Despite a market that's run screaming from traditional truck-based SUVs especially, Kia remains confident that the 2009 Kia Borrego, the Korean automaker's first seven-passenger SUV, will be a sales success. After hustling it around our test loops, we're pretty sure the Borrego will more than hold its own.
Not some sissy car-based crossover, the Borrego is a brawny, body-on-frame lad capable of towing up to 7500 lb with the optional 337-hp, 4.6L V-8 (the base 3.8L V-6 pulls up to 5000 lb). We have the loaded-up, 4WD V-8 mated to a smooth-shifting, six-speed automatic with a manual mode. It's a solid freeway cruiser, with more than enough power for any pavement-pounding situation. Steering feel is nicely weighted and direct, and the brakes are strong, stopping the 4872-lb vehicle in 130 ft from 60 to 0 mph.
The Borrego's well-executed center console features a smartly designed nav system, along with plenty of standard and available entertainment options. We haven't heard a lot of noise in the leather-trimmed cabin at freeway speeds, and its fit-and finish appear first-rate. It's an interior that should help snuff out any lingering cracks about Kia's quality. Praise continues for the Borrego's sheetmetal, with a prominent grille and traditional SUV looks that aren't breaking any rules, but not breaking any mirrors, either.
Do you think the 2009 Kia Borrego has what it takes to take home the title of 2009 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year? Find out who the winner is at midnight eastern time on Oct. 16.