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Honest John - SsangYong Rexton

Excellent off road. 3500kg braked trailer rating. Impressive quality cabin. Loads of space. Well-equipped as standard and great value in mid-spec.

11th October 2017



With an upmarket cabin, hugely spacious interior, 3500kg tow weight and genuine off-road capability, the SsangYong Rexton has a lot going for it. It’s a huge step forward for SsangYong in terms of quality and refinement too – but it’s still not quite as well-finished as a Kia Sorento.

It’s not far behind though. Not only is the exterior styling modern, but the cabin is really well finished. Mid- and top-spec cars get plush leather upholstery on the seats and leather dashboard inlays while the plastics are soft-touch yet sturdy. There’s a large touchscreen system too, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The second row of seats is very spacious, with space for three adults to sit with plenty of leg and headroom. The boot, too, is huge at 820 litres, or almost 2000 litres with the rear seats folded. Optionally, buyers can opt for a seven-seater with two occasional-use seats in the boot floor.

There is one engine choice – a 2.2-litre diesel with 181PS and 420Nm of torque. It’s quiet for the most part, though it does grumble when pushing on. It settles into a nice quiet cruise, though – and there’s little in the way of road or wind noise. There is a six-speed manual, but the Mercedes-Benz sourced seven-speed automatic is a much better bet.

SsangYong has opted for a body-on-chassis design, which gives the Rexton a high towing capacity and good off-road capability – but it does mean the handling is on the soft side on the road. There is noticeable roll when changing direction suddenly and the steering isn’t particularly precise.

But the payoff is a 3500kg braked trailer rating, plus genuine 4x4 capability. It has a selectable four-wheel drive mode and, if things get really steep and slippery, a low-range mode, with hill descent control. If you’re planning on towing horseboxes or caravans across fields, the Rexton will do the job without breaking a sweat.

For a SsangYong the start price might seem on the steep side - it starts at more than £26k new – but the Rexton is bigger than the likes of a Hyundai Santa Fe and has a very generous level of equipment. Factor in the comprehensive five-year warranty and there’s lots to like – but if you aren’t going to tow or venture off road, it’s not the best choice.


What's good

  • Huge, spacious cabin with loads of space in the back row and the option of seven seats.
  • High quality materials, including plush leather in mid- and top-spec cars.
  • 3500kg braked trailer rating.
  • Very capable off road. 
  • Ideal for towing.

What to watch out for

  • Long way up and long way down to get in and out.
  • AWD is basic, pick-up style with no viscous coupling so can only be used in slippery conditions or off road.
  • Have to stop to engage low range.


There’s only one engine option – a 2.2-litre diesel with 181PS. Opt for the manual and it delivers 400Nm of torque, but we’d skip that in favour of the smooth, seven-speed automatic, which gains an extra 20Nm of torque and is relaxing to drive.

It’s not exactly a potent engine, but it does the job without too much fuss, only getting coarse when accelerating hard. It's not that impressive when it comes to economy, with an official figure of around 35mpg - though SsangYong does at least have fairly realistic official figures, according to Real MPG.

Under normal conditions, drive is sent to the rear wheels to provide the best economy, but four-wheel drive is selectable on the go if things get slippery. On the road, the Rexton is fairly quiet on the whole, without too much road or wind noise even at motorway speeds and a commanding view over other cars - including smaller crossovers.

Unfortunately, the body-on-chassis design means the car does roll around quite a lot when changing direction and, over uneven surfaces, it feels unsettled. It’s not a car to be pushed into bends with any pace - the steering is light and ponderous and there's not much feedback. So, if you want your big SUV exclusively for on-road driving, you’re probably better off with something else.

On the other hand, that chassis layout means the Rexton has an excellent 3500kg braked trailer rating – so it can tow heavy trailers, caravans and horseboxes with ease. It’s also a really capable off-roader. There’s a selectable low-range gearbox mode that means slippery mud, steep hills and uneven surfaces are shrugged off without trouble.

The high ride height means departure and approach angles are impressive too - as is ground clearance. If you don't speak off-roader, that effectively means you can get get on and off steep hill approaches without scraping the front or rear bumpers. You can also drive on deeply-rutted tracks without too much risk of catching the underside of the car. 

Equipment levels are generous and include some active safety gadgets as standard. Auto emergency brakes, front collision warning, cruise control, auto high beam and traffic sign recognition. Top models also gain lane change assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, to help when reversing out of a driveway or parking space.


Inside, the Rexton is a big step forward for SsangYong in terms of quality. Plush, soft-touch materials are used throughout and there is even quilted leather in the top-spec Ultimate model. There are a few areas that seem slightly cheap – the silver plastic surround on the infotainment screen, for example – but it’s otherwise an impressive cabin.

It’s very spacious too. The second row of seats has masses of head and legroom, so adults will find it easy to get comfortable. The boot is huge, with a flat deck and a wide, square opening that makes it simple to get bulky things in and out. The only problem is the high load deck – though that issue is shared by all SUVs.

If you need to carry more people, there is the option of seven seats. The two additional seats that fold out of the boot floor when needed. They’re for occasional use, so while children will be excited by the novelty at the start of a journey, they’ll probably be the first to ask “are we there yet?”.

Equipment levels are very generous even in the basic EX model, which has air conditioning, a touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with a reversing camera. Moving up to mid ELX adds a larger screen with TomTom navigation, while top cars have a clever around-view monitor that gives a bird’s-eye view of the car when parking.

Mid-spec ELX cars represent the best value for money, with leather upholstery, electrically adjustable and heated seats, keyless entry and start, a heated steering wheel and dual-zone climate control. The top Ultimate model gains some high-end extras like quilted leather, but it’s quite expensive.

Standard Equipment (from launch):

EX has 17-inch alloy wheels with 235/70 R17 tyres, tyre repair kit (full size spare tyre – optional), woven cloth seat upholstery, shark fin antenna, woodgrain accent on centre fascia, console and door trim, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, high beam assist, traffic sign recognition, lane change assist, cruise control, automatic headlight control, rain-sensing wipers, electric, folding, heated door mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, 220V power inverter, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 8-inch smart audio screen with rear-view camera, bluetooth telephone connectivity with streamed audio, DAB radio, six speakers, steering wheel mounted audio controls, USB and Aux, 12V power outlets & USB charger on rear console, manual air conditioning, rear manual air conditioning (7 seat models) and air vents for rear seat passengers.

ELX gains 18-inch alloy wheels, heated steering wheel, Nappa leather upholstery, eight-way power adjustment for driver’s seat, six-way power adjustment for passenger seat, heated front and rear seats, keyless entry and start, larger supervision cluster, 9.2-inch touchscreen, TomTom navigation, reversing camera plus dual-zone climate control.

Ultimate adds 20-inch alloy wheels, quilted Nappa leather upholstery, three seat memory settings, ventilated front seats, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, tinted rear glass, LED interior lighting, smart power tailgate and an around-view parking camera with bird’s-eye view.













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