LX came standard with 17-inch wheels, roof rails, rear parking sensors, an integrated tow hitch and a six-speaker audio system with CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, USB port and an auxiliary jack. The EX trim added items like power front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. The V8 versions of those trims added a few extra items. Option packages upgraded the audio system and added features such as leather seating, a rear-seat entertainment system and a navigation system.
In reviews, we found the V8 in particular to be capable of frisky acceleration and performance, but due to the truck-frame construction and dampening features of the suspension, the Kia Borrego felt a bit disconnected from the road. At times, the throttle and transmission felt sluggish and braking capabilities were average. Off-road performance was decent for a midsize SUV, although the lack of serious ground clearance may put off those customers who intend to plunge into truly rugged terrain. Altogether, though, this midsize SUV stood as a worthy if imperfect competitor.