The joys of manual labor with the Kia K2500

The joys of manual labor with the Kia K2500

A boxy, diesel-powered, body-on-frame commercial vehicle finished only in white — surely that isn’t the set of wheels that’ll set your heart racing, don’t you think?

Honestly, I think the answer is no. But if we’re talking about such a vehicle like the Kia K2500, then I’d say its appeal lies in its simplicity and abilities — and its four-wheel drive (4x4) system.

Kia Philippines is proud to report that the K2500 is the only 4x4 in the CV segment. 

During a quick out-of-town jaunt, we were able to roll up the 4WD sleeves of the K2500, especially when tackling ascending mountain roads and muddy fields. On the other hand, the two-wheel drive (4x2) versions of the K2500 did an equally impeccable job on paved asphalt and grassy pathways. 

These environments represent the nature of work the K2500 is designed to do — hauling goods through rough provincial terrain or shuttling cargo around the city, for example. At the same time, the CV was able to show its said appeal. 

K2500 variants, specs, and prices

Being a cab-and-chassis vehicle, the K2500 is available in a number of configurations to accommodate crowds and cargo. 

Kia Philippines has named the K2500 cargo van variants “Kargo,” and the passenger van versions as “Karga.” Three people can fit in the cab of the Kargo, while 16 more folks can be transported by the Karga — upping the passenger count to 19. 

Kia K2500Meanwhile, the K2500 pickup single and double cab trucks wear the “Dropside” name, referring to their beds which can be opened from the sides. The double cab can seat six, which could benefit a team of workers, the distributor says.  

All K2500 variants are available as a 4x2 and 4x4, while the K2500 Closed Van comes as 4x2 only. Through a lever, the K2500’s 4x4 system can be left in four-wheel drive mode for more grip, or in rear-wheel drive to save fuel on paved roads. 

Kia K2500What’s also shared among the K2500 range is a 2.5-liter turbodiesel, four-cylinder engine, which outputs 130ps at 3,800rpm and 255Nm from 1,500rpm. The engine is mid-mounted, between the front wheels and underneath the passenger cab. A six-speed manual transmission is the sole gearbox option. 

The K2500 range is priced from P973,000 to P1.28 million.  

K2500 city and highway driving

Despite the K2500 Kargo measuring at 3,050 millimeters and the odd sitting-over-the-front-wheels driving position, I found myself weaving the truck through traffic without stress. Credit goes to the K2500’s large side mirrors and expansive glass front and sides. 

As a mostly automatic driver, I did have to get accustomed to the K2500’s rather grabby clutch, but once I learned how to modulate the third pedal’s springiness, driving became manageable. After all, it’s unfair to expect a light clutch from a workhorse. On the other hand, the gear shift slotted perfectly into each gear, while the steering made light work of 90-degree turns.


Out on the open road, the ease of driving the K2500 continues. The light traffic allowed the K2500 to cruise in sixth gear at just below 2,000rpm, with the engine sounding not at all strained. What’s more, the wind and road noise that permeated in the cabin weren’t so distracting, which could show that the K2500 won’t make drivers tired during long-distance deliveries. 

The fuel consumption is sure to appease companies, too, as the trip computer registered 12kpl in my drive from BGC to Batangas. The fuel tank has a capacity of 60 liters. 

K2500 interior

Apart from the tilted steering wheel, the K2500 cockpit feels every bit like a regular car’s. The floor-mounted gear shifter and conventional handbrake sit just next to the driver.   

In terms of equipment, the K2500 is fitted with power door locks and windows as well as a freezing-cold aircon. The radio could be a dealer-option, but music can be sourced via the USB and Auxiliary ports. You could point out the short equipment list, but I think this translates to a fuss-free cabin that’s easy on the eyes.

Kia K2500

If a person will take the K2500 to a mentally demanding logistical or physical construction job, the simple cabin will be a welcome respite. 

An aircon has been fitted in the passenger cabin of the K2500 Karga, for the comfort of the 16 passengers there. In the K2500 Double Cab Dropside, three rear occupants are treated to doors that open wide and room to stretch their legs. The double cab shape is another advantage of the K2500 against its competitors. 

Kia K2500K2500 cargo-carrying abilities 

Since this criteria will make or break any commercial vehicle, Kia made sure the K2500 variants will excel here. 

The K2500 Dropside trucks allow for 1,128 to 1,235 kilograms of payload. Loading cargo onto the bed, either by lifting objects by hands and muscles or by crane, is made easier by the dropside panels on the front and sides of the bed. The cargo can be secured by tying it on the hooks dotted inside and outside the bed. 

Kia K2500

Moving on to the K2500 Kargo, this truck is able to swallow more than 30 balikbayan boxes in its cargo hold. Making this achievement possible is the dual swing-out tailgate doors and the wheel arches that barely intrude into the space. In fact, there’s even room to spare between the boxes for flatter items, so long as the total weight of the cargo won’t exceed 953 to 1,235kg. 

According to Kia Philippines, the K2500’s strengthened rear leaf springs contribute to the payload capacity figures, which are higher than the truck’s older versions. Step boards fitted to the rear of both K2500 trucks help the working man or woman in loading and unloading. 

Kia K2500

K2500 off-roading

To illustrate the kind of work the K2500 will be subjected to, we were taken to a farm land in Batangas, where we drive the 4x2 K2500 trucks over grassy pathways, and the 4x4 K2500 through a muddy and hilly trail. 

Both 4x2 and 4x4 K2500 trucks barely break a sweat driving on the grass around the lot. That’s thanks to the trucks’ 200-millimeter ground clearance that made sure the underside mechanicals are safe from the mounds of soil, and the torsion bar front and leaf spring rear suspension that took the uneven surfaces in stride.

Kia K2500Although in the case of the 4x2 K2500, I felt the rear step slightly out of line when I drove it over muddy patches, but nothing that presence of mind and wheel correction can’t fix. 

There was more than just mud in the off-road course that was set up for the 4x4 K2500 trucks. The track consisted of dips, ruts, and craters. Any business that requires four-wheel drive will be delighted to know that the K2500 is the only CV locally available as a 4x4. 

That 4WD system works well, too, as it didn’t make this newbie off-roader stuck in the muddy dips, one of which was even made into a hairpin. Powering my way out of a couple of bogs, the torquey diesel engine did its job well.

Kia K2500

What also made navigating the terrain easier was the snub nose and expansive front windshield, and the little mirrors below the side-view mirrors that offered a view of the truck’s sides and rear wheels. 

Given the little mirrors, who needs 360-degree cameras found in more expensive trucks? 

More K2500 driving

After a virtual day’s work in the farm, we were to take the K2500 up Sungay Road in Batangas, to pass through Tagaytay en route back to Manila. The succession of steep and sweeping bends of Sungay Road, made damp by a drizzle, make me wish I was behind the wheel of a 4x4 K2500, but I managed to climb with the 4x2 despite the wheel spinning and squealing from the rear wheels. 

Kia K2500

After a series of uphill twisties, I also learn to keep the diesel mill’s revs in their sweet spot to avoid leaving the truck hanging. 

The K2500 also showed that it can do a good job carving corners. You’d think that the truck’s high center of gravity would translate to body lean at every corner, but the K2500 remained fairly steady. The steering also tracked the front wheels exactly where I wanted them to point. 

Kia K2500In the end, the K2500 showed that while it’s not exactly cutting-edge, it possesses a winning combination of ability to carry cargo over rough terrain and easy-to-use nature. Businesses will get to appreciate the joys of manual labor with the K2500. 

Photos from Kia Philippines and Dylan Afuang  


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