Monday, January 23, 2006


Back in September, I saw something a little strange on I-10 in Los Angeles. It looked like a RAV4 from the back, and a squashed Wrangler from the front:
Ssangyong Korando RearOn closer examination, you can see it is a Ssangyong Korando, with a Michigan dealer plate:
Ssangyong Korando Rear CloseSsangyong Korando Front QuarterSsangyong Korando FrontSsangyong Korando Front FarSsangyong has very little presence on the Internet, so digging up information was rather difficult. I managed to find a few reviews, and most of them are surprisingly favorable. It seems the truck is built in Korea, and in fact Ssangyong is Korea's fourth-largest auto maker. The obvious resemblance to the Jeep Wrangler is apparently intentional, as the truck was drawn up by a Professor of the Royal College of Art in London who used the WWII Willys Jeep as his basic theme. I would have thought the seven-slot grille and round headlights would have brought the wrath of Jeep, but it has somehow escaped. The Korando uses Mercedes engines, and Borg Warner transmissions and transfer cases. Daimler had a stake in Ssongyang (possibly explaining Jeep's tolerance), but has since sold its stake to Daewoo, the majority shareholder.
None of this explains what one was doing wearing Michigan dealer plates navigating morning rush hour in Los Angeles. It was possibly on a shakedown run in preparation for an entry into the U.S. market, or it could have been on some kind of comparison test for an auto publication, but I couldn't find any mention of it anywhere online. Nonetheless, an interesting sight during the morning commute.

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