What Car? says...
The SsangYong Rexton is not one of those city-friendly 4x4 imitators that, while lacking proper off-road capability or a rugged chassis, have ended up in the super-popular SUV class anyway.
In fact, if you're the sort to mock those big beasts that, despite their looks, couldn't pull much more than a shopping trolley, the Rexton is right up your country lane. All models get four-wheel drive, a 3500kg towing capacity and have exterior dimensions larger than many London bedsits.
The Rexton is based on the highly accomplished (and extremely good value) SsangYong Musso pick-up truck, which is a vehicle that's so capable it can carry a loaded pallet in its bed and tow a trailer at the same time without so much as breaking a sweat.
That means the comparatively luxurious seven-seater surroundings of the Rexton should have no trouble transporting your terrible tribe to the supermarket – even if that involves traversing some terrain you’d usually need a rugged Toyota Land Cruiser to get across.
It all sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, if you want to know whether this seven-seater 4x4 really deserves to be on your shopping list, read the next few pages of this comprehensive review, where we'll tell you what it's like to drive, how much it will cost to buy and run, and much more.
If at the end you do decide to buy a Rexton – or indeed a new vehicle of any make and model – make sure you check how many thousands of pounds we might be able to help you save by using the free What Car? New Car Buying service, where you'll find great new Ssangyong deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
SsangYong has kept things nice and simple with the Rexton, offering just one engine and gearbox. The powerplant is a 199bhp 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel that, on paper, has a decent slug of torque to get you moving. Don’t expect the Rexton to be particularly brisk, though, as all models weigh more than two tonnes without passengers.
To be fair, it does feel a little quicker than the 10.7sec 0-60mph time might suggest, although it’s worth pointing out that all versions of the Kia Sorento and Toyota Land Cruiser are much quicker. You can still get up to motorway speeds in the Rexton without too much trouble, but the engine is noisy if you put your foot to the floor, only settling into the background hum when cruising.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox is at its happiest when you’re driving sedately. It shifts gently between ratios, but can also be very slow to kick down if you need to pick up speed quickly. There's a manual override, but it acts as a gentle suggestion as to what gear the ’box should be in rather than selecting the one you want.
As for the ride and handling, the news is not great. Even on the Rexton’s smallest 17in wheels with balloon-like sidewalls, the ride is surprisingly stiff. If you drive over a crumbling urban road, you’ll find yourself jostled around, and even on an apparently smooth motorway, you feel every ripple, expansion joint and pothole, whereas the Sorento will just shrug off such imperfections, especially when paired with smaller wheels.
That might be excusable if the Rexton handled well, but it can’t hide its significant bulk. When you steer in to a bend quickly, it leans noticeably, and it doesn’t take much speed to have the tyres squealing for mercy. The steering is very vague, too, so you have to make multiple steering inputs to get it round corners. If all you need is a seven-seater SUV without the off-road cred, a Peugeot 5008 offers much more controlled, car-like driving experience.
While the Rexton’s bulk counts against it in most areas, it does mean you can tow a 3500kg braked trailer. That figure is comparable to many pick-ups and several much more expensive SUVs. The four-wheel drive system with a low-ratio box should help the car cope well with off-road excursions.
The interior layout, fit and finish
You sit high up in the SsangYong Rexton, with a similarly commanding view of the road ahead as in the Toyota Land Cruiser. The seat has standard eight-way electric adjustments with lumbar support and height control, plus the wheel can be moved in, out, up and down enough for most people to find a comfortable position.
It can be tricky to judge where the front of the vehicle ends, and we found that the over-the-shoulder view was restricted by the very thick rear screen pillars. At least rear parking sensors are standard across the range, with Ultimate models getting an all-round camera as well.
Given the bulk per buck you get in the Rexton, you might expect the interior to be particularly low-rent, but that's not the case. There’s a good spread of soft-touch plastics on the dashboard and areas you touch regularly, plus the buttons operate precisely. A 12.3in digital instrument cluster replaces the analogue dials of before. It looks quite sharp, but is not as configurable as the best systems out there and takes ages to switch between screens.
Lower down the dashboard, there are harder plastics that are not as well finished, but it’s unlikely that you’ll come into contact with them regularly. All models have a leather-wrapped steering wheel and faux-leather seats, while Ultimate models get nappa leather seats for a touch of added luxury. The cheaper Peugeot 5008 still has the edge when it comes to a premium-looking interior, though. One bugbear worth noting is that the metal-effect trim around the gearlever in the Rexton, while looking good, reflects sunlight into the driver’s eyes on particularly bright days.
Entry-level Ventura models come with an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system that doesn’t have sat-nav but does get a DAB radio, Bluetooth and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. Ultimate trim gets a 9.0in system with TomTom sat-nav. The cheaper unit is responsive, has sharp on-screen graphics and is very easy to navigate, but some of the menu buttons are rather small. The 9.0in version is better, with larger on-screen buttons and a similarly logical layout.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Up front in the Rexton, you get a sizeable storage area under the front armrest, big door pockets and a tray for odds and ends in front of the gearlever. Head and leg room are very good and there’s loads of width, so you won’t be clanging elbows with your neighbour.
The middle row gets plenty of head room, leg room and width, but a high-set floor means it’s less comfortable than you might expect from the external dimensions. Anyone forced into the central seating position won’t want to be there for long because of the fold-down armrest protruding into their back. A Peugeot 5008 is much more accommodating, with three separate seats that slide and recline individually – a feature the Rexton lacks.
Every Rexton gets seven seats as standard, with the rearmost ones accessed by folding the second row forwards – something that requires a bit of muscle for the front passenger seat to be far enough forward for clearance. The second row doesn't slide or recline like those in some rivals.
Once you’ve clambered into the third row, you’ll find enough space for children, but not enough for even short adults to be comfortable for anything more than a short journey. The thick rear screen pillars make it feel quite claustrophobic. A Peugeot 5008 is noticeably roomier and airier.
There’s enough space for a fairly big trip to the supermarket with all seven seats in place, and when the rear chairs are folded down, the cargo area is huge. A height-adjustable boot floor provides a relatively flat load area with all seats folded flat, and there's a storage area underneath it.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
If we were judging this category solely on a pound-for-pound basis, the SsangYong Rexton would do very well. You get an awful lot of car for your money and the least expensive Ventura models undercut the cheapest Toyota Land Cruiser by a significant amount of cash, despite offering far more luxuries.
You get all the kit you actually need and a few luxury items as well on our preferred entry-level Ventura model. Upgrading to Ultimate is only worth it if you really want the bigger infotainment screen and nicer leather we discuss in other sections, along with an electric tailgate, ambient interior lighting and keyless entry and start.
Running costs are less impressive, though. No version dips below 225g/km of CO2, so it's pricey for company car users with a hefty benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rate, and the official figures suggest it’ll do 32.9mpg at best. Based on the trip computer, we failed to better 30mpg in our test car. Residual values are surprisingly good, with some versions of the Rexton doing almost as well as the highly sought-after Land Cruiser, and that should help lower your monthly PCP costs (future values are an important part of the finance equation). Find the best deals on our New Car Buying pages.
Euro NCAP hasn’t safety tested the Rexton, but you do get a decent amount of safety tech to help avoid a collision in the first place. All versions get automatic emergency braking (AEB) and a lane departure warning, while high-end Ultimate Rextons add blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert to warn you if something is crossing your path while you're reversing. Every SsangYong comes with an impressive seven-year, 150,000 mile warranty, which is more mileage than the next best policy from Kia provides.
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|RRP price range||£39,500 - £46,250|
|Number of trims (see all)||4|
|Number of engines (see all)||1|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||diesel|
|MPG range across all versions||32.6 - 32.9|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||5 years / 100000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£2,803 / £3,254|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£5,606 / £6,508|