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SsangYong Rexton 2024 review: Adventure

Our test vehicle is the new ‘Adventure’ model, sitting between the entry ELX and top-shelf Ultimate. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Aussie buyers could be excused for being wary of SsangYong, given the marque’s chequered history involving numerous ownership changes, crippling debts and in 2021 its rescue from the jaws of receivership by Korean industrial conglomerate KG Group.

However, the KG Group’s corporate rehabilitation of the troubled carmaker was completed in 2022, allowing the renewed SsangYong Motor (renamed KG Mobility in Korea) to hopefully focus on its core business of producing 4x4 SUVs and pick-ups, with increasing use of electrification planned for future model development.

As part of this renewal, in late 2023 SsangYong Australia announced MY24 updates to refresh its local 4x4 Musso ute and Rexton seven-seater SUV ranges, which, combined with a Merv Hughes-hosted marketing campaign, is aimed at building brand appeal and sales through its 70-plus national dealer network.

We were recently handed the keys to the latest Rexton, which competes for buyers in Australia’s fiercely competitive ‘Large SUVs under $80K’ segment that hosts more than 20 rivals.

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Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our test vehicle is the new ‘Adventure’ model, which serves as the middle-grade offering between the entry-level ELX and top-shelf Ultimate.

It’s equipped with the same 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, eight-speed automatic and part-time 4WD as other Rextons, for a drive-away price of only $54,000 (our 'Space Black' metallic paint is a $595 option).

That pricing looks razor-sharp compared with mid-grade 4x4 seven-seaters offered by segment leaders like the Isuzu MU-X LS-U ($61,400), Ford Everest Trend ($66,790) and Toyota Prado GXL ($69,530).

The ‘Adventure’ model has a drive-away price of $54,000. (Image: Mark Oastler) The ‘Adventure’ model has a drive-away price of $54,000. (Image: Mark Oastler)

And they are 'list' prices (not including on-road costs) whereas the Rexton is 'drive-away-no-more-to-pay'.

The MY24 upgrades include a new dash layout and high-mounted 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple/Android wired connectivity. There’s also a restyled dual-zone climate control hub with touchscreen, plus new lower body mounts for improved ride quality.

The Adventure brings numerous luxuries like a walk-up welcome system (mirrors unfold and puddle lamps illuminate), touch-sensing front door locks with walk-away auto door-locking, power tailgate and soft-touch synthetic leather seats with the fronts offering power adjustment, heating and cooling.

The MY24 upgrades include a new dash layout and high-mounted 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen. (Image: Mark Oastler) The MY24 upgrades include a new dash layout and high-mounted 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen. (Image: Mark Oastler)

The second-row outer rear seats and steering wheel are also heated, plus there’s speed-sensitive power steering and tyre pressure monitoring.

These appointments are in addition to the base ELX’s generous standard equipment list including 18-inch 'diamond-cut' alloy wheels with 255/60 tyres and a full-size alloy spare, LED dusk-sensing headlights/DRLs/front fog lights/tail-lights, heated door mirrors, a four-way-adjustable leather steering wheel and 12.3-inch driver's digital instrument display.

There are also four USB-C ports (two front and two in second row centre console), three 12-volt outlets (front console box, second row centre console and cargo area), electric parking brake, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and more. It's fair to say the Rexton Adventure is feature-packed.

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

With its 4850mm overall length and 1960mm width, the Rexton rides on a 2865mm wheelbase with a compact 11-metre turning circle.

Its smooth ride comes from four-coil suspension with double-wishbones up front and an independent multi-link arrangement in the rear. For those venturing into the rough stuff, it has 20.5 degrees approach and departure angles, 20 degrees ramp break-over angle and 203mm of ground clearance.

Looks are subjective, of course, but we reckon it has attractive and cohesive styling, with its prominent and ornate diamond-style grille complimented by distinctive side-body contours that can’t be mistaken for other SUVs.

The Rexton has an 11-metre turning circle. (Image: Mark Oastler) The Rexton has an 11-metre turning circle. (Image: Mark Oastler)

The interior has a premium look and feel, with lots of exposed stitching along soft-touch seams and a tasteful blend of contrasting surfaces including chrome, satin chrome, piano black and textured patterns.

There’s good attention to detail and build quality is excellent, but there are some annoying design quirks like the need for the front passenger to access a touchscreen menu just to adjust the audio volume.

The second-row of seating has a/c vents in the centre console and is spacious even for tall people like me (186cm). When sitting behind the driver’s seat in my position, there’s about 60mm of clearance between my knees and the driver’s seat backrest, which combined with ample head and shoulder room makes for a comfortable ride.

Upfront of the Rexton is an ornate diamond-style grille. (Image: Mark Oastler) Upfront of the Rexton is an ornate diamond-style grille. (Image: Mark Oastler)

By contrast, the third-row seating is strictly for young kids, as there are no adjustments for the second-row’s backrest angle or fore/aft base cushion positioning to accommodate taller frames like mine. The side windows in the thick rear roof pillar are also conspicuously small, which adds to a claustrophobic feel.

Fortunately, access to the third-row is made easier by the 60/40-split second-row, which can be folded and tumbled forward.

However, given I’ve found tolerable third-row comfort in some rival seven-seaters, the Rexton’s third-row is my only gripe for those with longer limbs.

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

With its 2130kg kerb weight and 2960kg GVM, our test vehicle has a sizeable load capacity of up to 830kg, which should be ample for five occupants and their luggage.

It’s also rated to tow up to the class-benchmark 3500kg of braked trailer and its 350kg maximum tow-ball download is compatible with that requirement.

Plus, its generous 6460kg GCM (or how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time) means it can legally tow its maximum trailer weight while carrying its maximum car-load, which is a practical set of numbers for just about any recreational requirement.

Front-row cabin storage includes cup/bottle-holders and a small bin in each front door, plus a single glove box. The stylish centre console has a bin up front with sliding-lid, two cupholders in the middle with another sliding-lid, plus a box at the rear with hinged padded-lid that doubles as a driver’s elbow rest.

  • The Rexton offers seating for up to seven occupants. (Image: Mark Oastler) The Rexton offers seating for up to seven occupants. (Image: Mark Oastler)
  • Third-row occupants get storage bins on each side but no cup/bottle holders. Third-row occupants get storage bins on each side but no cup/bottle holders.
  • Those seated in the second-row get a cup/bottle holder and bin in each door. (Image: Mark Oastler) Those seated in the second-row get a cup/bottle holder and bin in each door. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Those seated in the second-row get a cup/bottle holder and bin in each door, plus pockets on each front seat backrest. The fold-down centre armrest has two more cupholders and a handy hidden compartment that’s ideal for small items. Third-row occupants get storage bins on each side but no cup/bottle holders.

Accessing the cargo area through the power tailgate reveals 236 litres (VDA) of load volume with the third-row seats upright. This expands to 641 litres with the third-row folded flat and 1806 litres (or more than 1.8 cubic metres) with the second and third-rows folded.

The cargo area’s rear floor has a two-tiered design, with the top floor lying flush with the third-row seats when folded but it can be removed to reveal a lower floor that provides a second level of storage. There’s also a usefully large bin in the right-hand-side wall cavity. The only things missing are sturdy load-anchorage points at floor level to secure cargo nets or straps.

  • The Rexton features 236 litres (VDA) of load volume with the third-row seats upright. (Image: Mark Oastler) The Rexton features 236 litres (VDA) of load volume with the third-row seats upright. (Image: Mark Oastler)
  • With the third row folded flat, there is 641 litres of load volume. (Image: Mark Oastler) With the third row folded flat, there is 641 litres of load volume. (Image: Mark Oastler)
  • There is 1806 litres (or more than 1.8 cubic metres) with the second and third-rows folded. (Image: Mark Oastler) There is 1806 litres (or more than 1.8 cubic metres) with the second and third-rows folded. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Under the bonnet – what are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

The quiet and refined 2.2-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel, which meets Euro 6 emissions standards, produces 149kW at 3800rpm and 441Nm across a 1000rpm-wide torque band between 1600-2600rpm. It provides energetic response in city and suburban use.

This engine is paired with an equally refined eight-speed torque converter automatic, with overdrive on its sixth, seventh and eighth ratios ensuring low-rpm operation and optimum fuel economy at highway speeds.

Sequential manual-shifting is available using the steering wheel-mounted paddles and there's a choice of three drive modes ('Power'/'Winter'/'Eco') which can be selected using a console button.

The part-time, dual-range 4WD system is controlled by a console dial, offering the choice of 2H (2WD high-range), 4H (4WD high-range) and 4L (4WD low-range). It also has an auto-locking rear diff to optimise traction as required.

Under the Rexton's bonnet is a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Mark Oastler) Under the Rexton's bonnet is a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Efficiency – what is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

SsangYong claims an official combined cycle average of 8.7L/100km. At the completion of our 307km test, which comprised mostly city and suburban driving with a bit of highway travel, mostly in Eco mode with up to five occupants on some trips, our figure calculated from fuel bowser and trip meter readings came in at 11.0L/100km.

Although higher than SsangYong’s claim, it was within the usual 2.0-3.0L/100km discrepancy between official and ‘real-world’ figures. So, based on our numbers, you could expect a driving range of more than 600km from its 70-litre tank, which is not bad. Based on the official figure, driving range extends to around 800km.

SsangYong claims an official combined cycle average of 8.7L/100km. (Image: Mark Oastler) SsangYong claims an official combined cycle average of 8.7L/100km. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Driving - what’s it like to drive?

The Rexton’s overall refinement and build quality are evident when you get behind the wheel. It offers good adjustability for driver comfort and the fundamentals of the vehicle are sound, as there were no red flags during our test.

The engine is smooth and quiet with good all-around performance, the automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly, the steering is nicely weighted and communicative, the brakes provide reassuring response and the ride quality is supple over bumps yet disciplined enough to provide good handling response.

It’s also pleasantly quiet at highway speeds, with low tyre and wind noise. Engine noise is also minimal, given that it requires only 1600rpm to maintain 110km/h, ensuring low-stress cruising.

Most of our driving time was spent in Eco mode, as we found performance in this setting more than adequate for our purposes. We did briefly use the Power mode but didn’t notice any significant change in response.

The Rexton wears 18-inch 'diamond-cut' alloy wheels. (Image: Mark Oastler) The Rexton wears 18-inch 'diamond-cut' alloy wheels. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

No ANCAP rating (as yet). Even so, it comes with numerous passive and active safety features highlighted by dual front, side and curtain airbags plus a driver’s knee protection bag (but no centre airbag between driver/front passenger).

There’s also AEB, lane assistance, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert, trailer sway control, hill descent control, front/rear parking sensors, reversing camera and more, but a notable absentee is speed-sign recognition and the cruise control is non-adaptive. There are also ISOFIX child seat anchorages on the two outer second-row seating positions plus top tethers for all three.

 

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

Warranty cover is seven years/unlimited km warranty plus seven years roadside assist.

Scheduled servicing is every 12 months/15,000km whichever occurs first.

The first seven scheduled services run to $375 each, up to seven years/105,000km, for a total of $2625.


The Wrap

If KG Group can provide the long-term stability and new model investment that has eluded SsangYong for so long, the brand could have a promising future in Australia judging by the MY24 Rexton Adventure. It’s a solid package and what it lacks in benchmark ANCAP safety and third-row comfort is offset by a compelling driveaway price, generous warranty and national dealer network. So, if you’re looking for a feature-packed 4x4 seven-seater SUV for less than $55K, you might be pleasantly surprised by this competent Korean.

Likes

Drive-away price
Spacious second-row
Refinement/build quality

Dislikes

No ANCAP rating
No load anchorage points
Cramped third-row for tall people

Scores

Mark:

4

The Kids:

4

$54,000

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

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