2009 Kia Borrego EX

2009 Kia Borrego EX 2009 Kia Borrego EX
Short Take Road Test

“Observe due measure,” opined the Greek poet Hesiod about 2700 years ago, “for right timing is in all things the most important factor.”

Hesiod may not translate well into Korean, perhaps why Kia chooses now to bring us the Borrego, an old fashioned ladder-framed, rough-riding sport-ute with three rows of seats. The well-appointed and modestly priced Borrego would have murdered the Ford Explorer around 10 B.C., as in “Before Crossovers.” Today, it feels just so five minutes ago.

Named for the windy Anza-Borrego Desert in southeast California, Kia’s big buckaroo arrives this fall on a stretched and strengthened version of the Kia Sorrento frame. It is everything people search for in heavy SUV iron: three rows of seats on a tall platform, high ground clearance with available four-wheel drive, and an optional 337-hp, 4.6-liter V-8 and six-speed automatic supplying a 7500-pound tow rating.

A 276-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 and five-speed automatic is the base boiler and affords 5000 pounds of towing capacity at a starting price of about $26,000. The V-8 model, using the same dual-overhead-cam, 32-valve V-8 as found in the new Hyundai Genesis luxury car, should begin at $30,000 when Kia announces prices closer to launch.

Steel control arms and links give the rear suspension independence, a must-have for handling—the Borrego doesn’t howl at on-ramps—ride comfort, and interior packaging. The result is an airy cabin, even on a full frame that jacks up the floor height. The middle bench has adjustable recline and slides forward to create more space for the tail gunners, so adult-size head and leg room can be found even in the third row. Roof vents blast icy air into all faces, and both back-seat rows split and fold flat. Convenient, but nothing new.

Any benefit of independent rear suspension to the ride is negated by the Borrego’s viciously stiff damping. It bobbled heads on the freeway and actually made a baby cry. Hell hath no fury like a parent with a headache, so Kia better soften the truck’s choppy ride before launch.

“If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big,” warned Hesiod. To wit, a Borrego saddled with standard items such as power tilting and telescoping steering, three-row curtain airbags, and an integrated tow hitch, plus extras including the V-8, 18-inch wheels, rear-seat entertainment system, and four-wheel drive including a low-range crawler gear, weighs 4870 pounds.

The advertised fuel economy around town is 15 to17 miles per gallon, 21 to 22 on the highway, depending on whether it’s equipped with a V-6 or a V-8. The V-8 is a robust engine that served up 60 mph in 7.1 seconds but traveled just 16 miles on each of our $4 gallons.

As of this writing, dealer lots are carpeted with unsold vehicles more or less matching the Borrego’s description. Hesiod would be tut-tutting.