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Car reviews - SsangYong - Rexton - 4WD wagon

Our Opinion

We like
Ladder-frame chassis, great off-road ability, excellent price, new and refined styling
Room for improvement
Outdated in-car technology, lacks navigation system, no reversing camera, truck-like handling

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SsangYong logo6 Mar 2015

By RICHARD BERRY

Price and equipment

The Rexton SX’s driveaway price of $39,990 makes it one of the most affordable seven-seat all-wheel drive SUVs on the market.

The standard features list includes 16-inch alloy wheels, fog-lights, heated wing mirrors, LED tail-lights, stainless steel tread plates, chrome exhaust tip, roof rails, side steps, front and rear zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, leather appointed seats and steering wheel, and a third row of seating.

The lack of a satellite navigation system and the absence of a reversing camera is disappointing.

Rivals for the Rexton come in the form of Isuzu’s D-Max ute-based MU-X for $47,800 in LS-M auto grade, the mechanically related Holden Colorado 7 LTZ at $47,490, and Hyundai’s entry diesel all-wheel drive Santa Fe for $43,990.

Interior

SsangYong has ensured that the updated Rexton’s cabin is a premium-feeling place with lashings of leather covering the seats, steering wheel and gear shifter. Those front seats are supportive and comfortable and the driver’s chair is power adjustable.

The second row offers flatter seats, but this 190cm writer can sit behind his own driving position with his knee just touching the back of the front seat.

The third row really is for kids with firm seating, limited legroom and an entry which involves getting on your hands and knees – best if grandma sits up front, then.

A closer look around the cabin reveals a dated media system with a small LCD display. Disappointing too is the instrument cluster which, while clear, just looks cheap. There’s also no digital speedo and no average fuel economy read-out.

Engine and transmission

The Rexton SX is powered by a 115kW/360Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine which replaces the previous five-cylinder unit. While it’s a noisy thing, it’s able to haul the two-tonne Rexton around easily, plus the cabin feels well insulated enough to keep most of the clatter out.

The five-speed auto is ageing Benz technology but it’s luxuriously smooth.

SsangYong claims an average combined fuel consumption of 7.8 litre per 100km.

We can’t verify this with our own figure as the instrument cluster lacks a read out.

Four-wheel drive is selectable via a dash-mounted dial plus there’s a low and high ratio.

Ride and handling

Being a body-on-frame SUV means the Rexton is not going to have the dynamics of a vehicle with a monocoque chassis as most modern vehicles have these days. The handling was more akin to a light-commercial vehicle around Sydney’s inner city streets, but the ride was comfortable enough especially on highways thanks in part to its cushy 235 75 R16 tyres.

Suspension comes in the form of double wishbones and springs up front and a five-link step up with springs in the back.

Steering felt direct and well-weighted with 3.5 turns lock-to-lock and a turning radius of 5.7 metres.

While its on-road handling can be a bit agricultural, where the Rexton really excels is off the black-top. The strength and rigidity of its ladder-frame chassis and rear axle, plus a proper four-wheel drive system with gear reduction makes the Rexton a competent off-roader.

We took it bush-bashing and found it far more competent in the dirt than any soft-roader SUV. It is 4755mm long with a 2835mm wheelbase, the front overhang is 885mmm, and the rear is 1035mm. The approach and departure angles are 28 degrees and 25 degrees respectively. There’s 250mm of ground clearance at the front and 216mm at the back.

When it comes to towing, the Rexton can pull 750kg unbraked and a solid 2600kg when braked.

Safety and servicing

The Rexton has a four-star ANCAP crash test rating. There’s disc brakes all round with ABS, while four airbags, traction control, emergency-brake assist, hill-descent control, a space-saver spare tyre, ISOFIX and child anchor points round out the safety package.

Missing is a reversing camera which SsangYong said will be coming in a future update.

The Rexton comes with a three-year/100,000km warranty at 15,000/12 month intervals. There’s also 24-hour roadside assistance for three years.

Verdict

For those looking for a new four-wheel drive with a good-old ladder-frame chassis for under $40K – this is the car for you.

You’ll be going without a fancy media system, and there’s no navigation and reversing camera, plus the ride and handling won’t be as refined as your neighbour’s soft roader, but you’ll be able to go much further off the beaten track than they ever will.

Rivals

Isuzu MU-X LS-M AWD $47,800, plus on-road costs
Based on the Isuzu’s D-MAX ute the MU-X is a body-on-frame SUV like the Rexton and has similar levels of on- and off-road ability. The D-MAX has a bit more grunt and a 3000kg braked towing capacity.

Hyundai Santa Fe Active AWD CRDi, $43,990, plus on-road costs
SsangYong admits it’s out to beat its Korean rivals and has priced its Rexton to undercut them, however, the Santa Fe is more car than off-roader with its impressive handling and great ride.

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