What is it?

A real surprise packet.

After testing some 20,000 cars or so over the past 20 years, that’s saying something.

SsangYong trumpeted Korando as a real “game changer”.

Well, talk’s cheap and I’ve haven’t come across a car manufacturer yet that hasn’t launched the perfect car.

But I’ve got to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by the Korando, which looks smart, delivers punchy performance and is extremely well equipped for the price.

So, what’s the catch?


What’s it cost?

Prices start from $26,990 for the entry-level Korando EX, followed by the ELX at $30,990 and finally the Ultimate at $36,990 — all prices are driveaway.

They’re all powered by the same 1.5 litre turbocharged petrol engine, EX with a 6-speed manual, the other two with a 6-speed automatic.

The latter is a two grand option with EX and metallic paint is $495 for all.

A 1.6-litre turbo diesel is also available for an extra $3000 wit ELX and Ultimate.

Standard equipment includes 17 inch alloys, cloth trim and manual air, auto lights and wipers, heated auto folding side mirrors, auto high beam, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

They haven’t skimped on safety either, with 7 airbags, rear view camera, Autonomous Emergency Braking System (AEBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Front Collision Warning (FCW) and Reverse Camera — all included across the range.

Our test vehicle, the ELX, adds 18-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Lane Change Assist (LCA), leather steering wheel, smart key and intelligent Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA-i) with braking intervention.

Ultimate ups the ante with 19-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, heated front and rear leather seats, vented front seats, heated steering wheel, 10.25-inch customisable LCD colour instrument panel, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), power sunroof and tailgate and Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).


What’s it go like?

At 4450mm in length, with a 2675mm wheelbase,and weighing in at 1435kg, it’s almost as big as a RAV4 but sits lower, making it easy to enter and exit.

A 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine produces 120kW of power and 280Nm of torque, which is available across a wide range of revs — from 1500 to 4000 rpm.

It’s paired with either a 6-speed manual or traditional Aisin 6-speed automatic, complete with column-mounted gear change paddles, with power transmitted to the front wheels.

Suspension is Mac strut at front and multi-link at the rear, and it rides on 18-inch alloys and fat 235/55 series Kumho rubber.

With a 47-litre tank, fuel consumption is rated at 7.7L/100km and it takes premium 95 RON unleaded.

It can tow a 1500kg braked load and there’s provision for three car seats, with 2 x ISOFIX and 3 x top tethers in the back.

The pairing of the engine and Japanese auto is near perfect, delivering punchy performance, with little or no turbo lag and gear changes that arrive just as you go looking for them.

There’s also three drive modes available: Normal, Sport or Winter, selected via a console mounted button, but frankly it goes well enough left to its own devices.

A rear view camera is provided along with front and rear parking sensors, but the camera lacks parking guides.

The seats are clad in a soft, novel neoprene-like material, with a driver’s seat that is comfy, with manual adjustment for height, slide and recline and a steering wheel that is both reach and height adjustable.

Rear legroom is good but disappointingly there’s no air outlets for back seat passengers.

A deep boot holds 551 litres with the seats up, due mainly to the fact there’s no spare wheel — just goo and a compressor.

A piano black trimmed dash is dominated by the large, aforementioned 8.0 inch touchscreen, which offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity — but not digital radio or satellite navigation.

Two analogue style instrument dials flank a central information screen where your speed can be displayed digitally (and in racy italics for some reason).

It’s push-button start, with a mechanical handbrake and small console box that has a sliding lid.

The console itself includes a small shelf, presumably for phones, plus a single USB port and 12v/120w power outlet.

Lights and wipers operate automatically, but the rear view mirror must be adjusted manually at night.

We were getting 8.5L/100km after more than 400km of mixed driving, a little more than expected but more than compensated by the performance.


What we like?

  • Sharp looks
  • Punchy performance
  • Easy entry and exit
  • Neoprene seat trim
  • Long on safety systems


What we don’t like?

  • No satnav
  • No digital radio
  • No rear air vents
  • No spare tyre
  • No floor mats
  • Manual adjust seats
  • Manual adjust rear vision mirror


The bottom line?

You could do a lot worse than the Korando.

It’s a quantum leap forward from anything the company has offered before.

Korando looks terrific, fit and finish is good, the engine is a keeper, the transmission too, it’s well equipped and sharply priced.

Still not sure? Well, it comes with a 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty, 7-year roadside assistance and 7-year fixed price service — for all the naysayers.

In fact, we’re in the market for a new, compact SUV and I reckon the Korando will be on the shopping list when it comes time to talk the talk and kick the tyres.


CHECKOUT: SsangYong breaks cover with guns blazing

CHECKOUT: Korando a game changer, says SsangYong


SsangYong Korando ELX, priced from $30,990 driveaway
  • Looks - 8/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
  • Value - 8/10
SsangYong Korando: Punches above its weight


Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.