SsangYong Rexton Ultimate

What is it?

SsangYong aren’t exactly the new kids on the block, they’ve been producing 4x4s in Korea since 1954, but until recently haven’t made much of a dent in the UK.

Recently things have changed, they’ve upped their game with the introduction of their new Musso pick-up, which has the industry leading 7-year, 150,000 mile warranty.  It’s also the only pick-up that is able to tow 3.5t and carry one tonne simultaneously.

What has that got to do with the Rexton? 

Well, it shares many of the same parts as the Musso, and has just won 2018 ‘4x4 of the Year’ by a leading UK 4WD magazine.

On the road

Smooth, comfortable and quiet. As simple as that really. 

We managed to add quite a few miles to this particular Rexton with the usual commute, jaunts to Wales and the odd green-laning adventure in far flung counties (Yorkshire), and not once did I frown or have anything to moan at.

Unusually for a modern car the Rexton retains its body-on-frame construction, yes, it has a chassis!  Of course, when you compare this type of build to a unibody design, as most other SUVs have, you may expect the ride and comfort to be from the 1990s, but SsangYong have done a really good job of giving it soft and well damped ride, even on its 255/50-20 tyres.

It can wallow a bit when you begin to push it around corners, though I’m talking about really pushing it, but any SUV would. Drive it normally and the Rexton remains upright and poised.  Moving swiftly along narrow country lanes is fun, but when you come across cars coming in the opposite direction you’re suddenly reminded that the Rexton is a big car. 

SsangYong’s new 2.2ltr diesel churns out 179bhp and 420Nm of torque, which gives the Rexton acceptable performance and a good amount of refinement too.  On the subject of performance, the 7-speed automatic gearbox ticks all the right boxes for such a large car when it comes to smoothness, but isn’t too happy if you want to start racing. But why would you?

Off road

The other month I drove the SsangYong Musso off road, which is practically the same underneath, and it was dry, very dry.  With the Rexton I was hoping for some rain to test it out on.  Sadly there wasn’t any.  I did however take it along some local green-lanes, and whether it was on my usual balancing act, or up inclines scattered with loose stone, the Rexton didn’t falter and was always in control.

I was going to have a moan about its lack of approach angle, but it coped well everywhere I took it, but you still need to be aware, especially when you find yourself in deep ruts, as it can scrape a little. As I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s a big car, so it was a bit of a tight squeeze through some gates, but it managed all the lanes, and river crossings, with ease.

Like its commercial sibling, the Musso, the Rexton has 2WD high (rear-wheel drive), 4WD high and 4WD low, but it doesn’t have a diff-lock, its electronics sort that out. 

Interior

I really liked the interior, it’s a classy place to be.  You’re sat high, and tower over most vehicles, including Mitsubishi Outlanders and the like, with good visibility all-round.

There’s lots of soft-touch materials in its modern, and very well laid out interior, which could easily put others to shame, and I’m even going to put the word ’luxurious’ into the mix, as I particularly liked the diamond-quilted stitching on the leather upholstery.  

The electric memory front seats offer loads of adjustment, and give you the choice of being cooled or heated.  They’re big too, and offer plenty of support.

There’s enough room in the back for rear passengers to have a party, nuff said.  The Rexton is available with 5 or 7 seats, but we had the 5 seat variant so I can’t comment on what third row passengers would think, however, comments from colleagues suggest that the Rexton has a more spacious feel than you’ll find in a Skoda Kodiaq or Kia Sorento. 

Boot space in the 5-seat model is a huge 820 litres, and if you fold the seats down it increases to a cavernous 1,977ltrs.  There’s a false floor behind the seats which gives a fully flat load space from the tailgate across the folded second-row seats. I particularly liked this as I was able to slide two deck-chairs and a few other awkwardly sized odds ’n’ sods under there whilst saving the top for square and bulkier items.

With the third row of seats installed, but folded down, you still get an impressive 649 litres of luggage space, and they live beneath the false floor when not in use. 

When it comes to towing it’s up there with the best.  Because of its heavy build and body-on-frame construction it’ll pull a 3.5-tonne braked trailer, much like the more expensive Land Rover Discovery. 

On our penultimate day together we threw in a load of BBQs and other bits and pieces that we’re reviewing and headed down to Abergele beach.  From the Firepod pizza oven, gas bottle, Horizon Box Bundle from Avenay, deck chairs and other bits, the Rexton swallowed them all, with space left for more. 

Odds ’n’ sods

The Rexton Ultimate, which is the top-spec version comes with a big 9.2-inch touchscreen featuring all the bells and whistles, including ‘surround view’ parking assistance which is powered by witchcraft. The entry-level EX models offer an eight-inch touchscreen with DAB radio and smartphone connectivity, as well as a reversing camera and MP3 playback. 

There’s a full suite of active and autonomous safety tech, too, and I like that it has Auto-hold, the best thing since windscreen wipers!

Engine ’n’ transmissions

You have one engine, which is SsangYong’s new 2.2ltr diesel which churns out 179bhp and 420Nm of torque, which in the auto gets you from 0 to 60 in 11.9 seconds, and to a top speed of 115mph.

Fuel wise SsangYong reckon you should see 34mpg during a combined run and 40.3mpg if you’re extra, extra careful.  I was none of these and averaged around 26mpg.

You have the 6-speed manual, or the well proven ex-Mercedes 7-speed automatic to choose from. 

Conclusion

The Rexton has just been collected, and I’m sat here trying to think of the worst bit, or at least a negative, but I can’t. The Rexton is simply a good, solid car.  OK, it’s a bit on the large side, and certainly fills up parking spots, but that can be a good thing, especially if you have a lot of people, or stuff to cart around.

I got a little fed up the drama that occurs when you open the door and start up, it’s like there’s a mini orchestra under that dash that welcomes you in with a short tune. It’s like starting a computer, but it goes on for longer, though there’s probably a way of turning it off.

Thanks to good build quality, great value and SsanYong’s industry leading 7-year, 150,000 mile warranty, there’s no reason why the Rexton should be discounted if you’re after a solid 4WD family bus. Sure, it may not have the badge appeal that its rivals have, but SsangYong have done a cracking job of updating their flagship model.  Ultimately, if you’re after a large 4WD I really would urge you to take one for a spin, you’ll be surprised at how good they are.

Website:  www.SsangyongGB.co.uk
Price:  £28,495 - £38,495