By on October 11, 2016

By Minseong Kim (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

America’s unhealthy obsession with crossover vehicles has led to Ssangyong Motor Company’s decision to enter the U.S. market by 2020.

The Korean manufacturer has hinted at, and even announced, plans to come to America before with no resulting action. This time, things seem a little more realistic, with Automotive News reporting that the company is designating two small SUVs for the United States — the Tivoli and Korando — and giving itself a slightly longer timeline.

Ssangyong’s Tivoli competes with the Kia Soul in Europe and has received moderate praise and decent success. The Korando is slightly larger and will theoretically be going up against the Honda CR-V or, more realistically, Nissan Rogue in the American market. The Tivoli will be updated while the Korando will be an entirely new version of the old vehicle. While these Korean compact crossovers have been praised for affordability and function in Europe, neither will be winning awards for refinement or style in their current forms.

Ssangyong CEO Choi Johng-sik explained the plan to Automotive News at the Paris Auto Show. “America is very, very competitive, so we need to build a good brand,” he said. “That’s why we’re now preparing completely new products.”

Selling vehicles primarily equipped with diesel motors in Europe, Ssangyong is also developing two turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engines for use in their U.S. vehicles. One will be a 1.5-liter engine making 162 horses, the other a 2.0-liter unit rated at 220 hp.

With small SUV and crossover sales more popular than ever, it certainly seems like the right time to get in on the action. But Ssangyong has a long way to go before that happens. The company still has to produce the new cars, pass emissions requirements, ensure they meet U.S. safety regulations, sort out distribution, and come up with a snazzy U.S.-based marketing strategy. That’s a lot to do for a company that has not produced a profit since 2001.

I guess we’ll see what happens.

[Image: Minseong Kim/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)]

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51 Comments on “Ssangyong Hopes to Inject More Mediocre Crossovers Into the U.S. Market...”

  • avatar

    -They’re the most junky S. Korean car maker.
    -Continually have experienced financial trouble, strikes, etc.
    -Relied for a very long time on quite old Mercedes components to make their newer cars (I think they still do this).
    -Have a long history of producing hideous things. (
    -Seeing older ones in Korea, their cars sorta-kinda fall apart on a trim/appearance basis.

    And finally…

    Why choose this maker over Hyundai or Kia? They’re much less reputable, would have worse dealer support and name recognition, and resale value would be cliff-face.

    We don’t have Proton or Chinese Great Wall or Indian cars here, and we certainly don’t need Ssangyong either. Yuck.

    • 0 avatar

      For the same reason some folks bought Daewoo cars, they sucked even worse.Albeit still better than the Chinese who will eventually make it to the US market.

      • 0 avatar

        I had a Daewoo in South Korea for about 9 months. It was terrible.

        • 0 avatar

          “-Continually have experienced financial trouble, strikes, etc”

          And which Korean automaker hasn’t? Kia even went bankrupt before being gobbled up by Hyundai.

          “-Have a long history of producing hideous things.”
          Yep, that’s why I didn’t buy a Corvette, because the same company once made the Aztec. Ugly cars no longer in production certainly should damn the automaker forever.

          “-Seeing older ones in Korea, their cars sorta-kinda fall apart”
          Right, because every Kia Sephia is still running around perfectly with no issues. Its a fact that because an automaker once built poor quality cars, they will ALWAYS build poor quality cars. That’s why the Q976705 or whatever is such a terrible, underperforming, slow, noisy and cheaply built car, just like the Datsun B210. And every Civic has blown head gaskets and produce 60 hp, just like they did in ’77. Nobody improves. Ever.

      • 0 avatar

        People still buy Daewoos in the US, they are just called Chevys now.

        • 0 avatar

          Oh, don’t let GM fanboys see your note, they will tell you over and over again: There is no Daewoo any longer, it is now GM Korea, repeat after me: G M K O R E A

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            I’m not a GM fanboy, but to be honest, the fanbois are right. GM Korea may have led product development on the Cruze, Sonic and Spark, but they are global products using global components and global platforms. I wouldn’t call them Daewoos, or even Korean.

            The aforementioned vehicles are a far cry from the old Aveo (I believe the Sonic is still called Aveo in Korea), which very clearly *was* a Daewoo, as it shared no parts, interfaces or platforms with any GM cars; in fact, it had been in development by Daewoo prior to GM’s takeover of the company.

          • 0 avatar


            Don’t let facts screw up the hate fest. Everyone knows the new Cruze is just a Daewoo built from recycled Leganzas and model airplane glue. Hyundais designed and built in Korea get a pass because they’re “good” now (except I still see fairly late model Hyundai/Kia products under $2k with major mechanical issues like blown trans or knocking engine). But a car sold by GM? Garbage!

            not a GM fanboi.

          • 0 avatar
            Guitar man

            Spark was developed from a Geo, Daewoo had nothing to do with it at all.

            The Cruze is All-American and doesn’t share a single component with any Korean designed car at all. Enjoy !

            The fact that these posters are talking about a company that ceased to exist fifteen years ago tells you how old and crotchety they are.

          • 0 avatar

            @Guitar Man. Not quite the story
            “Before the release of the global Chevrolet Cruze compact car in 2008, General Motors made use of the name “Cruze” between 2001 and 2008 in Japan. Announced as the Chevrolet YGM1 concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1999, the original Cruze was derived from the subcompact Suzuki Ignis five-door hatchback (known as the Suzuki Swift in Japan).[1][2] Despite the Chevrolet branding, the YGM1, like the production car, was the work of GM’s Australian arm, Holden.[3][4] Along with the styling, Holden executed most of the engineering work and were responsible for devising the “Cruze” nameplate.[1] The Cruze came either with a 1.3- or 1.5-liter engine coupled to either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions.”

  • avatar

    Like CoreyDL, I don’t see the point, unless they want to be the South Korean Yugo. And yes, the Rodius is stunningly (or should I say Sstunningly?) ugly.

  • avatar

    But hey…it’s a CUV/SUV, so it’ll sell here in America, right?

    And I always loved seeing the “Great Wall” name on the back of any number of small trucks running around Riyadh, usually fairly clapped out. Yeah, going to have to pass on both.

  • avatar

    Remember that SsangYong is owned by Mahindra

    This strikes me as SsangYong executives trying to show their corporate overlords a half-credible plan for growth in the face of limited product investment and a saturated domestic market. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “That’s a lot to do for a company that has not produced a profit since 2001.”

      I would going to guess that SK government subsidies were keeping them afloat, but the Mahindra connection helps explain how 15 years of losses is possible.

      • 0 avatar

        Mahrinda has only owned Ssangyong since 2011.

        Previously was owned by Chinese SAIC which basically did little but steal the IP and before that, was owned by the other Indian automaker, Tata.

        Supposedly close to turning a profit due to the success of the Tivoli and its offshoots.

    • 0 avatar

      Good luck getting any USA dealers to represent a product owned by Mahindra. They left over 300 dealers high and dry when they tried to bring their trucks into the USA a few years ago … and then pulled out immediately after they got their Certifications!

  • avatar

    “America’s unhealthy obsession with crossover vehicles”

    Swell, another angry rugrat take on CUVs.

    Surrender, rugrat! All is resistless!

  • avatar

    uh-oh, I think Ssangyong just top-ticked “Peak Crossover.” Economic apocalypse in 2020, stock them cans of SPAM.

    (being part facetious, part serious) …there are always anecodotes of corporations making extremely boneheaded moves at inflection points in the business cycle.

  • avatar

    Somebody didn’t get the memo on too many brands.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge


      “One of these things is not like the others,
      One of these things just doesn’t belong,
      Can you tell which thing is not like the others
      By the time I finish my song?”

      • 0 avatar

        They said that about H/K too, though. And they said it about Honda before that.

        • 0 avatar

          “And they said it about Honda before that.”

          Nah. I lived the Japanese invasion and for all the vituperative jealousy and hatred it roused no one ever mentioned market clutter.

          There were only the Big 3 plus VW and the early stirrings of Volvo’s popularity during that period.

          What every American *did* know was that Japan had pulled-off another Pearl Harbor or Fall of Singapore by a masterly exercise or hit-’em-where-they-ain’t.

          • 0 avatar

            “no one ever mentioned market clutter.”

            I wasn’t referring to market clutter; I was responding to the “which one of these is not like the other” thing – the quality dig.

        • 0 avatar

          Honda cars were immediately the gold standard of small cars in the US. The only quality problem was rust, but no one was really good in the Seventies for rust.

          • 0 avatar

            Really? And the head-popping 1.2L just didn’t exist?

            Early Japanese cars were just as poorly built as everything else. It wasn’t until the 1980s that they improved dramatically.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          I am not saying that Ssangyong’s quality is poor. It may or may not be garbage. I don’t know. I’m saying that the brand has zero reputation in a market that doesn’t really need anymore brands. The entrenched and crowed field is on their game and isn’t as vulnerable as the big three were in during Hyundai and Kia’s rise to US respectability.

  • avatar

    PS, Ssangyong needs to drop Ssangyong and switch its name to anything else—use Mahindra or call itself Tivoli.

    Ssangyong doesn’t roll off the tongue and easy bet that most people would think tha Ssangyong is Chinese a 99% of Americans have never heard of an Indian-Korean car maker.

  • avatar

    They need a bicycle rack on the hood to match that door handle on the fender.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    For a couple of thousand more I would buy a CRV, RAV4, Santa Fe, or Sorento. These vehicles would have to be at least 10k cheaper to even consider and then I don’t know if they would still be worth it. There are much better products out there. I would even take a Mitsubishi Outlander before I would consider these.

  • avatar

    Saw a number of these in Costa Rica recently — and admittedly I thought they were Chinese. They may have been rentals. In person they were kinda not ugly. Also saw a twenty-plus-year-old SUV with a Ssangyong badge on it. And… a Great Wall Motors Wingle 5 pickup. That was a new one for me!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Ssanyyong looks like Samsung. Could this be the next literally hot product on the market after Samsung Smart Phones?

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