Kia Motors is the oldest and second-largest Korean car manufacturer in the world. The Kia K-2700, originally launched in 2002, was Kia’s major entry into the commercial vehicle and light truck segment. Over about four years, the Kia K-2700 overlapped the Kia Pregio, which was a relatively popular entry-level commercial van, but the Pregio was superseded by the immensely successful Kia Grand Carnival people mover.
The Kia K-2700 was named for its 2700cc diesel engine, which shows the kind of audience Kia was targeting with their light truck. Generally, the vehicle was intended for owner-operators rather than customers who went through fleet sales. These customers included tradesmen like plumbers, builders, and electricians, but the K-2700 also had broad enough appeal to attract a wide variety of customers.
The vehicle itself was 5.1 metres long and weighed 3.3 tonnes, with a cargo deck measuring 3.1 metres by 1.6 metres. Most importantly, the vehicle could handle a massive payload of over 1500kg, which is more than a tonne of gear. The Kia K-2700 also had a braked towing capacity of 1400kg and an unbraked capacity of 700kg.
In 2008, the Kia K-2700 was replaced by a new model called the Kia K-2900. This new vehicle improved on the K-2700 in nearly every way, including a cleaner and more powerful engine with greater power and torque, better average fuel consumption, and a bigger payload. Still, it owed a lot to the success of the Kia K-2700, which dominated the light truck segment during its production run.
The original 2002 Kia K-2700 featured some excellent engine performance. It had a 2.7L diesel engine with power of 57kW at 4000rpm and torque of 172Nm at 2400rpm. While this didn’t position the Kia K-2700 as a leader in its class as far as performance, it was also less thirsty, with average fuel consumption of 11.6L/100km. It’s well built to handle large loads, with only an occasional down shift to fourth gear required on long hills. Overall, it manoeuvres well.
Though not technically a K-2700, the Kia K-2900 is often described as another model of the same vehicle. It had several major improvements under the bonnet compared to its predecessor, including an engine with 92kW of power at 3800rpm and 245Nm of torque at 2000rpm. The engine saw improvements of 59 and 49 per cent over the previous engine’s power and torque. The model also saw improved average fuel consumption of 10.2L/100km, which was a six per cent improvement.
The Kia K-2700 had a nice array of standard equipment, impressive enough that it almost seemed like something to be expected in a five-door hatch instead of a light truck. The equipment included remote central locking, power windows, AM/FM radio with single disc CD player, power steering, air conditioning, and a height adjustable steering wheel. It also featured a 3-stage headlight and two-stage external mirrors. Optional extras included rubber floor and dash mats, weather shields, polished alloy nudge bar, and a tow bar.
It also featured a cargo deck, which allowed for a heavy payload. One of the only noticeably absent features was airbags, of which the Kia K-2700 had none. Nonetheless, the overall build quality of the vehicle was impressive. From the mechanics of the torsion bar front suspension to the paint and panel fit, it generally seemed to run smoothly and reliably for years.
The Kia K-2700 was a huge success. In its last year of production, it took nearly 50 per cent of the light truck market. Other major contenders in the market included the Ford Transit and the Volkswagen Transporter. The keen price was a major draw for the Kia K-2700, as were its comforts and amenities in the cab. Also, while it wasn’t a leader in its class in power, it was noticeably less thirsty than its rivals.
The other main competition for the K-2700 was the new and improved K-2900. The K-2900 was more powerful and could lug around a bigger payload, but was also more expensive than the K-2700. Depending on the kind of work and load required, it may or may not make more sense to get the newer model. For its time, the Kia K-2700 served as a highly successful and worthy contender the light truck segment, and it still has a great deal of merit as a second-hand commercial light truck.