The biggest drawback of the SsangYong Musso double-cab four-door 4×4 pick-up has always been the manufacturer’s name. 

Tongue-tied Brits have never been able to get to grips with it. Is it Chinese?  Is it Japanese? And how on earth do you pronounce it?

So perhaps it is no bad thing that products from the South Korean manufacturer will eventually bear the far simpler KG badge. It is the consequence of the company’s acquisition by South Korea’s KG Group last November after a, to say the least of it, chequered financial history.

KG has interests in a variety of industries, including chemicals and steel. The UK import rights for SsangYong vehicles have been held by the independent Bassadone Automotive Group for the past 12 years.

The Musso received a facelift a couple of years ago, with new front-end styling which gives the truck a tough and purposeful look.

Both short and long-wheelbase models are marketed. The former, which is the one tested here in Saracen guise, is up for grabs in EX, Rebel and Saracen specifications while the latter comes in Saracen + trim only.

The long-wheelbase model is a late arrival to the latest Musso line-up. Its price had yet to be revealed at the time of writing. 

Short or long, power comes courtesy of a 202hp 2.2-litre diesel delivering 12% more power than the engine in the previous model.

It is married to a six-speed manual gearbox if you opt for the EX. Everything else comes with a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission.


Detail Load Bed class=

Load bay

The cargo box boasts four rotating tie-down points and is protected by a plastic lining as standard. 

Access is by means of a tailgate, which drops down horizontally. The bulky rear bumper prevents it from dropping down any further.

Gross payload is 1,095kg and it is worth noting that you can carry a full payload and haul a trailer grossing at 3.5 tonnes at the same time. Gross permitted train weight is 6,750kg.

Our demonstrator came equipped with a sports bar which spans the cargo box plus a load cover. Both are extra-cost options.


Cabin class=

Interior and equipment

If in-cab goodies are a priority, then you are in for a treat. 

For your money you get automatic climate control which can be adjusted to meet the individual requirements of the driver and front passenger. The buttons are below the 9.2in screen in the centre of the fascia.

Fitted too are a heated steering wheel and heated front seats. Unusually on a light commercial, those seats also boast a cooling function – great news in blazing hot summer sunshine.

A 12V power socket is provided along with dual USB ports. The infotainment package includes TomTom satellite navigation and a DAB radio along with Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Playing host to the radio’s remote controls, the height and reach-adjustable steering wheel is trimmed in leather and all the seats are leather-trimmed too. Both the driver’s and the front passenger’s perches adjust electrically for height, reach and rake, with the driver’s additionally featuring powered lumbar adjustment.

The heated exterior mirrors are power-adjustable and fold in electrically, and electric windows are installed in all four doors.

Cruise control is fitted as are keyless ignition, a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors. 

Triple LED front fog lights and LED daytime running lights are included in the deal, and so-called puddle lights should stop you from ending up ankle-deep in dirty water if you hop out of the cab late at night. Black and silver exterior steps along the sills make climbing into and out of the cab easier than it might otherwise be and echo Musso Saracen’s black front grille.

Flick the gearshift to the left, and you are in manual mode. You then use a button on the shift lever to go up and down the box. 

You can select from three different power settings – Eco, Power or Winter – using a button next to the transmission lever. The first two are self-explanatory while the third should stop the wheels slipping in icy conditions.

The rear seats are heated and vents in the back of the console between the front seats should help keep the passengers warm or cool in line with the prevailing climate. 

Squat on the middle seat and you have drawn the short straw. The back feels lumpy and uncomfortable. 

Perhaps that is not surprising given that the centre of the seat back folds down and turns into an armrest with a couple of cup-holders if there are only two rear travellers. Legroom is at a premium, but is a little more generous for passengers sitting directly behind the driver and front passenger seats.

Engaging four-wheel-drive couldn’t be easier. 

All you need to do is twist a knob which takes you from 2H (4×2), to 4H (4×4 with a standard set of gears), then on to 4L (4×4 with low gears) if the off-road going starts to get tough. Hit a button and you can control the rate at which the truck descends inclines.

In-cab storage facilities include a roomy tray on top of the fascia, a lockable glovebox and a lidded bin between the front seats accompanied by a couple of cup-holders. All the doors feature bins, with those in the front doors equipped with mouldings that can clasp a flask of tea or a large bottle of water.

Roof rails are fitted should you require them.

Safety systems include ABS, Electronic Stability Programme, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Brake Assist System, Hill Start Assist, Lane Change Collision Warning, Blind Spot Detection Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. A traction control system is fitted and can be switched off if necessary while Trailer Sway Control should ensure that nothing untoward occurs if a trailer starts to snake while being towed.

The wipers come on automatically when raindrops hit the windscreen and the headlights illuminate when it starts to get dark. Driver, passenger and side airbags offer a safety cushion for everyone in the front if all else fails while curtain airbags should protect all the cab’s occupants.

Double-wishbone suspension is fitted at the front while five-link independent suspension helps support the rear. Disc brakes – ventilated at the front – are installed all round and the rack-and-pinion steering is power-assisted.

Our Musso Saracen’s 18in black alloy wheels were shod with Pirelli Scorpion Zero 255/60 R18 tyres which are covered by a pressure monitoring system.


Detail Engine class=


Fitted with common rail fuel injection, the Musso’s four-cylinder in-line 16-valve diesel delivers its top power at 3,800rpm. Maximum torque of 441Nm – 5% up on the previous
model – bites across a 1,600rpm-to-2,600rpm plateau.

Periodic AdBlue top-ups should ensure that exhaust emissions comply with Euro 6D requirements, and you will find the filler point for the 25-litre AdBlue reservoir behind the refuelling flap on the truck’s nearside.


Put some weight in the back if you want a smoother journey. The Musso Saracen’s ride is on the nervous side when unladen, with a constant pit-a-pat from the wheels and suspension that becomes irritating after a while.

In-cab noise levels are otherwise well-suppressed, and there is good news where the handling is concerned. While the steering needs regular correction when you are on
the motorway the truck sweeps majestically through tight bends on A and B roads, without showing any signs of coming unstuck even when pushed quite hard.

The aforementioned Eco setting is fine if you are lightly-laden and offers sufficient on-highway performance. Power makes better sense if you are heavily-burdened and summons up ample performance that allows you to thunder past slower-moving traffic without breaking sweat.

Grab-handles on the A and B-pillars can be clung onto by passengers as the truck bounces through the mud. Off-road it is a perfectly competent performer, churning its way across muddy fields, sloshing through streams, and steadily grinding its way up deeply-rutted farm trucks as sheep look on unconcerned.


Rear 3:4 class=


The Musso is protected by a five-year/100,000-mile warranty – down from seven years/150,000 miles for the old model – while service intervals are set at 12 months/12,500 miles. That sounds a little on the short side, but regular workshop visits are no bad thing if your 4×4 pick-up is in receipt of a constant off-road hammering.

Something else that seems on the short side is the six-year corrosion perforation guarantee. The paintwork is warranted for three years.

Average fuel economy is 31.5mpg on the combined cycle according to the official WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) figure, which is about what we achieved. Not outstanding, agreed, but we are talking about a big, heavy 4×4 pick-up.

No spare wheel is fitted alas. Drivers must make do with an inflator/sealer instead and will find what they need behind the rear seat back, which folds down.

SsangYong Musso Saracen Double-Cab 4×4 automatic pick-up

Price (ex VAT) £31,515

Price range (ex VAT) £24,115–£31,515

Gross payload 1,095kg

Load length 1,270mm

Load width (min/max) 1,130mm/1,570mm 

Load bay height 570mm

Load volume 756mm

Gross vehicle weight 3,250kg

Braked trailer towing weight 3,500kg

Residual value 40.1%*

Cost per mile 61.7p 

Engine size/power 2,157cc, 202hp @ 3,800rpm

Torque 441Nm @ 16,00–2,600rpm

Gearbox 6spd automatic

Fuel economy (combined WLTP) 31.5mpg 

Fuel tank 75L

CO2 236g/km

Warranty 5yrs/100,000mls

Service intervals 1yr/12,500mls

Insurance group 50D

Price as tested £33,552

* after 48 months @ 20,000 miles a year – source – KWIKcarcost


Load area cover £1,348

Load area sports bar £689


Ford Ranger

Price range (ex VAT) £27,550–£58,900

Gross payload 652–1200kg

Braked towing weight 2,500–3,500kg

Engines 170hp, 205hp 2.0 diesel, 240hp 3.0 diesel, 292hp 3.0 petrol

Verdict: Ford has revamped its Ranger line-up with a vengeance and there is no gainsaying the in-your-face impact of the all-new Ranger Raptor. Under the bonnet you will find a V6 petrol engine power plant that bashes out almost 300hp and is guaranteed to leave all rivals in the shade. Many Ranger fans may decide they prefer the 240hp diesel however, which still packs ample punch. So for that matter does the 205hp diesel. 

Isuzu D-Max

Price range (ex VAT) £23,004–£48,604

Gross payload 1045–1205kg 

Braked towing weight 2,500–3,500kg

Engines 164hp 1.9 diesel

Verdict: While the recently-facelifted D-Max is a solidly-constructed working tool packed full of safety features, with only 164 horses to its name there is no denying that it is light on power. Isuzu either needs to wring more punch out of its existing diesel or offer a beefier alternative to keep pace with rivals such as Ford and Toyota. We suspect however that its engineers will now be kept busy developing an electric model which looks set to break cover in 2025.

Toyota Hilux

Price range (ex VAT) £27,378–£57,627

Gross payload 1,000–1,030kg

Braked towing weight 3500kg

Engines 150hp 2.4 diesel, 204hp 2.8 diesel 

Verdict: Hilux is such a soaraway global success that it’s often said that you will find at least one in every single country on the planet. Renowned for its robust construction, in its latest guise Toyota’s enduring load lugger is up for grabs with a 200hp-plus diesel which delivers a much-appreciated power boost. Its introduction coincides with the arrival of a restyled exterior, an upgraded interior and an assortment of useful mechanical changes.

The Final Verdict

Design 8/10 – A handsome-looking, well-equipped truck that ticks most of the boxes

Cabin 8/10 – A comfortable and spacious working environment, aside from the middle rear seat

Ride 7/10 – Nervous when the vehicle is unladen but calmer the more weight you put in the back

Refinement 7/10 – Well refined with noise levels under control,  but some tyre and suspension noise

Load area 8/10 – Does exactly what it says on the tin, and we like the optional cover and sports bar

Handling/performance 9/10 – The former is great for such a big truck, and few will be disappointed by the latter

Engine/transmission 8/10 – A well-matched combination with the auto box delivering power both on and off road

Standard equipment 9/10 – No shortage of goodies, heated seats and a heated steering wheel in the deal

Operating costs 7/10 – Short service intervals and arguable aspects of the mostly-sensible warranty 

What Van? subjective rating 8/10 – A truck we cannot help but like and one that has a highly-competitive price. 

Overall Rating = 79/100