Road test: Budget-friendly Exeed RX powers into Middle East

Your cash goes a long way with this futuristic mid-size SUV

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Chinese car manufacturers continue to make inroads on the world’s automotive stage, if you’ll excuse the pun, with the Middle East being a particular focus for their attention.

Whatever you think of that, you’d better get used to it as this is a trend that is unlikely to slow down any time soon.

Now, new (ish) brand Exeed has just launched its RX model in the region.

This is a mid-size SUV, and it joins the manufacturer’s similarly named TX (another mid-size offering), LX (a compact crossover), VX (a full-sized SUV), and TXL (a bigger version of the TX).

If Exeed is a manufacturer new to you, let’s have a recap: This is a brand launched by parent company Chery in 2017 with the specific remit to produce premium SUVs.

Alongside the Middle East, its vehicles are currently available in China, Russia, CIS states and South America, but the company is planning on launching its products further afield imminently.

Back to the RX though.

In short, it proved a surprisingly pleasant, spacious and feature-heavy ride.

It looks good, too.

The RX’s exterior is an imposing piece of design that puts the vehicle right up there with the most striking SUVs around today.

This high-end theme continues when you get inside the car.

Be assured the RX is no industrial pickup, being decked out in two-tone black and beige or black and red leather.

The seating, with lumbar massage options, is comfortable and there is plenty of room inside.

Tech comes in the shape of dual 12.3-inch touchscreens, an extensive suite of driver aides and an 8 or 14-speaker Sony audio system.

It all feels a little like something Lady Penelope out of Thunderbirds might not object to being driven around in if her pink Rolls-Royce was getting a service.

The driving experience is impressive too – a general feeling of contentedness, whether you’re nipping in and out of traffic in the city or getting a bit of speed up on the motorway, is noticeable.

In the SUV stakes, the RX can’t compete with the likes of Lotus Eletre for speed, admittedly (though few can), but you still get some fun out of its power-train.

The car can actually do 0-100kph in around 7.5 seconds, which is distinctly respectable in a vehicle this size.

You get some looks as you zip along in this spacey contraption too – the Exeed brand is still unusual in the Middle East and, while your Nissan Patrols, Toyota Corollas and Chevrolet Sparks wouldn’t get a second glance, the RX seems … well, kind of exotic.


Engine: 2-litre direct injection turbo
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Power: 261hp
Torque: 400Nm
Price: From Dh134,999

A lot of Chinese manufacturers have done well with budget options in recent years and, one suspects, the brands in question have been keeping things inexpensive to gain a foothold in the market.

The RX is a great example of this – whichever way you look at it, a five-seat SUV for less than Dh135,000 is cracking value for money.

If you compare it to a trio of good-quality rivals in the mid-size SUV segment – say, a Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer or Toyota Highlander – the difference in cost is glaring.

So, first impressions show the RX to be a grand, smart-looking product for the price.

It’s worth noting that over the course of a four-day test drive, it was impossible to see where they’d cut corners.

At the end of it, you could only assume they hadn’t.

Updated: November 20, 2023, 10:03 AM

Engine: 2-litre direct injection turbo
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Power: 261hp
Torque: 400Nm
Price: From Dh134,999