What Car? says...
The Ssangyong Musso pick-up truck is a great example of how less can sometimes be more. How so? Well this double-cab truck is one of the cheapest around, but you'd be hard-pressed to notice.
So, if you’re a regular pick-up truck driver, you’re liable to be very impressed by just how refined and comfortable it is, and if you’re making the switch from a regular car or SUV you’ll likely be slightly surprised at just how smooth, quiet and well-equipped it is. And that’s before you get to the company car taxation benefits.
Why should a company car user-chooser look at such a pick-up? Tax, pure and simple. Pick-ups such as the Ssangyong Musso are able to carry passengers and more than 1000kg of cargo, which means they are liable to a flat benefit-in-kind rate that undercuts even those of most plug-in hybrid cars, regardless of the pick-up’s official emissions. That’s a big reason why there are more and more of them around these days.
The Musso stands out from the rest of the pick-up pack by being offered only as a double cab, which means it has four full-sized doors. Rivals such as the Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max and Toyota Hilux can also be bought as two-door single-cab or extended-cab models.
Ssangyong sells two versions of the Musso, with different load bed lengths – 1300mm and 1610mm. The shorter model has a payload of up to 1105kg while the longer version can carry 1205kg. In addition, the Musso can tow a trailer of up to 3500kg and, better still, it can do this with a full payload on board – something no rival can manage.
So, you’ll have gathered that we think the Ssangyong Musso is rather good, but read on over the next few pages of this review to find out just how good. You’ll see how it rates against its major rivals for performance, handling, interior quality, running costs and more. We’ll also tell you which model of Musso is the one you should go for.
When you’ve chosen your next vehicle, we can help you lease it for the best price if you search the deals on our free What Car? Leasing section. We can also help you save thousands off the list price of most new makes and models of car through our free What Car? New Car Deals pages.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Ssangyong Musso’s 2.2-litre diesel engine is pleasingly strong, so it feels perfectly comfortable whether you're driving in town or out on the open road.
It's not remotely fast, though – 0-62mph takes 11.9sec with an automatic gearbox and 11.3sec with a manual. That’s quicker than some pick-ups, but the 2.8-litre Toyota Hilux and punchier versions of the Ford Ranger soundly thrash it. Nevertheless, it’s quieter than nearly all rivals when pushed hard.
We’d pick the six-speed automatic gearbox over the perfectly pleasant manual alternative, despite its occasional hesitancy when swapping gears. Why? Because it has a towing limit of 3500kg, against the manual version’s (still-impressive) 3200kg, which up there with the most muscular pick-ups.
Sadly, the steering in the Musso isn’t particularly pleasant to use, with inconsistent weight and a vagueness as you start to turn the wheel that really reminds you this in a utility vehicle, not an SUV. The Ford Ranger has much smoother steering and feels more car-like as a result.
Body roll is reasonably well controlled, helping to keep the Musso stable through corners, almost to the point where you could describe it as being nimble. That resistance to lean comes at a price: poor ride quality.
To prevent pitching and rolling in corners, and to cope with really heavy loads, Ssangyong has fitted stiff suspension. The result is a ride that's lumpy and unsettled on anything other than the smoothest sections of motorway. You feel plenty of shudders over lumpy Tarmac, along with kickback through the steering wheel, which can be disconcerting if you hit a mid-corner bump.
We tried the Musso with a 700kg stack of bricks in the load bay, and that extra weight did help settle things down a bit. There was still plenty of shudder through the body over imperfections in the road, though.
Longer Rhino models get heavier-duty leaf springs instead of the more car-like coil springs of shorter models. Although the Rhino's ride isn't any worse as a result, the way it shudders over bumps and crevices is similarly irksome.
Those shudders also make the Musso feel the least comfortable off road, and can lead to you going quite slowly. That’s far from ideal because you need momentum to make up for its lack of traction relative to the Toyota Hilux and Isuzu D-Max. Indeed, the Musso was the only pick-up that managed to get stuck on our off-road test route
The interior layout, fit and finish
Given the Ssangyong Musso’s low price, you might expect the interior to look and feel somewhat low rent, but it doesn't. There’s a good spread of soft-touch plastics on the dashboard and other areas that you touch regularly, and the buttons operate precisely.
Lower down on the dashboard, you'll find some harder plastics that aren't as well finished, but it’s unlikely that you’ll come into contact with these regularly – and this is a pick-up after all. All-in-all, it’s one of the plusher interiors in the class, rivalling even high-spec versions of the Ford Ranger.
You sit high up in the Musso, which makes for a commanding view of the road with very good visibility. We would like to see far brighter LED headlights because the halogen headlamps are rather dim for night driving.
Judging the proportions is simple and the deep side windows make easy work of negotiating roundabouts and T-junctions. Rearward visibility isn't usually a strength of pick-ups, but the Musso has a huge rear screen and thin rear pillars that help, although the high tailgate can lead to cars being lost behind you. If you want front and rear parking sensors, you’ll need either a Saracen or Rhino trim.
If you go for entry-level EX trim, Ssangyong gives you a basic DAB radio with Bluetooth. Stepping up to Rebel adds an 8.0in touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity.
If you want the range-topping 9.2in infotainment system (which also features sat-nav), you’ll need either the Saracen or Rhino trim level. Both sizes of touchscreen are responsive, have sharp graphics and are straightforward to navigate, although some of the display icons are rather small.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The front of the Ssangyong Musso has plenty of head and leg room, and the interior is really wide, so you won't be clashing elbows with your passenger. There's a big storage area under the armrest, big door pockets and a tray for odds and ends in front of the gear lever.
The back seats are pretty roomy, too. Head room is good for all three rear passengers, and there’s a nice flat floor for the middle occupant's feet, with decent foot room for the other two. That said, tall adults in the outer seats might find their knees brushing the front seatbacks, and the middle passenger has a slightly protruding backrest to contend with. Despite being longer, the Rhino has no more interior space than the smaller versions.
The Rhino’s load bed is where it has an advantage. There’s an extra 30cm of length, plus a payload weight limit of 1140kg. That weight is matched by the (plush or practical) two-door Ford Ranger XL.
Like pick-up rivals, all Mussos will take a standard European cargo pallet between their wheelarch intrusions. Standard length Mussos have a maximum payload of 1105kg with a manual gearbox or 1095kg with an automatic, better than all but the XL and XLT Rangers. The Musso can carry its maximum payload at the same time as pulling its maximum towing weight, though – and that’s something rivals can’t do.
Other practical touches include a standard plastic bedliner, a 12V/120W socket in the load bay for use with power tools and the like, and a selection of hooks so you can strap things down. There are numerous other cargo accessories on the options list, including a lockable roll-top cover.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The cheapest Ssangyong Musso – in EX trim – looks startlingly good value against its rivals. However, unless you're planning to use your pick-up solely as a working vehicle, we recommend going for the Rebel. It comes with a lot more kit, including 18in wheels, roof bars, side steps, a rear camera, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel and the 8.0in infotainment system.
The range-topping Saracen is still surprisingly good value and adds leather seats (versus the faux leather ones in the Rebel), cruise control, heated rear seats and a front skid plate. Rhino sits at the top of the range, featuring the longer bed and rear privacy glass, but replacing the 18in wheels with 17in.
The fact that the Musso’s engine isn’t particularly competitive on CO2 emissions won’t worry company vehicle buyers too much because pick-ups are classed as light commercial vehicles and are taxed at a single flat rate. If you're a private buyer, be warned that its depreciation is steep compared with rivals such as the Toyota Hilux.
As you might expect from such a large vehicle, fuel economy is nothing special, with the trip computer giving mpg readings in the high 20s at best. That's true of most of its rivals, though.
Ssangyong claims that the Musso is “one of the toughest pick-ups on the market” and backs this up with a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty. That's good news for buyers planning to use their Musso as a serious workhorse.
The Musso isn’t the most sophisticated vehicle, and that’s reflected in the safety equipment. All models come with six airbags, but there’s no automatic emergency braking (AEB) or road-sign recognition on any version. Blind-spot assistance and rear cross-traffic alert are available on Saracen and Rhino models. We’re still waiting to find out how the Musso fares in Euro NCAP safety tests and a Thatcham security assessment.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
Nope, not any more. The previous-generation model did, but the current model features the e-XDi220 engine, which has been designed and built by Ssangyong itself. This is linked to either a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, or an optional six-speed automatic transmission.
Standard-wheelbase models with the manual gearbox can officially manage 33.8mpg, while models with the six-speed automatic transmission return 31.5mpg. The long-wheelbase model, which has the auto as standard, officially manages 30.8mpg.
It’s a decent 75 litres, or 16.5 gallons. Taking the most economical, short-wheelbase, manual gearbox model as a guide, this gives it a theoretical fuel tank range of more than 557 miles.
The Musso features a part-time four-wheel-drive system, in the name of efficiency. The vehicle runs in rear-wheel-drive mode most of the time but can switch to four-wheel-drive model automatically when the system detects the rear wheels slipping.
No. However, the top-spec Saracen and Saracen+ models both have non-active cruise control as standard. These models also feature a lane-change-assist system, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot detection. All models feature hill descent control, hill start assist, side and curtain airbags and tyre-pressure monitoring.
The Musso is available with a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic. When the truck is fitted with an auto ’box, it can tow a 3500kg trailer while being fully loaded.