Jul 28 2009 Peter Hayward
Big bargain of the year
AT around £21,500, the SsangYong Rexton has to be the big bargain 4x4 of the year.
In size, economy and performance, the automatic version is very close to the Mitsubishi Shogun and not far behind the Mercedes M-Class.
Yet it costs almost half the price of the Merc and a whopping £12,000 less than the Shogun.
Power comes from a 2.7-litre five cylinder turbo diesel driving all four wheels through a five speed automatic gearbox.
And although some writers say it's noisy, I didn't find it so at all. It comes with proper high and low gears for mud-plugging plus hill descent control for going down difficult terrain.
I found it very comfortable over all surfaces - even along some green lanes not far from home that are riddled with potholes.
It does roll a lot in the corners, but clings on gamely just like the more expensive hefty off-roaders.
There is some bump-thump from the big wheels and tyres as with most other heavyweights and it hardly notices speed humps or other rough surfaces in town.
It comes with climate control, a great sounding Kenwood aftermarket CD stereo with MP3 compatibility - but also very small buttons.
The part leather steering wheel has most of the stereo controls on it plus buttons to change gear manually when desired. To my mind however, it's best left in automatic like most of the others.
Mechanical: 163bhp, 2,696cc, 5cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 5-speed automatic gearbox
Max speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 12.9 seconds
Combined mpg: 31
Insurance group: 12
CO2 emissions: 228g/km
BIK rating: 35 per cent
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles
Main rival: Mitsubishi Shogun