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World Debut of Kia Borrego

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2008 Kia Borrego Photo: Rod Hatfield
By Alexander Popple
Kia's biggest and most powerful midsize SUV ever.
Click image to enlarge
2008 Kia Borrego Photo: Rod Hatfield
2008 Kia Borrego Photo: Rod Hatfield
Click image to enlarge
2008 Kia Borrego Photo: Rod Hatfield
2008 Kia Borrego Photo: Rod Hatfield
Click image to enlarge
2008 Kia Borrego Photo: Rod Hatfield
2008 Kia Borrego Photo: Rod Hatfield
Click image to enlarge
NBA Stars Photo: Rod Hatfield
NBA Stars Photo: Rod Hatfield

There was no escaping the sporting theme at Kia’s press conference, from the stopwatch-style countdown to the starting time to the never-ending stream of puns and metaphors, some of which should probably have been left on the bench.

 

Appropriate enough for the launch of a sport-utility vehicle. Kia’s playing it safe with its first foray into the midsize SUV market. The Borrego is a conventionally styled and built SUV, with a boxy but smart body mounted on a traditional ladder frame chassis. The upright grille and flat hood, housing Kia’s first V8 engine, are developed from the 2005 Mesa concept.

 

“We strive to make quality vehicles at affordable prices,” said Len Hunt, president and CEO of Kia Motors North America, and the Borrego’s rather bland but tidy and inoffensive appearance conceals a number of attractive features for hard-working families.

 

Its fully independent suspension promises reasonable ride quality, sliding second-row seats provide easy access to the interior. There’s a six-disc in-dash CD changer, satellite radio, power-adjustable pedals and a DVD-based navigation system and back-up camera. And who wouldn’t want a five-year/60,000-mile warranty and roadside assistance package, plus a five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty?

 

In terms of technology, there’s what Hunt described as “an alphabet soup of electronic safety”  —  ABS, EBD, BAS (brake assist), ESC, (stability control), TCS (traction control), TPMS (tire-pressure monitoring), DAC (downhill assist control), HAC (hill assist control).

 

With 300 horsepower, the 4.6-liter dual overhead cam V8 is Kia’s most powerful engine ever. It’s capable of hauling 7,000 pounds. The base V6 engine can haul 5,000 pounds, and a clean diesel option is promised for future model years.

 

The Borrego will go on sale this summer.

 

Kia’s slogan is “the power to surprise,” but given its strategy of sponsoring some of the world’s most popular sports (the FIFA soccer world cup and Davis Cup tennis are already on its roster), the announcement of a major U.S. sports sponsorship deal was hardly shocking.

 

To celebrate the recently inked deal with the NBA that makes Kia the official automotive sponsor, Hunt welcomed onto the stage a selection of distinguished basketball players from recent decades: Spud Webb, Dominique Wilkins, George Gervin, Bill Walton and Willis Reed.

 

After the presentation of a ball signed by the illustrious players to Kia Motors president and COO E. S. Chung, he invited them to shoot some hoops — perhaps a little unfairly — on the stage. The fact that many of them missed might not have been the “surprise” Kia had in mind, but it succeeded in catching the attention of the assembled crowd.

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