Detroit '08 Preview: Kia Borrego drops in for some egg nog

click above image for high-res gallery of the Kia Borrego

It's that time of year again when people call up all their friends and invite them over for some holiday cheer and the car makers are no exception. Kia Motors kicked off the festivities the other night with a little gathering at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit. The invitation promised Kia America CEO Len Hunt and a special guest. Unfortunately Hunt couldn't make it, but the special guest turned out to be the new Kia Borrego SUV.

The unit on hand was one of two prototypes in the country right now having arrived only days before. Party-goers had the opportunity check out the new truck up close, but it was made clear that as a prototype the interior trim did not include all the final textures and materials. The shapes and layout are complete, but we'll pass on an overall judgment until a vehicle closer to final spec is available. There's plenty more first-hand information on the Borrego after the jump.

[Source: Kia]

Although no press kit is being supplied for the Borrego before it's public roll-out at the Detroit Auto Show next month, we were able to glean some more details from Kia sources. In designing the Borrego, Kia selected a body on frame layout to allow for a greater towing capacity, which will top 7,000 lbs in the V8 model. They did promise that even with the chosen layout they were able to keep the weight down to almost the same level as a unit body design. Motivational force will come courtesy of the 3.8L V-6 already available in the corporate family or optionally a brand new 4.6L V8, which oddly enough seems to be the same size as the engine in the new Hyundai Genesis. Go figure!

Kia used the Ford Explorer as its bench mark for interior volume and comfort while the Jeep Grand Cherokee provided inspiration for the handling dynamics. Having recently spent a week with a Grand Cherokee, it definitely has fine handling for this type of vehicle with good body control and excellent damping. Our Kia sources also tell us to expect surprisingly good fuel economy for this class of vehicle.

The Borrego is smaller on the outside than full size SUVs and CUVs like the Chevy Tahoe or Saturn Outlook falling closer to the Explorer. In the inside, room in the first two rows of seats was good and the third is claimed to accommodate 6'2" passengers. The seating position back there is of the low butt, high knees variety. There is certainly enough room for a couple of adults on cross-town travels, but a long road trip is probably not a good idea.

The new Kia SUV will come in both rear- and four-wheel-drive configurations and definitely slots in above the existing Sorento. It's going on sale in Korea early in 2008 and should turn up at U.S. Kia stores by next September. The company isn't talking specific numbers yet, but they don't expect the Borrego to be a huge volume seller, although in typical Kia fashion it will be priced aggressively. We'll be getting all the details including interior shots next month at Cobo Hall.

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