When too much luxury is just enough
When rumors proliferated that the Ssangyong Rexton SUV was to be launched, everyone was excited, although some were also skeptical. They still remember the old Rexton that was sold here in the late 90’s. To say it was unique was an understatement; eccentric design and not so reliable drivetrain pushed this SUV and the brand to automotive oblivion.
Two decades later, Ssangyong is back with a vengeance. Initially launching the Tivoli Crossover, Tivoli XLV long base wagon, Rodius Van and the Musso pickup (which the Rexton shares its platform), people started taking Ssangyong seriously once again. Now with handsome design profile and great diesel and gas powertrains, Ssangyong now enjoys better reputation, which frankly, is long overdue.
The launch of the Rexton SUV just made that more clear.
The New Ssangyong Rexton did not disappoint. It’s a mid-size SUV that can be shamelessy compared to its more famous Japanese compeitiors, and actually offers more. The Rexton is massive; literally and figuratively. The height and width is short of imposing.
Although it shares the same fascia with the Musso pickup, the grille is smoother and more elegant. The combination of DRL and headlights make an attractive assembly. The big bumper panel also acts as the lower grille, fog light container and lower valance panel that makes it look like an air dam. Sporty doesn’t even start to describe it.
The overall profile is the typical SUV; big windows and doors, although the Rexton went with the massive D-pillars instead of the usual “floating roofline”, although this diminishes the outside view for the 3rd row occupants.
The roof is less slanted at the back, giving more cargo space, with a small rear spoiler to brighten things up. Both the front and rear fender evoke swoosh lines, with less curves than usual. This brings out the solid personality of the Rexton. The rear layout is simple, no fancy tail light shape, just large, cat eye-like red and white lens mix. Like the front, the rear bumper assembly is big, with red service light and a chrome trim giving accent to the black panel. It looks like a feline-like creature snarling at the rear.
This is where the Rexton comes into its own. The cabin boasts of brown leather upholstery, a nice change from the usual gray or black. It brightens the already impressive interior. Although the dashboard top is gray, it is decorated with faux wood panel and at the middle, leather padding with checkered stitching. The seats are brown with grey sides with sporty brown stitching. The doors have aluminum paneling, with the driver’s side sporting the Power seat memory buttons. Although it may be too much, it’s actually tastefully done.
Legroom for the 2nd row is generous, with the sitting height high enough for tall people not to get cramps. It also features a foldable middle console with cupholders. The 3rd row is also quite wide, but 2 full size adults might find it a bit cramped, although kids will find it confortable.
The cabin reeks of so much luxury, it actually puts the other SUVs to shame. Passenger pampering is something that its competitors lack sorely.
Although less displacement on paper, the 2.2 Ssangyong Diesel is quite an impressive performer. The Type e-XDi 220 Diesel Engine, with “only” 2,157cc displacement, is surprisingly more than enough to pull this behemoth to impressive speeds. Rated at a maximum of 181ps / 4,000 rpm and torque rating of 420Nm at 1,400-2,800rpm, It also is a miser with fuel; sipping crude at a measly 16km/L, at 110kph. Interestingly, this is the same engine that powers the Ssangyong Musso pickups. The only transmission available is a seven-speed automatic transmission with 3-drive mode selection.
The Rexton has two variants: a 4×4 and a 4×2. The two have identical powertrains and both come with the eight-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, multi speaker setup, and climate control settings ABS and EBD are standard.
The 4WD version’s options include smart keyless entry, leather seats with premium brown stitchings while the 4×2 comes with plain leather, automatic HID headlamps with adjustable leveling, power adjustment controls and ventilation for its front row seats. Tires combo is humongous 20″ chrome wheels for the 4×4 while the 4×2 sports 18-inchers.
You get the maximum value for your money. The Ssangyong Rexton is your typical mid-size SUV, but has more and offers more. Face to face, it feels and looks bigger. It’s simply larger than life.
Price as tested:
Rexton 2.2L 4X4 AT – PHP2,230,000
Rexton 2.2L 4X2 AT – PHP1,730,000.
Text/Images by Earl Manalansan