IT wasn’t too long ago that cars from South Korea were basic and functional. Built to do a job, without any fuss or frills. Hyundai and Kia changed that in a big way, along with compatriot SsangYong, maker’s of the Rexton Ultimate SUV.
While the two former brands have certainly come a very long way since those days, so too has the latter. Once upon a time they built the Stavic, a properly hideous motor vehicle that looked like a cross between a hearse and a people mover. Thank God they still don’t.
We say that tongue in cheek, of course (or do we?), but in reality, you only have to look at the handsome chiselled look and upmarket interior of the 2022 SsangYong Rexton Ultimate to know things have changed. And changed for the better.
The Rexton Ultimate sits at the top of the model range and costs a measly $54,990 drive away. It’s packed full of technology and equipment, making it a terrific value proposition before you even get behind the wheel.
On a specs and price basis, competition for the Rexton comes in the form of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Isuzu MU-X and Toyota Fortuner, as they all fall within the same price range and offer similar value for money (although all of them are ute-based SUVs).
Under the bonnet is a 4-cylinder 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox. It is good for 148kW of power and 441nm of torque. Fuel economy is a claimed 8.9-litres/100km, giving a claimed range of 786km from the 70-litre tank.
Real world testing saw 10.0-litres/100km, which is good for around 700km – still pretty impressive. From a cold start it is very refined; a small amount of clatter soon disappears after a few seconds, and from there on its smooth and fuss free.
On the road, this writer found the accelerator pedal a bit spongy, but a firm push when setting off worked through that issue. The Rexton drives very well and has a nice, relaxed nature about it.
We drove it on a good mixture of roads to see how it compares to its competition, and it does hold up well. It could benefit from a better suspension setup; you can often feel the effect of the standard 20-inch alloys over some of the poorer road surfaces.
Heavy braking also makes the front of the car dip quite a lot, meaning you must get used to being a bit more progressive on the brake pedal. The cabin is nicely insulated from outside noises though, making for a calm environment.
As a result, and due to the lack of sensation of speed, you can often find yourself going faster than you should be, so that’s worth keeping an eye on. If towing is important to you, you will be pleased to know the SsangYong Rexton Ultimate is good for 3,500kg – braked.
Inside, there are some lovely materials, with beautifully trimmed leather seats with diamond stitched accents that extend to the lower dash area, along with brushed aluminium trims on the speakers.
It gives you the impression you’re sitting in something much more expensive. And it’s that value card that gets played again with the feature list, including front seats that are fully electric with memory positions for the driver, with the benefit of heating and cooling.
The rear seats have heating on the outer two seats, and there’s a heated steering wheel, wireless phone charger, 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and sunroof. Luggage space sits at 641-litres in a 5-seat configuration. With the seats flat, that balloons to 1806-litres.
Safety features are also well catered for, including nine airbags, autonomous braking, blind spot monitor, lane change warning, rear cross traffic warning, and front and rear cameras which have a 360-degree birds eye view.
Quite simply, the downsides are few and far between on the Rexton Ultimate. What is missing is adaptive cruise control, and navigation isn’t standard, so you’ll need to tap into wired Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for that.
One other minor annoyance is with Apple CarPlay itself. The recently used shortcut buttons are placed on the left side of the display as opposed to the right side (where it would be more convenient for the driver).
The Rexton Ultimate also makes do with a smaller old style sunroof offering. Although it works perfectly well, it does not let in as much light as the panoramic version found on some of its rivals.
Leg room is on par with rivals in row two, but it does miss out on a sliding middle row, meaning passengers in row three are going to feel cramped if they’re not kids. The 2022 SsangYong Rexton Ultimate does come with a 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty though.
It also grabs 7-years of capped price servicing. It’s a high specification SUV with a low purchase price, and reasonable running costs (services are $375 each). That alone should put it on your shopping list.
Our test vehicle was supplied by SsangYong Australia. To find out more about the 2022 SsangYong Rexton Ultimate, contact your local SsangYong dealer.