What's the used Ssangyong Korando estate like?
Whether because of its rather awkward name or not, Ssangyong has yet to establish itself as a major brand in the UK’s public consciousness in the same way that fellow South Korean manufacturers Hyundai and Kia have.
This is despite a range of decent, good-value cars, headlined currently by the excellent Tivoli SUV. Alongside that is the larger Korando. There was actually a Korando on sale in the UK before this one, many years ago, but it was this 2011 model that brought Ssangyong wider attention. A family SUV, it’s a rival for a number of immensely popular and extremely competent cars, including the Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, and as a new purchase it’s always managed to undercut most of those competitors on price. The Korando also scores highly on looks, practicality and space, and with a torquey engine, it also has the ability to tow more than two tonnes.
At launch, it offered only one engine, a 2.0-litre diesel with 147bhp or 173bhp. This unit was replaced when the Korando was facelifted in 2014 by a 176bhp 2.2-litre diesel. There was also the option of two or four-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual or an automatic gearbox on certain trims.
There are three trim levels: SE, EX and ELX. Even entry-level SE models are well equipped, with air conditioning, alloy wheels, keyless entry, all-round electric windows, cruise control and Bluetooth. EX models add rear privacy glass, a touchscreen infotainment system, heated front seats, climate control and bigger wheels. Top-spec ELX models are available only with four-wheel drive and are alone in offering an automatic gearbox. On top of EX, it adds bigger wheels, electric adjustment for the driver’s seat, heated rear seats, sat-nav and leather upholstery. The Korando been updated twice so far: once in 2014 and again in 2016.
On the road, the 2.2-litre engine in newer Korandos has more punch than the older 2.0-litre unit, although it has to be said it doesn’t make this rather heavy car anything other than distinctly easygoing. Unfortunately, it makes plenty of noise, too, being clattery and gruff when cold and not an awful lot better when warm. It doesn’t even fade into the general melee of noise as it goes faster, as most diesels tend to do, despite the fact there’s also quite a bit of road noise and wind noise. The manual gearbox has a long throw and is a bit notchy, too.
It’s not just in terms of refinement that the Korando feels a little old-fashioned; its ride and handling aren’t in the same league as those of its major rivals. There's plenty of body lean in corners and the steering is very vague, sapping the driver’s confidence. It's quite easy to run out of grip at the front of the car, too. On the plus side, the Korando smoothes out lumps and bumps well around town, being quite softly sprung, but its ride at higher speeds can be caught out by irregularities in the road a little too easily.
Inside is a sensible interior with logically placed controls, both major and minor. The driving position is good, with reasonable adjustment and good visibility, but there’s no getting away from the rather bargain-basement feel of it all, with plenty of hard plastics in evidence. The 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system of pricier models is mounted high, so you don’t have to take your eyes too far from the road. It is, however, an aftermarket system with some Ssangyong logos grafted on. This means the menus look dated and it can be slow to respond to inputs.
Where the Korando really scores is in space. There’s plenty of room up front for a tall driver and passenger. And, as this is quite a wide car, there’s plenty of room for three abreast in the back, and you can even recline the rear bench. Head room is impressive, as is leg room. The boot is a competitive size, too, and there’s no loading lip to get in the way. On top of that, the rear seats fold completely flat. There are also plenty of useful and deep storage areas dotted around the interior.