Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5
  • Diesel-only line-up
  • Choice of manual and auto gearboxes
  • Particularly good at towing

SsangYong Rexton SUV: which engines can I choose?

There’s just one engine on offer here – a SsangYong-built 2.2-litre turbodiesel that comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard or a Mercedes-Benz-sourced seven-speed automatic.

The motor generates the same output in both cases at 181hp, with the manual generating 400Nm of torque and the automatic 420Nm.

SsangYong expects the automatic version to be the overwhelming favourite among buyers, and in normal driving it’s very good. The engine picks up well and revs freely for a diesel, but if you ask too much of it then it becomes noisy and the gearbox struggles to change gears quickly enough. It’s an old design of ‘box compared to many rivals’ now.

However, most Rexton buyers aren't going to be interested in how fast it is. In reality, it's quick and responsive enough to haul the big SsangYong along the road at a reasonable pace, and if you want to control the gears yourself, there's a small thumb switch on the gearlever. However we'd just leave it in Drive and let it do its own thing.

Few customers are likely to go for the manual, available in lower-spec Rextons, and it's a six-speed 'box. It feels quite a different car to drive than the automatic, with a very abrupt clutch pedal and vague feel through the gearlever when changing gear. We'd stick with the smooth automatic. 

SsangYong Rexton SUV: how much can it tow?

Perhaps more pertinently, the braked towing capacity of the Rexton automatic is an unusually high 3,500kg, or 3.5 tonnes, which puts it on par – if not ahead – of all rivals. Car firms aren’t allowed to go higher for private vehicles. Manual versions can tow 3,100Kg.

  • Lots of body roll
  • Slow, vague steering
  • Impressive off-road

For a ladder-chassis 4x4, the Rexton automatic rides and handles remarkably well. The answer lies underneath; double wishbone independent suspension supports both ends. Manual transmission models have a less sophisticated arrangement, and also have lower towing limits; this will also result in a different ride quality to the automatic versions.

Its steering is slow, which can make manoeuvring a chore, and there's a noticeable amount of body roll when faced with a tight bend. This is a heavy car that rewards considered driving inputs. As it doesn't encourage you to drive quickly; it's actually quite relaxing. And despite its big dimensions, it doesn't feel too daunting to take down tighter roads, either.

However, we were extremely impressed with how it dealt with off-road situations. Its short overhangs at both ends coupled with all-wheel drive capability (activated via a rotary switch behind the gear lever) mean it's able to tackle all but the toughest terrains. We’ve tried it on wet grass, sticky mud and quite technical pieces of off-road terrain, and it handled it all with ease.