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Test Drive - New 2019 Korando

There was a time when you needed to qualify positive comments about SsangYong products. Often bought because they were cheap, or had a strong towing capacity, in the past you bought one out of necessity, rather than desirability. But that’s all changed in recent years, as each of SsangYong’s latest vehicles have strong attributes in their own right. Ever since India’s Mahindra & Mahindra bought SsangYong out of bankruptcy in 2011, the products designed from the ground up have been desirable in their own right. And this latest Korando is the last product to be renewed under the new management, and quite simply it is the best yet. And it’s a proper SUV, not one of these half-hearted crossover efforts, it’s rough and tough and capable of towing a trailer of two tonnes in weight, even though the 1.6-litre diesel engine may sound quite feeble. It isn’t, and that’s why every caravanner worth their salt should be beating a path to their local SsangYong dealer to try one out.

In the previous generation Korando there was a 2.2-litre diesel engine, but this has been downsized to a 1.6-litre unit in the latest car. Performance is perky off the line, and there’s sufficient overtaking power to tackle a line of slow-moving vehicles on a country lane, or for you to dart out into the outside lane to go past slower moving motorway traffic. Refinement is excellent, the engine quiet and you’ll only really realise that you’re piloting a diesel-engined vehicle when you get busy with the accelerator. At a motorway gallop there’s a little wind noise around the door mirrors, but thankfully road and tyre noise is neatly suppressed. The steering is pleasantly weighted and easy to manoeuvre around town and in tighter spots, and thanks to very little body roll and relatively flat handling, the way the Korando drives is up there with fellow Korean SUV rivals from Hyundai and Kia. Grip levels are good, too, thanks to the four-wheel-drive system, and once you’ve reached the end of your journey, you’ll get out feeling quite fresh. The six-speed automatic transmission swaps cogs efficiently, and is an Aisin-sourced item. Ride comfort is generally well engineered, with only the deepest of ruts and potholes upsetting its normal demur behaviour.

No matter which of the five seats you choose to sit in, there’s space to stretch out, with plenty of head and legroom front and back. The seats are quite comfortably, even if they don’t offer enormous amounts of lateral support. The dashboard is absolutely dominated by a huge nine-inch touchscreen that looks neat and well-integrated. In the past, Asian designs could be criticised for the aftermarket look of their in-car entertainment systems, but the Korando’s is cutting edge and easy to use. DAB radio is standard, as is Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and in this top specification Ultimate model, it also comes with a navigation system – the only model in the range that does so. The rotary dials for the climate control system are neatly bevelled, giving an upmarket feel, and the swathes of piano black look and feel like quality items, if they do attract dirty fingermarks and dust. The gear lever is styled a bit like Kryten from Red Dwarf, full of ridges, rather than smooth and round. A squidgy dashboard top adds to the quality feel of the cabin, and while the door tops are finished with harder surfaces, they have a nice tactile feel to them. Completing the smart look of the interior is a 10.25-inch LED instrument cluster that delivers super clear instruments that appear like a high-end hi-fi. It’s a classy look that is night and day compared to SsangYong’s previous efforts.

Storage for incidentals is well provided for, with a huge glovebox that reaches back a long way, together with a tray in front of the gear lever, a decently sized area underneath the armrest and large door pockets. All round visibility is aided by the large door mirrors, though the thick rear pillars would make manoeuvring a gamble, had it not been for the fact that SsangYong fit a reversing camera to all diesel versions. Boot space is a good size at 407 litre and this can be opened up further thanks to handy underfloor storage and rear seats that fold down in a 60/40 configuration and provide 1,104 litres of carrying capacity. If the boot floor divider is in the upper position, there’s a flat cargo area, too, which makes carrying bulky items nice and easy.

At launch, all diesel versions come fitted with a six-speed automatic gearbox, and the same 134bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine. There are a pair of diesel trim levels – Pioneer and Ultimate – with the former available in both two- and four-wheel-drive guise, and the latter exclusively with the all paw traction. Stop-start technology is fitted solely to the front-wheel-drive cars, to aid efficiency. 1.5-litre petrol engines arrive in December, with the entry-level ELX model offered for under £20k.

On sale


In showrooms



£26,495 to £31,995


5-door SUV


1.6 diesel automatic (134bhp)

Trim levels

Pioneer, Ultimate

Also consider

Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage


Model tested

Ultimate 4x4 automatic



Built in

Pyeongtaek, South Korea






5-door SUV, 5-seats




1,597cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbo diesel


6-speed automatic





Max power

134bhp @ 4,000rpm

Max torque

239lb ft @ 1,500-2,500rpm

Top speed



tba secs

CO2 emissions (NEDC correlated)

170g/km (Euro-6d Temp)

Economy (WLTP combined)


Fuel tank size

47 litres


450 miles

Insurance group


BIK rate


Size (length/width without mirrors)


Boot space (min/max)

407/1,104 litres

Kerb/max towing weight


Euro NCAP crash rating

Not yet tested



It’s the best vehicle from SsangYong yet, and is roomy, decent to drive and has a class-leading towing capacity that is perfect for caravanners. Please form an orderly queue…

DieselCar rating

8 Out of 10


Words by

Ian Robertson


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