Even though Ssangyong is the oldest automotive company in South Korea, it wasn’t a relevant player until the Rexton arrived. The automaker was known only in Korea and a few other markets in Asia mainly as a company that makes licensed models from companies like Jeep and Mercedes.
The significant change came 20 years ago when we saw a mid-size SUV capable of competing with Japanese and European models in every aspect. The new model came as the Ssangyong Rexton, and it instantly became a relevant player on markets around the world. The current second-generation model has just received an update.
The First Generation of Ssangyong Rexton (2003-2017)
The original model came out in 2001, while the Ssangyong Rexton Australia debuted a year later for the 2003 model year. Despite the long production cycle of 16 years, this generation managed to remain competitive through most of its lifespan, thanks to a couple of massive facelifts.
Design and Features
What's important to know is that this is not a crossover but rather a genuine SUV built on a body-on-frame platform. At the time, the Korean manufacturer didn't have enough resources to develop the platform on its own, so the first generation of Rexton shares many parts with the first-generation Mercedes-Benz M-Class. The shared parts included engines, transmission, and chassis, to name a few things.
The initial 2003 Ssangyong Rexton came with two engine options, both borrowed from Mercedes-Benz. The first one is a 2.9-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel, a familiar unit that dates back from the 80s. It also powers old G-Class and Sprinter models. In this configuration, it features a max output of 88kW and 256Nm. The engine comes with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission.
The second powertrain option is a 3.2-litre inline-6 petrol, also a familiar unit from the German manufacturer. With a max output of 162kW and 312Nm of max torque, it seems like a huge upgrade over the diesel. The transmission choice is the same.
The second production year (2004 model) has brought a significant upgrade under the hood. A new 2.7-litre turbodiesel was introduced, with common-rail technology and a pretty impressive max output of 121 kW and 342 Nm of the max torque. Besides more power, the biggest advantage of this engine is that it comes in pair with a 5-speed automatic transmission.
Another thing worth mentioning is the suspension setup. This SUV is equipped with an anti-roll bar, coil springs, double wishbones and gas dampers at the front, while the five-link rear suspension setup includes coil springs and hydraulic double-acting shock absorbers.
The trim level organisation is relatively simple – Limited, Sport and Sport Plus, with all three engines available in each version. Still, keep in mind that the offer varies, so some versions may not be available for certain model years.
Rexton II - 1st Facelift (2007-2013)
The first update happened in 2007, for the 2008 model year in Australia. This refresh has brought several important changes, starting from a new styling. Also, a few modifications to the engine have been made to meet higher emission standards.
As a result, the new Ssangyong Rexton was classified as a low-emission vehicle for the first time. Both 2.9-litre diesel and 3.2-litre petrol engines were dropped. A 2.7-litre turbodiesel remained the only engine on the offer, available with either a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission.
Significant changes came on the inside as well, as the 2008 Ssangyong Rexton is the first model year available with the optional third row of seats. Finally, the Korean manufacturer offered several advanced safety features.
A new trim level called XVT SPR was introduced, with new styling details and more standard equipment. Some highlights are side-front airbags, upgraded audio system, rear air conditioning, parking sensors and more.
Rexton II - Key Updates
- New styling
- New catalysed diesel particulate filter and a variable-geometry turbocharger for lower emissions.
- Forward collision warning and avoidance system and tyre pressure monitoring added.
- New XVT SPR trim level
- Three-row model introduced
Rexton W - 2nd Facelift (2014-2017)
The second facelift came with the 2014 model year in Australia, although this version was available in certain markets already in 2012. We saw a lot of new things in this model, which kept it fresh and competitive for a few more years.
One of the most significant novelties was a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel, with a max output of 115kW and 360Nm, which replaced the 2.7-litre unit. It offers more torque and much better efficiency, even though it uses the same 5-speed automatic transmission from Mercedes.
Styling updates came too. We saw a new grille, new LED headlights and a new bumper at the front, while the rear end gets a new pair of taillights. Engineers also did a couple of suspension tweaks in order to improve ride quality.
The Second Generation of Ssangyong Rexton (2017-Present)
After 16 years of production, it was about time to see a full redesign. The second generation of Ssangyong Rexton debuted in 2017, with significant changes in all aspects.
First of all, there is an entirely new platform, developed by Ssangyong this time. The new model is more significant and lighter than before, while there is also a new suspension setup with double-wishbone at the front and 5-link coil springs at the rear end.
Of course, the new generation looks way better than before, but we find changes under the hood more important. The offer now includes two engine options, new 2.2-litre diesel and a new 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
Ssangyong Rexton 2.2 Diesel:
- Engine Displacement: 2157cc
- Number of Cylinders: 4
- Max Power: 133kW
- Max Torque: 420Nm
- Fuel Economy (claimed): 8.3L/100km
Ssangyong Rexton 2.0 Petrol:
- Engine Displacement: 1998cc
- Number of Cylinders: 4
- Max Power: 165kW
- Max Torque: 350Nm
- Fuel Economy (claimed): 10.4L/100km
The diesel comes in pair with a new 7-speed automatic transmission, also from Mercedes, while the petrol engine comes coupled with a 6-speed automatic gearbox from Aisin (Toyota).
Ssangyong Rexton Models Range
The trim level organisation is rather simple. It starts with the EX model, which comes with a petrol engine and rear-wheel drive. The ELX comes with the diesel engine and AWD layout, and other than that, the list of features is pretty much the same in the two models. Some of the highlights are:
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Satellite navigation
- LED headlights and taillights
- Leather upholstery
- Heated and ventilated front seats
- Power-adjustable front seats
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Also, the range-topping model called Ssangyong Rexton Ultimate comes with goodies like upgraded suspension and AWD system, 8-way power-adjustable driver seat, and exclusive styling details.
Key Safety Features
- Autonomous emergency brake system
- Forward collision warning system
- Lane departure warning system
- High beam assist
- Lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert
2021 Update to the Ssangyong Rexton
For the 2021 model year, Ssangyong has brought a couple of very interesting changes. The first one you'll notice is the new styling. Compared to the previous version, you can quickly notice a more prominent front end, with new headlights that feature full-LED technology and a new grille, which looks fancier than before. A few visual tweaks can be noticed on the other end as well.
Besides nice styling updates, the 2021 Ssangyong Rexton also comes with important upgrades under the hood. A well-known 2.2-litre turbodiesel has been revised and now offers more power and torque. The total output goes up to 148kW, while the max torque is now 440Nm. The engine uses a new 8-speed automatic transmission, which comes from Hyundai Transys.
Does Ssangyong Use Mercedes Engine?
Engines found in the first-generation models were produced under Mercedes’s license, while the new generation of engines is the work of Ssangyong engineers. This mainly refers to the new 2.2-litre turbodiesel, which feels pretty smooth and refined.
The same is true with the transmissions. Older versions of Ssangyong Rexton use Mercedes’s well-known 5G-Tronic and 7G-Tronic transmissions, while the new 2021 model uses Hyundai’s 8-speed automatic gearbox.
Is Ssangyong Rexton a Reliable Car?
This SUV is a relatively rare car in Australia, so it’s hard to get a clear picture regarding Ssangyong Rexton problems, especially common ones. However, if we look at reviews across the globe, it turns out that this is one of the most reliable mid-size SUVs you can get. This makes perfect sense, considering that the first-generation Rexton is based on old and proven technology.
On the other hand, Ssangyong Rexton 2020 and younger models use Hyundai’s new transmission, along with the company’s own engines. So, we can only wait for a few more years to get a clearer picture in terms of the reliability of the second-generation Rexton.
Is it difficult to find Ssangyong Rexton car parts in Australia?
As we’ve just mentioned, Ssangyong Rexton isn't the most popular SUV on the Australian roads. So, finding parts may be tricky. Luckily, Carpart.com.au can help you find the part you need at the best price. Instead of checking out numerous websites, all you need to do is request a part from our website, and we will find what sellers from all over Australia have to offer.
By Nebojsa Grmusa