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car review

2009 Kia Borrego

In 2009, Kia had an identity crisis with its upscale Borrego SUV.

On the one hand, this was the first time the company had entered the upscale SUV market, and the Borrego had a brand-new V-8 engine for buyers' consideration, not to mention an all-new six-speed automatic transmission. It also featured V-6 availability, with several trim levels and 4WD right across the board. On the other hand, this particular SUV wasn't long for this world, and by the end of 2009, it was outta there, although it did continue to be sold by dealers, unchanged, right up until 2011.

With body-on-frame construction, the Borrego was as durable as anything else in this segment of the market, and its 4WD system featured a rear-wheel bias, with high and low range, and an "auto" setting, accessed via a rotary switch located on the dashboard.

This 4WD system came from Borg-Warner, and the Borrego also had a hill descent control feature and hill start assist. In terms of off-road ability and deep snow worthiness, the Borrego was arguably a cut above its closest rival, the Acura MDX, and better in the rough stuff than much of the competition.

The 337-horsepower V-8 model was the one with the most bang for the buck. Standard equipment included dual zone climate control, full leather interior, driver's seat with memory, multi-setting heated front seats, back-up warning system, a generous-sized power sunroof, Sirius satellite radio, multi-function steering wheel, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

If you chose the V-8 version, you also got a six-speed transmission, as opposed to the five-speed that came with the V-6. Both versions came with Kia/Hyundai's Steptronic manual shift feature, and there was also an optional keyless push-button start feature, as well as navi and back-seat entertainment systems.

The Borrego sat seven, but as was the case with virtually all of these kinds of vehicles, third-row seat access could be tricky. Still, all the rear seats folded, and with that done, there was 2,765 litres of storage space in the back. In short, the Borrego was all that a mid-sized, mid-priced SUV should have been.

However, Kia was also selling its Sorento SUV, which, although it was a little smaller, was pretty close in size, and could be had with the same V6 engine as the Borrego, albeit with slightly less power. The Sorento was also considerably cheaper, with the same equipment level, and one could make the argument that Kia was cannibalizing itself with the Sorento and Borrego essentially going after the same buyers.

One safety recall is on file with Transport Canada and it's a relatively minor one. Apparently, when the turn signal lights are activated, the daytime running lights are temporarily shut off until the turn is completed and the signal stops flashing. This is not a flaw necessarily, but, "contrary" to government regulations. Easily fixed, however; dealers simply upgrade the vehicle software.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has 15 technical service bulletins listed for the Borrego. These include the shift lever getting stuck in Park, certain transmissions "holding" in third gear longer than they should, issues with the rear power lift-gate actuator, and assorted software upgrades.

Consumer Reports is on the fence with this one. The magazine likes its interior roominess, and approves of the idea of body-on-frame construction, with the "impressive" towing capacity that comes with it. But it feels that driving quality suffers accordingly, and the Borrego has a "punishing" ride, according to this organization.

The braking system, audio system and various power accessories seem to be problem areas, and the best that Consumer Reports can do here is an "average" rating for predicted reliability. Some comments from owners: "Excellent price for the quality of vehicle," "Pleasantly surprised at all this Kia offers" and "Like it better than my RX350."

As far as market research company J.D. Power is concerned, the Borrego is pretty run of the mill. While there don't seem to be any glaring problems, nor are there any standout areas, either. Virtually every facet of the Borrego is average or thereabouts, according to J.D. Hence the "about average" rating for predicted reliability.

From a base price of just less than $37,000 in 2009, the Borrego has dropped in value by about $15,000. The V-6 models is in the low-$20,000 range, while a loaded V-8 runs around $5,000 more, depending upon its options level.

2009 Kia Borrego

Original Base Price: $36,995; Black Book: $24,125-$28,925; Red Book: $21,025-$24,175

Engine: 3.8-litre V-6 and 4.6-litre V-8

Horsepower/Torque: 276 hp/267 lb-ft for V-6; 337 hp/323 lb-ft for V-8

Transmission: Five- and six-speed automatic with 4WD

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 13.0 city/9.4 highway (V-6); regular gas

Alternatives: Acura RDX, Subaru Tribeca, Honda Pilot, Ford Flex, Chevrolet Traverse, Nissan Murano, Toyota Sequoia, Mazda CX-9, Volkswagen Touareg, Hyundai Veracruz