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SsangYong Korando Ultimate (2019 - ) Review

SsangYong has really upped its game in recent years going from bargain basement Korean carmaker to a brand associated with producing high quality vehicles that compete on all levels. Now the latest Korando aims to make a dent in the SUV sector

Starting price:
From £19,995 (test car was £27,995)

Why we love it:
  • Practical, stylish and easy to drive
  • Top safety kit across the entire range
  • Excellent 7-year, 150,000-mile warranty
Where it could be better:
  • Powered boot operation was a tad hit and miss
  • Running costs are quite high
  • Brand snobbery


The SsangYong Korando has been around since 1983 and the Korean manufacturer has just launched an all-new fourth generation model.

Billed as a family SUV, customers can select from two powertrains - a 1.6 diesel engine or 1.5 GDI-turbo petrol unit with manual or automatic  transmissions and 4WD available on certain models. 

It can seat five adults with ease and all models are packed with the latest technology and safety systems making the Korando a very attractive and competitively-priced all-rounder.

SsangYong means “double dragon” in Korea and this latest Korando is certainly all fired up.

On The Road

SsangYong Korando Ultimate Review


There is plenty of choice for Korando customers with a selection of engines, transmissions and trim levels, as well as the option of 4WD if required.

Boasting a fresh modern look, the latest Korando is available in four well-equipped trim levels called ELX, Ventura, Pioneer and Ultimate.

We opted for the range-topping Korando Ultimate version powered by a 1.6 GDI-turbo petrol engine and matched to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. This 2WD car, with 163PS and 280Nm of torque, could complete the 0-60mph dash in a fairly respectable 12.01 seconds and topped out at 117mph.

Those figures may not sound the most inspiring, but the Korando is very much a family vehicle with practicality and comfort as key goals rather than blistering pace and speed.

That’s not to say it’s sluggish though as the car accelerates smoothly through the automatic gearbox which is nicely timed. There is enough power for quick bursts of pace when needed for overtaking and it’s a car that cruises with ease on motorways.

There are drive modes called Normal, Sport and Winter that alter the manner in which the vehicle reacts, with Sport livening up proceedings considerably and, in addition, the steering wheel mounted paddles offer extra driver engagement.

Another plus point is the accurate steering with ample driver feedback and the road holding is confident too as long as tight bends are given a degree of respect. This also keeps any body sway to a minimum. 

SsangYong Korando Ultimate Review

Ride Handling

The Korando is a practical compact SUV with dimensions to match, so it’s never going to boast the same dynamic ride and handling of a sportier hatchback. However, it is perfectly smooth on motorways and corners nicely without any pitch or roll.

Entry-level models come fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels but our top-of-the-tree Korando Ultimate was riding high on 19-inch wheels. On some cars this would prove detrimental to the dynamics of the car, but the Korando coped well with undulating road surfaces with only the more severe bumps and dips sending any sort of shudders through the car. Vehicles fitted with the smaller wheels would deliver improved comfort levels though plus more frugal running costs.

In busier town centres, the Korando was fairly agile with a turning lock of 10.7 metres. And the rearview camera, along with front and rear parking sensors, are handy when squeezing into a tight parking space.

Anyone planning on towing a caravan with the Korando should consider the Pioneer model which is aimed at the caravan market. This Korando is available with a diesel engine and automatic transmission with either two or four-wheel drive. The car can tow a trailer weighing between 1.5 and 2.0 tonnes depending on the model.

SsangYong Korando Ultimate Review


Once upon a time, the SsangYong Korando was viewed as a ‘cheap as chips’ model with fixtures and fittings to match. But that was then and this is now. The marque has certainly moved upmarket and looks attractive both inside and out.

Boasting a powerful stance, the Korando looks great from any approach thanks to its rippled bonnet, wide grille, sweeping light clusters, tinted rear windows, roof rails, a rear spoiler, front and rear LED daytime running lights and a powered tailgate.

Move inside and this is an area that SsangYong has given plenty of attention to. Long gone are the cheap materials and dated technology and in their place are fine soft leather upholstered seats with full power adjustment and lumbar support. The seats offer excellent levels of comfort even on longer trips. There are piano black surfaces, ambient lighting and even heated door mirrors with puddle lights.

The infotainment system has been completely upgraded and brought bang up to date and there’s plenty of top notch kit to keep you connected along the way.

The cabin is well insulated and protects occupants from engine, road surface and wind noise with sounds only become noticeable at higher motorway speeds, but even then it is still pretty hushed.

In The Car

SsangYong Korando Ultimate Review

Behind the Wheel

Powered front seats plus a fully adjustable steering wheel means it takes just minutes to find the perfect driving position. And the all round driver visibility is excellent too which is vital because the Korando is billed as a family car and will often feature on the school run with children and parents darting out from all angles.

The latest Korando is packed with high quality fixtures and fittings and there is a wealth of on-board technology to explore. These include a 9-inch HD touchscreen, a six-speaker sound system with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a DAB radio, TomTom navigation, a reversing camera and 10.25-inch instrument cluster.

The leather seats can be heated or cooled and there is a heated leather steering wheel to fend off the winter chill.

All the controls and dials are easy to use on the fly with many systems accessed and controlled via the multi-function steering wheel so no need to take your hands away from the wheel.

SsangYong Korando Ultimate Review

Space & Practicality

Practicality is an area where the latest Korando scores highly. It’s a proper five-seater. Many rival car makers claim their vehicles can carry five adults, but back seat passengers end up being squashed together with the poor individual sat in the middle having to straddle a large transmission tunnel. However, the Korando is 1,870mm wide and that means there is ample shoulder space in the back, along with good head room and only a small raised tunnel in the floor.

The boot has a capacity of 551 litres which is increased to 1,248 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. Our car also featured a powered tailgate - a feature that is only available on the automatic version. This is certainly handy when approaching the car laden down with shopping bags. However, on a couple of occasions, the tailgate failed to open via the key-fob button and had to be opened manually, but most of the time it worked just fine. 

There are lots of handy storage places throughout the car, including deep door bins, a central cubby box beneath the front armrest, front and rear cup holders, pockets in the seat backs, glovebox, a sunglasses compartment and a couple of trays. There is a USB port up front to connect your smartphone and two 12v outlets too.


SsangYong Korando Ultimate Review

Running Costs

Running Costs

The SsangYong Korando line-up starts from £19,995 for the competitively priced ELX model powered by the 1.5-litre petrol engine with manual gearbox. The range-topper is the Ultimate version with the 1.6-litre diesel engine, automatic transmission and 4WD - this car costs £31,995.

Our test car - the Korando Ultimate with 1.5-litre petrol engine, an auto gearbox and 2WD - was priced at £27,995. According to official figures, it could deliver combined fuel economy of 35.8mpg under stricter WLTP testing with carbon emissions of 162g/km (NEDC). This CO2 reading would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £530 dropping down to the standard £145 after 12 months.

Anyone looking for improved fuel efficiency may want to consider a diesel-powered Korando with combined mpg of up to 46.3mpg.

The insurance rating for our test car was 24.

SsangYong Korando Ultimate Review

Quality & Reliability

SsangYong offers one of the best warranty packages in the business covering seven years or 150,000 miles, so clearly the company has confidence in its products.

The latest Korando certainly feels sturdy enough. The upholstery on the range-topping Ultimate edition looks and feels like it has been created using top quality leather and the switchgear is nice and solid.

There is a piano black fascia on the dashboard that looks the business, but may be prone to some slight scratching, but only time will tell.

And there are a few hard plastic surfaces which look a little cheap, but all in all, the interior is a vast improvement on the previous generation model.

SsangYong Korando Ultimate Review

Safety & Security

The new fourth generation Korando secured a maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP rating and is packed with safety systems and  driver assist features to protect occupants and pedestrians alike as well as helping to prevent accidents happening in the first place.

All models are equipped with six airbags as standard including front, side and curtain airbags. There are rain sensing wipers, automatic speed sensing door locks, a tyre pressure monitoring system, Isofix fixtures, a parking aid system, plus a number of autonomous driving aids.

It’s nice to see that even the entry-level Korando ELX is kitted out with all the safety technology, so you don’t have to go higher up the range to gain the likes of High Beam Assist or Autonomous Emergency Braking.

The full list of safety features is Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist, Front Vehicle Start Alert, Safety Distance Alert, Electronic Stability Program, Active Rollover Protection, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, High Beam Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition and Driver Attention Alert.

All Korando models are fitted with an anti-theft alarm with immobiliser to keep uninvited attention at bay.

By Maxine Ashford
Jan 09, 2020

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