We had a chance to drive the SsangYong Musso in early 2020 & in the short time we had it, just 60 minutes, we came away impressed. A longer loan was arranged with SsangYong HQ , then COVID hit & finally, we had the opportunity to drive it in early Autumn 2021. This we felt would give us a more comprehensive overview of the Musso, as it’s recently been face lifted.
The changes to the Musso are centred around a revision to the front-end styling. The front grille now extends from the bottom of the bumper right up to the bonnet line & the front bumper, now has vertical vent details that include a lighting element.
There are no other significant alterations on the outside of the Musso facelift, with the rear of the vehicle carrying over as it was. The new look has also been applied to the Musso Rhino long-wheelbase variant, with a specification update due in the early part of 2022.
As the pick-up market grows, the choice of pick-up’s for customers has shrunk, so SsangYong are hoping to pick-up ( excuse the pun ) some new customers from Mitsubishi for example. Whilst Musso’s pre 2019 were distinctly average in the sector, the latest versions, make a far better fist of appealing both to the user-chooser business owner & the pick-up workhorse customer.
Model range & specs
There are three standard models in the range; Musso EX, Musso Rebel & Musso Saracen, plus the long wheel base Musso Rhino LWB. The range comes with value for money pricing; 22,025 for the EX, £25,775 for the Rebel, £28,265 for the Saracen & £30,025 for the Rhino LWB, all plus VAT.
We tested the Saracen, which share’s much of it’s design & layout with the SsangYong SUV the Rexton, which really is a good thing. Looks-wise though, the Musso is a chunky, narrow-windowed vehicle, sharing the basic pick-up look of the sector, but with smaller running plates & a higher rear end.
Buyers get a very car-like interior & SUV ambience with the Saracen, with the interior featuring Nappa leather upholstery, heated & cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, central locking including the tailgate, 18″ alloys, auto lights & cruise control. There’s a standout 9.2″ touchscreen infotainment system with SatNav, DAB, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. It’s all screwed together well & also feels built to last. It’s not as posh inside as the now departed Volkswagen Amarok or Mercedes-Benz X-Class, but matches the cabins of the established market leaders.
The only thing it lacks is lacks is some of it’s competitor’s safety features. When compared to say the latest Isuzu D-Max, the Musso is found wanting. All models do come with six airbags, but there’s no Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Assistance or Lane Change Assist on all but Rhino LWB specced models.
There are three advanced state-of-the-art infotainment systems.
EX models feature a DAB radio with Bluetooth connectivity. Rebel models feature a DAB radio with an 8” screen, built-in rear-view camera plus Apple CarPlay & Android Auto to connect to your smartphone.
Upgrade to Saracen or Rhino & you can enjoy all of these features and a 9.2” HD touchscreen with TomTom navigation for a great audio experience.
Inside the cabin
The cabin of the Saracen we tested, features an Aux-in socket & a USB outlet in the console, which I connected my iPhone to, to utilise Apple CarPlay. The screen also displays the rear camera image, which is really useful, as the Musso is a large vehicle. Bluetooth phone connection was simple & fast & handsfree calls were achieved via the steering wheel controls. The cabin is spacious, with loads of room up front. In the rear too, three adults will find it pretty comfortable a long as the front passengers don’t push the electrically adjusted seats too far back. Up front,there’s a storage area under the front armrest, a lockable glove box, two large door pockets & a small tray in front of the gear lever for odds & ends.
The Musso range comes with just one engine, which is a 2.2-litre diesel with 181PSb & 420Nm’s of torque. Our Saracen model was fitted with a six-speed auto gear box, which makes life on the road very easy indeed. Lower spec EX versions are fitted with a six-speed manual box.
To try & cancel out that unladen load area pick-up bounce, the Musso has a multi-link setup in place of more old-fashioned leaf spring arrangement. In theory this should reduce the harder rear passenger ride & to be fair to SsangYong, it works to a point.
On the road
The Rexton underpinnings, mean that the Musso is quiet on the road like an SUV & with it’s low centre of gravity, body roll is kept to a minimum. The steering is light for such a large vehicle & on the motorway in particular the Musso is pleasure to be in. Over undulating winding country roads the Musso is also appealing, again handling more like a large SUV than a pick-up, but, on anything bumpy or pot-holed, the rear passengers in particular, will experience an uncomfortable ride. Of course, we spent our entire week with our test vehicle unladen & I have no doubt that if laden, the shuddering would be reduced, but if I was going to be picky, this is the only thing that lets’s the Musso down. Having said that, this is problem in most if not all pick-up’s, so don’t let that put you off.
For this of you reading this who want to know how useful the Musso is as a workhorse, read on. The maximum official payload is 1,095kg for the manual & 1,140kg for the Rhino LWB. The Musso will also tow 3.5 tonnes of braked trailer & will do so with a tonne in the load bed, giving it a gross train weight of 6,750kg or 6,900kg for the Rhino LWB auto, which is very impressive. It’s equipped with a selectable 4WD system; 2Hi, 4Hi & 4Low, but doesn’t feature a diff-lock, although there is a traction control system which should come in useful.
The load bed of the EX, Rebel & Saracen offers a 1300mm load length, by a maximum width of 1570mm. The larger Rhino, offers a 1610mm load length, by a maximum width of 1570mm .
SsangYong also offers an impressive seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty. Fuel economy on the Saracen auto is a claimed 34.4 mpg, with our week in it seeing us return 29.9mpg.
That SUV driving set-up does have some negatives when you need to venture off-road. The 20° approach, 22.5 departure & 20.3° ramp-over angles are low, with the wading depth of 350mm the lowest in the sector And, the bumpy rear ride & the lack of safety equipment really are the only other negatives we could find
Compared to the competition, the Musso is an incredibly good value for money as well as competent pick-up.
In conclusion, a week in the Musso proved what 60 minutes had already demonstrated, it’s really very good. With less choice than ever in this sector it’s well worth considering.