Four-wheel drive purists will be pleased to know that the SsangYong Rexton is the real thing. Meaning that it comes with a full chassis and a dual-range transfer case. Prime attributes in the mind of anyone who wants to take the unusual step of going off-road in an off-road vehicle.

These important features are combined with some modern electronic traction controls to give Rexton enough off-road ability to suit all but the most serious of Australian drivers.


SsangYong was once promoted in Australia by Mercedes-Benz, then it was run by Daewoo, before becoming all-but invisible for a while. These days the Korean marque is again being sold here in its own right. Some versions of the old models - the Musso and Korando ?are being imported, but the much more modern Rexton is now the mainstay of the new range.


Less Korean in its styling than earlier attempts from that country, SsangYong Rexton looks reasonably attractive to Australian tastes. Some may feel it is a bit fussy at the front, but it looks good in profile and at the rear.


Rexton is a medium to large 4WD with seats for five or seven. It is powered by either a 2.7 or 2.9-litre turbo diesel, or a 3.2 litre straight-six petrol unit. All are closely related to Mercedes engines, with the 2.7 being a new design and the others fairly old ones.

Our test vehicle this week is the Rexton RX270 Limited. As well as getting a newer engine than the others, it also benefits from a five-speed automatic transmission instead of the four-speed used in the others. The Limited has heated seats, automatic headlights and wipers and power-folding door mirrors.


The turbo-diesel 2.7-litre has good power and plenty of torque at most revs. However it is not exactly willing to rev and if you do punt it along hard it can become on the noisy side. Given the rest of the vehicle? no-nonsense design let's say this is a real engine for real-life conditions.

On-road the Rexton is as smooth and quiet as most others in its class. It is not as refined as the big name German machines, but obviously sells for a far more reasonable price. The seats are generally comfortable and are large enough for most Australian backsides.

Steering is well weighted and there's reasonable feel for this type of vehicle although the suspension may be slightly on the

 soft side for some tastes. Road noise is subdued, even on concrete surfaces that can sometimes set up quite a racket through semi-off-road tyres.


In off-road driving this SsangYong 4WD is very capable. Engagement of low range is a simple pushbutton operation. Traction is good with the tyres not clogging up too badly in muddy conditions. The electronic aids are all but imperceptible, though you do get some mechanical thumping at times as the diffs engage/disengage.


SsangYong Rexton is well worth adding to your list of potential 4WDs, especially if you are on a tight budget and plan to get down and really dirty one day.

- Source from autoguide (Sep 27, 2005) -