Over the past couple of Year’s Korea’s oldest car manufacturer Ssangyong, has been improving it’s model line-up. First came a new Rexton, a large SUV popular with the horse brigade & this was followed by a new Musso, Ssangyong’s pick-up, which has ruffled a few feathers. Arguably though, it’s the new Korando that the brand has the highest hopes for & one made it’s way to our offices in late 2019 for us to try.
The Korando is definitely the best looking Ssangyong yet, with it’s high bonnet & high-gloss chrome grille at the front, sweeping sides & LED-arrow rear light clusters. Gone are the clumsy looks of Ssangyong’s of old which has to be a good thing.
There are also two new engines. A 1.5 GDI-Turbo petrol offering 163PS & 280Nm’s of torque & the version we were testing, the 1.6 diesel with 136PS & 324Nm’s of torque. The petrol version will tow 1.5 tonne, whilst the diesel boasts a 2 tonnes towing capacity. Both are offered with either a 6-speed manual or AISIN 6-speed auto box
There are four Korando models on offer. Entry level ELX, Ventura, Pioneer 2WD & then the range-topping Pioneer Ultimate in 4WD, our test car, which costs £31,995. This feature’s like all models, a redesigned interior, an updated infotainment system with access to Apple CarPlay & Android Auto & improved safety.
All models are very well kitted out & come with a leather covered steering wheel, 60:40 split rear seats, a rear folding centre armrest with cupholders, a high gloss rear skid plate, body coloured door mirrors with side repeater & puddle lights, LED daytime running lights, LED rear lights, cruise control, solar & noise control windscreen, tinted windows & two 12v power outlets at the front & rear.
Our test car the Pioneer Ultimate, also adds, multi-heated & ventilated front seats, privacy glass, LED-focus reflector headlamps, 19″ alloys, a tyre repair kit, a remote power tailgate, auto dual-zone climate control, a 9″ HD infotainment screen & a push button start.
Safety is impressive across the range, with all models coming with ABS, ESP, TCS, active roll over protection, hill start assist, hill descent control, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, safety distance alert & driver attention alert. The Pioneer Ultimate auto adds to these, an electronic parking brake with auto hold.
Climb aboard & the Korando’s interior’s actually very nice. There’s plenty of black & chrome plastic on the top half of the dash & it’s good quality too. Further down, the finish goes soft-touch & was finished in an off white colour, which also featured as the seat colour.
The digital speedo & rev counter sit in front of the driver, with the steering wheel allowing access to the infotainment system & the cruise control, as well as the heated steering wheel. Underneath the touchscreen sit the heating controls, beneath which are the heated seat buttons & a 12v socket.
The cabin is incredibly spacious, with great leg & headroom in the front & the rear. There’s a decent glove box & large door pockets for storage, plus a deep storage area located inside the centre arm rest. The boot offers 551 litres of space, except the Pioneer Ultimate which comes with 407 litres. Fold down the rear seats & this increases to 1,248 litres or 1,104 litres in the Pioneer Ultimate.
The Pioneer Ultimate being 4WD is the heaviest model on offer, with a kerb weight of 1700 kg’s. Fuel economy is from 33.2 mpg – 41.5 mpg & 170g/km of CO2. The diesel auto in 2WD is around 5mpg better than this & comes with lower CO2’s of 144g/km & would be our choice from the model line-up.
Out & about, the Korando is easy to live with. In town it’s quiet & comfortable, whilst on the motorway there’s enough power on offer to get you up to a decent speed, where the Korando will sit comfortably in traffic utilising cruise control over long distances. For the driver, all of the controls are clear & concise, easy to reach & connecting to Bluetooth or connected Apps is straightforward too.
Over undulating roads or pot holes, it feels firmly sprung, so rear passengers especially, will feel the road vibrations. The Korando is definitely not as refined on tarmac as some of the competition. The steering, at 2.75 turns between locks, is nicely weighted & would be perfect for towing. With a top speed of 112mph & a 0-60mph time of 12 seconds, the Korando offers a relaxing drive, not a thrilling one.
Whilst it’s most definitely a step-up for the brand, competition from fellow Korean’s the Hyundai Tucson & KIA Sportage, as well as from Volkswagen with the Tiguan, mean that you will choose a Korando over these, based on it’s lower price & the range’s high level of standard equipment. You’ll get a range topping Korando for the same price as an entry level Tiguan for example.
In conclusion, the Korando may not be the most refined or capable on-road SUV that money can buy, but, it’s a very capable, well equipped & competitively priced alternative to the competition & it offers a 7-year/150,000 mile warranty as well, always a good thing.