What it Is
2009 Kia Borrego Preview – Detroit Auto Show: Large sport utilities with V-8 engines are nothing new. In fact, some might even say that their day has passed as gas prices continue to rise. That hasn’t deterred some buyers, and Kia wants a slice of that pie. The Borrego is a production version of the Mesa concept we saw a couple of years ago, and its debut marks a further expansion of Kia’s model lineup and image to consumers.
Why it Matters
This is no namby-pamby car-based crossover, but a real body-on-frame SUV with off-road intentions. Such a car coming from Kia may sound a little peculiar, but the company is striving to be a full-line manufacturer, and the Borrego fills a gap in that lineup. Besides, it also complements the Sorrento, another body-on-frame SUV that’s off-road capable.
What’s Under the Hood
Kia says it will offer two engines in the Borrego: a V-6 and the company’s first production V-8. While specifics haven’t been given, we’re assuming the V-6 is a trucked-up version of the 3.8-liter V-6 found in the Amanti sedan, where it churns out a respectable 264 horsepower. The V-8 is bound to be a version of the engine that will debut in sister company Hyundai’s Genesis sedan. In that application it will put out around 350 horsepower; Kia says it will make "more than 300 horsepower" in the Borrego. With the V-8 the Borrego will have the biggest towing capacity of any Kia, and we’re assuming it will have four-wheel drive with low range and all the other goodies.
What it Looks Like
There’s little innovative or striking about the Borrego’s design, but there’s nothing jarring or shocking, either. Its clean two-box shape reminds us of a good dozen or so other vehicles of similar size and purpose, and there’s really no specific Kia elements to it, but overall it’s pleasantly styled. Still, we would have liked a little more pizzazz.
What Kia Says
Kia is withholding most of the information about the Borrego until its actual debut at Detroit – or close to it – so the release is fairly tight-lipped. Still, the company says that, “Built with body-on frame construction incorporating the latest in NVH engineering philosophy, Borrego will be Kia’s newest addition to its well-rounded full-line of vehicles that continually provide value, safety and a steadfast 10-year/100,000-mile warranty to consumers. Borrego will be available with either a V-6 engine or the company’s first V-8 offering, which will also boast Kia’s largest towing capacity to date.”
What We Think
While we wonder about Kia’s timing, there’s no arguing that there’s still a market for this type of vehicle. Still, does the Explorer need a direct competitor, just as the whole idea of V-8 SUVs is being supplanted by V-6 crossovers?
By Keith Buglewicz
Photo credit: Kia