The Kia Sorento was ranked ahead of high-profile newcomers including the Volvo XC90 and the VW Toureg to pick up the award, presented annually.
It also beat off competition from the Mercedes-Benz ML270, Mitsubishi Shogun Sport (Pajero), and the Toyota Land Cruiser to win the "Large 4x4" category, before going on to beat six other category winners to win the prestigious "Car of the Year" title.
The Sorento, also the 4x4 category winner in the Car magazine awards in Britain, was launched there in February and a month later in South Africa.
One 4x4 Magazine judge said of the Sorento: "Everyone was struck by how well designed the Kia is, how well put together it is and most importantly how proficient it is in sticky, tricky off-road situations.
"Yes, there are those who will be put off by the badge, but they?re missing out on driving one of the best cars currently found on the market."