Ssangyong has upgraded the Musso with a bold new grille and four updated trim levels. As before, it’s good value compared with the likes of the Ford Ranger and the Nissan Navara.
Buyers have a choice of either short- or long-wheelbase models all with a double cab, so the Musso can fulfil the roles of commercial vehicle and family car. We’re testing the high-spec Saracen automatic.
The Musso\s unique selling point as a towing vehicle is the automatic version’s ability to carry a full payload but still tow up to 3500kg.
Some rivals match this maximum towing capacity, but if the vehicle is loaded to its gross weight, the effective towing limit drops. Of course, caravanners aren’t likely to tow 3500kg, but even sticking to the 85% guideline gives a sensible caravan weight of 1834kg.
We matched the Musso to a Swift Fairway Platinum 860 with a MiRO of 1554kg. The SsangYong’s diesel engine has plenty of pulling power to handle a van of this size and weight, with 310lb ft of torque delivered between 1600 and 2600rpm. Think strong rather than fast, but you are never in any doubt that the Musso has the muscle to pull a caravan up to speed.
The six-speed automatic gearbox can be slow to change down, especially if you select its Eco setting. At times, the box allows the engine to bog down and send vibrations through the cabin before grabbing a lower gear. The Power setting is better suited to towing, although it;’s still not the most responsive gearbox, and tends to hunt around between gears on the motorway.
For the most part, the Musso is stable. You can feel the caravan tugging at the back while overtaking lorries and coaches, but the movements are usually slight.
In wet weather or when towing across grass or mud, it’s reassuring to know the Musso is four-wheel drive. It’s a switchable system, so you can run the car in rear-wheel drive in good weather to improve the fuel economy. When you need better traction, a twist of a switch will select four-wheel drive high-ratio. Turn that switch again for low-ratio, intended for serious off-roading.
When hitching up, you’ll be glad of the standard-fit reversing camera, because the view over your shoulder isn’t especially clear. Otherwise, we found the Musso easy to manoeuvre at low speeds.
It’s worth noting that the Musso comes with a tyre repair kit. That’s unusual for a pick-up truck, because these vehicles usually come with a proper spare. A towball costs £370 (excluding VAT) plus £207 (ex VAT) for a 13-pin wiring kit. The ECS caravan extension writing (to power the van’s fridge, leisure battery, and so on) will cost another £92.50 (ex VAT).
Double-cab pick-ups face a challenge. It’s difficult to be tough enough for a one-tonne payload, but still comfortable to travel in.
The Musso has coils, rather than the leaf-sprung suspension that most pick-ups use. In theory, this should make for a more car-like driving experience, but in practice, SsangYong has equipped the Musso with very stiff springs to cope with heavy loads. This leads to a jerky and unsettled ride.
Things will improve with a load in the back, but otherwise, the Musso is not an especially comfortable way to travel.
There’s a lot of lean, too, if you corner enthusiastically. It’s much better suited to a steady pace.
On the motorway, you will hear some engine, wind and road noise, but nothing excessive for a commercial vehicle. However, a more forgiving ride would make long journeys less tiring.
SsangYong’s from a few years back were cheap but far from cheerful inside. Today’s Musso shows how far the brands has come. There are still plenty of hard plastics, but the finish is good. Nothing looks cheap or feels flimsy. The driver and front-seat passenger are perched high in comfortable, supportive, leather-trimmed seats, so most drivers should be able to find a good driving position. The rear seats offer enough space for adults, although passengers might find their knees against the seat backs of the driver and front-seat passenger are tall.
There are also air vents between the front seats, so your workmates or children won’t get hot and bothered in the summer.
The loadbed comes in two sizes. The larger one, fitted to the Rhino LWB, is huge. Even the smaller loadbed of the standard-wheelbase models can cope with a Euro pallet, and the payload is over a tonne.
Buying and owning
Most pick-ups will be bought through businesses and the VAT part of the purchase price will be reclaimed. Excluding VAT, the Musso Saracen Auto costs £30,495, a keen price for such a well-equipped double-cab.
Leather upholstery, heated seats front and rear, powered adjustment of the front seats, automatic climate control, and a 9.2-inch touchscreen sat nav and infotainment system are all standard.
On the other hand, the Musso is quite thirsty, returning 29.5mpg according to the official figures. While towing the Swift, it achieved 20.6mpg.
The jolting ride is the Musso’s biggest weakness. But it’s a solid tow car, and very good value as a dual-purpose pick-up.
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In wet weather or when you are towing across grass or mud, it's reassuring to know that the Musso is four-wheel drive
|Maximum Towing Limit
|310 lb ft