Ssangy­ong Rex­ton

Practical Caravan - - Talking Tow Cars -

THE OLD REX­TON drove like a car from an­other era. In fair­ness, that’s what it was, trac­ing its his­tory back to 2001.

Ssangy­ong wants us to for­get about the old car, with its bouncy ride and vague steer­ing. With the new Rex­ton, Ssangy­ong be­lieves it has an SUV to ri­val the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento.

First im­pres­sions are good. You’d strug­gle to call the new car hand­some but it cer­tainly has more per­son­al­ity and pres­ence than the old car. Step in­side and the stan­dard of fin­ish sug­gests the Rex­ton has leapt ahead by a cou­ple of gen­er­a­tions. There’s a big touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, a so­lid­ity to ev­ery­thing you touch and a design which fi­nally be­longs in this decade. Space is good, too, whether you choose five or seven seats.

Start the en­gine (an up­dated ver­sion of the 2.2-litre used in the old car) and you can tell Ssangy­ong has put much ef­fort into mak­ing the car more re­fined – while there’s a gruff­ness to the en­gine note, it sounds more dis­tant and sub­dued. The en­gine pulls the Rex­ton at a re­spectable pace and the Mercedes-benz-sourced seven-speed auto (there’s also a six-speed man­ual) slurs changes with agree­able smooth­ness.

With 310lb ft of torque, the 2.2-litre’s pulling power is right on the money com­pared with the Santa Fe and Sorento. That should be enough for de­ter­mined ac­cel­er­a­tion tow­ing most car­a­vans. We had the chance to pull a horse­box weigh­ing 1400kg and the Rex­ton quickly towed it up to speed. The Rex­ton felt sta­ble, too, al­though we’ve yet to try it with a car­a­van.

The ride is no­tice­ably more con­trolled than the old car’s, and the steer­ing is now on speak­ing terms with the front wheels. But it’s not as en­joy­able to drive as a Sorento. In part, that’s prob­a­bly due to Ssangy­ong keep­ing faith with body-on-chas­sis con­struc­tion. For car­a­van­ners, this has the ad­van­tage of con­tribut­ing to the Rex­ton’s high kerb­weight of at least 2105kg.

We were thor­oughly im­pressed with the car’s abil­ity to han­dle all man­ner of mud and gloop and some ver­tigo-in­duc­ing slopes.

Prices are up con­sid­er­ably, with the range start­ing from £27,500, but that’s to be ex­pected when the new Rex­ton is a much bet­ter car. It still un­der­cuts its key Korean ri­vals and comes very well equipped. David Mot­ton

Price From £27,500 Kerb­weight 2105kg Tow­ing limit 3500kg 85% match 1789kg Tow­ball limit 128kg

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