Wednesday, August 27, 2008

2008 Kia Rondo EX Review

What It Is: That may not be so easy to answer. The Kia Rondo is a 4-door, front-wheel drive "crossover/wagon/SUV/minivan" that seats five, with the option of a third row for an additional two passengers. It shares a platform with the Kia Optima, giving it a carlike feel. It's not a head-turner, but if practicality outweighs "stare-ability" in your book, you need to give this one a test drive.

Under the hood: The EX engine is a 2.7-liter DOHC V-6 with plenty of pep to get you where you need to go. A 5-speed automatic transmission is also standard on the EX. Standard on the LX is a 4-cylinder and 4-speed transmission. You get sequential sport shift on all styles.

Cup holders: Two in front, two in back and another two for the back passengers if the third-row seat option is added.

Upside: I was very impressed with all that you get with this car, for such a reasonable price. After initially looking it over and seeing the leather package, power sunroof, third-row seat, heated front seats, roof rails, chrome door handles, heated outside mirrors, sequential shift and more, I had to check the sticker again to make sure it wasn't too good to be true. "More bang for your buck" sums it up nicely for this versatile family wagon that won't leave you feeling that you've missed out on comfort features. The Rondo is roomy enough and I was really impressed with how well it grabs the road. Another perk is Kia's 10-year/10,000-mile powertrain warranty. Oh, and for any who find this appealing, the Rondo has an actual cigarette lighter with ash trays in front and back.

Downside: Experts say the Rondo doesn't retain its value as well as its competitors. In my opinion, this should not be a deterrent to anyone wanting to get a lot of car for a little money.

Mileage: 18 city and 26 highway miles per gallon (EX V-6 with third row added).

Government Safety Ratings: The Rondo earned five stars for frontal and side crashes for front-seat passengers, and four for back-seat passengers in a side crash. The rollover rating is also four-star.

Cost: MSRP starts at $16,395 for the LX and no matter how many options you add, you would be hard-pressed to get it much over $25,000.

Patsy Oliver

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Test: 2009 Kia Borrego

As Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry once said: "I know what you're thinking." What is Kia, or anyone, doing introducing a midsize, truck-style framed, V-6- and V-8-powered sport/utility into a shell-shocked economy still getting used to $4- to $5-per-gallon fuel prices? Kia has to be asking itself the same thing.

The answer, for better or worse, is that nobody saw these conditions coming. And the Borrego's Let's-Build-It button was pressed several years ago. Even though life has changed dramatically since then, the business-case boat has sailed. So here comes the Borrego, a three-row sport/utility that casts about the same shadow as an Explorer.

The irony is this: Kia's new SUV is a darn fine one. While corporate cousin Hyundai went the unibodied crossover route with the Veracruz, Kia wanted something different, with real off-road capability, an optional V-8, and some towing capacity. The Borrego's platform architecture is new from scratch. A pickup truck variant was in the works, but that, as you can imagine, has been scrubbed at least for now.

Two powertrains are offered, and each can be had in two- or four-wheel-drive form. And it's real 4WD, too, with a transfer case packing 4-wheel Auto, 4-wheel High, and 4-wheel Low ranges. The standard 3.8-liter V-6 is rated at 276 horsepower, and Kia's first V-8, an optional 4.6-liter cranks out 337 horses. The V-8 is the same beneath the hood of Hyundai's new Genesis sedan, retuned for SUV duty. Kia expects the V-6 to make up 80 to 85 percent of Borrego sales, but the mpg gap between it and the V-8 is miniscule. For example, the 4WD V-6 is rated at 16/21, the 4WD V-8 just one city mpg lower at 15/21. At least both run on regular grade fuel. A turbodiesel version is on its way for 2010, a plus if diesel fuel prices equalize by then. The V-6 is paired with a five-speed automatic trans; the V-8 gets the same ZF six-speed auto you'll find in BMWs and Jaguars.

The Borrego's 156.8 cubic feet of passenger space is 11.1 cubic feet larger than the similarly packaged Nissan Pathfinder. Three-row seating is standard. The second row is split 60/40, the smaller part of the seat slides forward via a one-touch lever allowing quick access to the rear bench. It's in this area the Borrego shines, with full-size adults sitting in the way-back enjoying "no contact" head- and legroom. The backs of the second and third row seats are covered in hard plastic material, making an ideal load floor when those seats are folded flat for max cargo room. A hitch receiver is standard and neatly covered by a snap-out panel in the rear bumper cover.

There are three trim levels from which to choose. The (well-equipped) base spec is dubbed LX, the upper-crust variant, EX. You can further upgrade the EX with the Luxury Package and Premium Package. The range is topped by an all-black V-8 only Limited model that makes every option standard, including Smart Key and pushbutton start that's not available on any other Borrego. A few options really stand out, the first being the Infinity audio/Sirius Satellite/navigation system, similar to those in various Chrysler vehicles. The Infinity tunes sound strong and clear, although the Sirius in this application hunted for a signal more than most we've experienced. The touch-screen nav is dumbbell easy to program and never led us astray, which isn't always the case with some others. Another is the outstanding (optional) rear air-conditioning system, which includes a second compressor, six additional vents for the rear seating areas, and its own control panel, allowing management of temp, fan, and upper/lower vent modes. If you're camping and need to cool, say, 60 cases of beer, this thing will do it.

The exterior design is clean and well proportioned-the X3-style D-pillar looks particularly nice-with no gawky touches, although the grille is somewhat Subaru Tribeca-esque. The Borrego is the product of Kia's U.S.-based design team. The interior is logically laid out, good from an ergonomics standpoint, and while the plastics and surfaces don't scream "ultra luxury" they do say "high quality." The curtain airbag reaches all the way to the third row, and tire-pressure-monitoring and backup-warning systems are standard on all models. So are ABS, stability control, Downhill Brake Control, and Hill Start control.

Three words best describe the Borrego's driving experience: comfortable, controlled, and quiet. We focused on the V-8 model, and while it doesn't feel as strong as its horsepower number indicates, it's got plenty of punch for all situations. The 0-to-60 run takes 7.1 seconds and is class competitive for V-8, three-row sport/utilities. The four-cam V-8 is silky at all rev ranges, and the six-speed auto offers a ratio for every need. Its shiftgate includes a manual mode for extra control. 60-to-0-mph braking distances of 128 feet are fine for a near-5000-pound rig.

Our fully loaded EX rode on 18-inch wheels, which means good steering and response while retaining a measure of chassis compliance. The Borrego is sprung firm, but that's necessary to handle its seven-passenger seating capacity and 7500-pound towing capacity (take that, you weenie, car-based crossovers). Only the nastiest bumps or road surfaces upset it. This thing is quiet, too: no road rumble, minimal wind noise, well-damped engine-bay sounds. The overall feel is one of substance and solidity. Visibility is excellent. All of the seating is comfortable, save perhaps the rear, which is a little flat and upright, although roomy as mentioned.

Kia's marketing types are quick to point out that "we're not in the three-row sport/utility segment now, so any we sell there will be a plus for the brand." It just won't be as many as they originally thought. Too bad. Because, irrespective of the climate into which it's being launched, the Borrego is a solid, well-done piece that does a lot, holds a ton, and is plenty satisfying to drive. Bad timing is its biggest misstep.

The aluminum-looking trim is actually a metalicized film over plastic, but it looks the part, as does most of the rest of the cabin.

2009 Kia Borrego EX 4x4 V-8

Drivetrain layout Front engine, 4WD
Engine type 90 V-8, alum block/heads
Valvetrain DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
Displacement 282.4 cu in/4627 cc
Compression ratio 10.4:1:1
Power (SAE NET) 337 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque (SAE NET) 323 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
Weight to power 14.5 lb/hp
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Axle/final 3.36:1/2.34:1
Suspension, front; rear Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Steering ratio 18.0:1
Turns lock-to-lock 3.5
Brakes, f;r 12.9-in vented disc; 12.8-in disc, ABS
Wheels 7.5 x 18 in, cast aluminum
Tires 265/60R18 109T Hankook RA07
Wheelbase 114.0 in
Track, f/r 63.6/64.0 in
Length x width x height 192.1 x 75.4 x 71.3 in
Ground clearance 8.5 in
Approach/depart angle 27.3/22.5 deg
Turning circle 36.5 ft
Curb weight 4878 lb
Weight dist., f/r 54/46%
Towing capacity 7500 lb
Seating capacity 7
Headroom, f/m/r 40.0/39.0/38.0 in
Legroom, f/m/r 41.7/37.4/32.9 in
Shoulder room, f/m/r 60.2/59.1/55.7 in
Cargo vol behind f/m/r 156.8/49.3/12.4
Acceleration to mph
0-30 2.4 sec
0-40 3.7
0-50 5.5
0-60 7.1
0-70 9.3
0-80 12.2
0-90 15.2
0-100 18.4
Passing, 45-65 mph 3.4 sec
Quarter mile 15.5 sec @ 90.9 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 128 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.77 g (avg)
MT figure eight 28.9 sec @ 0.57 g (avg)
Top-gear revs @ 60 mph 1600 rpm
Base price $33,745
Price as tested $39,295
Stability/traction control Yes/yes
Airbags Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
Basic warranty 5 yrs/60,000 miles
Powertrain warranty 10 yrs/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance 5 yrs/60,000 miles
Fuel capacity 20.6 gal
EPA city/hwy econ 15/21 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.13 lb/mile
Recommended fuel Regular

By Matt Stone

Thursday, August 14, 2008

2009 Kia Borrego: Right Truck, Wrong Time?

The new 2009 Kia Borrego is a classic American-style mid-size sport-utility. Think Ford Explorer/Chevy Trailblazer. And also think, "My, what lousy timing. Just when gas prices have been going up..."

Not, of course, that Kia had much of a choice for its first mid-size SUV.. When the Borrego project was started-from original design to engineering the factory assembly lines and initial roll-out can easily span four or five years-the SUV market was still booming. The old phrase it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time comes to mind. But like the cowboy said when his horse had jumped ninety percent of the ravine and it looks doubtful about the rest, it's too late to turn back now.

Kia also took the curious route of designing an old-school SUV. While most of its competitors have changed to unit-body construction--meaning the vehicle's body is also its frame-the Borrego has a separate frame on which the body is mounted. This traditional method of vehicle design goes back to the Model T and beyond but for cars has mostly died off, with a few exceptions (cough, cough, Ford Crown Victoria, cough, cough). Generally speaking, unit-body allows a smoother, quieter ride.

Body-on-frame, however, is typically stronger for tasks like hauling and towing, which explains why "real" pickup trucks are made that way. It also explains why when the Borrego is equipped with the optional 337-hp V-8--Kia's first: The SUV has a tow rating of 7,500 pounds. Which is a bunch, more than any other in the mid-size sport-ute class. Even with the standard V-6, the Borrego can pull 5,000 pounds.

A typical trade-off, however, with the body-on-frame construction is a rougher ride, though Kia equipped the Borrego with coil rear springs rather than traditional leaf springs, and also insulated the body from the frame with thick rubber cushions. Based on our driving the vehicle at a vehicle launch around Cle Elum, Washington, Kia succeeded in matching the competition. In other words, it rides like an SUV, though at the top rung, and--no surprise--don't expect sports car handling from what's still a tall truck.

Kia went all out with the interior, however. Cheap and chintzy Korean? Not here. Touch surfaces are soft and the seats are heavenly. The Borrego can also be equipped to carry seven passengers, which is the new obligatory.

But back to fuel mileage: Depending on how it's equipped, the Borrego gets from 15 to 17 mpg city and 20 to 22 mpg highway. That's competitive-to-slightly-better. The 2wd V-8 gets a best-in-class 15/22 mpg rating.

Prices: Base V-6 2WD, including delivery: $26,995. With all the bells and whistles on a V8 4WD model the list price is $37,795.

Despite Kia's whistling past the graveyard expectations of success for the Borrego and their largest promotional blitz ever, the Borrego is going to have it tough in a shrinking market, sort of like showing up at the party with really great dip but finding that the excitement has moved on to someone else's house. We suspect that there will be great deals on the Kia Borrego for those who need its impressive capabilities, but it also bodes well for so many other coming attractions from Kia in the next year and a half.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wheels: Optima a great family car

If you're ready for a pleasant surprise, take a look at the new 2008 Kia Optima four-door sedan.

If you haven't checked out a Kia in a while and think it's not worth the effort -- or you think Kia means "throwaway car" -- the Optima will prove you wrong.

Here's a car company that years ago struggled to keep up with the rest of the industry in quality and content. Today, based on what I've seen in the Optima, it may well be close to the upper tier of the family car segment. It certainly holds its own against some of the big boys such as the Hyundai Sonata, Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger and Mitsubishi Galant.

In fact, it's better equipped than many cars in its price range. For $23,435, you get aluminum interior trim, leather seats, electronic stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes, power adjustable pedals, sunroof, heated front seats, heated mirrors, cruise control and on and on.

With a base price of $19,495, the Optima is an absolute steal in a time when we are all looking to spend as little as possible to get as much as possible. It gets per-gallon gas mileage of 21 city and 31 highway.

In fact, given its content, its generous 10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty and roomy interior, the Optima soon may be a popular choice for a lot of families.

My test model turned in an almost flawless performance: Handling and braking were fine. Acceleration was brisk. The car was quiet and generally well constructed, although the trunk compartment and floor looked unfinished and poorly done to me.

Perhaps the biggest thing holding back the Optima is that the styling is rather nondescript.

Kia is trying to forge an individual style philosophy, but it isn't quite there yet.

As a relatively new company, Kia doesn't have a heritage and market image to turn to. The top-tier family cars -- Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima -- all rely on unique styling and presentation.

But based on what I've seen of its future products, Kia's making progress in styling and personality. Add that to its quality, and what more can you want?

Thursday, August 07, 2008
Don Hammonds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Kia Sedona minivan quietly racks up awards

One of the best minivans on the market is a best-kept secret. It's the Kia Sedona.

What makes this minivan such a "best" is all the awards it's been stacking up for safety and quality. It's also well-priced and well-powered.

The Sedona gets high ratings on crash-test safety from the U.S. government and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It's also reliable in quality with a top showing in the Strategic Vision Total Quality Index survey of owners.

There are no safety options on the Sedona. It is standard-equipped with nearly every safety technology on the market. This minivan comes with six airbags, electronic stability control, active head restraints, traction control, brake assist and antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution.

The 2008 Sedona is a front-wheel drive, three-row minivan that seats up to seven passengers. A convenient fold-flat to the floor split-fold third row allows for ample cargo carrying capability.

The Sedona is offered in short wheelbase and long wheelbase models in LX and uplevel EX trims. The SWB Sedona has a wheelbase of 114 inches and overall length of 189 inches, while the LWB model is 202 inches in length and has a longer wheelbase of about 119 inches.

Base prices for the 2008 Sedona start at $20,695. My EX tester was luxury oriented with a starting price of $26,195 and premium options that brought the price to $32,220, including the $725 destination charge.

Kia goes head-to-head with the better-known minivan products - such as the Chrysler Town & Country and the Toyota Sienna - with upscale options that put the Sedona in a notable high-end class for comfort and convenience.

For example, the EX tester was equipped with a $2,400 Luxury Package of heated front leather seats, power adjustable pedals, triple-zone climate controls, power sun roof, backup warning system and steering-wheel-mounted sound system controls. A $200 Power Package added convenience for the driver with a power liftgate and power sliding dual doors. A $1,700 Premium Entertainment Package featured an 8-inch screen and DVD player and Infinity Surround Sound System.

Stepping on the accelerator of the Sedona was a pleasure. This minivan didn't lumber along under its 4,387-pound girth. It's got some punch under the hood.

The 24-valve V6 engine with a 3.8-liter displacement generates a horsepower rating of 250 at 6000 rpm and good torque of 253 pound-feet at 3500 rpm. Mated to a five-speed automatic transmission the V6 Sedona is EPA-rated at 16 miles per gallon city and 23 mpg highway, which is equivalent to that of a full-size sedan.

The styling of the Sedona from the rear resembles that of a compact crossover sport utility vehicle, but up front the Sedona is very class typical of the minivan segment with smooth lines and a large glass area.

The suspension is a four-wheel independent system with MacPherson struts up front and multi-link with coil springs and stabilizer bar in the rear set-up. Sixteen-inch wheels are standard on the Sedona; the uplevel long wheelbase EX trim gets 17-inch alloy wheels.

Kia backs up the Sedona with a 10-year/100,000 mile power train warranty. Shoppers would do well to add the Sedona to the top three vehicles to cross-shop when looking for a minivan.

Kia Sedona EX

Vehicle type: seven-passenger FWD minivan

Base price: $26,195 (as tested: $32,220)

Engine type: 24-valve DOHC V6

Displacement: 3.8 liter

Horsepower: 250 at 6000 rpm

Torque: 253 pound-feet at 3500 rpm

Transmission: five-speed automatic

Wheelbase:119 inches

Track: (front/rear) 66/66 inches

Overall length: 202 inches

Overall width: 78 inches

Height: 69 inches

Turning circle: (curb-to-curb) 40 feet

Curb weight: 4,387 pounds

Fuel capacity: 21 gallons

EPA mileage rating: 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway

© Motor Matters, 2008
Connie Keane

Monday, August 11, 2008

Kia's Popular People Mover

We never thought we'd say this about a Kia, let alone a Kia minivan, but the 2008 Rondo is a terrific vehicle and an excellent choice for young families on a budget. It's a small minivan that's the same length as a Toyota Corolla sedan, but is far roomier than a compact car and has an optional third row of seats that allows it to accommodate up to seven. It's also inexpensive (Kia is offering big rebates on the Rondo through Sept. 2), gets decent (if not great) mileage, and has five-star government crash test ratings. The Rondo's main rival is the newly redesigned Mazda5 compact minivan, and both models have struck a chord with consumers. The Rondo's sales were up 51.7%, and the Mazda5's 43.7%, in the first seven months of this year. Both models' sales remained strong in July, even as the auto market tanked badly.


Everything inside the Rondo seems solidly made. The cabin is quiet and well-insulated. The door on the sunroof has a heavy, well-built feel, as does the glove box door. Luggage space behind the second row seats is nearly 32 cu.ft. The big negative about the Rondo: luggage space shrinks to a mere 6.5 cu. ft. with the optional third-row seats in place.


The Rondo is available either with a 2.4-liter, 162-horsepower inline four banger, or a 2.7-liter, 187-horsepower V6. The small engine is paired with a four-speed automatic transmission, the bigger one with a five-speed automatic.


The Rondo isn't especially quick or sporty. We clocked our test EX with a six-cylinder engine at 9.2 seconds in accelerating from 0 to 60. Loaded down with baggage and passengers, the four-cylinder version is probably very pokey.

Fuel Economy

With the small engine, the Rondo is rated to get 19 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway and does almost as well (18 city/26 highway) with the six-cylinder engine. The Mazda5 is more fuel efficient, especially with a stick shift.


The entry-level Rondo LX powered by the small engine starts at just $16,995 (though without air-conditioning), and the upscale EX with the six-cylinder engine starts at $20,795. The Rondo's recent average selling price is only about $18,000 after a cash rebate of $1,500, according to the Power Information Network.

By Thane Peterson

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New for RVing: Kia introduces full-size Borrego SUV

Many drivers would consider this the worst possible time for any company to launch a full-size, V8-powered SUV in a market with enough SUVs already. Despite the current economic conditions, Kia has shouldered on and added the all-new 2009 Borrego to its product line. In doing so, Kia fills a significant hole in its offerings that should be of interest to RVers needing a full-size SUV with hefty towing capability.

It takes many years to bring a new vehicle from inception to product at the dealer, and no one, not even the brain trust at a major manufacturer, can predict what will happen economically a few years down the road. Once underway, sometimes you just need to move forward and hope for the best.

Kia's Borrego, a seven-passenger traditionally configured SUV, in 2WD and 4WD versions, is rated to tow 7,500 pounds with the V8 and 5,000 pounds with the V6 engine.

Visually, the Borrego is arresting with its clean lines and crisp detailing. It stands right alongside the best of the bunch from an appearance standpoint. Likewise, the Borrego is no slouch for power.

The V8 is the first in a Kia offering and is rated at 337 horsepower and 323 pound-feet of torque. Even the V6 features 276 horses and 267 pound-feet numbers, and it does a commendable and functional job of moving the solo Borrego down the highway. The V6 is mated to a five-speed automatic while the V8 comes with a six-speed automatic from ZF. A Downhill Brake Control feature is included and should make downhill runs with a trailer aboard less of a worry for many drivers.

Traditionalists should enjoy the Borrego's body-on-frame construction, a nice feature for an RV towing rig in this class. Independent coil-sprung front suspension and coil-sprung multi-link rear suspension are standard, as are four-wheel disc brakes. The usual array of antilock brakes and electronic driving aids is standard, and Electronic Stability Control and others are built into each rig.

Even full-size occupants should find the Borrego most accommodating. Well-shaped bucket seats and plentiful room for legs and shoulders help make the miles slide by in comfort. Noise management is impressive, as wind noise and engine rumble intrusions are minimal at worst.

Kia paid close attention to specific towing hardware needs. The well-integrated Class-IV receiver includes a concealment cover that blends with the rear bumper fascia when driving solo. A pre-wired receptacle under the dash makes it easy to add a brake control via the pigtail included with the vehicle.

We hitched the Borrego to a Keystone brand Passport Ultra-Lite 250BH, a 28-foot trailer weighing about 4,500 pounds. The Borrego could handle more but this was enough load to get a feel for the rig's capabilities during a brief test drive.

A twisting two-lane en route to the freeway gave us a chance to do some slow-speed back-and-forth that showed us how the Borrego's suspension kept the truck steady while the trailer enthusiastically shifted position out back. We needed very little steering correction to reestablish a dead-ahead position after a fast simulated emergency lane change. We like that kind of driving confidence.

A run-up to freeway speed loaded down the V8 and showed the engine could deliver the goods. We quickly achieved the legal limit, and all without a significant noise level increase.

The lashup used a dead-weight hitch instead of the preferred weight-equalizing hitch equipment, which gave the front end a bit of a lightweight feel, but it wasn't bad enough to be troubling.

Freeway speed felt good behind the wheel. We encountered typically gusty winds in Washington's Snoqualmie Pass region, yet the trailer behaved itself, and even passing commercial truck traffic failed to produce any white-knuckle moments. Sweeping planned-ahead lane changes and a freeway off-ramp followed by a fast draw-down to a stop failed to generate any tail-wagging-the-dog feelings with the trailer pushing us around.

We monitored the rig's driving computer and observed numbers on the 8- to 9-mpg range while towing, which is no great shakes but par for a V8-powered rig with a 7,500-pound rating. EPA figures for the V8 4WD models are 15 city/22 highway, which are okay for the class but not great overall in today's fuel-cost climate.

Borrego pricing starts in the sub-$28,000 range and that figure heads north in a hurry with the addition of any significant options.

We were impressed with the Borrego's towing prowess despite our brief time behind the wheel. Once the market for full-size SUVs gains a bit more health, the Borrego should be able to play well with all the older kids on the block.

Jeff Johnston
Sunday, August 3, 2008
© Motor Matters, 2008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Motor Trend First Drive: 2009 Kia Borrego

Seattle to L.A. in Kia's Big Tow

"You're driving?" queried Kia's PR man Chaz Abbott, shocked that I didn't answer his question with, "I'm flying out around noon tomorrow." You see, I attended the launch of the Borrego-Kia's all-new seven-passenger SUV-in Cle Elum, Washington, (about 80 miles east of Seattle) and, following the event, decided to drive one back to L.A., rather than take the 2.5-hour easy way on a 737.

"Dude, that's crazy," he said, subsequently asking, "How far is that?" "About 1200 miles," I told him. I proceeded to inform him that I was going to visit my parents in Portland, Oregon, just 250 miles south, and then take two additional days to make my way down to the City of Angels. Three drive days in all. One brand-new V-8-powered SUV. With satellite radio and an iPod jack, no sweat.

As a matter of fact, it was no sweat. Back in L.A. I felt fresh, fatigue-free, and ready to go another 1200. (Okay, maybe just another 12.) Nevertheless, I realized I had grown quite fond of the Borrego. What I liked (and didn't like) over my 1200-plus miles:

1. It's got guts: Utilizing Hyundai/Kia's new 4.6L Tau V-8, the same engine as in the Genesis, the Borrego had no problems effortlessly climbing steep mountain grades around Mt. Shasta and the Grapevine, or passing lines of big rigs on I-5. Power is down compared with the Genesis-337 hp vs. 375-but up in light of the V-8s in the Nissan Pathfinder (310) and the Toyota 4Runner (260). Zero-to-60 shouldn't take any more than 7.0 sec, which is impressive for a rig weighing 4600 lb. Speaking of pounds, the Borrego will tow nearly twice its weight, able to haul 7500 lb worth of Bayliner or Airstream. Again, that's more than Pathfinder (7000) and 4Runner (7000).

2. It's quiet: The new Toyota Land Cruiser may be quieter than the Borrego, but I can't think of another body-on-frame V-8 sport/ute that's this serene on the road. Even with strong crosswinds dancing around the Kia on Highway 14 in Washington, nudging it closer and closer to the Columbia River, I could barely hear all the commotion outside. And through those boring and beige stretches near Bakersfield, the Borrego made 90 mph sound and feel more like 60.

3. It's relaxing and roomy: Great seats with excellent lateral support, along with a comfortable driving position, make long hauls short. The second and third rows, both of which fold flat (the second row also slides forward for easier ingress and egress) offer more head- and legroom than in the Pathfinder or 4Runner. Cargo volume behind the third row (12.4 cu ft) is more than that in the 4Runner (12.1) but a few down compared with the Pathfinder's (16.4), although the Borrego does boast a larger interior volume (156.8 cu ft) than the Nissan (149.1) and the Toyota (145.3).

4. It's handsome: Inside and out, this Borrego looks sharp. Kia did a commendable job keeping the production vehicle true to its inspiration, the Mesa Concept that made its debut at the 2005 Detroit auto show. The design is bold and somewhat square, but not nearly as boxy as the shell on the new Honda Pilot. I found the interior adequately posh-as nice as the cabins in the Pathfinder and 4Runner, for instance-and the ergonomics excellent. All the controls are easy to find and use; the new nav system (a Kia first) is intuitive; and the 10-speaker Infinity sound system provides plenty of punch (and the standard USB/aux inputs are welcome touches).

5. It's a value: The Borrego starts at $26,995. For that dough, you get rear-drive, a 276-hp V-6, a five-speed automatic, three rows, curtain airbags (for all three rows), a backup warning system (a rearview camera will be available this fall), 17-in. wheels, and two new features that are especially useful when going off-road -- Downhill Brake Control (keeps the vehicle going straight and steady down steep grades) and Hill Start Assist Control (prevents the vehicle from rolling backward when pulling away from an uphill gradient). And if you do plan to go off-road, automatic Torque-on-Demand four-wheel drive costs an extra $2000. My tester, an EX V-8 4x4 ($33,745) with $750 18-in. chrome wheels, an $1800 premium package (sunroof, Infinity audio, rear A/C, runningboards), a $1500 luxury package (leather for first and second rows, heated front seats, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel), and a $1500 nav system, totaled $39,395, less than many comparably equipped V-6 crossovers.

6. It's a rough-rider: It is a truck, after all, so expecting it to ride like a Genesis isn't going to happen. I will say it offers a ride on par with those of other ladder-frame SUVs such as the Pathfinder, 4Runner, and Explorer. But the problem for Kia is that prospective buyers of the Borrego will be cross-shopping it with the full lot of today's seven-seat sport/utes, most of them the softer-riding car-based crossovers. These include the Honda Pilot, Chevy Traverse, Ford Flex, Toyota Highlander, and Mazda CX-9. Each offers a strong V-6, legitimate seating for seven (even eight for the Pilot), and, as I mentioned, comfortable road manners that are more immune to bump steer, crashing over expansion joints, and prompting coffee spills.

7. It's a gas lover: What SUV isn't, right? Truth is, for what it is, the Borrego gets excellent fuel economy -- anywhere from 17 city/21 hwy for a 2WD V-6 to 15/20 for a 4WD V-8, making it miserly among other truck-based SUVs, especially those with V-8s -- but many car-based crossovers do better. A 2WD Ford Flex gets 17/24 while a 4WD Toyota Highlander achieves 17/23.

Bottom line: The Borrego is a first-rate truck-based SUV that, among its body-on-frame peers, delivers class-leading power and fuel economy. Further, it offers commendable handling and a spacious, nicely finished interior, all wrapped in handsome sheetmetal that's competitively priced and stamped with a stellar warranty. But unless a plethora of Americans need to tow nearly four tons or must venture off a beaten path that a crossover can't overcome, it's hard to see the Borrego, a no-name in the segment, outselling the established car-based SUVs or being a big draw for Kia. Of course, another way to look at it (and this is my personal point of view) is that it's a Land Cruiser for cheap; in that case, sign me up!

2009 Kia Borrego
Base Price $26,995-$33,745
Vehicle layout Front engine, RWD or 4WD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 3.8L/276-hp/267-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6; 4.6L/337-hp/323-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8
Transmission 5-speed automatic, 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 4250-4600 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 114
Length x width x height 192.1 x 75.4 x 71.3 in
0-60 mph 7.0-8.0 sec (est)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 15-17 / 21-22 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.02-1.13 lb/mi
On sale in U.S. Currently

Motor Trend
By Ron Kiino

Monday, August 4, 2008

2008 Kia Sedona EX Review

The Bottom Line - Kia obviously benchmarked the best minivans on the market in the design of the Sedona. They equaled or bettered the benchmarks in all cases, creating a mini that has all the virtues of the good ones with few, if any, of the debits of the poorer ones. The Sedona is enormously practical with all the bells and whistles at a reasonable price.

Kia is a company that's been a pleasant addition to the market. With partner Hyundai, Kia has some inexpensive vehicles available that are excellent competition for the more established brands.

The Sedona minivan (Hyundai sells it as the Entourage) is an excellent example. The Sedona is a vehicle that offers all the surprises and goodies that are available in Chrysler, Toyota and Honda, but at a lower price.

Looking for stow-away seating? The Kia has is for the third row seats. Like the others, when the seats are up there's a deep well remaining in the van floor that's incredibly useful for storage. When we had our big van we would have killed for little extra storage spaces like this.

Looking for one of those convex mirrors in the overhead console to check on what the rear passengers (of any age) may be doing? The Sedona has one.

Looking for a power rear hatch and power side doors? The Sedona has these to make opening doors, etc. a bit easier, which can be a godsend when you have a lot to do and little time to do it.

Looking for great power? Well, here the Sedona doesn't deliver, but the 3.8-liter V6 engine does put out 250 horsepower, which is good enough. The engine offers some noise on hard acceleration, but is otherwise pretty quiet.

Looking for handling that isn't minivan like? Again, the Sedona is more minivan-like than non-. There's a hint of lean on tougher corners because of the aspect ratio, but you really shouldn't be driving a minivan like a sports car anyway. You make the sacrifice in handling for mini utility.

And it is in utility where the Sedona shines. Even with the three seats up, there's van storage behind the third row, especially with the deep well in the floor. Second row legroom is excellent and third row legroom is also excellent. We drove the long wheelbase EX model, but the shorter version is just five inches shorter in wheelbase, leading me to believe that third row legroom would also be good in that model. The extra length is noticed primarily in the rear storage area.

First and second row captain's chairs have arm rests. Both rows of seats are power adjustable to reach the ideal level of comfort. There's a center tray between the two front seats that folds easily to provide access to the rear. In addition, there's a small tray ahead of the shifter. The requisite cupholders are everywhere, with bottle holders in the front doors.

The Sedona EX has a base price of just $26,195, plus the $725 for inland freight and handling. The big option package ($2,400)is the luxury package, which adds leather seat trim, heated front seats, power adjustable pedals with memory, power tilt sunroof, back-up warning system, steering wheel audio controls and tri-zone heating and cooling.

The Premium entertainment package ($1,700) adds a DVD player with 8-inch monitor and Infinity audio sound system.

The power package ($1,000) adds power sliding doors and lift gate, and another $200 gets you cross bars on the roof rack.

Consumer Guide has made the Sedona and Entourage to their "Recommended" list of 2008 vehicles for the mini's general overall practicality and excellent value.


Model: Kia Sedona EX
Engine: 3.8-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque: 250 hp/253 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 118.9 in.
Length x Width x Height: 202.0 x 78.1 x 69.3 in.
Tires: P235/60R17
Cargo volume: 141.5 cu. ft. (max)
Economy: 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway/17.8 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 21.1 gal.
Price: $32,220 (includes $725 inland freight and handling charge and $5,300 in options)

The Auto Page Syndicate