First Drive

First Drive: Ssangyong Rexton

The story:
Ssangyong has revised its big Rexton seven-seat SUV, with new looks, tech and engineering changes to improve the drive experience.
Category:Large SUV
Key rival:Kia Sorrento
On sale:Now

Ssangyong’s biggest model has been given an extensive mid-life refresh, with the seven-seat SUV getting a new nose, extra power, new auto gearbox, engineering changes and a revised cabin.

The nose gets a much bolder and wider grille, and behind it lies a 202hp 2.2-litre diesel that’s linked to a new eight-speed automatic gearbox. The extra 21hp makes it a very decent combination, pulling strongly and shifting slickly, although it’s not the quietest of engines.

First Drive - June 2021 - Ssangyong Rexton - Image 4But it’s much better than the ride quality, which is the Rexton’s biggest issue. Things are certainly improved at a cruising speed, but around town it’s not the most pleasant of experiences.

The cabin is really quite neat, especially in the higher of the two trim levels that gets the 9.2-inch touchscreen system, compared to the 8.0-inch on the lower spec. The seats are big and comfortable, and there’s plenty of second-row space along with a huge boot, or space in the back for a couple of extra passengers, as long as they’re small and fairly agile.

Equipment levels are good, although the Rexton isn’t a budget option, costing just under £38,000 in Ventura trim and more than £40,000 for the Ultimate model.

Which is where the Ssangyong runs into trouble in the form of Kia’s new Sorento. The diesel Kia costs around the same as the top-spec Rexton, and although equipment levels aren’t as generous, it’s a much better driving experience, and both are equally practical. The Rexton’s efficiency also fails to do it any favours, sitting at 225g/km versus 176g/km for the Sorento diesel.

paul barker

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The verdict

Revised looks are more imposing and the powertrain and interior impresses, although the ride quality leaves much to be desired