Rugged Rexton W takes rough with smooth

PUBLISHED: 10:53 11 June 2014

Improving car maker SsangYong has given its Rexton 4x4 a new lease of life

Improving car maker SsangYong has given its Rexton 4x4 a new lease of life


Improving car-maker SsangYong has given its Rexton 4x4 a new lease of life with a series of welcome updates. Iain Dooley, of the Press Association, tries out the new model.

Ssang Yong Rexton W

Price: 2.0 EX Auto, £25,995 (range from £21,995)

Engine: 2.0-litre, 153bhp, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Transmission: Five-speed automatic driving all four wheels

Performance: Top speed 109mph

MPG: 36.2 combined

CO2 emissions: 206g/km

What’s new?

This is a major refresh of SsangYong’s workhorse Rexton 4x4, with the company adding a ‘W’ on the end just so you don’t forget. It remains a conventional 4x4 underpinned by conventional technology and, apparently, that’s the way the buyers like it.

To recap, the Rexton offers buyers a genuine all-terrain experience at a price for the man and woman in the street. The trade-off is none of the bling you get with upmarket models, but at least you get to keep almost all the contents of your bank balance.

That thorough refresh amounts to a new, softer exterior look, updated cabin plus heaps of kit and, crucially, SsangYong’s own 2.0-litre diesel engine replacing an older Mercedes-Benz unit.

Looks and image

There’s no question that the exterior revamp has done a good job of softening the Rexton’s appearance. It’s now more ‘lifestyle’ than workmanlike, although the latter is likely to remain the view of its prospective customers considering that they’re more likely to get cars muddy than your average soft-roader owner.

And that’s the difference with SsangYong owners and the brand. It’s still very much a company pitching at folk who need to make full use of the products’ abilities. It might be off-roading, towing or a combination of the two, and it can all be done with confidence.

Space and practicality

The Rexton W is a big bus but that’s part of its appeal. In seven-seat trim the 4x4 can double as a people-carrier, or you can make full use of its capacious load area for more than just the weekly shop.

There’s ample room wherever you choose to sit and there’s no shortage of storage space for your clutter, such as mobile phones, drinks, maps and the like. And, in raw practical terms, the Rexton’s full-blown 4x4 system is, for many, just as important as the size of the cupholders. Switchable between two and all-wheel drive, you also have the option of a low-ratio mode to further boost traction.

Behind the wheel

This is where the Rexton W’s size can prove an advantage, as you sit high up thanks to a commanding driving position. The car’s big steering wheel protects you from the inevitable kickback you’ll experience when off-roading.

Sticking with the road for the moment, the Rexton W delivers a measured and predictable driving experience, that’s perfectly acceptable considering the car’s dual-purpose roll as proper off-roader. It goes, stops and steers as you’d expect, with the going bit helped considerably by SsangYong’s in-house 153 horsepower diesel engine.

Off-road the Rexton W is a mighty tool capable of plugging though mud with ease. Although 2.0 litres might not seem like enough to keep you out of trouble, the plucky diesel unit delivers ample amounts of power and torque. With the five-speed automatic gearbox – there’s also a six-speed manual – the experience is straightforward, too.

Value for money

Few cars can match the abilities of the Rexton for the asking price. It’s a genuine dual-purpose machine capable of hauling a considerable load, sliding safely through slippery terrain and accommodating a big family – all at the same time. Kit levels are high – think Bluetooth, cruise control and air-con for starters. You’ll need to spend big bucks on a premium alternative to match the Rexton W.

Who would buy one?

If you’re a rural dweller seeking a tough but presentable workhorse that can double as a comfortable family wagon, the Rexton W is for you. It’s sensibly priced and easily capable of coping with foul weather and typical countryside terrain, yet scrubs up well if you need to venture into town. Crucially, it’s a wallet-friendly alternative to offerings from the premium sector.

This car summed up in a single word – rugged.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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