2021 Kia K2500 First Drive: Comfort Is A Safety Feature
Updated on September 19 2023
There's a wide variety of pick-ups and vans available these days. That's good news for businesses looking for a vehicle to suit their needs. However, there will come a time you will need a more specialized vehicle. One that is more focused for the needs of the business and its owners.
Enter the Kia K2500, and it's one you should consider if hauling people and cargo is your line of work. Here's why.
A few days ago, Kia invited Automart.PH to try out their updated hauler, and first impressions are very good. Not only that, Kia Motors also let us drive most versions of their K2500. We had five to choose from, namely the 4x2 Kargo, the 4x2 Karga, 4x4 single-cab dropside, 4x4 Karga, and 4x4 Double Cab Dropside. Yes, the four-wheel drive versions are back for the K2500. For the first part of the trip, we were assigned the 4x4 single cab dropside.
The first leg of our invitational drive was all on pavement. The route would take us from Bonifacio Global City, all the way to The Farm in Tanauan, Batangas. From there, the K2500 units were subject to various on-road conditions. These ranged from metropolitan streets, smooth expressways, and not-so-smooth highways.
But before we tell you what the K2500 is like on the open road, here are some initial impressions. For starters, the driving position is as truck-like as is could be. That's to be expected from a cab-over vehicle with its engine beneath the front passenger. But for a commercial vehicle, the seats are decently padded, and there are several storage pockets and bins that will come handy during long delivery trips. Another thing to note about the seats; these come with a good level of adjustability. That's not something that could be said about some of its rivals. Also, the K2500 has no radio installed.
And now, for the drive. As one would expect from a vehicle like this, the ride is stiff, but that's not the end of the story. When compared to similar vehicles, the K2500 is noticable more comfortable. For those who drive older pick-ups, they should feel right at home with the heavy-duty Kia. It won't ride like the luxurious Carnival minivan, but the ride quality is above average among its competitors.
Out on the highway, it bounces around, which should come as no surprise. After all, the single cab body carries no weight above the rear wheels, so that's to be expected. At least the seats do a good job of absorbing the bumps on the road before it gets to you. The lack of a radio does make a long highway trip a bit lonely, but at least we had walkie talkies to keep ourselves entertained. If your business is all about long-haul transport, you might want to install a basic radio for you or your driver to stay awake.
As for performance, the K2500 uses a 2.5-liter, turbocharged turbodiesel engine. It's good for 130 PS and 255 Nm of torque. It's then paired with a six-speed manual transmission, which was very handy out on the expressway. The extra gear kept the revs down low at 80 km/h and kept the engine relatively silent at 100 km/h. The sixth-gear also helped the single-cab 4x4 version do a combined fuel economy average of 12.5 kilometers per liter. That figure was achieved with a fair bit of overtaking with no attempt of hypermiling. Expect the two-wheel drive versions to drink a little less diesel.
But the biggest surprise here has to be its steering system, but we'll talk more about that later. As a teaser, let's just say it makes driving a commercial vehicle like this a lot easier. Another highlight is its clutch, which came in handy for the activity later that day.
We arrived at the Farm in Tanauan feeling less tired that expected. If anything, we didn't feel beat up despite this truck's utilitarian purpose. We were greeted by wet mud and grass when we got there, but the four-wheel drive system wasn't even bothered by the slippery conditions. But the 4x4 K2500s would be put to the test even more later that day.
But before that, we drove the two-wheel drive versions over similar conditions before reaching The Farm's parking area. There was noticable more slip and wresting with the steering to keep it driving straight on the track. That little test made one thing clear: if your delivieres take you to places with rough and slippery roads, it's best get the four-wheel drive version.
That point was made even clearer when the test route featured a deep, muddy hole. While the two-wheel drive version didn't get stuck, it required a lot of patience and control of the gas pedal to keep it moving. And then it was time to test the four-wheel drive version, and it was unstoppable on the tougher, more slippery mud and ruts.
Engaging the four-wheel drive mode needs a little bit of muscle, but once engaged, it can take on terrain with no problem. We drove the single-cab version again, and it took on the course with no issue. Even a deep, muddy hairpin couldn't hinder the truck's progress, and it plugged itself out of the mud with ease. What makes the feat more amazing is the fact that the K2500 isn't even wearing off-road specific tires. It was all done with standard commercial vehicle tires, so just imagine how capable it can be with more specialized rubber.
And, if you remember, we said the steering was its biggest surprise. That's because it was light and effortless. That made driving off-road a lot less physical and stressful, and it made on-road driving a breeze as well. Because of that, we just had to ask Kia if they put in an electric power steering system, something commonly used in today's passenger cars. To our surprise, it still uses the traditional hydraulic system. Of course, Kia didn't tell us what kind of engineering magic they did to the steering, but they did tell us the reason for making the steering as light as possible.
The person who explained it was none other Kia Philippines president, Manny Aligada. He mentioned that driver fatigue is one of the biggest reasons why delivery and long-haul drivers get into accidents. It's one of the reasons why Kia decided to make the steering effort less truckish and a lot lighter than the usual commercial vehicle. In turn, it makes it easier for the drivers to maneuver their vehicles at any speed without breaking a sweat. So not only is this a convenience feature, it's for safety as well. It also shows Kia making an effort to make driving all their vehicles, whether it's the subcompact Soluto or the tough K2500, easy and not tiring to drive.
We got the chance to drive and know more about the other 4x4 variants. We also took the Karga and the Double Cab bodies on the trail. Our impressions? The Karga needed less effort climbing muddy hills thanks to the extra weight at the back. Meanwhile, the Double Cab was easily the most comfortable to drive on the beaten trail. The four-door K2500 wasn't just our favorite, just about everyone who joined the trip enjoyed that version the most.
Driving the K2500 was an eye-opener. It's proof that these kinds of trucks don't have to be slow, uncomfortable, or difficult to maneuver. As pointed out by Manny Aligada, driver comfort is a safety feature. The less tired a driver is, the safer and more alert their driving will be. Curious? These are the prices of the units we tested, along with the other K2500 units available:
4X4 Single Cab Dropside: PHP 1,010,000
4X4 Single Cab & Chassis: PHP 973,000
4X4 Double Cab Dropside: PHP 1,060,000
4X4 KARGO: PHP 1,135,000
4X4 KARGA Dual Aircon: PHP 1,280,000
4x2 KARGO Plus Front Aircon: PHP 1,025,000
4X2 KARGA Plus Protect Dual Aircon: PHP 1,165,000
So if you're ready to re-stock your fleet and upgrade to these new Karga and Kargo models, we can help you out through our Sell-My-Car program. Be sure to take the new ones for a test drive, too. You won't be disappointed.