It was during my sophomore year when I entered the high school I graduated from. Missing out one year proved to be a big social disadvantage since cliques were already established, even if the students were in different sections from before. Eventually I found my own circle, but it wasn’t as easy as a multiple choice exam.
This is the problem that the 2020.5 SsangYong Rexton 4×4 faces. Yes, that’s the official model year. Anyway, it’s seldom included in SUV conversations because unlike its classmates, it’s a relative newcomer and already one generation behind. As always the case with new students, it takes some time before others see their worth. For me, all it took was opening the driver’s door.
The Rexton will invite you as the driver’s seat slides back when you open the door, just like in luxury cars. Close it and the seat will return to the last setting it was in. Upholstery was done in a two-tone fashion, a mixture of black and brown, with perforations on the front seats to allow for the cooling and heating functions. There’s leather with a diamond stitch pattern on the door panels and the on dashboard, which also has an additional wood accent.
Luxury, that’s what the Rexton offers above anything else. It might have the same strong stance and muscular sculpture as any in its segment, but its classy demeanor and luxurious touches put it in a different light.
The fascia alone is distinct in that it’s not sleek, nor aggressive, but is just the right amount of contemporary. What makes it unique is the chain mail-looking grille that’s surrounded by slim lines of chrome to not make it obnoxious. Having automatic HID headlights, cornering light, LED DRL and fog light further elevates the appeal of its fascia.
The sides show more of the Rexton’s muscular lines, but I can’t help but think that the wheels go against the overall allure of the SUV. It’s finished in shiny chrome which is pretty outdated in this time of two-tone alloy wheels. The rear, meanwhile, is very clean looking with its name under the rear glass and just the right amount of shiny bits.
Back on the driver’s throne, it has all the modern tech amenities you’ll expect from today’s SUV. There’s manual headlight levelling, 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, electronic parking brake with auto-hold, dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming rear view mirror, and a 7-inch LCD screen between the gauges for vehicle information. It also has a powered tailgate at the back.
It continues at the second row, having an upmarket center armrest with piano black trim, air vents, a 220v socket, and a USB charging port. They missed their mark for the third row though because even though it has enough room for two adults, the air vents are only on the right side, clustered with the air control. The positioning also makes these vents easy to block, decreasing air flow for the other third-row passenger.
Safety is not as comprehensive as in other cars, but SsangYong was able to put in the bits that will make it well-rounded. There are 6 airbags and smart keyless entry for this 4×4 model, while standard are ABS with EBD and brake assist, electronic stability control, hill descent control, front and rear parking sensors, and a rear camera.
Out on the road, the Rexton is very mature to drive. It’s steering is nicely weighted but has the perfect amount of assist to lessen fatigue on long drives. The suspension is also very absorbing of road imperfections and won’t pull your soul when you have to unfortunately go through C5’s truck lane. Even when driving alone, the Rexton doesn’t feel hollow and keeps its composure. It also doesn’t dip too much when braking, unlike other SUVs with softer suspension.
With its 4×4 capability and 224mm of ground clearance, the Rexton can easily handle the rougher terrain of places outside the metro. It’s only for unpaved provincial roads though and not really the down and dirty off-roading stints. Still, it’s more than enough for you and your family to travel comfortably in and out of the city.
Under the hood is a 2.2L turbo-diesel engine (coupled to a 7-speed automatic) that puts out 179hp and 420Nm of torque. In the city during rush hour, it returned 7.5km/l, which is pretty average, but it shines when there’s less congestion, returning 13.6km/l.
What it lacks in low-speed fuel economy, it more than makes up for in experience. The memory seat alone makes me feel like a VIP every time I use it. It’s like having a butler pull and push your chair for you on your dinner table. Add to that the automatic rear tailgate which works fluidly, making grocery runs easier. Then there’s the cooling function in the front seats, the total functionality of the interior, the quiet cabin, and you’ll really see that your money went somewhere good.
It’s not without faults, though. Aside from the wheels that are too shiny, the sunroof is small at a time where panoramic glass is becoming the new standard. The steering wheel has flip switches instead of flat buttons so during turns, there are a lot of times when I switched them unintentionally. Then there’s the lack of airflow for the third row which is a shame because though it’s not exactly roomy, it’s still spacious enough for two average sized Filipinos and the seats are comfortable.
With that said, the Rexton was still hard to return once my date with it was over. I’m from the school of thought that if I’m paying for something, I want to experience every peso of what I paid for. The Rexton certainly aced on delivering that and it did make my day to day drive easier.
Sitting at P2,260,000, the SsangYong Rexton 4×4 is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise very utilitarian segment. It’s clearly not for the usual audience of the mid-size SUV category. Instead, it’s for those who also find the usual offerings a bit too straightforward. If you want an SUV with a more gentle approach, styling, and has tangible luxuries, the Rexton is that shy talented kid who’s just waiting for you to talk to him or her first.