Going on media drive events is one of the many activities in this profession which I enjoy the most. But, like many events, these were put to halt for almost two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the numbers are in a declining trend, face-to-face events are now resuming.
One of my first actual events in the pandemic is the recent Kia K2500 media drive by AC Motors, the official Kia distributor in the Philippines. Yes, that is right, we tested the utility van model of the Korean brand. To be honest, this was new to me too. I have been on several media trips outside the metro using hatchbacks, SUVs, sedans, but not in a utility van. But, aside from being tucked away inside my cave for too long, this drive being different than usual seemed fun. And I was not wrong.
Driving the Kia K2500 felt new. Well, driving vans is not new to me. I even went to the meetup place in our family van. But the experiential event featuring a utility truck was new to me. Nonetheless, it was a great experience.
City and highway experience
The drive started at Kia BGC. I was assigned to a Kia K2500 4×4 KARGO which I would drive to Tanauan, Batangas. From the busy BGC area, we traversed EDSA, which now seemed to be back to its pre-pandemic traffic, to reach South Superhighway then enter Skyway. The first part of the drive was to experience the city driving capabilities of the K2500. Surprisingly, the K2500 drives light. For a 4WD, the steering feels incredibly light. The thin tire profile maybe the reason for that too. Also, accelerating from standstill could be done with ease, while it takes no sweat to row through the gears.
As for the highway, we reached speeds of 80 to 100 kph comfortably primarily thanks to the potent combo of the 2.5-liter intercooled turbo diesel engine and close-geared 6-speed manual transmission of the K2500. One thing I noticed about the K2500 when we drove into the highway is how relatively quiet its cabin is. The Kargo configuration has an open window to the rear body. All the road noise I heard was from the body. The cab was well sealed, I must say. Of course, you will not look at a utility vehicle’s NVH, but surprisingly, the K2500 has minimized engine sound coming to the cockpit considering that the driving position is just on top of the engine bay. Kia Philippines said that this is because of the K2500’s double walled cab structure.
After an hour on the road, we then reached The General’s Farm in Batangas. Upon arriving, we were greeted by the good people of Kia Philippines led by the brand’s president, Mr. Manny Aligada. The wide greenfield of the farm served as the proving grounds of the K2500. The highlight of this drive event is taking both the 4×2 and 4×4 K2500s on a muddy course around the farm. Putting the off-road capabilities of the 4×4 Kia utility truck. Even the 4×2 was taken to the off-road course to see how the two drivetrains differ in performance.
4×4 is king!
From driving the 4×4 on the highway, I then hopped on a 4×2 and took it around the farm. Difference is almost none until you reach the mud track. Though the 4×2 was able to pass through, it took a bit of effort. Required a bit higher rev. I almost got stuck if not for the momentum I carried going through the mud. In the 4×4 it was a different case. Worlds apart. With four-high engaged, driving around the off-road course was easier. Feathering the throttle can get the K2500 out of the mud pits and climb the small hills. I could just imagine how a set of mud- or all-terrain tires could do to this mighty 4×4 utility truck.
By going through this media drive, I was reminded how simple the requirement of mobility is. The units of K2500 that we drove have very basic amenities – power steering, A/C, and power windows. Other business workhorses running the streets today might not even have any of these. These four-wheeled biggies are tasked to bring goods from point A to point B. Yet, despite the simplicity of hauling goods, chances are that certain situations might pop up and these are the things that should be readied for.
One could wonder, why a 4×4 utility truck? Going through the whole activity, I was able to realize how helpful getting an extra pull on both the front tires is. Not all businesses may need a 4×4 truck but just having the ability to go on all fours could mean a lot when the need arises. Think of it, the couple thousands of bucks that one saves by getting a non-4×4 variant would not be helpful when you get stuck in a ditch while on your way to a delivery somewhere rural. You never know when you will need it.
If your need is just within the metro, the 4×2 is absolutely not a bad choice. Value is astounding. Starting at PHP 1,025,000 for the KARGO, one will have a reliable workhorse that is capable of hauling up to 1-ton of cargo or even the volume of up to 30 standard balikbayan boxes.
I really appreciate this whole experience. Aside from the fact that I got to practice my manual transmission driving skills, I was able to put myself, somehow, into the shoes of those who are usually on the road nowadays, the drivers and businesses who are thriving to revive our economy. Like the K2500, regardless of on or off-road, Filipinos will always work hard.