Vehicle Reviews

SsangYong Musso - Review of the week

It's about time that someone designed a pick-up van that makes sense primarily for tarmac use. Yet one that's still tough enough to tackle the rough stuff. The one-tonne SsangYong Musso pick-up claims to be just that.

The SsangYong Musso pick-up aims to redefine the value proposition for customers in this segment and provide them with rugged but car-like transport. Better to drive and more affordable than its competitors, yet better equipped, it's a five-seater Double Cab design that's as practical as you'd want, can tow up to 3.0 tonnes and carry up to a tonne and comes complete with the support of arguably the best after-sales warranty package in the business. If you're buying in this sector, you probably won't have been considering this as one of the best pick-up trucks - but, perhaps you should.

To be one of the best pick-up vans, it must come complete with a proper separate frame chassis - the mark of a serious off roader. This might not be a recipe for car-like handling but it'll deliver you a vehicle fit for purpose anywhere from the sands of the Serengetti to the pampas of Patagonia.

On tarmac, you wouldn't call this SsangYong Musso model's ride absorbent, but if you're used to the crude bumpy experience that most other pick-ups provide, it'll be impressive. Enough perhaps, to make the difference between having to buy a conventional passenger car for driving around when the work day is done - or continuing to rely on the varied talents of this SsangYong. And there's a reason for this. Here, we have one of the only pick-ups in the segment with car-like multi-link rear suspension, rather than the rudimentary leaf springs used by most rivals. That makes all the difference to the way the SsangYong Musso feels on-tarmac.

SsangYong Musso - Review of the week

Under the bonnet lies a piece of technology the brand is especially proud of, it's 2.2-litre Euro 6 turbo-diesel engine. This powerplant puts out significantly more power than many of its rivals - 178PS - and has been optimised for torque - pulling power - 400Nn of it on tap between 1,500 and 2,800rpm, enough for example to now be able haul a braked trailer of up to 3.0 tonnes in weight. Off road, this Musso's more than ready to get tough on the rough stuff. It uses a part time selectable 4WD system that's been reliably proven over some of the most demanding terrain in the world, aided by design that optimises this pick-up both for gradient and water-logged ground.

SsangYong design has come a long way since the awkwardly styled Ken Greenly-penned Musso pick-up that this Korean brand offered us at the turn of the century. Premium brands don't usually sell in this sector, but if they did, a dynamic yet sophisticated look would epitomise the kind of shape they would want to deliver. Something like this? You might well think so. The mesh front grilles, the jewel-like front foglamps and the smart black headlamp bezels combine to create a purposeful front end, while in profile, a sharp belt line runs to the rear bumper, emphasising a sleek and, to some eyes, even mildly sporty stance.

Inside, there's a light and airy environment thanks to large front, side and rear windows, while the careful blending of black and metallic finishes along with an LED illuminated cluster has created a smart and refined interior. It's at the rear though, where this SsangYong Musso holds an important advantage over its most direct rivals in the best pick-up category. The back seat in many a Double Cab pick-up seems often to be something of an after-thought, cramped for the feet and uncomfortably upright for the back. Not only is there plenty of room for head, shoulders, knees and feet but, rather uniquely, you can recline the rear seat back by up to 29-degrees.

There's a lot to think about when it comes to picking from the best pick-ups. You're buying one in the first place because you want practical, go-anywhere ruggedness. Yet if at least some of the time, it's to serve as your only means of transport, then you also need car-like qualities - real refinement, supple suspension and a comfortable cabin. Ideally, you want all of this, a high specification and a price that looks like a misprint. You'd be asking a lot.

Yet the SsangYong Musso has struggled to provide exactly that and got remarkably close to delivering it. There are, it's true, more sophisticated, higher profile choices you could make in this segment but all are painfully pricey and in most cases, fairly crude to drive on-road. This, the alternative, is not only as honest, reliable and highly capable as the best pick-up trucks should be thanks to the one tonne payload, but crucially, thanks to car-like coil sprung suspension, is also better suited to a life on-tarmac than any of its contemporaries. Plus there's the after-sales support every pick-up should have and even a bit of a sense of style.

Click here to find out more about our SsangYong Musso range