A late-comer to the SUV party, like ten years late, is the Borrego; the first V-8 model brought to North America by Kia. Is it possible for a new seven-passenger SUV, and not something marketed as a crossover, to sell in America? If gas stays under $2 per gallon, it may have a shot.
Under the hood, Kia kicks things off right by using the same V-8 that has gained a lot of attention for residing under the hood of Hyundai’s new Genesis. This 4.6-liter engine produces about 337 horsepower, a huge number coming from Kia and more than enough for this vehicle. Even so, the Borrego handles this power without the heightened noise levels of the larger engine. To hedge their bets, Kia also makes a 276 horsepower V-6 available, and rumors are that next year Kia will add a new “clean-diesel” six to the lineup. One thing that may save the Borrego in the end, is that while it seats seven it is not too large and still seems reasonably sized while offering a roomy third row that is actually usable.
Despite Kia’s claims to the uniqueness of the Borrego, is essentially a stretched version of Sorento’s body-on-frame, that also features an independent rear suspension. That’s not a bad thing as the Sorento has a nice balance of off-road ability and on-road refinement. Optional on the Boreggo is the same all-wheel-drive systems as the Sorento with a standard electronically switched part-time with a low range or optional Torque-On-Demand full-time with a low range. Otherwise both V8 and V6 versions come as rear-wheel-drive. The two wheel drive V6 versions get 17 city and 21 highway and slightly less with the 4WD V-8. Not great, but certainly in line with other offerings from other manufacturers. Aesthetically, the Borrego doesn’t pull away from the competition with any great uniqueness, but to its credit, looks a bit like the Subaru Tribeca or other models from Asia. Honestly, even if it is light years ahead of past vehicles, being an anonymous driver of a Kia is probably appreciated. Inside, Kia continues to make improvements to build and material quality. If you compare it to a luxury car, you will likely be disappointed. But against modestly priced offerings, both domestic and foreign, the Borrego is in the ballpark for amenities and fit and finish. This is especially true when you consider the cost of the Borrego with a base price at essentially $27,000 and topping out over $33,000 for the top of the line.
In the end, the Borrego does everything it should, and for those that still desire a truck-based SUV it won’t break the bank doing it.