Published on April 30th, 2013 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Ssangyong Rexton RX290 Diesel 2003 used car review

The SsangYong Rexton first arrived in Malaysia in 2003 showing of its rugged looks and superior Mercedes engineered underpinnings with much success. It had a tried and tested 2.9-liter Mercedes diesel engine that was detuned to work with our low quality diesel. With frequent filter changes and good after sales, the RX290 showed little problems and quickly become a favorite SUV with many owners as it had family friendly features and middle class pricing. Some first owners have now upgraded to the next generation RX270 and others have moved on to more expensive SUV’s I suppose. Aesthetically, the Rexton pleases. Inside and out, the attention to detail is impressive and the level of automation, while setting no new standards is well worth the value. Power everything on the inside and soft leather and plastics look good when new. Time and type of usage will result in deterioration. This early Rexton was a stylish high quality 4WD Sports Utility Vehicle that offered a long list of appointments, quiet on road performance, car-like handling, and yet rugged off-road capability. It can be configured to seat seven people (5 adults and 2 kids) all facing forwards, or as a five seater for more luggage space.
The Rexton was available in two different versions, signified by its engine. The RX290 was powered by a 2.9 litre five-cylinder turbo diesel engine while the RX320 had 3.2 litre six cylinder engine, both available with a four-speed automatic and licensed from Mercedes-Benz. Today a used ten year old diesel powered Rexton RX290 can be yours for as low as RM20,000 with mileage between 180 to 200K. Spares are not a problem and the looks for me are better than the newer facelift.
On the inside of a used RX290 you need to check and see if the leather seats still look good and all the electronics work without a hitch, however the in car entertainment could have suffered some speaker fatigue from some abuse. The very plastic feel to the wooden finish and the rest of the trim should have stood the test of time and passenger abuse. Some trim bits will not test time and the soft comfortable leather might deteriorate if care is not applied by the owner. Regular use of leather care is recommended. The stereo controls are inbuilt into the steering wheel and you just simply move your thumbs to operate it while firmly holding the wheel with both hands.  On the road the RX290 diesel should not disappoint on the move as well as its consumption figures. A downside in city traffic is the relatively low turning circle of 11.2 meters but it has very good ground clearance of 220 mm at the front and 200 mm at the back make it easy to climb kerbs in the city where necessary.
It’s interesting to note that the luggage space can be accessed either through the boot door hinged at the top, or by opening the rear window individually. It also doubles up as additional 3rd seating for children only. There are a/c vents for them also. Early Rexton interiors are very durable, thus even a 10-year-old family owned unit would have minimal wear on the interior. However there have been cases where some can be exposed to plastic fatigue in the wrong hands. Generally when examining a unit take a tour of all three rows and make sure all latches and switches are working without any hesitation. Also ensure that the electrics are all in order. They also have very few mechanical weaknesses except when it comes to the gearbox which could cost up to RM14k to replace so please check with a through test drive and a written report from a reputable Ssangyong 3S center before paying. Look out for excessive wear on the front tyres, which can often be caused by the front track going out of adjustment; beware, too, of seized brakes on the rear of early models, usually the result of inadequate maintenance and wrong product purchase from spare part dealers. Always better to service and maintain your cars at the approved service centers even if a little more expensive. Chassis, paintwork, panels and interior trim are all hardwearing, and only off road abused or neglected examples should show problems in these areas.

For the used asking price you get a diesel powered 7-seater family SUV that could well see you another 3-4 years of motoring bliss as long as a proper maintenance regime is followed.

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