Light truckin’ to Batangas

Published December 3, 2021, 8:00 AM

by Neil N. Pagulayan

A day in Kia’s K2500 trucks

What is a light commercial vehicle? It’s essentially a workhorse for small to medium-sized businesses which need to move cargo or people. What they need to move and where may be different for each business. Yet Kia is confident that no matter what mobility requirement your business has, the Kia K2500 is the perfect vehicle for it. We find out why on this drive.

Kia Philippines President, Manny Aligada, onboard the K2500 Single Cab Dropside.

This is the first time I’d driven this kind of vehicle more than just a few kilometers. For this drive, Kia Philippines invited us to head out to Batangas in their light commercial vehicle, the K2500.

They may all look the same to the uninitiated, but the K2500 comes in six configurations. The first is the Cab & Chassis variant, ideal for businesses that require a specific body configuration; simply bolt it on to the chassis. The Closed Van variant is perfect for businesses that regularly need to transport big items or high-volume deliveries. The Karga variant is the ideal people hauler; with its 19-seat capacity with rear air conditioning. The Kargo variant is the same size as the Kargo but with a closed van for cargo. The Single Cab Dropside variant is the ideal carrier for those in the farming business, the construction industry, and the rear cargo bed is made in Korea. The Double Cab Dropside variant has space for both people and cargo, with a bed also made in Korea.

All variants are powered by a turbocharged 2.5L that puts out 130-Ps at 3,800 rpm with max torque of 255-Nm between 1,500-3,500 rpm mated to a six-speed manual transmission.

Early in the day, I was assigned to drive the Single Cab Dropside pickup variant with 4×4. I’m not a tall guy, so I had to literally clamber up into the cab. Once I was inside, there was enough adjustment in the driver’s seat for me to find a comfortable driving position. Looking at the dashboard, everything was within easy reach although I did notice to my dismay that there was no radio or entertainment system, but there was accomodation for a Double DIN system if you so choose to install one.

With one participant to a vehicle, we made the roughly 6o-km drive through morning rush hour traffic. Steering was relatively light, making getting out of the parking lot easy. The clutch was light and the K2500 had a gear shift lever like a car’s making it easy to change gears. It was good that there were a decent amount of storage areas and the all important cup holders.

On the expressway, the K2500 easily kept up with everyone else in the convoy. The unloaded rear tended to buck quite a bit, but this was understandable as the single cab was the lightest of the lot that morning. 

Our main test drive course and lunch venue was the General’s Farm. After a break, we got right to business. We were walked through with the different variants, each one with their own advantages.

A drop side pickup over a regular pickup bed lets you load from any side. The Kargo has the flattest floor which can accommodate 30 standard-sized Balikbayan Boxes. The Dual Cab Dropside has the most interior and headroom. 

Talk aside, we were also given a chance to test the vehicles, both in 4×2 and 4×4 trim.

The 4×2 course was pretty much a farm dirt road and grass, the kind you’d find when you go to any province. It’s something most LCV’s would be expected to deal with. The 4×2 models performed on the dirt road course as well as expected, having little or no difficulty on flat sections and slight inclines, but struggled for grip on wet grass and some light rutted and muddy areas.

The 4×4 course was more challenging, with deeper mud ruts, slippery slopes, tight turns and lots of uneven terrain. These were meant to simulate the kind of surfaces you might encounter when making a delivery way off the beaten path after a downpour. And we were impressed by the capability of the 4×4 system (which also had 4L), allowing you to get the job done where other LCV’s would have to find better roads or agreeable weather.

It also helped that the engine torque comes in very early at 1,500 rpm, allowing you to easily idle over many of the surfaces. The 4×4 K2500 variants have a decent approach angle. Departure angle depends on the variant. They also don’t come with any rear differential lockers, nor do they need them.  The course demonstrated that there was enough power going to all four wheels to get you out of most daily obstacles you’d come across.

Heading back to Manila, I had the chance to drive the 4×2 Kargo variant. This variant was a different experience. With the cargo carrier on the back, the ride was a lot smoother with more weight over the rear wheels. It might have been the road too, ascending through winding country roads through Tagaytay. The K2500 performed well, still easy to drive through traffic even for a manual. 

Our day as a truck driver was quite enjoyable and comfortable. The K2500 is a truck that’s almost car-comfortable, and offers up enough power to get the job done. There’s certainly a K2500 configuration for your unique needs with the additional choice between a 4×2 or a 4×4.