SSANGYONG RODIUS | VAN FOR THE BUCK
BY ARIES B. ESPINOSA
The Cyber Grey Rodius unit that backed up at my garage for the test drive is part of the “big three” model introductions by the returning Korean brand in 2016 (albeit, now under the more capable wing of SsangYong Berjaya Motor Philippines). The other two include the entry-level urban crossover Tivoli and compact crossover Korando. Without a doubt, the Rodius is its most massive people-carrier. And I'll get to use the word “massive” a lot here, because, quite frankly, that's the most dominating aspect of this vehicle.
MASSIVE DESIGN MIX
The look of the nine-seater Rodius reminds me of the 11-seater Stavic that once roamed this part of the world. The look evokes that of an SUV crossed with an MPV, but when you get inside, you get the ambience of a van. Despite the four captain's seats on the second and third rows, you still can seat up to nine. But there's a caveat. The fourth row can barely seat full-grown adults, so maybe kids aged up to six or seven will enjoy their time there. Kudos, though, for the massive legroom on the center aisles, which can also serve as space for cargo and luggage. The last row can be folded down, though, so you get a six-seater with the rear used for luggage.
MASSIVE PASSENGER AMENITIES
Except for the cramped last row, everything else about the Rodius' interior can be described as massively generous. There are individual air-con vents for the second and third row passengers, and fold-up trays for the mid-row captain's seats.
MASSIVE DRIVER COCKPIT
The first thing that grabs your attention when you open the driver's side door is the massive center console, instrument panel and infotainment hub, with the seven-inch touchscreen and six speakers. Climate and audio entertainment controls can be found easily, while the gated shifter also offer a manu-matic to better squeeze out more power and torque from a modest 2.0-liter CRDI diesel engine (modest, because for its massive 2,750-kilo gross vehicle weight, or a 1,968kg curb weight, one wouldn't expect a “mere” two-liter engine to be pulling and pushing this).
Interestingly, there's an additional manu-matic shifter at the left side of the gear knob, which may serve as the “paddle shifter.” Yup, in the Rodius, there are all sorts of ways to get to that maximum 155hp and 360Nm of torque.
It lacks a fuel mileage indicator, though, so I had to scrounge around the web, and got an unofficial reading of 16 km/liter on the highway, and 10 km/liter in the city.
To complete the plush ride experience, the suspension system of the Rodius is appropriately fitted with double wishbone at the front, and a multi-link for the rear. You won't spill that morning coffee on your tray.
For the asking price of P1.49 million, the Rodius is a serious option for those looking for SUVs that can do more and be more, or even MPVs that can also do and be more. This big thing should prove to be more than ample for a “tropa” (troupe) of heavyweights, literally and figuratively.
Positives: Massive creature comforts for driver and passengers; two ways to employ manu-matic drive
Negatives: Cramped last row seats; without manu-matic, the car and the drive feel heavy