“The wrong car at the wrong time” – It’s a phrase used over and over again to describe a vehicle whose lack of success can largely be blamed on a shift in societal trends as opposed to purely any insufficiencies of the vehicle itself, and one that accurately describes the 2009 Kia Borrego, Kia’s shortest-lived model in the United States.
Introduced at a time when the market was shifting away from large, truck-based SUVs to more efficient crossovers, the Great Recession was crippling the U.S. economy, and gas prices were soaring with no end in sight, the body-on-frame, three-row, and available V8-power Borrego seemed horribly behind the times.
One of the first Kias designed by former Audi stylist, Peter Schreyer, the Borrego was an attractive and inoffensive, if not highly derivative design, drawing cues from SUVs such as the Lexus LX, Honda Pilot, and even the outgoing GMC Envoy. Boasting an interior with high quality fit-and-finish, the latest technology features such as bluetooth, backup camera, and GPS navigation with voice recognition, as well as powerful V6 and V8 engines with high tow ratings, the Borrego was a very competitive large, truck-based SUV.
Unfortunately large, truck-based SUVs were no longer the hot-selling thing as they were just a few years earlier. Lacking the handling, ride comfort, quietness, and space and fuel efficiency of car-based CUVs, sales of the Borrego were horribly dismal, and it was discontinued in the United States after just one model year. Sales continued in Canada until 2011, upon which Kia stopped exporting the vehicle (which is still sold in other markets as the “Mohave”) to North America entirely.
Total Borrego sales from 2008-2011 in North America amounted to less than 25,000 units, and Kia replaced with a far more right for the times three-row crossover, the redesigned American-made Sorrento in 2010.