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A fresh restart for the Rexton nameplate

The 2019 SsangYong Rexton was released with optimism from SsangYong Australia that it would do much better in the market than its predecessors did in the past.


The 2019 Rexton was a seven-seat SUV with body-on-frame construction, part-time-4WD and low-range gearing. It was powered by a 2.2-litre, turbo-intercooled diesel engine, delivering claimed maximum power of 133kW and maximum torque of 420Nm.

The only transmission was a seven-speed Mercedes-Benz automatic.

A 2WD petrol-engined model was also available, powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, delivering 165kW of power and maximum torque of 350Nm, coupled to a six-speed Aisin automatic gearbox.

The Rexton measured 4850mm in length, 1960mm wide, 1825mm high and had a 2865mm wheelbase.

Its projector headlight units also housed daytime running lights, LED fog lights with cornering beams and side and indicator lights.

The rear had LED combination side lights, air spoiler with high-mounted LED stop light and LED number plate lights.

Seat coverings included high grade nappa leather trim, with quilted nappa leather seat and interior trim on the top of the range model.

The second row seats split 60:40 with a folding centre armrest, giving access to the third row of seats that fold 50:50.

This seating combination gave greater passenger and load flexibility, equipping the car with one of the largest load spaces in its segment: more than 1800 litres.

Rexton was said to be one of the strongest
vehicles in its class, thanks to its robust, body-on-frame build. The car was stiffer than many monocoque-built competitors in this category, SsangYong claimed.

It used Quad-Frame structure, using 1.5Gpa-grade ultra-strength steel – a claimed world first.

Rexton had six airbags, including full-length side curtain airbags and came standard with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and High Beam Assist (HBA).

The ELX and Ultimate added two rear side airbags and a driver’s knee airbag, Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Lane Change Assist (LCA).

The range-topping Ultimate added a sunroof, 360-degree camera and speed-sensitive steering.

Electronic safety aids now accepted as important standard equipment included brake assist, electronic brake force distribution and ABS, traction control, active rollover protection and an emergency stop signal.

It also featured electronic safety aids for driving off road: hill start assist and hill decent control.

Double wishbone suspension was fitted up front and 10-link independent suspension at the rear.

The Rexton had a rated towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes.

The advanced infotainment system included DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. A high-resolution rear view-reversing camera displayed on a large 203mm screen.

The top of the range Rexton also got 3D, 360-degree monitoring to provide a clear view of the area surrounding the car, as well as rear cross traffic alert.

Other features included a Supervision instrument cluster with a sizeable 178mm LCD display for driver information and a ‘smart’ electronic tailgate on the top-specification model.

Like every model in the SsangYong Australia
range, the Rexton came with a comprehensive seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, seven years’ roadside assistance and seven years’ service price

Pricing at launch for the 4WD models was $46,990 for the ELX an $52,990 for the Ultimate.


On and off road

Our test vehicle was a 2019 Ultimate model, with all the fruit. Unfortunately, that ‘fruit’ included five chromed aluminium wheels in 20-inch size, shod with 50-profile tyres: great for steering, braking and handling on hot-mix black top, but completely out of harmony with Australian secondary, lumpy bitumen roads, gravel roads and bush tracks.

It’s a testimony to the reasonable approach and departure angles, and powerful traction control and hill descent control systems that we got as far as we did on our test fire trails.

We also managed some firm-sand driving, but shied away from soft beaches, because 50-profile tyres don’t deflate well.

If we were to buy a Rexton Ultimate, we’d ask the dealer to swap the wheel and tyre package for the 18-inchers that come on lower-spec models.

Getting in and out of the Rexton was made easy by its relatively low stance, but that, of course, compromised ground clearance for bush work. SsangYong may have calculated that its market lies in the urban SUV scene, where low-range gearing will be used only when getting the jet-ski trailer up and down boat ramps.

That’s a shame, because the Rexton’s chassis, springs, gearing and traction control are capable of serious bush work.

Even access to the kids-only third row seats was easy and all seating positions were adjustable and comfortable, with temperature and fan controls. The front seats also had fan-driven heating and cooling. The driver’s seat had memory power adjustment.

All controls were well laid out with good ergonomics and the Ultimate’s 360-degree camera and reversing image was among the best in the business. Apple CarPlay took all the guesswork out of navigation, phone and saved music functions.

The low-profile tyres were fine on smooth roads, but didn’t help the under-damped, four-coil, independent suspension cope with bumps. It positively hated corrugations and bush travellers would need to find suitable, quality dampers to replace the standard offerings. Unfortunately, SsangYongs have traditionally
sold in small numbers, so there’s not much after-market suspension gear available.

SsangYong’s diesel engine was among the quietest we’ve tested and was well-matched to the ‘Benz seven-speed auto box. Performance was never an issue and shifts were jerk-free.

Provided your mission for the Rexton didn’t involve much lumpy road work it was excellent value for money at launch, we reckoned, with a price tag not much over 50 grand.

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