This Car Review Is About: The mid and top level 2020 SsangYong Korando. The car has been given a complete makeover inside and out. No longer does it look like a poor cousin to the curvy Korean sourced and no longer available Captiva. Rather it’s now a vehicle of its own styling, and yet there’s a whiff of familiarity as well.How Much Does It Cost?: The three model range starts at $26,990 with the EX, $30,990 for the petrol ELX and $36,990 for the petrol Ultimate. All prices are driveaway. There is a diesel available for the ELX and Ultimate for a $3,000 extra cost.Under The Bonnet Is: A rorty and exuberant 1.5L turbo petrol engine. Power and torque are rated at 120kW and 280Nm from 1,500rpm through to 4,000rpm. It’s got a nature very much like an excited puppy, with a free revving nature, plenty of pull when it’s up and running, and will have the front wheels scrabbling for grip from a hard launch. But there’s a price to pay and that’s at the petrol pump. We didn’t see anything under 9.0L/100km at any time. Ssangyong quotes only a combined figure and that’s 7.7L/100km, an indicator the suburban drive is over 9.0L/100km. The fuel tank is just 47L,
The transmission is a six speed auto and drives the front wheels. There is a transmission tunnel visible in the rear seat section, suggesting the Korando has been engineered for AWD later. And being a six-speeder also means it’s starting to be left behind considering the now virtually standard eight speeds found elsewhere.
On The Outside It’s: Squarer, boxier, and more assertive looking than the original. There’s a hint of Suzuki Swift and Volvo XC40 at the rear with the fin-shaped pillar insert, a touch of Volkswagen at the front with the layered horizontal lines in the centre.A chromed strip runs across in a line just under the leading edge of the bonnet, dipping down under each self-leveling headlight. The Ultimate sports a triple-tiered driving light cluster underneath; the ELX has blacked out inserts. Both have a triple layered set of lines in the main air-intake which echoes the driving lights in the Ultimate.
The rear lights mirror the front, with three chevrons either side and another chromed strip that runs under each cluster. Solid looking black polycarbonate finishes off each end whilst the sides and flanks have heavily sculpted lines to ease a slightly slabby look. The wing mirrors are folding and heated, a nice touch on those coolish, foggy days.
Good looking tuning fork style 18 inch alloys on the ELX have Kumho Crugen 235/55 rubber. The Ultimate has double spiral alloys at 19 inches in diameter and rubber from Hankook at 235/50.Overall it’s compact in size; 4,450mm in total length is shorter than it appears. A wheelbase of 2,675mm sits inside that. It’s tall at 1,620mm and broad at 1,870mm. It’s not excessively heavy at 1,435kg dry.
On The Inside It’s: Classy in the Ultimate, only a little less so in the ELX. The Ultimate has a full LCD display for the driver; on startup two spinning discs become the speed and rev counter displays. The look can morph into a couple of other looks depending on information required.For The ELX it’s traditional analogue yet still good looking. There are options to change the dial lighting and for both daytime and night time running in choice. Sadly the centre dash touchscreen is severely lacking in comparison. No DAB, no satnav, no real menu structure…It’s worse than basic, looks as dull as dishwater, and frankly detracts strongly from the Korando’s otherwise quite enjoyable ambience. The centre stack is piano black, the aircon controls are laid out cleanly, and in the case of the Ultimate are soft touch rocker-switch style tabs. A slightly odd touch is the size of the door handles inside. Very slimline and the kind a slippery finger would easily slide over and off.The manually adjusted for reach and rake steering wheel is on the larger side to hold. That’s not entirely a bad thing as it makes for easier push-pull driving. The Ultimate has it as heated as well, along with the leather seats being heated and vented. For the ELX the cloth clad seats do the job, and nicely thank you, with perhaps both needing a little more under thigh support.Both have a drive mode selector dial in the centre console, with Sport and Winter modes available. The buttons around the gear selector for the Ultimate look burrowed from the brand’s Korean cousins. The tiller is also familiar in look, if not heft.Room isn’t a major issue all round. The boot is 551L and grows to 1,248L. Headroom is 1,011mm and 987mm.On The Road It’s: A bit of fun. The steering and ride quality are twitchy; the steering requires constant input, the Lane Keeping Assist is, like its Korean counterparts, over-eager, and the ride is a little on the firm side. The front suspension crashes through at times, rather than providing initial compliance before dialing out impacts. But the steering is just light enough that you can feel a little bit sporty hustling the Korando through switchbacks and adjust for the slight oversteer and medium range velocities.
Actual engine engagement is solid. As mentioned it’s an eager thing and will happily chirp the front rubber. Once hooked up, there’s decent acceleration from a smallish turbo engine in a decent small-mid sized SUV. The auto, for “all” of its a six-speeder, is slick, changes well up and down through the cogs, and only occasionally felt as if it was in the wrong place. It also engine brakes downhills nicely, and a gentle tap of the paddle shifters at the bottom brings everything back into line.
The brakes are a touch on the soft side. There’s some space between the touch and push before engagement is felt and it’s a soft press still from there. But they do grab and haul up the Korando well enough, and stopping distance can be judged once some time with the car has been taken. Suspension wise, the Ultimate had a “feel” that it was more aligned with the sporting driver.
What About Safety?: AEB or Autonomous Emergency Braking is standard across the range, along with Forward Collision Warning. Lane Keep Assist is standard for all three, whereas Lane Change Assist isn’t for the EX. The Ultimate is the one to receive Adaptive Cruise Control, all three also get Lane Departure Warning, Driver Alert Warning, and seven airbags including driver’s knee. The EX dips out on Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Ultimate also gets Tyre Pressure Monitoring.
What About Warranty and Service?: Warranty is class equaling; seven years and unlimited kilometres. Service intervals are 12 months or 15,000 kilometres and are capped at $295 per service across the seven years for the Korando petrol. Roadside assistance is available for those seven years.
At The End Of The Drive. SsangYong have delivered a pretty decent vehicle in the form of the Korando ELX and Ultimate with petrol power. Sure, there’s some utterly unnecessary quirks but the lack of DAB and satnav is bordering on unforgivable. The poor user interface for the touchscreen makes accessing the apps on smart phones virtually impossible. The upside is the really cool driver’s display in the Ultimate, a ride quality and handling package that isn’t terribly unenjoyable, decent room, and good looks outside.
Some dollars by their marketing arm wouldn’t go astray as the car, and the brand, are invisible to the daily driver. That’s a shame as, aside from the quirks, the vehicles in the range are viable alternatives….or is it the quirks that stop the sale?