Road test: SsangYong Rexton W has a taste for adventure

The SsangYong Rexton W offers seven seats and plenty of towing power
The SsangYong Rexton W offers seven seats and plenty of towing power
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This is a major refresh of SsangYong’s workhorse Rexton 4x4, with the firm adding a “W” on the end just so you don’t forget. It remains a conventional 4x4 underpinned by conventional technology and, apparently, that’s the way the buyers like it.

To recap, the Rexton offers buyers a genuine all-terrain experience at a lowly price. The trade-off is none of the bling you get with a Land Rover product, but at least you get to keep almost all the contents of your bank balance.

That thorough refresh amounts to a new, softer exterior look, updated cabin plus heaps of kit and, crucially, SsangYong’s own 2.0-litre diesel engine replacing an older Mercedes unit.

There’s no question that the exterior revamp has softened the Rexton’s appearance. It’s now more “lifestyle” than workmanlike, although the latter is likely to remain the view of its prospective customers considering that they’re more likely to get cars muddy than your average soft-roader owner.

And that’s the difference with SsangYong owners and the brand. The company very much pitches at folk who need to make full use of the product’s abilities. It might be off-roading, towing or a combination of the two, and it can all be done with confidence.

The Rexton W is a big bus but that’s part of its appeal. In seven-seat trim the 4x4 can double as a people carrier, or you can make full use of its capacious load area for more than just the weekly shop. There’s ample room wherever you sit and there’s no shortage of storage space for your clutter. And in raw practical terms the Rexton’s full-blown 4x4 system is, for many, just as important as the size of the cupholders. Switchable between two and all-wheel drive, you also have the option of a low ratio mode to further boost traction.

From behind the wheel, the Rexton W’s size can prove an advantage, as you sit high up thanks to a commanding driving position. The car’s big steering wheel protects you from the inevitable kickback you’ll experience when off-roading. It delivers a measured and predictable driving experience. It goes, stops and steers as you’d expect, with the going bit helped by SsangYong’s 153 horsepower diesel engine.

Off-road, the Rexton W plugs through the mud with ease. Although two litres might not seem like enough to keep you out of trouble, the plucky diesel unit delivers ample power and torque. In five-speed auto gearbox guise – there’s also a six-speed manual – the experience is straightforward, too.

Few cars can match the abilities of the Rexton for the asking price. It’s a genuine dual-purpose machine capable of hauling a considerable load, sliding safely through slippery terrain and accommodating a big family – all at the same time. Kit levels are high, and you’d need to spend big bucks on a premium alternative to match it.

If you’re a rural dweller seeking a tough but presentable workhorse that can double as a comfortable family wagon, the Rexton W is for you. It’s sensibly priced and easily capable of coping with foul weather and rustic terrain, yet scrubs up well if you need to go into town. Crucially, it’s a wallet-friendly alternative to the premium sector.

VITAL STATS

Price £25,995

Engine 2.0-litre turbodiesel, 4 cyl, 153bhp, 265 lb ft

Performance Max speed 108mph

Economy 36mpg

CO2 emissions 206g/km