In the market for a capable SUV or a rugged pickup? There’s no shortage of choice from the usual suspects of Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan etcetera.
A left-field brand that’s well worth checking out is SsangYong. The South Korean company has been producing vehicles since the 1950s and has had a small but tenacious toehold in the UK market for nearly 20 years.
The past few years has seen the firm revamp its UK line up – the Korando, Tivoli and Rexton SUVs and the Musso pick-up truck.
I spent a morning in the Lake District putting the Rexton and Musso through their paces in a challenging off-road course.
The Rexton is the company’s biggest SUV. Costing from £29,995 , it’s available in five or seven-seat formats. It was introduced in 2017 and has just been given a refresh for 2020.
The Musso, meanwhile, costs from £21,995 excluding VAT and is a tough-as -nails pick-up that can tow 3.5 tonnes and carry 1,085kg in its load bay – at the same time, a feat no other pick-up can match.
One big item that’s well worth flagging up is SsangYong’s remarkable warranty. All of its vehicles come with a seven-year, 150,000 mile warranty. That beats even Kia’s seven-year, 100,000 mile offering and makes it the best warranty in the entire car industry by a country mile.
When I last drove the SsangYong range, well over a decade ago, their vehicles were good value and rugged but lagged well behind the opposition when it came to comfort and refinement.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Rexton and Musso are modern on the outside and the inside, with a clear, crisp touchscreen, soft-touch materials and luxuries like heated seats.
Both models can switch between two and four-wheel drive and have high and low ratios for off roading. Crawling along the shore of Lake Windermere before rising into the rugged woodland of the nearby fells I discovered both SUV and pick-up have prodigious off-road capabilities. From steep muddy hills to football sized boulders and slippery tree roots, they conquered everything we could throw at them.
I covered perhaps 10 miles in each on tarmac – not enough to properly assess them but enough to discover they’re as refined and capable as most of their opposition.
Having not driven a SsangYong in a very long time I’m now relishing the next opportunity to drive one.