Ssangyong Musso long-term test: report 1

The Ssangyong Musso has been our favourite budget pick-up for the last two years. But now we're seeing if it's as impressive when you live with it every day...

Ssangyong Musso driving

The car Ssangyong Musso 2.2 Saracen Auto 4WD Run by Oli Kosbab, senior videographer

Why it’s here To discover if a pick-up can really be an alternative to an SUV, and whether this bargain-priced Musso is the best in its class

Needs to Offer masses of storage for video equipment and be a comfortable place to spend time during the many miles that will be racked up travelling from shoot to shoot

 Miles 1029 List price £33,831 Target Price NA Price as tested £36,306 Official economy 29.7mpg Test economy 26.0mpg Options fitted Luxury hard top (£1945), metallic paint (£500) and rubber mat set (£30)

10 July 2020 – Ssangyong Musso joins our fleet

It's often a surprise to colleagues – and sometimes even to me – just how much kit my job as a What Car? videographer requires me to carry around. Typically, I find myself having to cram stuff into every last nook of an estate car or SUV, so enough’s enough: this time I’ve opted to run a Ssangyong Musso pick-up instead.

The super-cheap, entry-level EX variant is our favourite budget pick-up. However, I’ve stretched to the range-topping Saracen, which gets everything from leather seats (heated all round) to a protective front skid plate.

LT Ssangyong Musso side

There’s an extra-long Rhino version, but I’ve stuck with the standard length, which still has a 1.31-metre-long load bed. After all, even this Musso takes up quite a lot of room in suburbia, as my neighbours have learnt, with its arrival on my driveway coinciding rather unfortunately with car testing and video shoots grinding to a halt due to Covid-19.

But we aren’t here to find out what the Musso is like as a slightly threatening driveway ornament; I want to see how one of the best value pick-ups on sale performs when you drive it every day. With many buyers now seeing a pick-up as a viable and interesting alternative to an SUV, is the Musso as easy to live with as something like a Nissan Qashqai?

Thankfully, now that things are up and running again, it hasn’t taken long for me to see why more and more people are opting for pick-ups as workhorses during the week and lifestyle vehicles at the weekends. I can pile all my video kit into the back with ease and can then use the flip-down tailgate to rest bags on while setting up the cameras, microphones, stands, lighting and everything else that makes our What Car? videos look so good.

LT Ssangyong Musso hard-top

I also ticked the ‘luxury hard-top’ option. This was a necessity, because it not only ensures that gear in the back stays dry and is more secure, but also means that I can take shelter under its large, hatchback-style tailgate on those all-too-frequent occasions when we’re hit by a sudden summer downpour while out on a shoot.

The only other items I’ve selected from the options list are a lick of metallic paint and some rubber floor mats, because there really is a staggering amount of standard kit on the Musso. With modern cars, you expect to get air conditioning, electric windows and even Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring. But cooled as well as heated seats? And a heated steering wheel? I thought this was supposed to be a builders’ tool, not a luxury limo.

It’s not even as if Ssangyong has cut corners by fitting a low-rent interior. There’s a good spread of cushioned plastics on the dashboard and other areas that you touch regularly, while the buttons operate precisely.

Ssangyong Musso interior

So, what’s the Musso like to drive? Well, the ride is mostly absorbent, even if there’s quite a lot of floatiness and bouncing when the load bed is empty. Fortunately, things settle down somewhat with my kit in the back and, like most pick-ups, it would most likely be better still when fully laden. Just don’t expect it to feel all that agile; there’s a lot of lean in corners, and the Musso doesn’t exactly disguise its size.

And the engine? Well, there’s only one option: a 2.2-litre diesel. It’s far from the most sophisticated of things, being quite vocal, but performance seems strong enough to cope with the big trips I’ll be doing. Traction won’t be a problem, thanks to a selectable four-wheel drive system, and the six-speed automatic gearbox fitted to my car is smooth enough.

So far, then, I’m enjoying pick-up life. But will the somewhat agricultural driving experience become wearing over time, or will this be outweighed by the incredible space and practicality? The best tools are the ones that slip easily into your working life, and hopefully the Musso will continue to do just that.

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