Toby Hagon’s 2019 Ssangyong Musso Review With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict And Score.

In A Nutshell With cabin size on its side, the Ssangyong Musso arrives in a busy ute segment with a dual-cab offering that undercuts most rivals. Throw in a seven-year warranty and it mounts a solid value case against more established competition.

2019 SsangYong Musso Specifications

Price $30,490 drive-away Warranty 7 years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months, 20,000km Safety Not rated Engine 2.2-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel Power 133kW at 4000rpm Torque 400Nm at 1400-2800rpm Transmission 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic Drive Part-time dual-range 4WD Dimensions 5095mm (L) 1950mm (W) 1840mm (H) 3100mm (WB) Ground Clearance 215mm Kerb Weight 2177kg (manual), 2192kg (auto) Angles 22.8 degrees (approach), 23.4 degrees (departure), 23.0 degrees (ramp over) Towing 3500kg (auto only) Towball Download 350kg GVM 2880kg GCM 5890kg Spare Full-sized Fuel Tank 75 litres Thirst 7.9L/100km (manual), 8.6L/100km (auto)

THE Ssangyong Musso first appeared in the 1990s, although it was an SUV. In recent years the name has been used on an underwhelming ute.

But Ssangyong has rebooted the Musso with an all-new model designed to better adhere to ute expectations.

It’s all about simplicity, with all Mussos having four doors and driving all four wheels.

What’s In The Range And How Much Does It Cost?

Whereas some utes offer dozens of options across multiple bodystyles, the Musso keeps things simpler. It’s only available with a dual-cab body offering five seats and with a diesel engine.

The cheapest is the Musso EX, at $30,490 drive-away for the six-speed manual, or another $2000 for a six-speed automatic. It gets 17-inch steel wheels and a basic level of equipment that extends to items such as cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity. The windows are old-school wind-up ones, which gives an idea of what it’s missing.

By January 2019 that base Musso will also (impressively) come with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) as standard, beating most rivals to the punch.

The Musso ELX, at $35,990, steps things up significantly with the auto as standard, 18-inch alloy wheels, power windows, front and rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring and an 8.0-inch touchscreen incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for better connectivity.

The ELX also gets rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot warning.

At the top of the Musso tree is the Ultimate, at $39,990. As well as some styling additions, it gets 20-inch alloy wheels, leather trim, a sunroof, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, 360-degree camera and powered front seats with heating and ventilation.

What’s The Interior And Practicality Like?

By ute standards the Musso’s interior is thoroughly pleasant.

Some interesting finishes and silver flashes break up the grey plastics nicely. There’s even some stitching on the dash. Plus, it’s built for purpose, with good storage and a plethora of cupholders. There’s even a binnacle on top of the dash and a sunglasses holder in the roof.

Vision and seating are generally good, although there’s no reach adjustment to the steering until you get to the Ultimate. Fortunately, the wheel itself is in a decent location, although the plastic rim on the ELX lets the otherwise well-presented interior down. In the rear there are air vents to feed fresh air to those out back, too.

While the floor is relatively high, leaving adult knees higher than would be natural, there’s at least foot space under the front seats and a comfy angle to the backrest. Three adjustable headrests are also handy, even if the centre seat sits slightly higher than the outer ones.

Whereas most rivals have a payload over one tonne, the Musso tops out at 790kg. Once you put people, fuel and luggage in that will be further reduced accordingly. While that’s unlikely to faze most owners, there will be occasions when it may be limiting.

A bigger issue is how short the tray is. Even pushbikes will need to be carefully folded in because the whole thing is very short. Ssangyong will soon begin offering an extended tray, which can be had with a leaf spring rear-end that takes the load capacity beyond one tonne.

What Are The Controls And Infotainment Like?

Most things are well-presented in a basic but functional manner. The ELX’s touchscreen has a decent volume knob flanked by menu buttons, then you can dive into the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity from there. With access to navigation apps and myriad music it makes for plenty of extras that aren’t part of the base EX.

The instrument cluster presents two traditional circular gauges (speedo and tacho) and there’s a colour display in between them, giving additional trip computer information as well as a digital speedo.

Scratch the surface and cracks appear; the PRNDL display near the gear selector is on the passenger side as it hasn’t been switched over for right-hand drive markets. It’s no deal breaker, though, with the digital display alerting you as to the chosen gear. Less impressive is the manual override, a small switch randomly plonked on the side of the main gear selector. It’s hardly intuitive.

What’s The Performance Like?

On paper the Musso’s 2.2-litre turbo-diesel is outclassed by key (more expensive) rivals, but the reality is the hearty 400Nm on offer from 1400rpm makes for respectable progress. There’s decent low-rev pull and the relatively hushed diesel works nicely with the six-speed auto.

Indeed, it’s refinement that in some ways defines the drivetrain, the lack of clatter and unwanted noise refreshing in what is a commercial vehicle. Ultimately, though, the Musso doesn’t have the pull of class leaders, but it doesn’t detract from an engine that does a decent job.

The six-speed auto isn’t too intuitive, though, ever eager to jump into taller gears, no doubt in part to benefit fuel economy (claimed average usage is 8.6 litres per 100 kilometres).  That’s fine in some driving, but on twisty roads or when you’re varying your speed regularly it can be frustrating that it won’t settle into a groove.

What’s It Like On The Road?

Riding on coil springs all-round (most utes have leaf springs at the rear) helps endow the Musso with surprisingly composed dynamics. There’s an inconsistency to the steering, which is quite weighty when parking then noticeably lighter once you build speed. It’s more pronounced with the Ultimate with its variable steering setup.

But the steering is faithful in its response, at least until you get to the Ultimate with its speed-sensitive steering. While it’s relatively light at city speeds, above about 80km/h things get unnaturally weighty to the point where you can be fighting the steering mid-way through fast sweepers. There’s also steering kickback, which makes it more of a two-hands-on-the-wheel deal.

There’s some tautness to the suspension, though, something that reinforces its load-carrying roots. That means it’ll jiggle around over successive bumps, although no worse that other utes. On the 20-inch tyres of the Ultimate, though, the jiggling is amplified.

Successive larger bumps sometimes catch it out, and there’s some leaning into bends. But it gets the job done in an unfussed way. The theme of refinement also flows to the way it drives; while there’s some tyre roar, most unwanted noises are kept at bay.

What’s It Like Off The Road?

That firm suspension ensures the Musso disposes of rocks and ruts confidently, with a feeling of strength in the way it rebounds and responds. And with 215mm of clearance it’ll get over plenty of obstacles.

Low-range gearing helps with the slower stuff and down hills, although there’s hill-descent control that allows you to release all pedals and have the car maintain the speed you’ve set. Less impressive is the traction control and lack of a locking rear differential, both of which mean anything too challenging can leave wheels spinning.

And the Musso is not completely ready for business. There are no recovery points, for example, making it trickier to extricate from a bog. Crawl underneath and the frontal underbody protection is only made of plastic, hardly ready for big hits. Plus, there’s no protection further back under the bits that need it.

The approach angle is quite shallow, too, so you want to be careful of tackling anything too tricky so as not to damage the front bumper. Ssangyong says it is working on a cure for the underbody protection (it’s asked Ironman to develop a skid plate), but for now you’d want to be careful of scuffing the underside. In short, if you are planning on off-roading in a Musso, be prepared to spend a few grand on accessories to improve its chances of making it out.

Does It Have A Spare?

There’s a full-sized spare tucked under the rear.

Can You Tow With It?

For now there’s only a tow kit available for Mussos with an automatic transmission. It’s rated to tow up to 3500kg, which matches the best utes.

What About Ownership?

The Musso is covered by a seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. That’s at least two years more than any other ute on the market.

Whereas some unlimited kilometre warranties cap the distance you can travel if you’re using the vehicle for commercial purposes, the Ssangyong one applies to any usage.

It also has capped price servicing for the first seven years, with services due every 12 months or 20,000km. Service prices are yet to be finalised, though.

What Safety Features Does It Have?

Safety is often overlooked for commercial vehicles, especially at the bottom end of the market. So it’s impressive that Sssangyong has added autonomous emergency braking (AEB) to all Musso variants. Or, at least, it plans to.

Cars will only be fitted with AEB from December 2018 production, arriving early in 2019. Best to wait for one of those, then.

The AEB only uses a forward-facing camera, whereas many advanced systems team a camera and radar. That limits its operating speed to below 45km/h, so it’s not going to do anything once you’re travelling over that speed.

Another serious concern is the inferior lap-only seatbelt in the centre-rear position. It’s very 1980s and plainly unacceptable in this day and age. Ssangyong Australia has requested a change and is confident of a fix, although when that will happen is so far unknown.

The ELX and Ultimate models also get rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring. All Mussos get six airbags, with side-curtain protection for both rows.


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About Author

Toby Hagon

From Porsches to LandCruisers, Toby Hagon loves all things cars and has been writing about them for more than 20 years. He loves the passion and people that help create one of the world's most innovative and interesting industries. As well as road testing and chasing news he more recently co-authored a book on Holden. These days he crosses the world covering the industry but still loves taking off on the Big Trip in Australia.

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