Buying a used... Ssangyong Musso (2018)

Date: Thursday, May 30, 2024   |   Author: Ian Shaw

From SUV to LCV, the metamorphosing Musso eventually got it right.

What’s in a name? In the Musso’s case three different vehicles, badged by two different makers and a payload capacity that went from insignificant, to class-leading on a journey something like this. The original Ssangyong Musso penned by British designer Ken Greenley back in in 1993, was a 4WD SUV of little note, which was then re-badged as a Daewoo Musso from 1995 to 1999. It then reverted to its Ssangyong maiden name, two years before Daewoo models were all rebranded as Chevrolet and it came out of the whole debacle intact, surviving as an SUV until 2005 but siring the pick-up – Musso Sports – until 2006. Being based on the SUV, complete with soft rear springs, it was the best-riding (but least load-carrying) double-cab pick-up of its day – a sort of Ranger Raptor without the glory. Fast-forward to 2018 and Ssangyong (which changed name this year to KGM) finally got the pick-up recipe right.

The Musso pick-up truck is available in two wheelbase lengths, which only differ by around 100mm (4in) but with a longer rear overhang to give 5.1 and 5.5 metres overall dimensions – about the same as most double-cabs. It’s quite narrow at 1.95 metres and only needs 1.87 metres of headroom so multi-storey car parks are an option – despite the large turning circle.

Load bay-wise it offers lengths of 1.3 or 1.6 metres with a width of 1.56 metres at max and side height of 575mm. The payload ranges from 1,085 to 1,150kg, whilst with a generous 3.5-tonnes towing capacity it’s right up there with the best for all-up payload.

Towing is probably the best use of its 4WD capability. The long wheelbase, considerable overhang and lacklustre ground clearance – almost 100mm less than a Defender – mean that although it offers a proper low-range 4WD system, rough tracks and winter capability play more to its strengths.

The diesel engine is not the most refined – it’s Ssangyong’s own, eschewing its Mercedes-powered roots – but decent torque backing-up either a nominal 180 or 200hp with either a somewhat clunky manual or decent automatic of a half-dozen ratios each means it drives well enough but trails most rivals. The ride is a little harder in the (leaf sprung) LWB and the over-light steering feels at odds with its muscular nature whilst handling is assured if unrewarding.

Standard levels of kit are decent, all versions get DAB, Bluetooth, manual aircon and auto lights/wipers. The range-topping Saracen has leather seats, heated front and rear, dual-zone climate control, a large touch screen with TomTom supplied navigation, cruise control and rearview camera  Its reliability reputation seems good but while the Musso used to get a seven-year or 150,000-miles warranty, this was ‘revised’ to a five-year or 100,000-mile warranty from 2023, handing a big lead to rivals. The automatic version does little to dent the decent fuel economy and it’s much better to drive, while the long wheelbase offers the best productivity, especially if towing rather than serious off-roading. The Musso then offers decent productivity and an antidote to more frivolous  ‘lifestyle’ pick-ups.

Plus points

1) Great payload and towing capacity

2) Good kit levels

3) Decent fuel economy

Minus points

1) Engine is unrefined

2) Manual transmission lumpy 

3) Limited off-road capability

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