SsangYong Rexton: worthy challenger to the throne
In life, second chances are far andfew in between. Even in the automotive industry, there are good examples of this, so if and when second chances come, we should grab it by the horns and show who is the boss.
For SsangYong, their new distributor, SsangYong Berjaya Motors Philippines is carefully handling the brand and its product line-up, making sure their products are properly supported by a professional organization that can provide high-level after-sales servicing and parts availability.
The Rexton, which means ruler in old English, is also getting a second chance at the now highly competitive 7-seat SUV market. The Rexton is a body-on-frame SUV, so it did well in the harsh terrain leading up to the Mayton Farm and Trail area in Tanay, Rizal with surprisingly good axle articulation and high-speed damping control even on very coarse terrain where we’d speed up to try to test chassis rigidity and refinement, leaving us impressed with how well-screwed together the Rexton is. We only stopped at the river crossing because we didn’t want to risk stalling the engine as the flood fording depth wasn’t specified, but watching independent video reviews online seems like the Rexton can handle at least 550-600mm of water crossings.
Since the Rexton was developed ahead of the Musso pick-up it shares its platform with, the Rexton has very impressive NVH refinement, incredible interior space and car-like chassis control on the winding roads of Marcos Highway. The Japanese and American brands usually have their pick-up variants developed ahead of the SUV because of the huge demand in Thailand and other agricultural-based economies around ASEAN.
Power comes from 2.2 liter CRDi turbocharged engine delivering a healthy 181hp and 420 Newton-Meters of torque, transferring power to all four wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission. The engine is smooth, revs happily and peaks early, carrying power all the way to redline. The transmission is equally smooth: shifts are seamless, but punches hard when you floor the throttle and there’s so much torque available, even if the transmission upshifts early, you’re pushed along forward fine in light traffic conditions.
It’s well spec’d too: 7 airbags, ABS-EBD brakes with brake assist, traction / stability control, a power assisted liftgate and reverse camera are great additions. There’s a tilt/slide glass sunroof and an excellent multimedia / navigation system with Apple Carplay and Android Auto so mobile phone integration is truly seamless. Lastly, 20-inch wheels with Hankook Dynapro highway terrain tires look handsome and high-tech.
The interior is also a thing of beauty: the saddle brown seats with quilted diamond-stitch leather looks so classy and luxurious, any memories of the old, cheap & horrible looking Rexton vanish, replaced with a confident, exuberant sophistication.
On the highway, the Rexton is smooth, fast and relaxing. Fuel consumption is an impressive 12-13km/liter on provincial highways, and 7.8-8.5 inside the city. A drive on the expressway should deliver even better fuel efficiency. The interior is roomy, the seats supportive with a sort of Teutonic feel, and seating position is excellent, with loads of adjustment for all drivers of builds & sizes. Steering feel is slightly on the firm side, brakes are excellent, and the suspension is tuned for a sporty yet compliant handling giving you confidence the faster you go.
SsangYong has a real contender to the 7-seat SUV crown. Pricing is well within the usual Japanese & American SUV’s, and though features are comparable, the Rexton’s large footprint endows it with great interior room which provides a truly regal ambiance especially when you sit in the second row.
In the market for a 7-seat SUV? You really should consider the Rexton because of its size, specs and driving dynamics. The SsangYong Rexton can truly and confidently stand toe-to-toe against the established brands to make a real assault on the SUV throne. Now that’s making good use of your second chance!
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