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Impressive Seven-seater: 2009 Kia Borrego EX 4x4

Kia Borrego’s impressive standard safety features, as well as its seven-passenger seating, makes the model stand out in the crowded mid-sized SUV market niche, writes Sally Miller Wyatt.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2009 Kia Borrego.

If you thought Kia didn’t have an SUV in its product line-up, you were right. Until now. With the 2009 models, Kia rolls out an all-new Borrego and this mid-sized SUV includes a host of other firsts for the manufacturer, as well.

The 2009 Borrego includes the most powerful engine in any Kia product to date: a 4.6-liter V8 version. To this has been paired a six-speed automatic transmission, also a first for Kia. And while the V-8 may be a large engine, it is also fuel efficient, achieving best-in-class efficiencies. Both engines are available with 2WD or 4WD, and they run on regular unleaded fuel, rather than premium. Another first for Kia in this model: SIRIUS satellite radio and a voice-activated navigation system with a rear seat entertainment package.

While all that is nice, here’s what may appeal most to us Moms: Borregos have a third row of seats for up to seven passengers.

Even though it is classified as a mid-sized SUV, an initial glance into the Borrego leaves you with a different impression. There’s a good amount of leg and head room in here, for front, rear and third row passengers, without crimping too much on cargo space, either. Built upon a wheelbase of 114 inches, the Borrego is actually wider and longer than Chevy’s Trailblazer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Toyota’s 4Runner. Some of those added inches can be attributed to the Borrego’s wider stance of 75.4 inches.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2009 Kia Borrego.

This SUV is also built on a front double wishbone and rear multi-link suspension and has a body-on-frame construction. Insulated rubber mountings reduce noise, as well as road vibrations, all of which gives the vehicle a quieter, smoother, almost car-like ride.

These 2009 Borregos have some nice exterior touches, including LED side view mirrors and chrome accents here and there, and optional 18-inch alloy wheels.

Standard safety features include dual front advanced stage air bags, driver’s knee airbag (V8 models only) three-row side curtain air bags, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Downhill Brake Control, Hill Assist, Brake Assist, a back-up warning system and front active head rests. All this stacks up to a nice array of safety features, but to this you can add a five-star crash safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Standard comfort and convenience features dual-zone climate control, power windows and door locks, sliding and reclining second row seats and a third row of seats that split and fold in a 50/50 configuration.

(Above): Interior view of the 2009 Kia Borrego.

Our test car came with some extras, such as a $1,500 Luxury Package that included leather seats, heated seats in the front, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and two-position memory for the driver’s seat, outside mirrors and steering column position. The optional navigation system was another $1,500. The Premium Package included a sunroof, Infinity premium sound system with 10 speakers and subwoofer, and rear air conditioning, for another $1,800.

I found the optional sideboards helped me gain easier access into and out of the vehicle. Visibility to the front and sides was unrestricted and the dashboard is intelligently laid out.

Whether driving around on city streets or at freeway speed, the Borrego handled very well and offered a smooth, passenger car-like ride.

There’s plenty of room in here to accommodate a large family, and that should please legions of Moms and Dads. All those state-of-the-art safety features should give them a ton of peace of mind, as well. The mid-sized SUV market niche is crowded, so you have to create a product to stand out. For me, the Kia’s impressive standard safety features, as well as its seven-passenger seating, does just that.

Today's Test Drive: 2009 Kia Borrego
Base Price : $29,995
Price as tested : $36,295
Engine : 3.8-liter V6
Transmission : Five-speed automatic
Horsepower : 262 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft) : 232 lb.-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Mileage : 16/city, 21/hwy

Sally Miller Wyatt is a freelance writer who writes family-oriented auto reviews for newspapers, magazines and the Web.


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