What is it?
Like many utes, the SsangYong Musso shares a chassis with an SUV — in this case the Rexton.
The Korean brand has been given a complete makeover and the Musso is a far cry from its previous incarnation.
There are four models in the range: EX manual, EX auto, ELX auto and Ultimate auto.
Power and drive comes from the same 2.2-litre turbo diesel and 6-speed auto as found in the Rexton, with 400Nm of torque, 133kW of power, and fairly average fuel economy.
SsangYong claims 10.3L/100km in an urban environment. We finished slightly higher, with 10.7L/100km from the 75-litre tank.
What’s it cost?
It’s $39,990 driveaway and comes with a substantial feature and safety package for the dosh.
No digital radio, but Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are here. Six airbags, but no driver’s kneebag. Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Alert, and Lane Change Assist, are all standard. Not unexpectedly, in this class of vehicle, there is no auto emergency braking (AEB).
There is a 360 degree view camera system, front and rear parking sensors, but in a hiccup the test car failed to pick up objects and play the alert chime.
The interior is a mix of very dark grey and black, with a splash of alloy across the dash that flows into the door trim, holding the sound system’s tweeters.
Seats are leather, power operated up front, and pretty darned comfortable.
The Musso gets the same audio system as the Rexton, which means the speaker quality is superb.
There’s some real depth, well balanced punch and high end, but there was a problem with one station.
It sounded like a glitchy CD, with a momentary skip, barely a heartbeat in length, would occur. And it wasn’t the station itself — as verified by real-time comparisons with other audio sources.
The cabin lacks the classiness of the Rexton Ultimate and in a way that’s a disappointment.
As comfortable as the Musso’s big and spacious cabin is, extra visual and value added punch, with all or some of the sumptuous quilted leather from the Rexton would have been appreciated.
The 7.0 inch touchscreen is identical to that in the Rexton, and this is a good thing.
It’s beautifully laid out, making it easy to use. There’s no need to double tap anything which means the capacitive surface is well calibrated.
The driver’s display is the same.
The exterior is a little odd in profile.
The front and centre sections are Rexton, a handsome and reasonably stylish look.
The tray though seems shorter and truncated, in comparison to competitors such as Ranger, HiLux and Triton.
It’s certainly big enough for kids bikes, perhaps a pair of small trail bikes, and comes with a tub liner.
There is also a plastic, body-coloured shroud immediately behind the rear doors, where one would normally expect to see a sports bar.
Thankfully, however, Musso has moved away from the weird mix of curves and angles seen in the original iteration.
What’s it go like?
There was a pleasant surprise waiting here.
The Rexton had a breathing problem. Hit the go pedal . . . wait . . . wait . . . wait . . . and go.
However this engine responded almost instantly, making for safer driving from a standing start, especially in almost blind corners.
Road manners and rolling response times were far improved too, with overtaking easier, and overall driving much more enjoyable.
The 6-speed auto is nicely calibrated with gear shifts mostly smooth and swift.
The transmission also comes with the three mode drive switch for high and low range.
The brakes, though, still needed a hefty prod to haul up the two tonne plus machine.
The steering rack had the same peculiar mechanical, metal-on-metal feel as the Rexton — as if a vibration dampener is missing.
Handling is very good for a big four-door ute.
The 20 inch chromed alloys with 255/55 Nexen rubber provide a big footprint and plenty of grip.
Turn in is rapid, better than the Rexton, and lane changing is agile, belying the Musso’s mass.
What we like?
- Much improved looks
- Better driveability than Rexton
- Roomy interior
What we don’t like?
- Interior trim could do with a lift
- Electronic glitches
- Profile looks . . . off
The bottom line?
There’s no doubt the price is appealing, but SsangYong needs two things — and one of which is almost unfixable.
Korean cars still suffer from some stigma, despite excellent cars such as the Stinger, Cerato, Santa Fe, and i30N.
The Musso is comfortable, well featured, not a bad drive, but Korean so it has a battle ahead of it.
It also needs a higher public profile but that is simply a case of marketing, money, and print/air time.
It’s a good bus, it simply needs a polish.
SsangYong Musso Ultimate, priced at $39,990 driveaway
- Looks - 7/107/10
- Performance - 7/107/10
- Safety - 7/107/10
- Thirst - 6.5/106.5/10
- Practicality - 7/107/10
- Comfort - 7.5/107.5/10
- Tech - 7/107/10
- Value - 7.5/107.5/10