SsangYong Korando review: Strong value family car


SsangYong has been responsible for some of the ghastliest car designs of recent times but the new Korando looks good. The medium SUV is also well-equipped, has a seven-year warranty and looks decent value.

Our family test the range-topping Ultimate edition, currently from $35,990 drive-away.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Jules: Okay, I give up. What is it? Something obscure and Chinese?

Iain: Korean, actually. A SsangYong Korando.

Jules: I’m confused. I thought SsangYong made eyesore cars bought only by those with some strange obsession to be different.

Iain: It’s a niche brand, but it looks all right don’t you think?

Jules: Putting my preconceptions aside, yes, it’s really striking in the metal.

Iain: So it’s easy on the eye, but would you buy one? Our range-topper is $35,990 drive-away. The entry EX version is $27,990 and the mid-range ELX is $29,990 on the road.

Jules: That’s comparable to many medium SUVs — the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 included. The Korando better be well equipped.

Iain: Loaded.

THE LIVING SPACE

Jules: All right, it’s rather schmick in here.

Iain: It is the Ultimate. That means heated leather seats front and back, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, digital dashboard, power sunroof and dual-zone climate control. Fancy.

Jules: Wow. This sort of luxury kit isn’t normally seen on SUVs at this price. You could be tempted …

Iain: It’s well-designed and laid out with nice touches such as piano black trim, 8-inch colour touchscreen and soft-touch plastic dash top. Cheap, hard plastic on the doors lets the side down, though.

Jules: And with all those inclusions, weirdly no power for the front seats. And, sinfully, no air vents for the kids in the back. In a family-sized SUV?

Iain: I know.

THE COMMUTE

Jules: Let’s start with the good stuff. The seats are supportive, the customisable digital dash is superb and I feel spoiled with my heated bum and hands as I cruise along with radar cruise control.

Iain: It feels competent on the highway and despite its large 19-inch wheels and skinny tyres it absorbs most bumps well. There’s a bit of tyre noise, but otherwise it’s quite cosseting.

Jules: Okay, let’s get mean. There’s not much power to play with, and this thing drinks like a fish.

Iain: True. We averaged 10.4L/100km, it needs premium 95 fuel and it has a titchy 47-litre fuel tank.

Jules: While its safety list is impressive, the lane-keep assist is very beepy and aggressively pulls you back into lane.

Iain: And the indicator noise in the cabin. You’d have to hear it to understand, but it’s a horrendous pop, pop racket that belongs on 1980s buses.

THE SHOPPING

Jules: All is forgiven when you’ve armfuls of shopping and the tailgate opens automatically. Man’s greatest invention since the combustion engine.

Iain: It has a decent boot too. At 551 litres, it trumps most rivals and there’s a false floor for extra storage. Unfortunately, that space is created by the lack of a spare wheel. There’s just a repair kit.

Jules: The resolution is great through the screen for reverse parking, plus there are sensors all around and rear cross-traffic alert prevents you from backing into traffic. Idiot proof.

SUNDAY RUN

Iain: The Korando can’t compete with the leading rivals on the road. The engine and roadholding are below par.

Jules: The four-cylinder is often sluggish and at low speeds the gearbox is lazy.

Iain: It’s hard to do a smooth takeoff around town and the turbo four-cylinder lags when you want to move. There’s a Sport button that I swear is a placebo and despite steering wheel paddles it refused at times to let me drop gears for more revs.

Jules: Anything else, angry man?

Iain: Yep. Don’t go into a corner too fast. It isn’t brilliant at changing direction and the tyre grip isn’t flash. It will spin the front wheels pulling away unless you’re gentle on the throttle. In the wet, the tyres are not good at all. A shame.

Jules: I think you’re being harsh. It’s a family SUV so most will be happy with its around-town manners.

THE FAMILY

Iain: Okay, the kids don’t have rear air vents but they do have reclining heated seats and loads of room. They were happy.

Jules: 5-star safety, seven airbags and driver aids are everywhere — non-negotiables for this mum. But the nannying beeping all the time drove me mad.

Iain: It’s cheap to buy and there’s a long seven-year warranty, but the first five services total $2385 and that thirsty engine means running costs will be high.

Jules: The Korando’s big enough for kids’ bikes in the boot, and we stuffed in enough kit for a family holiday.

THE VERDICT

Iain: Overall, a great effort for the money. Huge equipment list, nice looking and some impressive luxury. But it’s not great to drive so sorry, as tempting as the price is, I’d look elsewhere.

Jules: I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The leather cabin, luxuries, brilliant digital dash and sharp styling have won me over, but it is a bit jerky to drive in town. It’s an out-there choice, but not a bad one at all.



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