Musso is Korean for Rhino, apparently, which explains why the name has ended up attached to SsangYong’s intimidating-looking pick-up truck and not some pocket-sized city car.
It’s a fitting name for a model designed to face the rigours of farms and building sites, although our high-spec Saracen model is also kitted out to handle family life too.
Like most pick-ups, the Musso range comes with just the one engine – a 2.2-litre diesel with 179bhp and 295lb/ft of torque. That’s plenty of muscle to move the Musso along, although don’t expect to break any 0-60 records, and it’s pretty refined unless you’re very heavy footed.
SsangYong Musso Saracen
Price: £27,245 (COTR) (£28,101 as tested)
Engine: 2.2-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, part-time four-wheel-drive
Top speed: 115mph
CO2 emissions: 211-226g/km
Basic models get a six-speed manual but our test car came with a six-speed auto which shifts smoothly but slowly.
Pick-up trucks all have an inherent problem that their ride isn’t great when the load bed is empty. The Musso has a multi-link setup in place of more old-fashioned leaf spring arrangement but at launch it was widely criticised for an unsettled, uncomfortable ride.
SsangYong took this on board and have reworked it but even the revised setup isn’t great. It’s slightly better than Mitsubishi’s L200 but outdone by the Isuzu D-Max, and it can’t come close to a regular SUV.
You can, of course, load up the pick-up bed, which helps the ride and shows the Musso’s practicality. The bed is deeper but shorter than some rival trucks, which may or may not work depending on your needs, but like all of its breed it’ll carry a tonne of material. And if the current shape doesn’t suit, there’s a long-bed version coming later this year.
The Musso will also tow 3.5 tonnes of braked trailer – ideal for horse boxes and even the heftiest of caravans – and will do so with a tonne of stuff in the load bed, giving it the highest gross train weight in its class – 6,750kg.
While the Musso is clearly a competent pick-up, it shares a lot of components with SsangYong’s large SUV, the Rexton. Under the skin that means the same ladder-frame chassis, engine and gearbox. On the surface it means it gets the same interior which puts it ahead of rivals like the L200 and D-Max and pretty much anything else cheaper than a VW Amarok or Mercedes X Class.
Where the old Musso looked like it had been designed by a committee of five-year-olds who weren’t talking to each other, the new one is simple, classy and more SUV-like than its rivals, although possibly not as robust feeling.
Higher-spec models like our tested Saracen also get a lot of the Rexton’s kit. Nappa leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and a 9.2-inch touchscreen with nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all standard, as are 18-inch alloys, auto lights and wipers, cruise control and lots of additional exterior trim parts.
With a list price of £27,245 before VAT that means the Musso is a good couple of grand cheaper than most of its rivals yet still comes with a class-leading seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty.
Put like that, it’s hard not to recommend the Musso as one of the best in its class.