Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Peter Barn­well

I HAVE a the­ory. If the Ssangyong Rex­ton was just the Rex­ton it would sell plenty. Peo­ple like or loathe names… and ‘Ssangyong' just doesn't cut it in Oz.

But if you were mak­ing a prag­matic de­ci­sion on a ro­bust, gen­uine 4x4 mid-size SUV with seven seats, a torquey diesel en­gine, auto trans­mis­sion and a proper lad­der chas­sis, the Rex­ton should be in con­tention.

Add to the above se­lectable 4x4 with high and low range and the ar­gu­ment just be­came stronger.

It sells for a com­pet­i­tive $39,990 drive away which is on the money when you com­pare ap­ples with ap­ples but truth be known, there are few com­pa­ra­ble, gen­uine four­bies in the mid-size SUV seg­ment these days.

Most have gone soft and are es­sen­tially trumped-up fam­ily wag­ons on stilts. That's what peo­ple want but the Rex­ton is for the buyer who wants a tougher, more util­i­tar­ian ve­hi­cle.

It's been around largely un­changed phys­i­cally for a decade or so and still has tan­gi­ble links with the first Rex­ton that was a Mercedes-Benz made in Korea.

Nowa­days, Rex­ton has a 2.0litre four-cylin­der diesel re­plac­ing the 2.7-litre five.

It's the same donk as the new Ssangyong Stavic peo­ple mover and is hooked up to the same fivespeed auto.

Plenty of torque comes from this rel­a­tively eco­nom­i­cal en­gine that's rated at 115kW/360Nm. It's ad­e­quate to drive the 1985kg Rex­ton with some pur­pose and makes light work of com­mut­ing, high­way cruis­ing and even tow­ing – up to 2.6 tonnes.

The im­porters have cut Rex­ton back to one fully equipped model with leather uphol­stery, front and rear park sen­sors, Blue­tooth phone and au­dio, roof rails, LED driv­ing lights, hill de­scent con­trol and plenty of other kit, but no sat­nav or re­verse cam­era.

The wheel has mul­ti­ple func­tions and cruise con­trol is fit­ted. Bit of a mixed bag re­ally but good for the money.

Take it off-road and the Rex­ton shows its true colours, with good ground clear­ance and a sup­ple ride from the all-coil spring sus­pen­sion.

Get in a tight spot, mud or sand, and you sim­ply flick it into low range and away you go.

Same ap­plies to tow­ing a boat up a slip­pery boat ramp – not a prob­lem.

The steer­ing is light which some peo­ple like and the Rex­ton rides high like a real four­bie should.

The third row of seats sticks up into the lug­gage space a tad but the seat row it­self is easy to op­er­ate.

We had a good old squiz un­der the Rex­ton and it's all truck/light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle stuff – built strong and big.

It looks OK too - cer­tainly got bet­ter over the years to the point where the latest it­er­a­tion has a generic SUV ap­pear­ance about its flanks.

We have been get­ting about 8.0 litres/100km, some­times a bit bet­ter, which means a long tour­ing range on a tank.

Heaven on a stick if you are bound for the bush.

Ssangyong's Rex­ton is a great value 4WD.


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