Showing confidence in the product and working hard to avoid mistakes of the past, SsangYong Australia − which is now a fully factory-owned subsidiary − offers a seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, seven years’ roadside service and seven years’ capped-price servicing.
The flagship of the SsangYong range is the Rexton, which comes in three specification levels − EX, ELX and Ultimate. The entry level is the EX 2WD with a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine backed by a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission. A 2.2-litre turbo-diesel powers both the ELX and Ultimate, which are dual-range 4WD models and employ a Mercedes-Benz designed and built seven-speed auto. A rotary dial on the console allows easy selection between 2WD, 4WD-high and 4WD-low range. Changing from rear-wheel drive to 4WD-high can be done at speeds up to 70kmh, however, switching to low range requires the vehicle to be stationary.
While not class-leading, the ELX we drove is significantly better than the previous-generation Rexton. It should appeal to budget-conscious, adventure-loving family buyers, or those wanting a wagon that can legally tow a hefty 3500 kilograms; which is 400 to 500 kilograms more than most rivals. At $46,990 drive-away, it’s competitively priced and generously equipped with a comprehensive suite of safety features including side airbags for outer rear-seat passengers and a driver’s knee airbag, making nine in total. The multimedia system features a clear eight-inch colour screen with a reversing camera and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
Updated body styling gives the Rexton a smarter, more modern appearance. Measuring 4850 millimetres long, 1960 millimetres wide, 1825 millimetres high (with the roof rails), and weighing 2233 kilograms, the new Rexton is a substantial vehicle. It looks the part, and a ladder-frame-style chassis (similar to many of the currently popular ute-based SUVs) implies reasonable off-road ability for a family SUV. A short run along a bush track with a moderately steep section and a few rocks showed it is a capable enough performer.
As a family wagon, the cabin has a practical seven-seat layout. Wide-opening doors provide good access, and the double-folding action of the middle row of seats makes getting in and out of the third row easier than many other seven seaters. Two adults can sit in the third row, but foot and head room are a little tight and you are very close to the floor.
With all seats occupied, the smallish rear luggage space is about average for this type of vehicle. It’s a simple action to fold the third-row seats, forming a flat floor and substantially increasing the carrying capacity. The front seats are comfortable, while the switchgear and instrumentation have a clear, user-friendly layout, with a neat fit and finish reflecting the overall improvements made to the Rexton.
Driving around town, the vehicle’s size and weight are noticeable, but that is more a characteristic of the class than a criticism. Riding on coil-spring suspension, it cruises quietly and comfortably on the open road, with some body roll noticeable through corners.
SsangYong’s 2.2-litre turbo-diesel produces a useful 133kW of power and 420Nm of torque, the latter available from relatively low in the rev range, and is well matched to the seven-speed auto that delivers good driveability, as opposed to rapid acceleration.
Official ADR fuel consumption is a respectable 8.3L/100km. In real-world driving, it was a little higher but not excessive. Our best was 8.6L/100km on a highway run, with an overall average of 10.2L/100km.