From £19,150
If you're after a cheap but imposing 4x4 that you can use to tow a house down the motorway, then look no further

Our Verdict

SsangYong Rexton 2003-2013

The SsangYong Rexton is a big, budget off-roader which feels cheap and crude by modern standards

6 March 2012
Ssangyong Rexton 270 EX Auto

What is it?

The Ssangyong Rexton (yes, that’s Rexton) is the Korean firm’s flagship 4x4. Tested here as a £24,995 special order model, it’s packed to the roof with TV screens, heated leather seats (front and back) and reclining rear seats; it’s a Tesco Value Range Rover if you will.

Just one engine is offered in the line-up and it’s a familiar unit. It’s the same 2.7-litre block you’ll find in the first generation Mercedes ML270 CDI, which produces 186bhp and 284lb ft of torque. The Rexton’s Merc links don’t end there, as its five-speed automatic gearbox is pulled straight out of the German car.

At 4720mm long, 1870mm wide and 2100kgs in weight, the Rexton is a colossal machine. Put into context, that makes it just 143mm shorter than a Transit van and as heavy as a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Rexton’s also capable of towing up to 3200kgs, which Ssangyong is keen for you to know. By comparison, a £70k Range Rover only musters an extra 300kgs of pulling potential.

What’s it like?

Fire up the oil-burner and Merc’s five-pot diesel hum is instantly recognisable. Progress is more willing than you’d expect from a car of these proportions, but the five-speed ‘box is too hesitant to call the Rexton’s performance swift. The gearbox is also too indecisive during typical town driving, struggling to select a lower gear quickly enough when called upon. Slide the lever into Tiptronic mode, however, and you can change gear manually via buttons on the steering wheel or a suspicious-looking nipple located on the gearbox lever.

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Lumbering over potholes and broken surfaces is where the Rexton feels at home. An exceptionally soft ride and 18-inch alloys clad in 255/60 R18 rubber make this 4x4 a comfortable cruiser. The payoff, however, is a comical amount of body roll, which you’ll experience through any corner. Drive too eagerly around a bend and unremitting understeer is also a problem. Both of these issues aren’t helped either by exceptionally light steering (as light as a Range Rover’s, in fact) and its slow steering rack.

Cabin refinement is decent enough, but the interior plastics feel flimsy. There’s also a good deal of movement in the auto ‘box if you swirl the lever in a circular motion; something tells us that this car hasn’t been screwed together as well as the big players, but at this price that’s no surprise.

Where the Rexton excels is interior space. With a 1338-litre boot capacity, the 4x4 offers 344 litres more space than the Range Rover. Rear passenger legroom is also impressive and that goes for the front’s, too.

Should I buy one?

If you’re after a well-equipped, imposing and comfortable 4x4 that you can use to tow a house down the motorway, then absolutely. Granted, it’s not as refined as other cars in its class, but the fact that it uses Merc’s trusty old block and gearbox makes it a reliable, go-anywhere budget tank.

Alex Kertsen

SsangYong Rexton 270 EX Auto

Price: £23,995; Price as tested: £24,995; Top speed: 116mph; 0-62mph: 11.6sec; Economy: 30.1mpg; CO2: 250g/km; Kerb weight: 2101kg; Engine: 5 cylinder DOHC common rail, 2696cc, turbodiesel; Power: 186bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 284lb ft at 1800-3250rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd automatic

Join the debate


13 March 2012

I think this proves not all Korean cars are now bad value, but i hate to think what this would cost with a Kia or Hyundai badge on it.

13 March 2012

Sure, it's ugly and dated, but it's good value and sure to be reliable. I drove an old Rexton as a hire car once, and whilst it felt like it was from the '80s, its rugged simplicity and charm won me over.

13 March 2012

"Lumbering over potholes and broken surfaces is where the Rexton feels at home" Yep and the low price is why we see many of them here in Russia !!

13 March 2012

So, its "it just 143mm shorter than a Transit van". Its also 187mm shorter than a 5 series, but I rarely see that car considered colossal.

Also, the article mentions a "suspicious-looking nipple" but doesn't show any photos. You tease, Autocar...

13 March 2012

This car has been on sale for some time now, what prompted a road test now? I have to agree though, Korean cars are on the up; I recently persuaded my mum to buy a year old Kia Rio. She loves it!

13 March 2012

So there's a suspicious looking nipple on the gearstick, which the author then discovered can be stirred in a circular motion... Were labels peeled off bottles when writing this review too? I second the call for a photo of this suspicious nipple, so we can judge for ourselves.

13 March 2012

You can get MB three-pointed stars on Ebay. Buy one, stick it on the front, make it look like 50,000!

13 March 2012

A 'does exactly what it says on the tin' type of vehicle and none the worse for that.

13 March 2012

Who'da thunk it - a Ssangyong Rexton that's more handsome than a Bentley (EXP 9 F)!

13 March 2012

[quote 6th.replicant]Who'da thunk it - a Ssangyong Rexton that's more handsome than a Bentley (EXP 9 F)![/quote]

If QV was still around, she would argue. But since the lunatic is no longer with us, we can all agree with you!


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