We’ve just taken delivery of our latest long-term test car and it’s a biggy.
The SsangYong Rexton sits at the top of the range from the South Korean brand, which specialises in low-priced, high-value 4x4s, SUVs and pick-ups.
SsangYong Rexton EX
Price: £29,500 (£30,905 as tested)
Engine: 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, switchable four-wheel-drive
Top speed: 115mph
CO2 emissions: 218g/km
It’s a full-on 4×4 with seven seats, built to take on the likes of the Mitsubishi Shogun and Toyota Land Cruiser in a world where owners want massive pulling power and tonnes of space but don’t want to spend £70,000 on a Discovery.
Unusually for a press car, our long-termer sits at the bottom of the Rexton range in EX trim. It’s actually refreshing to have a car that isn’t festooned with every gadget under the sun but time will tell whether this £30,000 entry-level model lacks any of the mod cons we’ve become dependent upon.
Read more: The best cars with seven seats
Even in such a relatively low spec the Rexton has plenty of the features that would require a trip to the options list in rivals. Safety kit such as autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition are standard even at the bottom of the range.
There’s no leather – you’ll need an ELX for that – and keyless entry is missing, which is odd given that keyless start is standard. It does, also, want for sat nav – a problem addressed by the presence of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as part of the eight-inch infotainment setup.
Some seven-seat SUVs struggle to fulfil their big-family brief properly so a few months of lugging our six-strong clan around should reveal whether the Rexton really is an option for larger families.
Initial impressions are pretty good. Driver and front seat passenger are spoiled for space even if the seats don’t run as far back as you might expect, That fact and the high-set position of the rear seats mean there’s plenty of legroom in row two and even row three is spacious enough for average-sized adults, if only for shorter journeys. The only black mark is the weight of the rear seats, which require a serious heave to fold them back into position once the rearmost passengers are on board.
The Rexton line-up is a simple one – our EX sits beneath the ELX and Ultimate models. Whichever trim you go for it comes SsangYong’s own 2.2-litre diesel (which also does service in the Musso pick-up and Korando) and a seven-speed Mercedes automatic gearbox. It’s a setup that’s capable of pulling up to 3.5 tonnes – targeting it firmly at those who tow horseboxes and the like.
In the past SsangYong and refinement haven’t featured in the same sentence very often but this drivetrain is surprisingly restrained. Even under heavy throttle the engine note is pretty subdued – far better than a Shogun, for instance – and the old-fashioned Merc box slides between ratios in a slick, if unhurried, fashion. The downside is that so far we’ve struggled to top 30mpg. Hopefully that’ll improve as we put more miles on the clock.
We’ve had limited time behind the wheel of the Rexton so far but first impressions are of a spacious, quiet motor that’s a big jump ahead of its predecessor. Now to find out how it fares as a regular family hack.