DETROIT – After giving select media a sneak peek of the vehicle last month, Kia Motors America unveils its new Borrego SUV today at the 2008 North American International Auto Show here.

The Borrego’s design aims for a “pure and functional look,” Kia says, and harkens back to the Mesa concept SUV unveiled at the Detroit show in 2005.

With a wheelbase of 114 ins. (290 cm) and length of 192 ins. (488 cm), the Borrego will be the largest vehicle Kia has ever retailed in the U.S.

The auto maker sells the Sorento SUV, which also is midsize but slightly smaller, with a 107-in. (271-cm) wheelbase and 12-in. (30-cm) shorter length.

The Borrego will be mated to Kia’s most powerful engine ever, the new Tau 4.6L V-8, which it will share with sister marque Hyundai.

The mill debuts later this year in Hyundai’s new Genesis rear-wheel-drive sedan and will make 300-hp plus in the Borrego, Kia says.

As is the case with the Genesis, the Tau will be mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission in the Borrego. However, there is no word from Kia officials whether the gearbox will be sourced from Germany’s ZF Friedrichshafen AG.

A smaller, 3.8L V-6 engine also is available in the SUV.

The Borrego will come in 2- and 4-wheel-drive iterations. Kia is claiming class-leading towing of 7,500 lbs. (3,402 kg) for V-8-equipped Borregos, while V-6 models will be capable of 5,000 lbs. (2,268 kg).

Inside, the Borrego seats seven in three standard rows. The vehicle offers features not found on Kia models up to now, such as Sirius satellite radio and a DVD navigation system. Power-adjustable pedals and a back-up warning system also are available.

Cargo capacity is expandable thanks to fold-flat second and third rows.

At last month’s media preview of the vehicle, Ian Beavis, vice president-marketing for KMA, told Ward’s the Borrego will be equipped with push-button start, another technology first for Kia.

Other features include optional downhill-assist control and hill-assist control. The former prevents the wheels from locking when descending steep grades, while the latter prevents fishtailing or rolling backward when stopped on hills.

Standard safety features include antilock brakes, electronic brake distribution, brake assist and electronic stability and traction-control systems.

The new SUV is due in Kia’s US. dealerships this summer as an ’09 model.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com