Review and road test of the SsangYong Korando (2017 - 2019)
KOREAN CAN DO MORE
By Jonathan Crouch
SsangYong's Korando is a strong choice if you're looking for a used 4x4 in the mid-sized SUV class offering proper diesel towing power and decent off roading prowess for a very affordable price. If you like the idea of a Korando, you might want to stretch to one of the post-2017 MK3 'C200'-series models that featured a smarter look and Euro6-spec version of the brand's 2.2-litre Euro6 diesel engine. It all makes this car well worth a look.
5dr compact SUV (2.2 diesel [SE, EX, ELX - 2WD & 4WD])
SsangYong's Korando offers an awful lot for the money and always has ever since the modern-era version first arrived here back in 2011 complete with slick Italian Giugiaro styling and a powerful purpose-designed 2.0-litre diesel engine. This was the first SsangYong design to swap a heavy duty ladder-framed chassis for more car-like monocoque underpinnings in pursuit of a sensible school run ride and more rewarding handling. All along with a high specification and pricing that made opposition models look needlessly expensive.
In the years following the original launch, the Korean brand worked on almost every key aspect of this model's design, smartening the styling for the 2014 model year and updating the engine to 2.2-litre Euro6 status at the end of 2015 for the 2016 model year. That powerplant was then updated to Euro6 status as part of aesthetic changes made in 2017, the last package of updates made to this MK3 'C200'-series model. It's these last 2017-2019-era third generation models that we're going to look at here as a potential used car buy. They sold until Autumn 2019, when they were replaced by an all-new 'C300' Mk4 design.
What You Pay
What You Get
The changes made to this improved MK3 Korando model certainly went quite a lot further than is the case with most facelifts; up-front, the bonnet, the headlights, the grille, the front valance and the foglights were all completely new. Take a seat at the wheel and you find yourself surrounded by the kind of sharp, angular cabin styling you'd find in larger, pricier SUVs like Hyundai's Santa Fe. With this revised design, the major interior change was a smarter ergonomically-designed steering wheel, which gave the cabin a more contemporary feel. There's plenty of infotainment technology too. Provided you avoid entry-level trim, that means a centre dash dominated by the SsangYong Entertainment System's informative 7-inch colour touchscreen, via which you access the usual stereo and 'phone functions.
Whatever your feeling on the front seat ambience, you certainly can't argue with the amount of rear seat space on offer. This is the only car in this class from this era (premium brand models included) able to comfortably transport three fully-sized adults on the back seat for any distance. It's this rear seat space that could well tempt buyers of SsangYong's smaller Tivoli Crossover model into this larger Korando - and the same applies when it comes to luggage room. Raising the tailgate reveals a 486-litre space that's 63-litres bigger than that of the standard Tivoli model. If you need extra room, then pushing forward the 60/40 split-folding rear bench provides it, the rear seats folding into the floor with a satisfying 'thunk' and freeing up a completely flat loading area that's 1,312-litres in size.
What to Look For
Korando models from this era have proven reliable, the old problems SsangYong had with vacuum pipes long since being laid to rest. The 178PS turbodiesel engine is a tough unit, but keep an eye on oil levels once a month. Look for signs of neglect from off-road excursions such as battered exhaust back boxes, broken wheel arch liners and hedge scratches on the paintwork. The interiors are also fairly indestructible but the metallic plastic finishes can quickly lose their lustre.
Few problems have been reported amongst owners. A few people we came across had had transmission issues and one owner had experienced the engine light staying on during use. Other owners had experienced a few issues in terms of hesitation and unevenness in acceleration which was solved by correcting a partly sticking EGR valve.
(approx based on a 2017 Korando SE 2.2TD) SsangYong parts aren't too expensive, given that it's a low volume importer. You'll need to set aside around £180 for a starter motor and £140 for an alternator, with tyres costing around £90 per corner. Front brake pads are a modest £30-£45 a set. An oil filter will be about £11, while a wiper bade is likely to retail in the £4 to £15 bracket.
On the Road
Around a third of all Korando buyers are serious towers, members of organisations like the Caravan Club, and you can certainly see why customers of that sort would be attracted to his car. Instead of the feeble 1.5 or 1.7-litre diesel engine you'd usually get from a used mid-sized SUV at this price point, this SsangYong costs less, yet provides a much lustier 'D22T' 2.2-litre unit with nearly twice as much pulling power. The engine - developed in-house by the Korean maker - develops a pokey 178PS. This, remember, in a segment where every other sub-£20,000 contender offers less than 120PS. You really feel the advantages of this torquier engine in terms of pulling power - particularly when it comes to things like towing. This car has a massive 400Nm of torque, which means that it can tug as much as 2.0 tonnes.
That'll sell this car to many potential buyers right off the bat, whatever its other attractions. These people will probably also want the Torque-On-Demand 4x4 system fitted to the all-wheel drive variant. It's one of those set-ups that is constantly able to shunt torque around to the wheel that has most grip so that power is always used efficiently. The flagship 'ELX' variant gets 4WD as standard and offers buyers the option of a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic gearbox. As for efficiency across the range, well perhaps inevitably, there's a slight running cost penalty to pay in exchange for this model's extra capability. Still, it's not too excessive; for a manual 4x4 variant, the figures are 48.7mpg and 152g/km. If efficiency isn't paramount and you're looking at this model, you might be interested to know that SsangYong briefly imported a 2WD 147PS 2.0-litre petrol model in the 2017-2019 period.
'Korea can do'. That's apparently what the word 'Korando' means - and it seems appropriate. After all, it's hard to think of a car maker that has come so far, so quickly as SsangYong. The Korando is the most accessible model the company makes and feels even more class-competitive in this revised post-2017 Euro6-spec guise.
When it comes to things like pulling power, rear passenger space and sheer value for money, this Korando can take on and in many cases beat the best of its rivals from the 2017-2019 era in the Crossover and compact SUV sectors. It's better off road than many of them too. Running cost efficiency and interior quality aren't quite as good though.
In summary, this SsangYong is a difficult option to ignore if you need an affordable used SUV of this kind. It can powerfully tow, will more comfortably transport five people than direct rivals can and offers up plenty of kit on a tight budget. You'll just have to get used to explaining to people what it is. And who knows, you might even end up suggesting that they try one..
SsangYong Korando (2017 - 2019) review by Jonathan Crouch