Ssangyong looks as though it may be having the last laugh as far as the pick-up market is concerned. While Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz are far more familiar brands, they have both left the sector, while Mitsubishi – well known for the L200 pick-up – is pulling out of the UK entirely.

It is not hard to see why Ssangyong is staying the course. Though the marque may be unglamorous and lacking in street cred, its pick-ups are well built, well equipped and – most importantly – attractively priced. Mercedes-Benz’s now-departed X Class may have had the kudos of the three-pointed star, but it was eye-wateringly expensive.

Last year Ssangyong announced the introduction of a new Musso 4×4 double-cab, four-door, five-seater pick-up for the UK market, adding the long-wheelbase Rhino to the line-up. It has a cargo bed 310mm longer than the one found on the standard model, which means it offers an impressive amount of space, with payload capacity boosted by up to 45kg.

It comes with the same 181hp, 2.2-litre diesel as the short-wheelbase models, with a six-speed automatic gearbox included in the deal. Its shorter stablemates are available
with a six-speed manual box as well as the automatic, and come with the choice of EX, Rebel or Saracen trim. 

The Rhino is marketed with one trim level only – and it’s at the top end of the scale. It was the Rhino that What Van? tested. So how did we fare?


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Load bay

Released by a centrally positioned handle, a tailgate gives access to the load area. It drops down to rest horizontally – as is usually the case with modern pick-ups, a beefy bumper prevents it from falling any further.

Four rotating tie-down points are provided, along with a 12v power socket. Protected by a lining to defend it against minor damage during loading and unloading, and sitting on a ladder-frame chassis, the cargo box is longer, wider and deeper than anything the Rhino’s key rivals can offer.

With a maximum gross train weight of 6,900kg, the Rhino can pull a fully-laden 3.5t braked trailer and shoulder a gross payload of 1,140kg at the same time, according to Ssangyong. So it’s undoubtedly the truck you should consider if you need to shift some heavy items – and don’t forget that roof rails are fitted too.

Bear in mind, though, that in most cases you will have to ensure that a heavy truck-style tachograph is fitted and used if you want to make the most of the Rhino’s towing capability.


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Interior and equipment

Steps along the sills aid cab access and the Rhino comes with so much interior kit that it is difficult to know where to start. So let’s begin with the two front seats. 

They both boast heaters and are electrically adjustable. The writer’s regular travelling companion made a point of praising the passenger seat for its comfort and the amount of support it offers. The big, and very welcome, surprise is that each front seat also comes with a ventilation system that cools it in hot weather. The Rhino is the only light commercial we can recall encountering that offers this praiseworthy function.

The height and reach-adjustable leather-covered steering wheel comes with a heater too. The rim doesn’t get all that hot, just comfortingly warm to the touch. The wheel plays host to remote controls for the DAB radio. 

A 9.2in touchscreen is included in the deal, as are TomTom satnav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity and MP3 compatibility.

You will find USB and aux-in sockets at the bottom of the dashboard along with a 12v power point.

Dual-zone climate control and cruise control are fitted, as are electric windows all round – the rear side windows are tinted for privacy – and the electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors fold in electrically too. The exterior door handles and mirror casings are colour coordinated with the rest of the body.

Sensors and a camera with impressive image clarity make reversing that bit safer, while front sensors help ensure you avoid walloping the truck’s nose when you are parking.

Storage facilities include a roomy, lidded and lockable glove box, a large lidded bin between the front seats accompanied by a couple of cup holders and a shelf positioned forward from the gearshift. A holder above the windscreen can accommodate your sunglasses or face coverings.

Legroom for the three rear passengers is better than we expected.  Like the front seats, the back seats are leather-trimmed and the two outermost passengers benefit from heaters. The control buttons are mounted on the back doors. The middle passenger
has to put up with being chilly, however, and is held in place solely
by a lap strap. 

Everyone else in the cab is protected by lap and diagonal belts and we cannot understand why the piggy in the middle doesn’t benefit from one as well.

If the centre seat is unoccupied then the middle section of the seat back can be folded down and turned into an arm rest with a handy pair of cup holders.

Grab handles are positioned on the B-pillars so that the outermost rear passengers have something to hold on to if the off-road going gets rough. Handles are also installed above all the doors.

Onboard safety systems include ABS, electronic stability programme, active rollover protection, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist system. Hill start assist, lane departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert are provided too. If you are reversing onto the highway then the latter will warn you if a vehicle is coming.

While that all sounds comprehensive enough, we can think of one or two other devices that might be of benefit: forward collision warning and traffic sign recognition would be useful,
for example.

Front fog lights are fitted, and automatic headlight control and rain-sensing wipers ensure you can see and be seen. The latter also boast their own de-icer. 

Driver and front passenger airbags provide potentially useful protection, with side airbags in the B-pillars providing extra reassurance. Curtain airbags are installed as well, making six airbags in total.

The suspension employs a double-wishbone set-up at the front and leaf springs at the back. Our pick-up’s 17ins alloy wheels were shod with Nexen Roadian HTX 235/70 R17 tyres.


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The Rhino’s four-cylinder diesel reaches maximum power at 3,800rpm, while top torque of 420Nm kicks in across a 1,600rpm–2,600rpm plateau. Periodic infusions of AdBlue are required to ensure the Euro 6 exhaust emission regulations are met.

It features keyless starting – not an arrangement we favour on security grounds – which allows you to fire up the engine by pressing a button on the dashboard, assuming the key fob is on hand.

Drivers can switch from automatic to manual mode by pushing the shift lever over to the ‘M’ setting then flicking a button on the lever’s side to go up and down the box.  Another button next to the lever allows whoever is at the wheel to select from Eco, Power or Winter settings. 

Eco means you enjoy less performance but better economy, Power gives you a meaty acceleration boost, while Winter improves grip on slippery surfaces.


The Rhino handles remarkably well, with the speed-sensitive, hydraulically assisted steering tightening beautifully to give a reassuring level of feedback as you swing through bends. There is certainly no lack of performance – especially if you press the Power button – and it is delivered smoothly, with a highly effective kick-down facility making it easy to accelerate past slower-moving traffic.

The well-built Rhino is quiet too, thanks to effective engine bay sound proofing and the use of polyester wheel arch linings to deaden road noise. What’s more, it’s by no means a
poor off-road performer. 

Four-wheel drive is available and you twist a knob between the seats to enable it to be engaged. The knob allows you to choose between a high or low-ratio set of gears when you venture into the rough, depending on the terrain. When four-wheel drive is disengaged, the Rhino reverts back to rear-wheel-drive.

Understandably, the Rhino won’t go where a Land Rover can go off road and it probably wouldn’t stand up to the sort of battering that Toyota’s Hilux can soak up. However, if you are looking at something that will get you across a muddy field and then up a badly rutted cart track, or in and out of a dusty, boulder-strewn quarry, then this could be the truck for you. On the negative side, the Rhino rides very poorly on ordinary highways when unladen unless the surface is billiard-table smooth. If it is any less than that, then expect your progress to be bumpy. The more weight you put in the  back – and businesses do, after all, require pick-ups as working tools – the better the ride gets.


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At seven years/150,000 miles, there is no denying the generosity of Ssangyong’s warranty. Service intervals are set at one year/12,500 miles, which seems about right. While many light commercials come with longer intervals, 4×4 pick-ups can lead a hard life, so it doesn’t make sense to leave too big a gap between workshop visits.

Ssangyong quotes a combined World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) fuel economy figure of 28.2mpg, which is about what we achieved. It’s not outstanding, but not really surprising either, given that we’re talking about a large, heavy, double-cab pick-up with automatic transmission.

An alarm and immobiliser help protect the truck against thieves. A tyre pressure monitoring system is installed but no spare wheel is provided. You get a repair kit instead – not an enormous amount of use if you are faced with a severely damaged tyre in the middle of nowhere. The inflator and tools are stowed behind the back seat.

Ssangyong Musso Rhino Pick-up

Price (ex VAT) £30,035

Price range (ex VAT) £22,035-£30,035

Gross payload 1,140kg

Load length 1,610mm

Load width (min/max) 1,130mm/1,570mm

Load bay height 570mm

Loading height 762mm

Gross vehicle weight 3,400kg

Braked trailer towing weight 3,500kg

Residual value 29.6%

Cost per mile 59.4p

Engine size/power 2,157cc, 181hp @ 3,800rpm

Torque 420Nm @ 1,600-2,600rpm

Gearbox 6sp automatic

Fuel economy (combined WLTP) 28.2mpg

Fuel tank 75 litres

CO2 262g/km

Warranty 7yrs/150,000mls

Service intervals 1yr/12,500mls

Insurance group 42D

Price as tested £30,035

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


Isuzu D-Max

Price range (ex VAT) £20,179-£31,929

Gross payload 1,070-1,205kg

Braked towing weight 2,500-3,500kg

Engines 164hp 1.9 diesel

Verdict: Isuzu has recently revised the D-Max with extensive exterior and interior restyling and a suite of new safety devices. Like its predecessor, it remains a tough, no-nonsense package and it is pleasing to see that it is still available in single and extended-cab configurations alongside the double-cab version. Unusually you can order it in 4×2
as well as 4×4 guise. More power is still required, however, and it is surprising that Isuzu has failed to address this requirement.

Ford Ranger

Price range (ex VAT) £21,950-£46,975

Gross payload 620-1,252kg

Braked towing weight 2,500-3,500kg

Engines 130hp, 170hp, 213hp 2.0 diesel

Verdict: With half a dozen different specification levels the last time we looked, including the spectacular Raptor and three different cab configurations, Ranger customers
are unlikely to complain about a lack of choice. What they are looking at is a good solid workhorse that ticks the majority of the boxes, with an optional 10-speed auto box that is well worth considering. The warranty could stand to be a bit more generous, though.

Toyota Hilux

Price range (ex VAT) £21,540-£51,637

Gross payload 1,050-1,105kg 

Braked towing weight 3,500kg

Engines 150hp 2.4 diesel, 204hp 2.8 diesel

Verdict: The tough as old boots Hilux has a well-justified reputation for being able to stand up to a severe hammering, and the model now delivers more punch thanks to the advent of a 204hp 2.8-litre diesel engine. Its debut is at the centre of a major upgrade, which includes everything from upgraded satellite navigation to a retuned suspension and some restyling. The generous warranty package is to be applauded, although the duration is shorter than the Rhino’s.

The Final Verdict

Design 8/10 – A sensible balance between passenger capacity and cargo carrying capability.

Cabin 9/10 – Comfortable and roomy working environment with plenty of handy features.

Ride 5/10 – Mediocre on anything but the smoothest roads but improves with weight in the back.

Refinement 7/10 – Lack of in-cab noise and impressive build quality make up for the lack of refinement.

Load area 8/10 – Bags of carrying capacity, especially with the long wheelbase.

Handling/performance 8/10 – Both are to a high standard, with the steering tightening nicely though bends. 

Engine/transmission 8/10 – Well matched, delivering power smoothly with strong acceleration.

Standard equipment 7/10 – Lots of goodies, but one or two more safety devices wouldn’t go amiss.

Operating costs 7/10 – The warranty is a definite plus, but Rhino is not the most frugal of vehicles.

What Van? subjective rating 8/10 – An attractive package offering plenty of productivity and kit.

Overall rating: 75/100