Driven: SsangYong Musso LWB Review

Who would have thought that SsangYong would ever be able to claim to offer a luxury pickup truck, but here we are with a review of the Musso, complete with an equipment list that wouldn’t look out of place in an Audi brochure.

That’s no good if it doesn’t fulfil the brief of being a pickup suitable for commercial use, but SsangYong fits a strong 2.2-litre diesel engine, a proper four-wheel-drive system and suspension tough enough to offer a best-in-class payload. This Rhino LWB model also has an extended load box, offering greater volume.

It does this all at prices substantially lower than its rivals, so what’s the catch? We put the Musso to the test to find out.

SsangYong Musso LWB: Exterior

There’s a strong resemblance between the Musso and SsangYong’s Rexton SUV, and for good reason – the pickup has been developed from the passenger car and shares many of its design cues.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so I won’t be unkind about the face of the Musso. It’s neither bulky or aggressive, as with so many rivals, but it also doesn’t offer a distinctive and stylish alternative. It’s just a little bland, but then that might be what you want.

Muscular shoulders stand above the wheel arches, front and rear, to accentuate its bulk, but there’s a delicacy to it all that keeps it from looking unwieldy. The load box is integrated into the design, rather than looking like a bolt-on afterthought, which helps convey a sense of completeness.

It’s all rather well-considered, even down to the doors. These wrap around the base of the cab, keeping the sills clean and mud-free, preventing marks on the back of your trouser leg as you leave the vehicle. Handy after a bout of off-roading…

It’s not quite as harmonious at the rear, where some distinctive lights flank the heavily contoured tailgate. There are a lot of lines and angles coming together, and they don’t all work well.

And, love them or loathe them, I could do without the huge RHINO and 4×4 stickers along the side.

SsangYong Musso LWB Review
SsangYong Musso LWB: Interior

Stepping into the Musso is always a surprising event. Where you might expect brittle plastics and low-tech equipment, you’ll find plush soft-touch materials and the largest touchscreen panel in the sector.

You won’t mistake it for a luxurious car, but first impressions are that the Musso is closer than many, and that includes the Mercedes-Benz X-Class. This Rhino specification model benefits from extra luxurious items, such as heated Nappa leather seats and steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, a reversing camera and plenty of safety kit.

At the other end of the model range lies the EX, which misses out on the touchscreen system, but still looks and feels more welcoming than, say, a Toyota Hilux Active, never reminding you that you’ve picked the budget option. Still, the steering wheel only reaches for rake, and not reach, unlike the rest of the range, which seems a little stingy.

Rebel models get more goodies (including that heated steering wheel, an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and larger alloy wheels) while Saracen adds leather trim, cruise control, parking sensors, and a larger 9.2-inch screen with navigation. This Rhino model probably has a kitchen sink installed somewhere…

CLOSED: Win Ford Face Masks

Inexplicably, there’s even an option to change the clicking noise from the indicators. Fancy the sound of crickets as you negotiate a left-hand turn? Yes, you can make that happen.

Space is plentiful all around, with rear passengers getting more headroom than usual. The floor is also flat, making it comfortable for three passengers to squeeze into the rear seats, something that you can’t manage in every truck.

Do note that the Rhino LWB tested here might be longer than the standard Musso, but it’s all in the load bay so there’s no more room inside.

SsangYong Musso LWB Review Interior
SsangYong Musso LWB: On the Road

Being based on a road-focussed SUV, you’d hope that the Musso behaves well on the road and, in some areas, it does.

Handling is impressive, as accurate as any of its rivals, with steering that is well-weighted and precise, turning with a sharpness few trucks can match. Body roll is kept well in check too, leaving you feeling confident in the pickup’s abilities.

However, that comes at a price, and that’s disappointing ride quality. To cope with the payload it can take, and to keep the body upright through the bends, the suspension is firm. Very firm. Even a new section of motorway still left the Musso jiggling around, never settling.

Stacking the back with a 700kg payload made a significant difference, removing the ceaseless jittering, but nothing can mask the shake that goes through the cabin as you hit any imperfection.

There’s just one engine option for the Musso, a 2.2-litre diesel that produces a healthy 181hp and 420Nm of torque. Performance is strong, with the automatic models taking 11.9 seconds to hit 62mph (the manual is slightly quicker, at 11.3 seconds) which is as quick as you’ll find this side of a Ford Ranger – or a V6-powered Volkswagen Amarok if you can find any left in stock.

It’s a refined unit, never vocally intruding into the cabin so, ride quality aside, it’s a great truck for a long journey. Pair it with the six-speed automatic gearbox and it’s a pleasure to cruise along, although the manual option isn’t a poor choice. You don’t get the choice with the Rhino LWB though, as that’s only available as an auto.

That smooth and quiet engine isn’t the most economical, with an official economy figure of 28.2mpg. Fortunately, that seems to be pretty close to the mark, with our time with the truck seeing an average figure of 27.5mpg returned.

SsangYong Musso LWB: Off Road

SsangYong has ensured that the Musso is well equipped for reasonably rough terrain, with a part-time selectable four-wheel-drive system. Switching takes a few seconds and is initiated simply by turning a rotary dial in the centre console.

We’ve previously driven the Musso across ice-covered mountain passes and through muddy fields and it’s performed well. SsangYong doesn’t provide the option of a differential lock, but the electronic driving aids are impressive, to a point.

However, the Musso’s SUV origins become obvious when you look at its extreme capabilities. A ride height of 220mm is acceptable, if far from class-leading, but approach, departure and ramp over angles are all at the lower end of what you might expect. The wading depth is woeful at 350mm – almost half a metre less than a Ford Ranger’s 800mm limit.

Isuzu D-Max up for Grabs in FMB Master Builder Awards

Those needing to run a pickup through punishing terrain might want to look elsewhere, but the Musso manages far more than being just a lifestyle accessory.

SsangYong Musso LWB Review off road
Approach angle (°)19.5Climbing angle limit (°)TBC
Departure angle (°)20.5Ground clearance (mm)220
Ramp angle limit (°)20Wading depth (mm)350
Side angle limit (°)TBC
SsangYong Musso LWB: Payload and Towing

While the Musso’s off-road capabilities might leave a little to be desired, there’s no such problem with its payload capacity.

With a payload limit of 1,140kg, there isn’t another double-cab on the market that can carry more. Even the regular ‘short’ Musso can carry up to 1,095kg of cargo (and passengers) but the heavy-duty suspension on the Rhino LWB improves that to a class-leading figure.

Towing limits are set at the usual 3,500kg, but what sets the Musso apart is that its gross train weight is rated at 6,900kg. This means you can tow the full 3.5t allowance while also fully loading the pickup with 1,140g of cargo. There’s no other pickup that can carry its entire payload and tow the maximum trailer weight at the same time.

However, that’s only true of the automatic model. Opt for a manual gearbox and the towing limits are cut by 300kg, with a matching reduction in GTW.

The load bed will accommodate all that cargo, too, thanks to a length of 1,610mm. That’s second only to a Ford Ranger, but by just 3mm. However, the Musso’s load box depth of 570mm will ensure more of your load is secure than the 511mm offered by the Ford. As with most pickups, it’ll easily take a euro pallet in the back, squeezing between the wheel arches without a problem.

SsangYong Musso LWB Review payload
Kerb weight (kg)2,260Load bay length (mm)1,610
Gross vehicle weight (kg)3,400Load bay width (mm)1,570
Payload (kg)1,140Load bay height (mm)570
Gross vehicle mass (kg)6,900Load bay capacity (l)TBC
Towing capacity braked (kg)3,500Towing capacity unbraked (kg)750
SsangYong Musso LWB: Verdict

There are many things to like about the Musso, not least its plush interior and extensive equipment list. However, to get the most out of it, you do need to move up to the top of the range and the resulting £30k price tag starts to undermine the value proposition a little.

Despite that, the appeal of a seven-year warranty that lasts for up to 150,000 miles can’t be underestimated. It’s a mark of SsangYong’s confidence in its product, and how tough it makes the Musso.

Despite that toughness, it’s not strong off-road and that limits its appeal, especially to the commercial market. The flip side to that coin is that the Musso’s towing and payload capabilities are the very best in the market, which could be essential to some buyers.

For those sticking mostly to the road, and venturing no further off-road than into slightly muddy fields, the SsangYong makes a strong case for itself.

It’s quiet, spacious, refined, well equipped and engaging to drive. It certainly deserves more attention than it gets.

Model Tested: SsangYong Musso Rhino LWB Automatic

OTR Price£36,362CV OTR Price£30,355
Reclaimable VAT£6,007CV Price Range£22,355 – £30,355