By Mike Torpey on 2023-03-18 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
SsangYong Rexton 2.2
THE sign of the Double Dragon may still raise a few eyebrows among folk seeking an eye-catching new SUV - but more and more are being won over by its value for money charms.
We're talking about specialist off-road, SUV and adventure manufacturer SsangYong, which actually means Double Dragon in Korean, and in particular its full-size off-roader the Rexton.
If you aren't familiar with the brand, it has been around since 1954 when it began producing trucks, buses and special purpose vehicles for the export market.
These days there are four distinct model types, three of them SUVs, ranging from the compact Tivoli, through the mid-size Korando to the full-blown Rexton, plus the Musso pick-up truck.
All seek to portray value for money as a core principle - and the company's halo model line, the Rexton, is no exception.
In a sales arena very much top heavy with worthy contenders, it's rare indeed to find a model that has been named Best Value off-roader for six years on the bounce in the 4x4 of the Year awards.
That's the case with the Rexton and it's easy to understand why, because if you can blend sharp design with solid build quality, strong dynamics, top notch levels of kit, reliability and keen pricing, you have to be onto a winner.
The Rexton comes in a trio of trim grades - Ventura, Ultimate and Ultimate Plus - all powered by a 2.2-litre diesel engine working with an eight-speed auto transmission that is also supplied to fellow Korean brands Kia, Hyundai and Genesis.
This a big tough SUV featuring drive modes of Eco, Power and Winter and capable of bludgeoning its way through the harshest of terrain that even an ardent off-road enthusiast would be willing to tackle, and as such its engine can sound a bit noisy at times.
Remaining on the toughness theme the Rexton also boasts a 3.5-tonne towing capability, which is the benchmark for people pulling large caravans and trailers.
Otherwise it is a smooth, well-mannered vehicle on everyday roads, benefitting from a high seating position and clear all-round view, the only downside being fuel economy.
Our average return over 300 miles of mixed urban, country and motorway driving was 26.4 miles per gallon compared to the official Combined figure of 32.9mpg.
All Rextons are seven-seaters and our Ultimate variant, from the middle of the trim grade list, was beautifully kitted and fitted with large, comfortable perforated leather seats, including in the third row.
The cabin and dash area is clean, simple and modern with a prominent nine-inch central touchscreen plus leather flat-bottomed heated steering wheel.
Both the front and second row seats are heated and the driver's voice can be amplified via the rear speakers for the benefit of passengers further back in the car - an essential yet rare treat.
Cabin stowage offers plenty of scope for carrying bottles, cans, flasks and the like, from door bins incorporating bottle holders and a pair of front cup holders to a deep lidded central box, a tray with sliding lid, glovebox and armrest with more cup clips.
The Rexton is also very flexible with a vast luggage capacity provided the back row seats aren't in use. Measured up to window level there are 1,806 litres of boot space with both sets of seats down.
You can also fold just about everything flat and because the second row folds double you get easier access to the third row - which drops at the tug of a fabric tape - though kids are usually pretty nimble anyway.
SsangYong Rexton 2.2 Ultimate
Mechanical:202ps, 2,157cc 4-cyl turbo diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic transmission
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