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We’re used to rugged full-size SUV models from the likes of Toyota, Chevy, and Jeep. But there was once a time when you could get a stocky 4×4, V8 SUV from an unexpected place. It was called the Kia Borrego and had all the right characteristics to make an excellent 4×4 SUV.

The Kia Borrego is the best SUV you’ve never heard of

The Kia Borrego was the brand’s first attempt at making a full-size 4×4 SUV with a V8. While it had all the makings of a great SUV, it passed into the back rooms of our collective automotive memories after just one model year.

The Kia Borrego offered an impressive collection of features for an SUV that’s mainly become anonymous. It was a strange vehicle by modern Kia standards, built with a rugged design and truck-like capabilities.

For one, the Borrego was a body-on-frame SUV like the Toyota 4Runner or Chevy Tahoe. This truck-based design was a massive departure from the Kia norm, as most of the brand’s SUVs have been car-based crossovers.

Kia also offered the Borrego with an available V8 engine making 337 horsepower and 323 pound-feet of torque. According to Kelley Blue Book, properly equipped Borrego SUVs could tow up to 7,500 pounds. Plus, you could get it with four-wheel drive.

It had all the necessary ingredients for a durable, capable SUV. Yet the Borrego didn’t last for long.

When did Kia make the Borrego?

An orange Kia Borrego on display at an auto show.
2009 Kia Borrego | Bryan Mitchell via Getty Images

Kia sold the Borrego in the U.S. market for a single model year in 2009.

Dealerships moved new 2009 Borrego SUVs from 2008 to 2011. Car Sales Base said fewer than 23,000 examples were sold during that four-year span. By comparison, the Chevy Tahoe sold well over 300,000 models in the same period.

Why did Kia cancel its V8 SUV?

Kia likely canceled its V8 SUV because of poor sales numbers.

Unfortunately, the Borrego arrived at the same time as the Great Recession of the late 2000s. Car buyers were shying away from large, inefficient 4×4 SUVs as they weathered the economic storm. The new Borrego was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

10 years later, the landscape is entirely different. Drivers are buying more large SUVs than ever, and Kia has jumped back in the fray with the Telluride. Unlike the Borrego, the Telluride appears to be a smash hit.

How much is a Kia Borrego today?

So far, the Kia Borrego has not held its value terribly well. Perusing online listings shows examples with around 100,000 miles for between $6,000 and $10,000. That’s a bargain compared to SUVs like the Toyota 4Runner and Nissan Xterra, which have spiked in value.

Unfortunately, not every SUV that rolls off the assembly line will be a hit. But after a few years, we can look back at some of those sales duds as unappreciated gems. The Kia Borrego holds true to that formula.


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