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SsangYong Korando (1997 - 1999)

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Introductionword count: 146

The SsangYong Korando may be many things but bland doesn't enter the equation. Its looks will doubtless divide opinion but whether you love or hate its curious styling, one thing's not up for debate - the value proposition. The 4x4 market is overpopulated by tiny tinny 'barbie trucks' that wilt at the sight of a muddy pathway. The Korando is built of much sterner stuff and if you can track one down, you'll be treated to a genuinely tough customer. Get past the challenging appearance though and a used Korando makes a lot of sense. It's based on rugged underpinnings and features a pair of powerplants sourced from a German concern called Mercedes-Benz, who are reputed to know a thing or two about engines. Priced attractively from new, the Korando makes a left-field alternative to a Jeep Wrangler, and one that will guarantee a certain exclusivity.

Modelsword count: 8

Models Covered: 3dr 4x4, 2.3 petrol, 2.9 diesel

Historyword count: 197

You may well become a little confused when it comes to Korando model history. It was launched in 1997 and sold for two years under the SsangYong banner and then from 1999 to 2002 it was marketed as a Daewoo. SsangYong subsequently returned to the scene but only offered the more sophisticated Rexton 4x4. Many think the SsangYong and Daewoo Korandos were identical cars bar the badge but there was quite a bit of difference. Daewoo's designers couldn't resist a little cosmetic fiddling, resulting in new tail lights and door mirrors, with different (but sadly optional) alloy wheels. Take a seat inside, and you'll find new seat fabric and imitation wooden trim for the dash. Under the bonnet, the normally aspirated Ssangyong diesel engine the Korando had campaigned with was replaced with a turbocharged version that boosted power from 96 to 118bhp. The 138bhp petrol powered 2.3 was carried over. As a Ssangyong, the Korando suffered from prices considerably higher than the Jeep Wrangler and above some Cherokee models. Prices were subsequently cut by more than £2,000 to make the Korando a more tempting proposition and the used market has now caught up with this pricing variation.

What You Getword count: 228

Although British designer Ken Greenley may disagree, what you get is a somewhat unusual looking, but incredibly tough, 4x4. It will generally appeal to those who need a serious off-road vehicle but find the Wrangler a little bit too 'Marlboro Man', a Land Cruiser too dear and a Land Rover Freelander too 'Cool Britannia'. The effect of this is slightly odd. From the front, the Korando looks for all the world like a pastiche of the original Willys Jeep, with its twin circular headlamps and separate wings, albeit one which has been squashed from either side. The rear is utterly oriental-conventional, though, with a neat, boxy shape. The overall look is of two different concepts melded together. The engine choices available are both well up to the task. Built in Korea under licence from Mercedes-Benz, the 2.3-litre petrol unit is as refined as you'd expect, but the 2.9-litre diesel, also a Mercedes unit, has proved more popular. Equipment includes electric front windows, electric mirrors, a height adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support, a tilt-adjustable leather-covered steering wheel, power steering, tinted glass, an alarm and immobiliser plus an RDS stereo radio cassette player. Certainly, despite the three-door-only availability, the Korando makes practical sense. There's ample head and legroom for five people, a split/folding rear seat and a respectable 1254 litres of boot space. Try that with a Jeep Wrangler.

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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
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