This is the Rexton, from South Korean carmaker
Ssangyong, a brand that hopes to undercut its rivals with affordability yet maintain
capability. But what is a Rexton? Well, to quote the brochure,
it offers a “blend of elegance and traditional 4×4 values” – and yeah, that sums it up
pretty nicely, and with that luxurious 4×4 character, the Rexton aims to challenge the
likes of the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe and Mitsubishi Outlander.
Okay, its design may be a tad more conservative than those models, but let’s see what lies
beneath. So my initial thoughts on getting into here
were ones of luxury, I mean you’ve got this two-tone leather, big, airy cabin, a mammoth
centre console and loads of little bit of soft touch flair dotted around – although
it does remind me a bit of an old Lexus GX mixed with an old Chrysler Voyager.
This is the flagship EXL trim as well, so we’ve got some pretty cool kit like heated
seats, electrically adjustable memory seats, automatic air con, cruise control, parking
sensors and this Kenwood system with sat-nav and DAB digital… now this system is a bit,
well, naff. It’s a nightmare to connect your phone via Bluetooth, the DAB radio is
just confusing and there are far too many screens to trawl through. At least the sat-nav
works, although that’s not great either. A few other notable things are these two cup
holders, you also get cup holders in the doors and some rather awkward storage slots, and
a few storage compartments for keys and coins. Seven seats come as standard in the Rexton,
but this flagship model only has five seats and sitting in the back of the Rexton is a
very nice experience, you’ve got loads of room, these leather seats are comfy, you’ve
got cool pop out cup holders, a fold down arm rest and an arm rest on the door, a small
transmission tunnel so it’s easy to move around, some under floor storage – and,
if you are on a particularly long journey, you can recline these seats and have a sleep.
Now if you are after a massive loading space for camping kit or suitcases, then the Rexton
is spot on – as you get vast amounts of space here, with this slip matt being a nice
touch, and you can also fold these seats forward. Which is a bit of a pain, but it does free
up a lot of space… oh and if you need to change a tyre and are looking for the jack,
it’s under here. Surely they could’ve put it somewhere back there.
So let’s start with what I like about the Rexton – well, get up to speed on the motorway
and it’s 176bhp 2.2-litre diesel happily plods along, and this seven-speed Mercedes-Benz
E-Tronic automatic transmission smoothly shifts through the gears too. It definitely has a
solid, long-haul, American road trip feel to it.
And if you plan on taking an off-road route on that road trip then its 400Nm of torque
and selectable 4×4 system, which includes a rugged, torque-distributing low range mode,
will give you the freedom to do so – and the Rexton’s got a braked towing weight
of three tones as well. Pretty impressive. Now, what happens when you’re not going
in a straight line on the motorway? Well, take it into a corner and you get loads of
body roll, the steering, although fairly well-weighted, has very little feel to it, the gearbox doesn’t
respond very well to changes in speed, a lot of engine and wind noise seeps through to
the cabin and the suspension sends shudders through the car when you hit a bump. It just
feels more like a slightly refined pick-up truck rather than a large SUV.
And as for its efficiency, well this model emits 194g/km of CO2 and it claims to return
an average of 38mpg – and even if you manage to achieve that, it still isn’t very good.
So maybe all those factors are overshadowed by a low price then? Well, it depends if you
are after luxury. You can have a Rexton for £23,000 – which is cheaper than its key
rivals – or you can go for something like this model and pay £29,000.
It can be quite difficult to determine where the Rexton sits in the current market, because
it’s not necessarily a bad car, it has plenty to offer and some of its traits that may seem
subpar, like its bulky, unrefined drive, are things you may typically associate with big
4WD SUVs. The Rexton’s problem is that the other 4WD
SUVs currently on sale are much more refined and polished. And if you drove say a Kia Sorento
and a Ssangyong Rexton side by side, you would be pretty astonished by the difference between
the two. But what are your thoughts on the Ssangyong
Rexton? Let us know in the comments section below and don’t forget to subscribe to our
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