Car Reviews Motoring

SsangYong Musso Review

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Yes, the pictures are true. SsangYong has built a pick-up truck.

The plucky South Korean brand, which started life in the UK with designs based on the Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUVs back in the early noughties, has come up with something original.

Its early models were hardly fashionable, and SsangYong is barely the Prada of the automotive world to this day, but it has taken giant strides forward in recent years.

The Musso began life in 1993 as a rather ugly mid-size SUV before being discontinued.

But now it’s back, having had a massive makeover – and it’s on sale in the UK.

And, believe it or not, it’s surprisingly impressive and has already won plaudits and accolades.

Like SsangYong’s other cars, the Musso is a workhorse, a veritable powerhouse of features that make it a standout performer.

It is a rugged pick-up that doesn’t skimp on the finer things, such as 17-inch alloy wheels and a DAB radio.

Admittedly, the entry-level EX trim is a little bare, not including infotainment or smartphone connectivity.

That and even the next trim up, Rebel, still only offer manual air conditioning. Still, the one after it – Saracen – gets 18-inch rims, dual-zone climate control, a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, heated and ventilated power-adjustable Nappa leather front seats with driver lumbar support and SatNav.

the Top-of-the-range Saracen+ offers even more.

Under the bonnet is a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine that pumps out a respectable 202PS, part-time four-wheel drive, and a manual or automatic gearbox.

As pick-up trucks go (and, without doubt, as SsangYongs go), the Musso is an attractive car that looks classy but, at the same time, rugged and built for the rough stuff.

It is a brute, no doubt about it, with bold lines giving it a robust look, while the bold front grille and vertical ‘air intake slits’ that house the day running lights add much aggression.

The Musso isn’t a car that you can assess based on the criteria of any regular motor, taking 11.9 seconds (11.3 with the manual gearbox) to get from 0-62mph, which isn’t exactly impressive, but then no truck is judged on its pace.

Nor is it judged by its handling, which is okay but not helped by the absence of any real feel to the steering.

Ride comfort is reasonably good, albeit not great, although the middle ground between softness and firmness gives it a good level of agility in the bends compared with some of its rivals.

It does tend to feel like it’s bouncing around a bit without anything in the loading bay to press the rear down, though.

The automatic increases the towing limit by 300kg to an impressive 3500 kilograms, so that’s worth considering.

It is fine off-road, too, unless you’re tackling a thick swamp.

Inside, the Musso looks much like an ordinary car, so there’s no utilitarian feel that you’d associate with some pick-ups.

There is plenty of silver trim, buttons on the steering wheel, air vents and a nicely sized touchscreen built into the dashboard.

This added to the leather on top of the gear knob with the automatic version, gives it a premium feel, and you’d quickly forget you were in a truck.

It feels high-quality, too, with decent attention to detail.

The infotainment system is an eight-inch touchscreen in the Rebel, and a 9.2-inch HD screen in the Saracen and Saracen+ trims, that’s intuitive to use and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, plus TomTom SatNav with the larger screen.

As expected, practicality is a strong suit of the Musso, with seating for five and ample headroom and legroom for all passengers.

It could be more economical, though, returning only 31.5mpg (33.8mpg with the manual gearbox) and 236g/km of CO2 (220g/km with the manual).

The Saracen+ is available with a long wheelbase, which is slightly less economical still.

The Musso hasn’t been safety tested by Euro NCAP, but I’m reasonably confident it’d do well.

It comes with a safety pack as standard, including forward collision warning, lane departure warning and high beam assist.

Overall, the SsangYong Musso isn’t what I thought it would be at all – to be frank, I was still slightly influenced by the stereotypical motors of old that it produced.

But this one treads the delicate balance of ruggedness and refinement well, offering a vehicle that can tackle a muddy trail and comfortably ferry your family around town.

The Musso satisfies many needs, offering a compelling choice for those seeking a rough terrain vehicle that doesn’t skimp on luxury, especially with higher trims.

It could be more entertaining to drive, but people don’t buy a pick-up for its ability to power slide around corners or tackle motorways.

I recommend the Rebel trim, as it offers many more creature comforts than the EX version, although even the latter, at entry-level, offers great value for money.

Fast Facts – SsangYong Musso [Rebel, automatic] as tested:

  • Max speed:            113mph
  • 0-62 mph:               11.9secs
  • Fuel economy:       31.5mpg (WLTP)
  • Engine layout:       2.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
  • Max. power (PS):   202
  • CO2:                       236g/km
  • Price:                     £34,893

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