In the market of family cars, MPVs, AUVs, vans, and SUVs are your best bet if you have a relatively huge kin. The 7 (or more) seating capacity of these vehicles is their primary selling point, considering how Filipino families love going out-of-town and tagging along as many as they can.
The choices among these segments are diverse; you have to decide whether you want style, seating capacity and comfort, safety, or a price tag you can afford. However, what if we told you that there’s a relatively affordable MPV in the market that has all the mentioned traits?
Meet, the SsangYong Rodius. It’s 1 out of the 3 models—including the Korando compact crossover—that the South Korean marque brought here for their comeback. It has 3 variants, that can either accommodate 7, 9, or 11 passengers. To experience what this new large MPV contender has in store, SsangYong Philippines handed over the keys to its 9-seater variant – the Rodius EX.
The SsangYong Rodius does not have your typical MPV nose-down, non-aggressive exterior styling. Upfront, it has that beefy SUV aura – muscular hood, huge headlamps, and wide stance. If this car has been given a higher ground clearance and a more upright bonnet, it can easily be mistaken for an SUV.
In profile, it’s obvious that the Rodius is a people hauler. It’s overall length immediately tells you that it can carry numerous people on board. While its body shape and size is close to being a van, the swing doors tell you that it’s not. Nevertheless, egress and ingress isn’t an issue with its huge doors.
To put things in perspective, the Rodius is a lot bigger than the Suzuki Ertiga, which is one of the most bought MPV in AutoDeal for March 2017. It’s also 15mm longer and 48mm taller than its closest competitor, the Kia Grand Carnival, although, the latter is 70mm wider and has 60mm longer wheelbase. To give you a clear picture of the differences between these 3 cars, check out their specs comparison.
The Rodius’ cabin is a bit dated with a modern touch. For instance, this particular variant’s dashboard buttons and indicators has green LED backlight, which we seldom see in brand new cars these days. The gauge clusters—located at the center of the dashboard—are also analog and lacks the fuel economy meter. These traits aren’t bothersome at all since they are legible and functioning properly, but could be better.
To make up for it, the Rodius is equipped with a 7-inch LCD touchscreen head unit that works like a tablet. In case you want to play music from a separate device, you can connect it via USB or Aux input, while smartphones can be connected via Bluetooth or Wifi mirroring. It's equipped with manual air conditioning, with 9 vents distributed throughout the vehicle. Although, it needs time to cool down the car completely. Moreover, passengers in the back can charge their mobile phones and devices via the 12V outlet and USB port, located at the console in front of the 2nd row.
As for interior space, the Rodius’ big body comes with lots of it. This 9-seater variant has 4 individual seats at the 2nd and 3rd rows, while the 4th row is bench type that can accommodate 3 people. Although the legroom in the last row is limited for adults with 5’6” stature and above, at least now you know where the kids will be at.
What we love about the Rodius is its flexibility in seat configuration. Even with 9 people on board, the space between the seats at the 2nd and 3rd rows is enough for baggage. The individual seats can also be slid and reclined, making sure that everyone will get their needed legroom. In case you need to make way for more cargo, you can fold the last row fully however, that’s less 3 passengers.
Another thing commendable with this large Korean MPV is its ride comfort – not only for the driver but also for the passengers. The suspension at the back absorbed the shock from uneven roads effectively, without compromising body rolls when cornering. Combined with soft leather seats, this made us think if we really want to proceed on driving the car or just enjoy the comfort of being a passenger.
Now, considering the amount of weight that the Rodius can virtually carry, you might be wondering what's under its hood to provide the needed power and pull.
It’s a 2.0L turbocharged diesel engine that can put out 155 hp and 360 Nm of torque. During our drive, these figures were enough, especially on leveled roads. The car was able to pull the weight of 4 passengers on board, along with 5 duffle bags, 2 tents, and a guitar inside a hard case.
Although, uphill roads were a bit of a challenge for the Rodius. Nevertheless, it still did its duty with the tachometer reading 2,500 rpm to complete the climb. Take note, however, that we didn’t drive the car in its full capacity. We’re pretty sure it would be a different story with 9 people inside and their baggage.
You might think that maneuvering the Rodius is hard due to its size, however, we proved that wrong. With its light steering, it’s pretty agile and handles like a sedan. The driving visibility was generous as well.
On the flipside though, one of the things that needs improvement with the Rodius is its 5-speed automatic transmission. It has a bit of a delay in shifting, which spells higher fuel consumption; at lower gears, you will reach about 3,000 rpm before it shifts up. This was remedied using the manual mode, which can be toggled using the switch on the gear shift stick. It was on point and made the engine shift on demand – a great help when we needed to downshift during uphill climbs and when overtaking.
On the highway, the Rodius was composed and stable. It felt planted on the road even on high speeds. One thing we miss, though, was the cruise control. On the other hand, driving through provincial roads was also a breeze. Bumps, potholes, and uneven surfaces weren't much of a trouble with its 185mm ground clearance and soft suspension.
As for fuel consumption, since the Rodius doesn’t have a fuel economy meter, we did the math and got 8.6 km/l for combined highway, city, and provincial driving. That’s pretty decent considering the mentioned delay in gear shifting, vehicle size, and load.
The SsangYong Rodius EX 9-seater has a price tag of P1,490,000, which is P235,000 less than the Kia Grand Carnival. Although it has its own share of imperfections in transmission and interior aesthetics, its SRP combined with its overall ride comfort, flexibility, and at par driving characteristics are enough merits for it to have a high score when it comes to value for money. With that, the Rodius should be one of your choices if you’re looking to buy a car for your family.
Watch our new presenter, Caco Tirona, share his thoughts on the Rodius below: