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.
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