Although the name may still be unfamiliar to some, Korean brand Ssangyong is making steady progress in the UK double-cab 4×4 pick-up market as it gradually strengthens its dealer network.

That progress could accelerate thanks to the launch of its latest Musso pick-up, which got its European launch at last year’s Geneva motor show.

Built on the same platform as Ssangyong’s Rexton SUV, the four-door five-seater majors on two of the manufacturer’s strong suits: competitive pricing and a remarkably generous warranty. Opt for a Musso and you will be protected by a seven-year/150,000-mile package.

Power comes courtesy of a 181hp 2.2-litre e-XDi220 diesel married to either a six-speed manual or an optional six-speed fully auto gearbox from giant Japanese conglomerate Aisin.

The range starts with the entry-level EX and progresses to Rebel and Saracen specifications.

A limited-edition Rhino model was on offer at the initial launch – Musso is Korean for rhinoceros – with just 100 numbered examples being produced.

We decided to get to grips with a Rebel automatic. Black side steps and Rebel graphics both enhance its looks.


Musso Detail Load class=

Load bay

Access to the ladder chassis-mounted cargo box is by means of a tailgate that drops down into the horizontal position when opened.

The box is on the short side but can nevertheless accept a Euro pallet, while the load bed and its sides, which are unusually deep, are clad with a standard protective plastic liner that covers all the vulnerable areas.

Four load lashing points are fitted along with a 12V power point, and the Rebel’s roof rails offer some extra carrying space. The remote central locking system includes the tailgate.

Our Rebel came fitted with an optional and stylish-looking load area hard top for an extra £1,945. It has a lockable, glazed rear hatch plus side windows, the rearmost of which can be popped open for ventilation if you happen to be transporting livestock.

With some trucks, making full use of the quoted towing capacity reduces the amount of weight you can carry in the cargo bed. Not in this case, says Ssangyong. You can haul a trailer grossing at 3,500kg while making maximum use of the vehicle’s own gross payload capability, it states.

Extensive use of ultra high-strength steel helps keep the unladen weight down, and the payload and towing capacity up. Because this type of steel is so strong manufacturers can get away with using less of it.

Furthermore, the Musso can be equipped with a tachograph if the nature of your operation brings it into the scope of the heavy truck drivers’ hours rules. The automatic’s braked towing weight is higher than that of the manual model’s, which is limited to a still useful 3,200kg.


Musso class=

Interior and equipment

Open the driver’s door and you trigger a funny little electronic tune – which becomes a mite irritating after you have heard it for the 20th time.

Tunes aside, there is no denying that the Rebel is well specified. You get aircon, a reversing camera, a 12V power point, heated and ventilated front seats, and a heated, leather-trimmed, height- and reach-adjustable steering wheel. The driver’s seat is height-adjustable too, and all the seats are trimmed in faux leather.

An 8in black-and-white touch-screen dominates the centre of the dashboard, with Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto both readily available. A DAB radio with remote controls on the steering wheel and Bluetooth connectivity are provided, as is MP3 compatibility.

Electric windows are fitted all around and the exterior rear-view mirrors are electrically adjustable. They flip inwards automatically when the vehicle is parked.

In-cab storage includes a large lidded box between the front seats, a lockable glove box, and a sunglasses holder above the windscreen.

It is supplemented by bins in each of the front doors with mouldings to grip a soft drink bottle, a tray in front of the gear shift lever, another one on top of the dashboard, and pockets in the backs of the two front seats.

You will find a pair of cupholders positioned ahead of the aforementioned box, one of which is occupied by a removable ashtray. What is more, the Rebel comes with a cigarette lighter – rebellious indeed given today’s tough restrictions on smoking.

The three rear passengers enjoy a reasonable amount of legroom but the centre seat position is quite narrow and the occupant is secured solely by a lap strap. Our feeling is that it is for occasional use only, not for a long journey. The two outboard passengers have lap-and-diagonal belts however, and all the passengers are protected by adjustable headrests. Flip down the back of the centre seat when it is not in use and it turns into an armrest complete with a couple of cupholders.

The rear seat is in fact a bench seat. Twist a knob on the side and the entire back folds forwards to reveal the tools stowed neatly on the rear bulkhead.

Six airbags are fitted along with front fog lamps, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.

Electronic safety systems include hill descent control, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic stability programme and brake assist system. Disc brakes are fitted all round.

Turning to the suspension, a double wishbone set-up helps support the front while coil springs help support the rear. Our truck sat on 18in alloy wheels shod with Continental Cross Contact 255/60 R18 tyres.


Musso class=

Engine and gearbox

The Musso Rebel’s four-cylinder in-line turbocharged engine delivers its max power at 4,000rpm. Maximum torque of 400Nm makes its presence felt across a wide 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm plateau.

Four-wheel drive is selectable. Power is delivered permanently to the rear wheels and can be supplemented with drive to the front wheels as and when required, with a high- and a low-ratio set of gears to choose from.


You fire up the engine with a push-button starter, which obliges you to have the key fob ready to hand – not an arrangement the writer particularly likes.

A button next to the shift lever allows you to switch to either an Eco or a Power setting. The former is the default setting and is supposed to keep fuel usage under control. However, the performance limits it imposes aren’t all that onerous unless you are heavily laden. The latter delivers more rapid acceleration and comes in handy if you need to overtake slower-moving traffic and can do so safely.

Also available is a Winter setting. Switching to it means that the Rebel always moves away in second gear to prevent any slippage.

No matter which setting you pick, power is delivered smoothly and you barely notice as the transmission slides from one gear to the next.

You can switch to a manual setting and use a button on the side of the shift lever to change gear, but most drivers are likely to leave the box in automatic mode while on the highway. The ability to go manual could come in handy, however, if you are off-road and ploughing through mud.

Although based in South Korea, Ssangyong is majority-owned by Indian engineering group Mahindra & Mahindra. It also owns Italian automotive design house Pininfarina, which assisted with the Musso’s engineering. Ssangyong enlisted it to help tune out NVH – noise, vibration and harshness – and its efforts have borne fruit. In-cab noise levels are seldom intrusive.

The Musso handles well – the power-assisted steering tightens up nicely as you surge through bends – but its ride can be a touch ragged over uneven surfaces, especially when it is lightly laden.

To engage 4WD you twist a knob between the front seats, then twist it again for the low-ratio set of gears,

Several days of dry weather meant that our forays off-road around the backwoods of Herefordshire were accompanied by clouds of dust rather than flying mud. The Musso acquitted itself well, however, in what was admittedly not terribly demanding terrain, chugging up dried-up embankments and down the other side without breaking sweat, and without the need to go low-ratio.

If the off-road going gets rough then it is worth noting that there are grab handles above each of the doors, and on the B pillars for the outboard rear passengers to cling to as the truck bounces around. A ceiling-mounted handle ought to be provided for the middle occupant of the rear seat who has nothing to cling to at all.


Musso Rear class=


The seven-year/150,000-mile warranty covers the major mechanical components plus the wheel bearings, suspension joints and bushes, steering joints, shock absorbers and even the audio system. Components particularly prone to wear such as clutch discs and brake friction materials are covered for one year/12,500 miles, and the battery and paintwork for three years. At one year/12,500 miles, the service interval makes sense. The intervals between a light commercial visiting a workshop can sometimes be too long, especially if it is used extensively off-road or tows a heavy trailer regularly. The official combined fuel economy is a not overly impressive 32.9mpg, a figure we struggled to achieve over a route that admittedly included a fair amount of high-speed motorway work.

We just about managed to average 30mpg. All this means that the official CO2 figure is quite high, at 226g/km. It’s good to see that a full-size spare wheel rather than a tyre inflator and sealer is available. The latter will be useless if you end up with a massive gash in a sidewall while driving over rough terrain because it will not be capable of sealing the hole. Our light commercial vehicle was finished in optional metallic paint, with colour-keyed door handles. Build quality is good overall aside from the worryingly flimsy in-cab bonnet release lever. The open bonnet is supported by gas-filled struts, which is preferable to having to fiddle about with a metal support.

Ssangyong Musso Rebel 4×4 auto double-cab

Price (ex VAT)    £24,430
Price range (ex VAT)     £20,680-£28,930
Gross payload     1,085kg
Load length     1,300mm
Load width (min/max)     1,110/1,500mm
Load bay height     600mm
Loading height     765mm
Gross vehicle weight     3,215kg
Braked trailer towing weight     3,500kg
Residual value     28.7%*
Cost per mile      52.0p
Engine size/power    2,157cc, 181hp @ 4,000rpm
Torque     400Nm @ 1,600-2,600rpm
Gearbox     6-spd auto
Fuel economy     32.9mpg (combined)
Fuel tank     75 litres
CO2      226g/km
Warranty     7yrs/150,000mls
Service intervals     1yr/12,500mls
Insurance group     41
Price as tested      £26,805

*after 4yrs/80,000mls; source:  KwikCarcost



Options fitted

Metallic paint     £430
Hard top      £1,945


Ford Ranger
Price (ex VAT)  £20,845-£39,895
Gross payload    1,059-1,307kg
Engines     130hp, 170hp, 213hp 2.0 diesel

Verdict: On sale with an optional 10-speed auto gearbox and an Ecoblue diesel engine, the heavily revised Ford Ranger is starting to make its presence felt, with the top-of-the-range, stunning-looking, Raptor winning plenty of plaudits. The Blue Oval brand is emphasising safety as well as style and all-round capability, with pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection and intelligent speed limiter standard features.

Isuzu D-Max
Price (ex VAT). £15,994-£28,994
Gross payload    1,091-1,282kg
Engines    164hp 1.9 diesel

Verdict: A tough, no-nonsense workhorse and What Van?’s Pick-Up of the Year for 2019, the Isuzu D-Max rides and handles competently and is marketed with a wide choice of  specifications. With so many pick-up manufacturers – Ssangyong included – solely interested in the double-cab market, it is gratifying to see that this manufacturer also lists two-door single-cab and extended-cab variants.

Toyota Hilux
Price (ex VAT). £20,828-£45,916
Gross payload 1,095-1,130kg
Engines  148hp 2.4 diesel

Verdict: Hugely successful worldwide, the Toyota Hilux has a justified reputation for being almost unbreakable. For a vehicle of its type its handling is exemplary, the ride is better
than one might expect from a 4×4 pick-up, and the range of derivatives and trim levels on offer means that there is something to suit almost everybody. A bit more power wouldn’t go amiss, though.

The Final Verdict



Well thought-out package but a longer cargo bed would be nice.



Offers a comfortable and well-equipped working environment.



Struggles on uneven surfaces when unladen.



Efforts to tackle noise, vibration and harshness have paid off.

Load area


Short but deep. Pick Rebel auto if you need to haul some weight.



Former is more than competent; latter is well up with rivals. 



Well-matched duo. The auto gearbox delivers power smoothly.

Standard equipment


Pick Rebel trim and to get most of the goodies, except satnav. 

Operating costs


A generous warranty has to be offset against mediocre mpg.

What Van? subjective rating


Attractive package, at a more sensible price than some rivals.

Overall Rating = 73/100