The launch of the all-new SsangYong Musso was arguably last year’s biggest event in the pickup calendar, as complete product overhauls only occur every eight to 12 years.
On paper, the SsangYong Musso pickup has a lot going for it; a 3.5t towing capacity, competitive pricing and a long warranty, but how does it perform in the real world?
SsangYong has long been a small player in the UK pickup market but with huge cash investments from new owners Mahindra & Mahindra, this looks likely to change. The first fruits of this new relationship – the Tivoli and Rexton – have won international acclaim, and the South Koreans now have their targets set on the pickup sector.
The Musso is the only SUV-derived pickup (based on the Rexton) and, as a result, benefits from much higher levels of comfort and refinement.
SsangYong Musso: Exterior
The SsangYong Musso is a lot more appealing than its predecessor, with a more rugged yet stylish appearance emphasised by stretched headlights, a high front-end and chrome highlights. All three trim levels come with colour-coded bumpers and top-level specs will be the only models in the sector to come with 20-inch alloy wheels.
The Saracen trim is identified by its metal front skid plate, chrome side steps, corner bars and mirrors, and – if all those fail – the huge Saracen graphics.
SsangYong Musso: Interior
The cab of the Musso is incredibly spacious in the front and back and offers an abundance of useful storage compartments, including a large central cubby and lockable glovebox, although the dashboard is high which tends to obstruct the vision more than other models.
There are four trim levels on the SsangYong Musso; EX, Rebel, Saracen and Rhino. All models are generously specced, including the entry-level EX, which features 17-inch alloy wheels, six airbags, air conditioning, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, central locking (including the tailgate) and a DAB radio with Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary connections.
The mid-range Rebel adds roof rails, floor mats, heated front seats, imitation leather upholstery, heated steering wheel (a first for pickup trucks), side steps and an 8.0-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a reversing camera.
The top-of-the-range Saracen model has a much more premium feel, with real ‘Nappa’ leather seats, electrically-adjustable front seats, LED positioning lights, cruise control and a 9.2-inch display with TomTom satellite navigation.
Available in Indian Red or Space Black, the Musso Rhino stands out from the crowd thanks to its black detailing, black roll bar, privacy glass in the rear and all-terrain tyres.
SsangYong Musso: Engine and Driveline
SsangYong’s refined 2.2-litre (2,157cc) e-XDi220 provides the power, churning out up to 181hp (4,000rpm) and 400Nm (1,400-2,800rpm), although this is slightly uprated to 420Nm for the auto. There is the choice of either a six-speed manual or a six-speed Aisin automatic which, although smooth, can be slightly hesitant at times.
Ssangyong Musso: On and off the Road
Although the 2.2-litre engines are starting to seem slightly anaemic in comparison to the larger displacements marketed by Mercedes, Volkswagen and Ford, the lighter chassis of the Musso means that it feels a lot livelier than we assumed, and the broad torque spread ensures plenty of flexibility when towing and scaling steep inclines.
The Musso is most in its element out on the country roads. While the engineers have excelled in dampening out noise from the engine and road and providing remarkable ride and handling with the rear coil link suspension, the Musso tends to ‘judder’ considerably on bumpy roads. Going into the corners, the steering is light and accurate, and body roll is minimal thanks to the lower centre of gravity.
We’ve tested the selectable 4WD system (2Hi, 4Hi and 4Low) on a variety of low-friction surfaces, from ice-laden mountain passes to muddy fields, and it has performed extremely well. SsangYong won’t be offering a diff-lock on the Musso, but the traction control system was very effective in cutting-in early and the ground clearance is a class-average 215mm.
In terms of off-road dimensions, however, the Musso performs pretty poorly. The 22.8° approach, 23.4° departure and 20.3° ramp-over angles are among the lowest in the sector and meant we were constantly cautious of scraping the bumpers or beaching, while the 350mm wading depth is the lowest by some margin.
Ssangyong Musso: Weights and Loads
What sets the SsangYong Musso apart from other pickups is its GTW/GCW (gross train weight/gross combination weight), which is rated at 6,450kg on the manual and 6,750kg on the automatic.
This allows the automatic Musso to tow 3.5 tonnes and carry a one-tonne payload at the same time – the only pickup able to do so. Manual versions are restricted to 3.2 tonnes. The maximum official payload is 1,095kg for the manual and 1,085kg for the automatic.
The Musso will also be the only pickup to be available in two wheelbases; although SsangYong UK has stated they will discontinue the lesser popular variant after the first year for simplicity purposes.
The load bed measures 1,570mm wide (1,110mm between the wheel arches) and the two wheelbases correspond to load lengths of 1,300mm and 1,700mm – which would make it by far the longest in the segment. SsangYong has included a durable load bed liner and a 12v socket available to charge tools and machinery.
Ssangyong Musso: Pricing and Costs
While prices have increased considerably compared to its predecessor, the SsangYong Musso still represents huge value for money. Prices start at £19,995 plus VAT for the EX, £22,495 for the Rebel, £24,995 for the Saracen and £28,495 for the limited-edition Rhino.
The Musso’s official fuel economy is rated at 35.8mpg, which is quite poor, although the real-world figure was very close to this; unlike other manufacturers where the claimed figure contrasts greatly with the actual economy. Currently, SsangYong only has 60 UK dealerships although the management plans to increase this to 90 in the next 18 months.
SsangYong Musso: Verdict
From what we’ve experienced so far, it seems SsangYong could well have a winner on its hand. The SsangYong is a pleasure to drive, competitively priced and it possesses a number of class-leading features in terms of loading and towing.