Extended test: 2021 SsangYong Rexton 2.2 Ultimate review

Can SsangYong's large SUV compete with rivals from big brands?

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SsangYong Rexton specifications

Model  Ssangyong Rexton 2.2 Ultimate Auto
Price £40,665
Price with options £40,665
Colour Fine Silver
Cost options fitted  n/a
Engine 2,157c, 4-cylinder, diesel
Power output 194bhp at 3,800rpm
Torque 325 lb ft at 1,600-2,600 rpm
Weight (DIN/EU) 2,950kg / 3,025kg
Towing capacity 3,500kg (braked) / 750kg (unbraked)
Luggage capacity 240 / 1,806 litres (7 seats up / all seats down)
Top speed 114mph
0-62mph 11sec
Fuel consumption (WLTP combined cycle) 33mpg
CO2 emissions (WLTP) 225g/km
VED (road tax) £1,305 for first year; £150 thereafter
BIK tax payable (2020/21) 37%; £2,501 (20%) or £5,002 (40%)
Insurance group 35U

Test details

Test period June to November 2021
Starting mileage 410 miles

Updates

  1. July 26, 2021 First impressions of the SsangYong Rexton
  2. September 24, 2021 The Rexton reveals itself over hills, coastal roads and motorways

 


July 26, 2021: First impressions of the SsangYong Rexton

SsangYong Rexton 2021 long-term review

First impressions count for a lot in my book, so when the SsangYong Rexton rolled on to the drive I was pleasantly surprised as it had real presence and a smart front grille, generating a strong sense of curiosity about one of South Korea’s lesser-known automotive exports.

Relatively unheralded compared to its counterparts Kia and Hyundai, SsangYong has a job to do to build its brand in the UK but the model range seems suited to the current market’s appetite for larger and more practical cars that fit busy family lifestyles.

My background knowledge of the brand wasn’t extensive before the Rexton’s arrival but I was aware it has a very loyal following among rural-minded equestrian and caravanning aficionados, with exceptional pulling power for those who love a tow-bar in their lives. SsangYong is a proud maker of workhorses but this website’s editor told us that in recent years it has massively upped its game in the comfort and refinement stakes.

My long-term review of the Rexton won’t involve transporting horses or setting up camp with a four-berth holiday home, but I will put it through a comprehensive range of terrains and journey types as we take it on a few beach and forest summer expeditions. Early indications suggest it’s well up to the job and has lots of exciting features for us to explore.

My Rexton is the 2.2 Ultimate top-of-the-range model. It comes with eight-speed automatic transmission and has selectable 4×4 with low ratio, which hints at go-anywhere potential.

When I say it’s a big car many may think this is standard SUV review territory, but with 1,806 litres of interior space (all seats are down) it’s firmly at the top end in terms of room. And the ride height adds to this imposing feel — it’s very high off the ground. 

Extended test: 2021 SsangYong Rexton 2.2 Ultimate review

So it’s tempting to think of competitors being large SUVs that also offer seven seats, as the Rexton does, but with the proper off-road capability, the Rexton is a bit more specialist and utilitarian than the likes Volvo XC90 and Skoda Kodiaq (see here for Driving.co.uk’s review).

Really, the Rexton’s rivals are the likes of the Toyota Land Cruiser and Mitsubishi Shogun Sport (though Mitsubishi is currently withdrawing from Europe), as it shares their apparent ruggedness and sense of trustworthiness.

But after a month with the car the Rexton seems to offer incredible value for money, comparatively. The air conditioning (front and rear seats) has been first class during the recent heatwave and is easy to operate via the dial in the dash (rather than having to go into a fiddly touchscreen menu, which has driven me slightly bonkers with some other new cars).

The front two seats are also ventilated, allowing a cold breeze to flow through the fabric. It’s a great option I haven’t encountered before — only a few years ago, ventilated seats were the preserve of Bentley and Rolls-Royce, so it’s amazing to see it trickle down to SsangYong.

Extended test: 2021 SsangYong Rexton 2.2 Ultimate review

  • Mileage this month 402 miles
  • Mileage to date 2,170
  • Average economy 34 mpg

As ever with our extended tests, you can ask questions at any time via Tina’s Twitter account or the comments below.

September 24, 2021: The Rexton reveals itself over hills, coastal roads and motorways

SsangYong Rexton 2021 long-term review

Well, sorry for the delay in posting this second update but there are extenuating circumstances. Unfortunately in the last month I experienced a problem with a camera that is mounted in one of the Rexton’s wing mirrors, which led to us having a blurred view on the right hand side when using it for parking or tight manoeuvres.

We reported this to SsangYong and they took the car in to be looked at and fixed. In truth, the customer service was excellent and we were provided with a Musso Saracen courtesy car for the time the Rexton was away, even enjoying a fun weekend camping trip to CarFest in it. The Rexton was returned with the camera in full working order, which is very pleasing as the tech set up has been one of the areas that I’ve been most impressed with. I’ll spend my next update giving this specific focus.

Despite the issue, I managed to rack up some remarkable mileage over the summer, so I’m now well acquainted with the Rexton’s many features and how it is to drive across different types of terrain.

Over trips to Dartmoor’s endless hilly lanes, Norfolk’s coastal undulations and Kent’s motorway network, I’ve given the Rexton a thorough workout, and I’m impressed by its performance. I may not have been utilising its well-known towing capability but it’s much more of an all-rounder than I had anticipated. The manufacturer stats say it manages 0-62mph in a moderately slow 11 seconds but I found it isn’t ponderous and felt much quicker than the stats suggest. It’s a big beast and it responds well for its large size when I need to put pedal to the metal.

In hilly conditions the Rexton’s performance data dipped to 28mpg, as it hauled its mass up and down the Devon unulations during our week away. Clearly thirsty work and a point to consider if hills are a major part of your daily driving. Contrastingly, a recent motorway journey allowed me to toy with the easy-to-operate cruise control, hitting a decent 38mpg over 50 miles. Diesel’s been given a bad name in recent years but I think it’s worth pointing out that cars such as the Rexton can still be perfectly suited to drivers with high monthly mileage.

A big thumbs up must be given to the Rexton’s cluster of steering wheel controls. Initially, I felt it resembled something last seen in Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing fighter. Far too many switches with no clear purpose and a little alienating to the eye. However, with plenty of time to experiment, I’m converted to the Rexton’s Jedi set up. I’ve been seamlessly flicking through dashboard settings, cruise control, sat nav configuration and asking Siri (via Apple CarPlay) to play my next podcast. The heated steering wheel is another feature I’ll enjoy in the coming colder months.

SsangYong Rexton 2021 long-term review

I’ve found the Rexton a steady drive overall so far. Not always super smooth but given its bulk, I wasn’t expecting this. The engine never felt too strained but was noticeably more audible and ‘truck like’ than other large rivals I’ve driven, such as the Volkswagen Touareg or the Nissan X-Trail. The ride height is high even for a big SUV, allowing the commanding view of the road that so many motorists are seeking these days. It is quite a step up to board, so might benefit from a foot plate (like its counterpart the SsangYong Musso) to give both younger and more elderly family members a needed boost.

The Rexton was a very welcome and solid addition to this year’s family summer adventures and it truly caused a stir. On three separate occasions, I was approached by people curious to know more about the SsangYong brand and the Rexton specifically, and what I thought of it. There is work to do to build levels of awareness and consideration in the market but the Rexton’s updated design qualities, size and competitive pricing give it a strong platform to build upon. The novelty factor is certainly proving magnetic.

  • Miles since last update 2,148 miles
  • Mileage to date 2,959 miles
  • Average economy 32.1 mpg

As ever with our extended tests, you can ask questions at any time via Tina’s Twitter account or the comments below.