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SsangYong Rexton 2023 review: ELX

The SsangYong Rexton ELX is a (big) package with lots of surprises.

What the hell is a SsangYong Rexton ELX? Sort of sounds like a new kind of dinosaur, doesn't it?

Well, no, it's a recently facelifted (proper) four-wheel drive, with seven seats and a decent diesel engine.

It hails from a car company that isn't usually known for it's stylish line-up but the Rexton is putting some serious moves on in the design department.

But is it style as well as substance? The newly facelifted Rexton has some surprises that make it a contender in the seven-seater SUV market. It’s just not a podium finish. 

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What does it look like?

I was, at first, perturbed by the chunky size. The slab-like sides rise before you like a proud mountain and the (massive) bonnet looks purposeful.

And I was excited to learn that it’s not all brawn for brawn’s sake. This SUV has the four-wheel drive credentials to be a real off-roader (if you’re so inclined).

The recent facelift sees a rather large, toothy grille replace the old styling and the quad LED lights at the front give it some cool-kid cred.

The Rexton has been given a facelift with its massive bonnet and toothy grille. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Rexton has been given a facelift with its massive bonnet and toothy grille. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The big rear lights, big windows… big everything, really, makes this look like a mean machine. Yet, it’s clear SsangYong has made some real effort to make this look stylish, despite the ‘bigness’.

The interior has also had a facelift. The cabin has a sense of luxury with its softly padded touch points, new electric gear shifter and high-end features.

It also has what I reckon is the biggest steering wheel I’ve sampled on a car of this size, before heading into truck territory! There are some more basic elements that whittle away at the overall ‘luxe’ effect, like the said steering wheel and fat buttons/dials, but the other elements help to gloss over them.

The big rear lights and big windows makes this look like a mean machine. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The big rear lights and big windows makes this look like a mean machine. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

How does it drive?

If you can make peace with the fact that this handles like a truck, you might find yourself enjoying the driving.

It’s kind of fun, actually, and the 2.2-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine has enough guts to move the big body around.

The eight-speed auto transmission is surprisingly smooth given how rough the ride is. And again, there’s that truck experience, which can be fun if you don’t expect anything else.

Under the bonnet is a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Under the bonnet is a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

But the car tends to shudder and rattle over a bumpy road, which vibrates the steering wheel. This could easily wear a bit thin on the long haul.

The steering wheel feels huge at first but you soon realise you need the extra grip spots just to turn because, unfortunately, at lower speeds the steering feels cumbersome.

So, navigating a car park can feel like an exercise session at times. It will fit a space - just - but the long length means you might be a bit choosy with parking spots.

The reversing camera is clear enough but on a car this size, I’m a firm believer that additional cameras or a 360-degree camera view should come as standard.

The long length of the Rexton means you might be a bit choosy with parking spots. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The long length of the Rexton means you might be a bit choosy with parking spots. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

How spacious is it?

There’s plenty of internal space and you will be comfortable with your lodgings but there’s something about the position of the driver’s seat or pedals that makes it seem like you’re sitting really close to the dash and steering wheel.

The storage throughout the car is very good with loads of cubbies, drawers and pockets to be found.

There’s something about the position of the driver’s seat or pedals that makes it seem like you’re sitting really close to the dash and steering wheel. (Image: Glen Sullivan) There’s something about the position of the driver’s seat or pedals that makes it seem like you’re sitting really close to the dash and steering wheel. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The front doors also get an extra drink holder in the storage bins (which sets the tally at six, in total). All but the third row enjoy two cupholders, too.

When the third row is folded, there’s 641L (VDA) of capacity but that jumps up to 1806L when just the front seats are in use. There’s a big storage pocket on the side which is handy for smaller items that you don’t want rolling around. Impressively, both Rexton models come with a full-size spare wheel.

When the third row is folded, there’s 641L (VDA) of capacity. (Image: Glen Sullivan) When the third row is folded, there’s 641L (VDA) of capacity. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

How easy is it to use every day?

The luxe features are at odds with the sometimes jarring ride experience. The tech is a little below par considering its competition but easy enough to get used to.

The model we have didn’t have side steps which was quite annoying as I had to help my six-year old son climb in every time.

Side steps are an optional extra ($1040, including fitting) but would be worth the investment. Especially, considering getting into the car without them can feel like mounting a horse.

The tech is a little below par but easy enough to get used to. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The tech is a little below par but easy enough to get used to. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The seats are comfortable and the front are electrically-adjustable, with lumbar support on the driver’s side.

An added bonus is they both have heat and ventilation functions, so you can be comfortable no matter the season! There is also a handy control button on the side of the passenger seat, so the driver can adjust it without leaning over or getting out.

The middle row outboard seats also boast heat function, which you don’t often see on the base model.

The boot lid is quite heavy and on this grade there’s no powered tailgate but there’s a hefty handle to grab on to when you need it. Overall, handling the car is a no fuss, but some frills, affair. 

The middle row outboard seats boast heat function. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The middle row outboard seats boast heat function. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

How safe is it?

The Rexton has some top safety features that I always like to see on a family car, like AEB with forward collision warning, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning (to name a few).

If you’re going to add the optional tow bar ($1710, including fitting), you can also add a trailer sway control feature ($690 including fitting), for some peace of mind.

It has nine airbags but, disappointingly, the new facelift still doesn’t see the curtain airbags extend to the third row! Meaning, I just wouldn’t put my child back there.

The optional tow bar will cost $1710, including fitting. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The optional tow bar will cost $1710, including fitting. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

At the time of this review, the Rexton hasn’t been rated with ANCAP or even the Euro NCAP despite being on the market for a few years.

It does have some good safety features but it doesn’t sit well in my mind that it’s still missing this independent testing. It’s smaller sibling, the Korando, has been tested (and achieved a maximum five stars), so maybe we’ll see it on this one in the future.

There are ISOFIX mounts on the middle row outboard seats plus three top tether child seat mounts and with the right car seats, you should be able to fit three side-by-side.

There’s enough room for front passengers when a 0-4 rearward child seat is installed, too.

There are ISOFIX mounts on the middle row outboard seats. (Image: Glen Sullivan) There are ISOFIX mounts on the middle row outboard seats. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

What’s the tech like?

The 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system looks too small for such a big car. It’s a bit boring to look at, too, and is angled in such a way that it catches the light a lot and is hard to see.

It’s also a bit glitchy. For example, if I turn off the volume, it will randomly pop itself back on.

Inside is a 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Inside is a 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are welcome as this doesn’t have built-in satellite navigation. It’s super easy to connect to the CarPlay, which is great.

The large 10.25-inch digital instrument panel looks good and is also customisable, which I always like.

There are two USB-A ports in both the front and middle rows but third row passengers miss out on staying charged up.

There are no USB-A ports for the third row passengers. (Image: Glen Sullivan) There are no USB-A ports for the third row passengers. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

How much does it cost to own?

There are only two models available for the Rexton, the top-of-the-line Ultimate and our model, the ELX, and it will cost you $46,300, before on-road costs.

The Rexton comes with SsangYong’s ‘Triple 7’ guarantee. That’s seven-year/unlimited km warranty, seven years roadside assistance and seven years capped-priced servicing. Which is better than most in this class.

At every service interval over the seven years, you’ll only pay $375 and the intervals are reasonable at every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever occurs first.

The official combined fuel cycle figure of the Rexton is 8.7L/100km. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The official combined fuel cycle figure of the Rexton is 8.7L/100km. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The maintenance costs are well-priced for an SUV of this size but your real problem will be the journey to a service centre as they seem to be few and far between.

The official combined fuel cycle figure is 8.7L/100km and I achieved just shy of that at 8.6L/100km with mostly open road driving. Expect that figure to start to creep up in the city.

The price tag seems reasonable for a seven-seater 4WD given that the base models for the Ford Everest and Mitsubishi Pajero, which are its competitors, are more expensive with fewer features. You do get a bit of car for your cash here.

The ELX is $46,300, before on-road costs. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The ELX is $46,300, before on-road costs. (Image: Glen Sullivan)


The Wrap

The SsangYong Rexton ELX is a seven-seater 4WD that has a powerful engine and some features that you don’t often get in the ‘base model’. I reckon this would suit a lot of families and for the price tag, it should be on the consideration list if you’re after a big SUV like this but are on a budget. However, I would have liked the tech to be better and the ride to be smoother. As it stands, you’ll feel rattled after a long journey. Also, the lack of curtain airbags on that third row might not appeal to some. I give this a 6.0/10.

My son enjoyed how big it was but did get annoyed at having to literally climb up and into his seat. He had a great view from the high position and he gives this a 6.0/10.

Likes

Stylish design
4WD capabilities
Powerful engine

Dislikes

Side steps are optional extra
Truck-like handling
Missing some safety points

Scores

Emily:

3

The Kids:

3

$40,500 - $64,990

Based on 192 car listings in the last 6 months

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