Review: SsangYong Rexton (2003 – 2012)


Well equipped for the money. Some have seven seats. Capable off-road and a tough all-round workhorse. Keen prices.

Dreadful ride and horrible handling. Some dubious trim, such as the plastic wood.

Recently Added To This Review

10 June 2008

Costs of owning a SsangYong Kyron, Rexton and Rodius have been slashed with parts prices cut by an average of 40 per cent. And at the same time, menu servicing has been introduced to ensure that costs... Read more

2 February 2008

New Rexton from 2008. All three new SsangYong Rexton models have all-wheel drive and the 2.7 litre common rail turbo diesel engine for big towing capacity and off road capability. The Rexton squares... Read more

7 July 2006

Two Specials launched. Rexton S Sport, based on Rexton 2.7 S Manual 5 Seat with Satellite navigation system, Texas alloy wheels, Chicago side bars with steps. Only 90 Rexton S Sport models will be offered... Read more

SsangYong Rexton (2003 – 2012): At A Glance

It's obviously designed to supply a lot of status. The styling isn't quite the way Land Rover would do it, but when you see Rextons in glass and chrome showrooms in places like Bangkok you can understand how they are trying to nick a chunk of the fat cat 4x4 market. All this is very important because if it doesn't grab you that way then there is no point at all in buying a top-spec Rexton 270 SX XDI which is the subject of this test.

Adopting a completely different mind-set, the Rexton 290E Tdi does make a huge amount of sense to farmers and anyone needing a cheap, big, basic 4x4 to haul something heavy. Like a 3,500 kilo livestock trailer, horsebox, chrome caravan or mobile hamburger stand. The difference is the list price: just £17,499 on the road for a massive motor, the only gap in the spec of which is a lack of aircon.

What does a SsangYong Rexton (2003 – 2012) cost?

Contract hire from £424.72 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

SsangYong Rexton (2003 – 2012): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4720 mm
Width 1870 mm
Height 1760–1830 mm
Wheelbase 2820 mm

Full specifications

A ‘7' in the model name means it's a 7 seater, and the middle seats bi-fold easily to provide access to two minute midgets who don't mind sitting on the floor with their heads on their knees. The mid row is very comfortable for three proper people, though piggy in the middle has to make do with a lap-strap. The front offers acres of elbow room. And all seats are upholstered in the same leather which once contained a cow. This is more than can be said for the ‘wood', which makes no pretence at all at being anything other than plastic. Never more obviously a case of telling the ‘wood' from the trees.

Climb inside, get going and first impressions are of a landyacht like the Range Rover Classic. Like my house, steering is detached, and the gears slur aimlessly through what looks and feels like a Mercedes 5-speed box with ‘flop-tronic' side-to-side manual override.

Child seats that fit a SsangYong Rexton (2003 – 2012)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the SsangYong Rexton (2003 – 2012) like to drive?

Once you're moving, however, it quickly changes up to 5th and stays there down to around 1,500 rpm, which is okay for economy and, usefully, the display tells you what gear you're in even when you leave it to self-select. 70 in top corresponds to 2,250rpm, so that's about 30 mph per thousand.

Alarmingly the anti-hijack doorlocks snap closed at exactly 30mph, which assumes your hijackers will be Terminator standard 100 metre sprinters. Driving is actually quite pleasant in outer London because it's very happy indeed at the sort of freshly imposed speed limits we now find round every corner and you don't actually want to drive any faster. Then it falls to pieces in the outer suburbs and countryside where bumps send the wheels crashing and shimmying and the drivetrain can develop an unpleasant to and fro motion like (though nothing like as bad as) the Nissan Serena diesel. It doesn't even absorb road humps.

Though there's no way you can chuck this thing about, cornering is neater than you first think it is and grip is okay. Certainly much better than a Nissan Patrol, though not even on the same roundabout as the VW Touareg 2.5TDI.

And there's a massive, colossal, pantechnicon-like blind spot, created by those colossal ‘D' pillars at the back. I hadn't realised this until I overtook a traffic jam caused by a Carina and got into the ‘wrong' lane off a dual carriageway into a single one. Carinaman took great exception to this and, unbeknown to me, asserted his place on the road, totally invisibly to the left of my nearside rear wheelarch. It wasn't until I wondered where the **** in the Toyota had disappeared to that I realised he and his wife were about to be annihilated by my gigantic 235/70 R16 rear tyre. So, having nowhere to go, I had to push pedal to the metal, leave him spluttering invective in a puff of black diesel smoke, and remember to adjust my nearside rear mirror downwards.

Did I like it? Do I recommend it? Well, I got used to it. And if the Thai Triads decided to involve me in their business ventures, then I might consider a black 270SX as my motor. But, if forced to buy a big new 4x4 for the Surrey school run, I'd probably sell a hat or two on ebay and go for a 2.5 TDI Touareg instead.

If, on the other hand, I fell into English events catering of the hog-roast variety, I'd be thinking very seriously about parking some of my hard-earned in a Rexton 2.9E Tdi.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
270 31–33 mpg 10.6–13.2 s 228–237 g/km
270 Automatic 30 mpg 11.6 s 250 g/km

Real MPG average for a SsangYong Rexton (2003 – 2012)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

26–35 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the SsangYong Rexton (2003 – 2012)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Used car is faulty after 4 days - can I reject it?

I bought a 2005 Ssangyong Rexton with 143,000 miles on the clock from a dealer two weeks ago. When I bought the car the seller told me that there was an intermittent engine light problem, but he said he had investigated it and it was nothing. The car also had its oil topped up prior to collection and need a jump start, due to its battery being flat – again the dealer said this was nothing as the car had been standing a long time. I bought car at £300 discount, but the faults were nothing to do with the discount, we had established the reduction before I even saw the car. They also gave me three months warranty. I took car home, next day didn't start had to jump off, in fact everyday needed jumping off. I drove it four days in total then discovered diesel leaking from the injectors. I told the garage the engine light wasn't intermittent, the battery was shot and the oil leak was in fact injector seals and I was told to get the work done then claim on the warranty, But i have to pay first, which I can’t afford to do. The seller has also refused to replace the battery, claiming it’s wear and tear. Am I entitled to ask them to pay for the repairs, or send the car back to them to fix or am I entitled to money back?
No one can claim for the injectors on the warranty because the fault existed before the warranty was taken out and this would be criminal fraud. Take the car back to the dealer and demand your money back. Threaten court action if he refuses. Law here:
Answered by Honest John
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