Ssangyong has updated its flagship SUV model, the Rexton, several times in the last few years. In its latest form, the car is powered by a 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine, which can be mated to a six-speed manual or a Mercedes-Benz-sourced seven-speed automatic transmission. But soon, the current vehicle will get a well-deserved retirement, as a brand new generation is under development.

As seen in these first spy shots of the new Rexton, it will be slightly bigger than its predecessor and will be heavily influenced by the LIV-2 SUV concept that was revealed at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. In its transition from a study to a production model, the car will lose some of the concept's more radical features, like the super sleek LED headlights and the overly aggressive front and rear diffusers. However, the overall shape will be retained and even the slightly sloped roofline will be featured in the production model.

2018 Ssangyong Rexton spy photo
2018 Ssangyong Rexton spy photo
2018 Ssangyong Rexton spy photo

Word on the street says the engine lineup will be carried over and optimised. Expect to see the same 2.0-litre petrol engine, as well as retuned 2.2-litre diesel, based on a smaller 2.0 diesel. This motor will generate close to 180hp and 295lb ft of torque, which will be channeled to all four wheels through an optimised automatic transmission.

Aimed at the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and the likes, but wearing a more affordable price, the new Rexton will benefit from an array of safety and assist technologies. The package will include autonomous braking and lane departure warning systems, as well as a 360-degree parking camera. These will be added to the heated seats, satellite navigation, and parking sensors, already optionally available for the current model.

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Interestingly, Ssangyong might be also working on a crew cab pickup version of the Rexton with two bed lengths and two wheelbase options planned. Details on this project are scarce, but the South Korean company will most likely offer its truck with a locking differential and a selectable four-wheel-drive system.

The new Rexton will arrive before the end of the year and will hit the market as a 2018 model.

Photos: Automedia

Gallery: 2018 Ssangyong Rexton spy photos