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2009 Kia Borrego Review - First Drive

The Latest 4WD Mid Sized SUV

This 4WD segment is stuffed to the gills. That's because every automaker saw this midsize SUV platform as a hot potato three years ago, when many began to build the models driven in America today. Who knew then we'd be oversaturated with vehicles in a world turned upside down, with a gas-centric market and quickly decreasing dollars? However, the midsized segment is actually predicted to grow as folks migrate down from fullsized SUVs.

That said, it's worth taking a look at Kia's '09 Borrego. This seven-passenger SUV brings fuel efficiency, muscular power, a touch of luxury, and a spacious interior wrapped in a sleek brawny frame, and the best part is it comes with a V-8 and a six-speed auto tranny in two- and four-wheel drive, with a low range. Standard amenities are plentiful and include air conditioning and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 six-speaker audio system with USB and an auxiliary input jack and a battery saver. And, a Kia-first, Sirius Satellite Radio comes with three months of complimentary service. Pricing starts at $26,245 (V-6 2WD) and tops out at $32,995 (V-8 4WD).

What helps make the Borrego particularly attractive at this time of high fuel prices is its ability to drink regular gasoline-unlike competitor Pathfinder, which requires premium unleaded. Kia calls its fuel economy "class-leading"; the EPA estimates 15/20 mpg city/highway for four-wheel-drive models. Fuel economy improves when the V-6 is under the hood, enabling Borrego to achieve a competitive 16/21 city/highway (4WD).

Fuel economy comes in part from Borrego's all-aluminum engines-Kia's most powerful to date. The 3.8L V-6 generates 276 hp at 6,000 rpm with 267 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm, while Borrego's first-ever DOHC 4.6L V-8 engine serves up top-notch 337 hp at 6,000 rpm with 323 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm, ratings that Kia claims best competitors Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and GMC Acadia.

The V-8 Borrego can tow 7,500 pounds; the V-6 tugs 5,000. The Borrego's 4WD is the second generation, full-time Torque-on-Demand system from Borg Warner, which is seamless and quiet. Its electronic sensors read the conditions underneath, sending power to the appropriate wheels for more responsive, sure-footed performance. Underneath are a double wishbone suspension in the front and a multilink in the rear combined with coilover springs. Gas shock absorbers and a stabilizer bar are integrated into the front suspension; a damper and stabilizer bar are combined in the rear to improve ride on and off road. All 4WD models get skidplates and tow hooks.

Tech Specs
2009 Kia Borrego 4WD
Base Price: $28,295

EngineS: Six- and eight-cylinder
Horsepower: 276 @ 6,000 rpm (6-cyl); 337 @ 6,000 rpm (8-cyl)
Torque (lb-ft): 276 @ 4,400 rpm (6-cyl); 323 @ 3,500 rpm (8-cyl)
TransmissionS: Five- and six-speed autos
Transfer case: Borg Warner
EPA Mileage (city/hwy mpg): 16/21

Curb Weight (lb): 4,460
Wheelbase (in): 114.0
Length (in): 192.1
Width (in): 74.5
Height (in): 71.3
Seating Capacity: 7
Head Room (in, front/rear/3rd row): 40.1/39.9/38.0
Leg Room (in, front/rear): 41.7/37.4
Max. Cargo Volume (cu. ft.): 12.4
Approach Angle (deg): 27.3
Breakover Angle (deg): N/A
Departure Angle (deg): 22.5
Ground Clearance (in): 8.5