The Korea Herald


[Test Drive] Face-lifted Rexton boasts powered toughness

KG Mobility looks to cement leadership in pickup trucks, off-road SUVs

By Kan Hyeong-woo

Published : May 15, 2023 - 13:36

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Rexton Sports&Khan Culmen (left) and Rexton New Arena (KG Mobility) Rexton Sports&Khan Culmen (left) and Rexton New Arena (KG Mobility)

KG Mobility, formerly known as SsangYong Motor, is hoping to expand the market size of its long-beloved large sports utility vehicle Rexton and pickup truck Rexton Sports with the latest face-lifted versions of the two signature brands: Rexton New Arena and Rexton Sports&Khan Culmen.

The automaker held the test drive events for the Rexton New Arena and Rexton Sports&Khan Culmen last week with about 100 South Korean media outlets taking part. The 220-kilometer test drive included winding and off-road courses leading up to the Goseong Unification Observatory in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas.

The upgraded Rexton Sports&Khan Culmen, which is sold as the Musso -- the Korean pickup truck’s original brand name from 2002 -- in overseas markets, donned a better look than the previous generation with slick LED headlamps. The newly designed radiator grill and the LED fog and cornering lamps add more boldness to the face of the SUV-based pickup.

Inside the vehicle, the bigger 12.3-inch infotainment screen that replaced the old 8-inch version stood out as the major attention-getter. The rest of the interior was redesigned to offer a broader viewing angle for the driver. The deck of the pickup can load up to 700 kilograms, according to the automaker.

With the 2.2-liter diesel engine capable of producing up to a maximum of 202 horsepower and maximum torque of 45 kilogram-meters, the Rexton Sports&Khan Culmen accelerated powerfully and smoothly and drove with stability on regular roads. The driving was also relatively quiet, unlike a typical diesel-powered engine which makes loud noises during acceleration.

Rexton Sports&Khan Culmen (KG Mobility) Rexton Sports&Khan Culmen (KG Mobility)

The best feature of the new pickup truck was its off-road driving experience, on four-wheel low driving mode. The ascending and descending hills in the mountainous areas of Gangwon Province posed zero problems for the Rexton Sports&Khan Culmen. The pickup truck drove the off-road course with strong control and ensured safety. The Hill Descent Control, or HDC, worked flawlessly when driving on a steep downhill full of bumps and potholes as the HDC autonomously controlled the brake to keep the pickup truck riding at a slow speed to allow the driver to focus on taking charge of the steering wheel.

The Rexton New Arena featured a similar list of upgrades to the pickup truck in regard to the interior of the SUV with the 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen installed on the dashboard. The premium SUV boasted a new diamond-shaped radiator grill along with full-LED four beam projection headlamps on the front.

Although the Rexton New Arena is an SUV, it drives surprisingly well off-road. In a similar fashion to the Rexton Sports&Khan Culmen, the SUV had no issues going up-and-down hills of the mountainous region. The Rexton New Arena’s backseats offered more comfort than the pickup truck when driving on rough paths. However, a downside was that the backseats could not be tilted backward.

The prices of the Rexton New Arena and Rexton Sports&Khan Culmen begin at 39.79 million won ($29,605) and 37.09 million won, respectively, in South Korea. The automaker has not announced the release schedule of the two latest models in overseas markets.

KG Mobility is looking to build on its success from the first quarter this year, when it logged a record-high quarterly revenue of 1.1 trillion won on the back of strong sales from the Torres, a popular SUV launched last year. The automaker’s operating profit and net income also went back into the black for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2016.

Rexton New Arena (KG Mobility) Rexton New Arena (KG Mobility)