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New Korando Sports, possible economical choice for campers

[THE INVESTOR] The SUV fad in South Korea is not over yet. Fueled by the popularity of outdoor activities -- mainly camping -- sales of such vehicles have grown steadily over the years.

However, there have been limited local choices, which often leads to consumers going for high-end foreign vehicles offered at high prices.


South Korea’s fourth-largest carmaker Ssangyong Motor, recently rolled out a pickup that it touts as an alternative to an SUV – the Korando Sports 2.2.

It is not really an SUV, but aims to appeal to customers with its strengths in off-road driving and fuel efficiency.


The Korando Sports 2.2 / Ssangyong Motor
The Korando Sports 2.2 / Ssangyong Motor

During the Korea Herald’s test-drive on Friday, the New Korando Sports 2.2 demonstrated stable performances both on concrete and off-roads in the rural areas of Gapyeong, 100 kilometers northeast of Seoul. 

At the high speed range of between 120-140 kilometers per hour, the diesel-powered vehicle felt less shaky than expected thanks to its durable frame body made of ultra-high strength steel that reduces noise and vibration.

The vehicle features a newly developed e-XDi220 LET diesel engine for Euro 6 compliance as well as a 15 percent hike in power and 11 percent increase in torque from its predecessor.

It offers 178 horsepower and torque between 1400 and 2800 revolutions per minute, providing enough power for towing and off-roading, Ssangyong said. It is capable of towing up to 2 tons – the equivalent of small boats and camping equipment, the carmaker added.

The new Korando Sports, however, is definitely not a vehicle for speed. It felt heavy when building up speed, considering that it had just two people on board and no cargo in the back. The responsiveness of the brake pedal was not acute but was smooth if attempting to gradually lower the speed of the vehicle.

The Korando Sports 2.2 / Ssangyong Motor
The Korando Sports 2.2 / Ssangyong Motor

While climbing up the 9 kilometer-long rugged roads from Gugok Fall to Moonbae village deep inside the mountain, the four-wheel drive vehicle did not lose its balance and felt comfortable – at least to the driver. 

The off-road drive was a perfect test of its three driving modes -- namely 2H, 4H and 4L.

Both 2H and 4H drive the vehicle on four wheels at a high speed and 4L is the option for higher hills and for towing, according to the company’s public relations representatives.

Its steering wheel, however, felt too “light” when making turns on rocky roads, raising questions on whether the driver would still be able to keep in good control when driving in heavy rain or on slippery roads.

The new Korando Sports also lacked entertainment features, with no speakers at the back seats.

Despite these characteristics, what makes this vehicle fall somewhere between an SUV and pickup is its affordability and practicality.

The Korando pickup series appeals to people who want ample cargo space but prefer something more stylish than a 1-ton truck.

The carmaker markets the vehicle’s potential role in family leisure activities in the hope of appealing to leisure-seeking yet price-conscious consumers.

The vehicle also consumes 1 liter of diesel oil per an average of 11.4 kilometers, which is economic in terms of its size.

It ranges in price from 21.68 million won ($19,037) to 27.45 million won, around a quarter of the prices of luxury foreign SUVs.

In general, the vehicle could be a good and economical choice as a weekend car for those who are serious about outdoor activities. For city drives only? Not a good idea. For more information, visit smotor.com.

By Cho Ching-un(christory@heraldcorp.com)
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