The SsangYong Rexton is a competitively priced SUV that can tow huge loads and deal with serious off-roading, but it looks dated inside and isn’t great to drive
The SsangYong is an old-school SUV that does what it says on the tin – it’s a proper off-roader that can tackle more than just a muddy field and has a 3,500kg towing capacity that only more expensive models – such as the Land Rover Discovery – can match.
Just don’t expect it to feel anything like a Discovery inside – the bland interior is awash with hard plastics and has none of the fancy trim pieces you get in a Land Rover.
On top of the healthy equipment list, you get plenty of space. All models have room for four tall adults (a fifth won’t enjoy the hard backrest of the middle rear seat), a massive 820-litre boot that’s very easy to load and lots of smaller interior storage spaces. Entry-level models come with an extra pair of seats in the back but they’re hard to access and only big enough for kids.
The utilitarian SsangYong Rexton is an espresso shot to the lattes offered by trendier (but ultimately less effective) SUVs
Out on the road, the Rexton drives like a truck. Its suspension never really settles – bumping and skipping down roads a Discovery would glide over – and the steering is very light, although it also transmits lots of vibrations to your fingertips.
Overtakes have to be planned because the Rexton is slow to accelerate once you’re up to speed and the optional seven-speed gearbox is slow to change down gears when you want to speed past slower traffic.
On the upside, the light steering means it’s easy to manoeuvre around town and its lofty driving position gives you a good forward view. The big rear pillars and small side windows obscure your vision out the back of the car, but parking is straightforward thanks to the standard-fit reversing camera and front parking sensors.
Its sophisticated four-wheel-drive system can send an equal amount of power to all four wheels to drag you out the stickiest of situations and the hill-descent control makes it easy to crawl down treacherously steep muddy inclines. You also get a low-range gearbox that helps you get heavy trailers moving.
The downside of the SsangYong’s rugged ability is that it’s heavy and the only engine available (a 178hp 2.2-litre diesel) has a fuel economy figure that can easily drop below 30mpg.
High fuel consumption like that will put you off if you want an SUV in looks alone, but if you need a car that can earn its keep on a farm or hauling a horsebox, the Rexton is the one for you.