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New/Old Kid on the Block: Ssangyong Rexton & Musso

Come November this year we will welcome Ssangyong back to the market with the Rexton wagon and Musso ute. Having been absent since 2006, there’s a lot of water under the bridge for the once classically South Korean styled 4X4s.

Now way back in the 90s when the Musso (as a wagon) was first introduced to Australia, owners were sticking Mercedes Benz badges on the front, just like backyard badge engineers with Chev badges on their Holden. Merc imported and sold the brand through their own dealerships, and provided a superceded but reliable engine design and tech to nurture Korea’s largest auto-maker into wider markets.

This link was fortuitous, with the Ssangyong range of old being surprisingly and incredibly reliable. They even had some advances only now coming into the Thai-made utes, such as coil-sprung rear suspension.

We look forward to seeing how the Rexton and Musso go off-road
We look forward to seeing how the Rexton and Musso go off-road

This year will see an all-new range come to our shores, through dedicated dealerships and with a wider model line-up. There are two models we are most interested in: The Rexton wagon, a Prado/Pajero sized 7 seat wagon; and the Musso, a dual cab competitor for that fast-growing market segment.

Engine and transmission

The engine is a 2.2l turbo diesel, offering 133kW @ 4000rpm and 400Nm @ 1400-2800rpm. Clearly not show-stopping like a Ranger Raptor or V6 Amarok, but on-par with many budget-end utes available today. 6-speed manual and (Aisin) auto gearboxes are available in the Musso ute, with part-time push-button 4WD and an electronically actuated dual-range transfer case. The Rexton wagon offers a Mercedes Benz 7 speed E-tronic auto and a slightly different tune, claiming 420Nm of torque and a whole host more safety technology in the higher spec level.

What can it pull?

The towing capacity of the auto Musso is 3.0 tonnes, while the manual gets 2.8 tonnes. With GVM of 2.88T and claimed 6.7T GCM, a full load in the back won’t harm the Korean workhorse. The Rexton has a 3.5T tow capacity, but the GCM, while probably similar, is not yet confirmed. Speaking of loads, the ute tray has space for a CHEP pallet with room to spare, and swivelling tie-down points to boot. A long wheelbase Musso is set to join the fold too, for even more load space.

Styling and sophistication

The Ssangyong range of old was renowned for being aesthetically unpleasant…err, lets call it: acute butt-ugliness. The new Rexton is a far more attractive offering, and the Musso follows suit. The market has since been softened up by the BT50 and other less fortunate faces, yet the Rexton/Musso is up there with the best in terms of styling. Approach and departure angles are not particularly special but a lift kit and larger tyres as a probable tick-box extra can help to some extent.

Comfort and Noise/Vibrations/Harmonics (NVH) levels are prime points of difference against other vehicles in the market
Comfort and Noise/Vibrations/Harmonics (NVH) levels are prime points of difference against other vehicles in the market

The interior is spacious and well equipped, Apple Carplay and Google Android Auto feature in the higher spec models; an 8-inch screen and a smartly designed dash makes the office comfortable and convenient. NVH levels should be low, with Italian design house Pininfarina working on reducing interior noise and harshness.

Final words

We look forward to driving Ssangyong’s new steeds and getting them properly dirty, if they are as reliable as the older models they will be one of the best long-term propositions for touring ute and wagon buyers on the new vehicle market, but only if they handle the rough stuff appropriately.

6 Comments

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  • I have owned a six speed manual Actyon since new (2013) and have travelled 130,000kl over some pretty marginal 4wd country towing a forward fold camper and have found it to be an incredibly capable unit. In fact it has never let me down, touch wood. It is quiet, reasonably powerful and solid. I spent over 40 years in the Military and have driven just about every type of 4wd drive available and this is as good as it gets for the type of vehicle It is, certainly as capable as a Hilux and in some way’s more reliable.

    A few years ago there was a problem with the Australian made auto gear box that was replaced with the Merc unit for better reliability. This was known by the factory and perhaps the box should have been replaced under warranty. Note that this same gear box was used in some models of Ford Territories and presented the same problems I believe.

    As for the looks, I reckon they look a hell of a lot better than the Ranger, Nissan, Mitsubishi etc. There just boring and generic.

    Would I own another Ssangyong? Absolutely. I am keen to see what they are releasing next.

  • I still own a 2006, 5 seat Rexton Ltd.Apart from the expensive 100,000 Service,I have nothing but praise for it.
    It is the only vehicle I have kept for this length of time.I still enjoy driving it, find it very comfortable for long trips etc.So far I have covered 184,000 Km.It doesn’t look like slowing down. Bullet proof and still a good looking car.

  • I had one a 2006 Rexton auto (my son now has it ) has approx 150 k on the clock and still going like a dream. Never had any issues and can not speak to highly of it overall performance both on the highway and on the dirt.
    I now have a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, same story, with exception that I’m on the road full time pulling a 23 foot van, nothing but praise.
    Both these vehicles received heaps of bad press BUT as the old adage goes, ” the squeakist wheel gets the most oil “.
    I may have been dead lucky, but would have no hesitation in looking at both these brands when I trade up in the future.

  • Funny how the dash board is a revised and slightly updated version of the Ssangyong Actyon – the biggest piece of expensive crap I’ve ever had the misfortune of owning. Replaced my DSI 6 speed ( Aussie built once ) auto at 60,000 k’s which cost me $5,000 then at 100,000 k’s, injectors died. The diesel “experts” who worked on it quoted $3,500 to remove and replace them – then after snapping three injectors off and not beiong able to remove the fourth without taking the head and all manifold etc off, the quote jumped to $8,000 for a car worth only $9,000 if it were running. Pretty poor for a 3 and a bit year old car purchased with just 25,000 k’s on the clock !
    NEVER AGAIN will I touch or drive a Ssangyong branded vehicle again…..they used the good German quality Mercedes name to push a sub stand, poorly designed, costly Korean heap of sh*t and once bitten, twice shy.
    Ssangyong Australia wouldn’t do anything about it either – didn’t even want to know about it !
    Which is a shame because it was a very comfortable and capable off road 4×4 dual cab diesel ute. The wife and kids loved it and we used it numerous times on trips to Turon National Park, Sofala via the Turon Gates Road ( pretty hairy for those who know it ), Lithgow, Lake Lyell and the Baal Bone Gap trail.

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