SsangYong Musso (2012-2018) review

The SsangYong Musso offers attractive prices in the UK pick-up market, but it's not as good to drive as rivals

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Great value, class-leading warranty and towing capacity
  • Payload and load bed smaller than class best, poor interior layout, vague handling

After some difficult initial years, SsangYong has properly established itself in the UK, with clear brand values – producing simple off-road vehicles at bargain prices. These values have won the Korean company some real fans – particularly amongst those who don’t really care about brand appeal or design flair. It’s only natural, then, that the company should have a player in the pick-up sector – and that’s the Musso.

The Musso is a double-cab pick-up loosely related to the Rexton SUV. It’s actually an updated version of the previous Korando Sports, with the Musso name a throwback to one of SsangYong’s first proper SUVs, introduced to the UK in the 90’s. ‘Musso’ means ‘rhinoceros’ in Korean, which seems a little more apt for a big, rugged pick-up truck.

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The new Musso is only offered in double-cab guise, with a single diesel engine and a choice of automatic or manual gearboxes across two trim levels, SX and EX. This puts it right in the heartland of the UK pickup truck market, where it competes against established rivals like the Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux and Mitsubishi L200.

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There’s also an impressive 5-year, unlimited mileage warranty thrown in.

From the outside, the Musso doesn’t necessarily look like a budget pick-up, with a bold nose and design creases down the side. Its designers have taken a more car-like direction that sets it apart from its brash contemporaries. Inside, the low quality materials stand out though, even though all models get artificial leather and great levels of standard equipment.

On the road, the 176bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine is impressive , being smooth and relatively refined, but the steering is vague and over-light and cornering roll make the Musso feel a generation behind the class best. Overall, SsangYong’s Musso is a decent truck, but its value is its trump card.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

When fitted with the stiff-shifting manual gearbox, the SsangYong Musso will average 40mpg on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 202g/km. That’s a strong showing for a pick-up and the truck’s combined average only drops to 37mpg with the smooth-shifting automatic installed. These figures are pretty high for the class, but some rivals do beat it. The new Nissan Navara in double-cab auto spec manages a claimed 40.1mpg. It trumps the Ford Ranger, though.

 

Average Van Insurance Costs

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SsangYong Musso: from £425

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These are indicative prices based on a small volume of policy holders who meet the occupation and location criteria noted with Admiral Van Insurance, your individual price may vary. Based on vehicles aged 2015 or younger and policies sold from 1.7.17 to 31.7.18.

 

Running costs for the Musso will also be kept in check by SsangYong’s generous 5-year, unlimited mileage warranty. This impressive packages covers all major mechanical components from wheel bearings to shock absorbers. Wearable items such as clutch discs and brake materials get one-year or 12,000 miles of cover while the battery and paintwork are covered for three-years.

Load Space and Practicality

It’s one of the smaller vehicles in the ‘one-tonne’ pick-up class but the Musso is still a sizable piece of kit.  It comes in at 4,990mm in length where the Ford Ranger, one of the UK market’s largest trucks, is 5,350mm from nose to tail. The Musso also breaks the important 1,000kg threshold, with a 1,050kg maximum payload where the Ranger manages up to 1,199kg. That means it’s eligible to be used as a company truck.

The load area itself is big enough at 2.04 square meters to take a standard Euro pallet and comes with a sturdy plastic deck liner with anchor points. There’s wheelarch intrusion at the sides but that’s normal for the class and the total load length is 1,275mm. As of 2017, the Musso is homogated to tow an impressive 3.5 tonnes, matching the class best but for considerably less money.

Ssangyong offers three load cover options to supplement the standard open load bay. These kick-off with a Sports roll cover that rolls out to shield the load bay contents from the elements, then there’s a Top-Up cover that’s hinged at the rear and lifts to give access. Finally a full hard-top covers the whole load area up to roof height with full glazing and body-colour paintwork. It's likely to be a popular option, as it gives the Musso a more car-like look which will be attractive to private buyers.

Reliability and Safety

As standard, the SsangYong Musso gets twin front airbags, ABS brakes with EBD and ESP stability control with ARP active roll-over protection. The truck is fitted with disc brakes all round and, of course, all models get all all-wheel-drive.

Reliability is a strong point, and is backed up by a class-leading five year warranty. SsangYong's own engines have proven reliable up til now, and even the six-speed automatic gearbox is a trusted Aisin model.

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The 4x4 system is switchable via a simple dial on the dashboard with rear-wheel-drive, four-wheel-drive and an off-road focused low range four-wheel-drive mode offered.    

Driving and Performance

SsangYong fits the Musso with its own engine. It’s a 2.2-litre unit, up from 2.0-litres in its Korando Sports predecessor, that generates 176bhp and 400Nm of torque.  It’s impressively refined, but slightly down on power compared to some rivals in the pickup class that may be fitted with 3.0-litre or even larger engines.

The six-speed automatic gearbox that’s only offered with EX has a smooth-shifting nature that proved a good accompaniment for the unobtrusive engine.  It’s our choice of the range, as the manual gearbox is stiff to use and suffers with intrusion from the central armrest. If you need it, you can take manual control of the automatic via a switch on the side.

Uniquely in the sector, the Musso rides on sophisticated multi-link rear suspension in place of a simple beam axle. That might lead you to expect some finesse in the handling department but the Musso doesn’t really deliver.

Ride comfort when unladen is arguably better than the Ford Ranger's bouncier setup, but the Musso still rolls like a yacht if you're aggressive with the wheel. Cornering on country roads can become alarming, too, because the overly light and vague steering requires constant changes of input at speed. It's not the most reassuring setup, especially when loaded up with over a tonne. That vague helm is a shame, as it lets down the refined engine and gearbox combination.

Cab and Interior

The interior of the Musso has some unusual touches and cheap feeling plastics but you can’t argue with the amount of equipment SsangYong bundles in for the price. It’s just a shame it’s laid out in such an odd fashion, with controls scattered here, there and everywhere.

It’s unfair to criticise the dashboard design too strongly because this is a working vehicle but a higher grade of materials would add a greater air of solidity. There’s a lot to like in the big, round dials and the chunky steering wheel buttons but the carbonfibre-effect trim around the gear shifter and the 1980s-style digital clock do let the side down.

Slim door pockets that are only really suitable for paperwork and a small glovebox mean that the bin under the central armrest is the main storage location in the cab. It’s not the biggest and it’s easy to imagine items spilling over onto the passenger seat. As for rear leg-room it’s just about possible to sit a 6” adult behind a 6” driver which is average in the double cab segment.

Equipment wise, the Musso is strong. Air-conditioning, artificial leather seats, a leather steering wheel, 18” alloy wheels, two 12v power outlets and Bluetooth connectivity are standard in the SX version. It’s hard to see, however, why you wouldn’t upgrade to EX to gain real leather trim, heated front seats and quite a bit more besides. Touchscreen sat-nav is an optional extra at under £1,000 and the automatic gearbox is a £1,500 add-on that most buyers are expected to take-up. 

Van dimensions

Body StyleHeightWidthLength
Double cab 4x41,790mm1,910mm4,990mm

Load area dimensions

Body StyleDepthWidthLength
Double cab 4x4750mm1,600mm1,275mm

(widths are maximum)

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