The Ssangyong Rexton has been refreshed, and is being relaunched for 2014 as the Rexton W.
Revisions to the exterior include new headlights, a redesigned grille and a new front bumper, while inside there are higher-quality materials and more metallic-effect finishes.
The Rexton W has a new engine, too: Ssangyong’s own 2.0-litre diesel, first seen in its Korando. It’s the only engine option, in fact, although you can pair it with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox.
What’s the 2014 Ssangyong Rexton W like to drive?
Ssangyong has decided to offer the Rexton’s 2.0-litre diesel engine in 153bhp guise only - unlike in the Korando, where a higher-output 2.0 is available.
That’s a good decision, because it’s a surprisingly quiet and refined motor, becoming noisy only at the very top of its rev range and causing no vibration through the wheel or pedals.
That’s lucky, because the Rexton’s two-tonne kerbweight demands the engine is pushed in order to make decent progress. What’s more, the automatic gearbox we tried (it's likely to be the best seller) has only five gears to call upon and is sluggish to change, keeping the revs high.
The combination of the kerbweight and a soft suspension set-up means the Rexton isn’t particularly agile, with noticeable body lean in corners. The steering is slow and frustratingly vague, too, giving you very little idea of what the front wheels are doing.
Large SUVs are rarely sharp to drive, though; it’s comfort that’s more important. Unfortunately, the Rexton’s ride is fidgety at all speeds, and larger potholes aren’t dealt with very well either. Undulating roads also cause the body to 'float' over crests.
At least the cabin is reasonably well hushed; engine and road noise are well suppressed, although the Rexton’s large door mirrors do whip up some wind noise.
Venture off road and the Rexton remains as capable as ever, making light work of steep, wet inclines, even when fitted with road tyres. Our test car’s low-range gearbox and responsive hill descent control inspired confidence on slippery downhill sections, too.
What’s the 2014 Ssangyong Rexton W like inside?
Ssangyong has made an effort to lift the cabin with extra chrome touches and soft-touch plastics on the dash. It’s certainly better than the outgoing model, but the cabin still looks and feels cheaper than those in rival SUVs.
The switchgear on the dash is similarly low-rent, but the buttons are at least large and clearly labelled enough to find quickly on the move.
The Rexton W remains spacious in the front, though; front passengers get plenty of leg- and headroom, and finding a comfortable seating position is easy – especially so on the electronically operated seats fitted to range-topping EX models.
Unfortunately, there’s still no reach adjustment for the steering wheel.
All Rexton Ws come with seven seats as standard, but it’s possible to have just five at no extra cost. The middle row is spacious enough for two adults or three children to sit comfortably, but while the third row’s head- and legroom is good, the tiny footwell makes it better suited to children on long journeys.
With the third row folded flat into the boot floor, you’re left with a large boot that is usefully square in shape. Folding the seats requires removing the headrests first, though, so it's a fiddly job and there's no toneau cover (even as an option) to hide your luggage.
Standard kit is good; entry-level SX cars get cruise control, electric heated door mirrors, air-con, alloy wheels and Bluetooth. EX models add leather seats, privacy glass, a sunroof and rear parking sensors.
DAB radio can be added to either trim for an extra £460, or DAB and sat-nav together for a further £999.
Should I buy one?
If value for money is your main concern, the Rexton W is worth considering. It offers proper off-road ability, space, a comfortable high driving position and a long kit list for less money than its rivals.
On the road, however, the Rexton W is lagging behind, and it can’t compete in terms of safety kit, fuel economy or CO2 emissions.
If you want an SUV, but don’t need seven seats or off-road capability, we’d recommend the Mazda CX-5 first. A manual AWD 2.2-litre diesel CX-5 is only slightly more expensive, similarly well equipped, better to drive and far cheaper to run, whether you’re a private or company buyer.
If seven seats is a must, the more spacious, better-riding Hyundai Santa Fe is a more appealing buy, and the fact that both these rivals will be worth more after three years will offset their greater list prices.
What Car? says…
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £21,995
Torque 265lb ft
Top speed 108mph
Fuel economy 38.2mpg
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel (Auto)
Price from £25,995
Torque 265lb ft
Top speed 109mph
Fuel economy 36.2mpg