THIS is a helluva lot of car for the money. Every time I hauled myself into the Rexton’s vast cabin I couldn’t help thinking just how much the buyer of this giant 4x4 was getting for their investment.

Thirty grand certainly isn’t chump change, but you’ll pay a lot more for a full-fat seven-seater SUV from any other manufacturer. Heck, that’s not far off the RRP of a Nissan Qashqai with a few choice extras.

A Toyota Land Cruiser, the Rexton’s only serious similar-sized rival, costs almost half as much again and if you want a top-of-the-range version you won't get much change from £60,000.

As well as its intimidating size, the Rexton’s no shrinking violet, either.

That gigantic gaping grille and those Porsche-style ‘ice-cube’ LED front lights make the Rexton look like a great white shark when it looms up in the rearview mirror of smaller vehicles (which, to be fair, is just about everything short of a Hummer). This thing has presence by the bucketful. If it were a character in a Marvel film, the Rexton would be the Incredible Hulk.

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Boasting revamped suspension designed to better cope with UK roads, a vastly improved cabin and class-leading towing capability, the Rexton has already become a popular choice among caravanners - and off-roaders - everywhere. All models have four-wheel drive as standard and a 3500kg towing capacity which is more than enough to haul even the largest ‘van onto a campsite.

That’s because the Rexton is based on the Musso pick-up truck.

In the past, this would have condemned the Rexton all the usual pick-up drawbacks - a noisy engine, crummy cabin quality, sloth-like acceleration and the turning circle of a supertanker.

But I defy you to hop aboard the Rexton and identify its workmanlike roots.

The cabin is well made, logically laid out and constructed from quality materials, the diesel engine is well insulated from the cabin and large inaudible at all speeds and even the suspension deals with pot-holes without the bouncy, bouncy motion of a pick-up. Yes, it feels like a premium SUV; only without the premium.

There’s only one engine choice: a 2.2-litre turbodiesel. It makes 199bhp and has a stump-pulling 400Nm of torque.

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It’s still no greyhound because it weighs more than two tonnes but you never feel outgunned on the motorway and there’s plenty of low down power if you fancy going off-road. The four-wheel drive system has a low ratio gearbox for extra traction which should get the Rexton out of sticky situations that would leave posher ‘soft-roaders’ spinning their wheels in frustration.

The Rexton may be cheap to buy, but it won’t be cheap to run. The diesel engine is smooth and relatively pokey, but it has a petrol engine’s thirst for fuel.

The Ssangyong claims 32.9 mpg overall but in town I was lucky if the fuel computer showed more than 20 mpg and the best I ever saw - on a very gentle motorway canter - was 34 mpg.

To be fair, I saw similar mpg figures from the Land Rover Discovery tested recently. Mid-30s mpg isn’t unusual for a large SUV.

Thankfully, the generous fuel tank still gives the Rexton a genuine touring range of 500 miles between fill-ups.

You sit high in the cabin with a commanding view of the road.

The quilted leather trim doesn’t feel (or look) like vinyl anymore and the steering wheel is both smaller and nicer to grip with buttons for the cruise control, infotainment and configurable digital instrument pack. The electrically-adjustable seats are really comfy, too, and are electrically heated (as is the steering) for those freezing mornings when leather is just too cold to the touch. If you move up to the Ultimate specification, the chairs are also ventilated to keep you cool in summer.

Cruise control is standard on all models, along with automatic headlamp leveling (handy if you tow a caravan or horsebox), parking radar, Apple Car Play/Android Auto phone connectivity, a DAB radio module and Bluetooth connectivity and rain-sensing wipers. The sat nav solution is provided by Tom Tom and includes handy speed camera alerts.

If maximum space for the money is important to you the Rexton is unbeatable SUV value. The roomy cabin seats seven and still leaves a split level boot big enough for rucksacks, swimming gear or skateboards.

If you need more luggage capacity it’s a simple job to drop the third row of seats by tugging a loop and pushing the seat backs into the base. The second and third rows both fold flat into the floor creating a massive 1,800 litre cargo hold.

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PERFORMANCE: Cruises nicely at 70mph and doesn’t feel fazed by inclines. ** CABIN: Much, much better than it used to be. Loads of kit and decent materials. ***1/2 PRACTICALITY: Room for seven people and some luggage. ***1/2 VALUE: The 7-year warranty gives you peace of mind and the price is seriously competitive. ***

The lowdown.

Price: from £37,995.

Engine: 2.0-litre/4-cyl.

Max power: 199BHP.

Max torque: 400 NM.

Top speed: 114 MPH.

0-62MPH: 10.7 seconds.

Test MPG: 31mpg.

SUMMING UP: Ploughs a lonely furrow as in the non-premium full-size SUV segment, but offers a lot of space and equipment.

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