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SsangYong Musso 2018 review

The SsangYong Musso ute isn't like the other dual cabs out there... and not just because it's Korean.
EXPERT RATING
6.8
You mightn't know what a SsangYong is. Well, it's a Korean carmaker, which has been around for about 60 years. What about a Musso? That's the Korean word for a rhinoceros.

The SsangYong Musso is the best Korean ute ever made.

That may sound like incredibly high praise, but it’s undeniably true. That’s because there are no other Korean utes… yet. Hyundai and Kia are working on plans for a dual cab ute, but for now, the SsangYong Musso is the only pick-up from the peninsula.

Far from being a workhorse built from the ground up for tradies and farmers, the Musso is actually an SUV that has been turned into a dual cab ute. In fact, in Korea, they call the Musso an “open SUV”.

So, can it offer the best of both worlds? Read on to find out.

Ssangyong Musso 2018: EX
Safety rating
Engine Type2.2L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency7.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$29,950

Is there anything interesting about its design?   6/10

If you look at the Musso front on, it looks good. From directly at the rear, yep, it’s pretty nice. Even from the front and rear three-quarter angles, it’s not bad. But in profile, it’s pretty challenging to look at. 

The C-pillar, which is where the donor SUV’s cabin is cut off very abruptly, is made up of a sharp line that drops down behind the back seat, at the point where the cab and tub meet.

The front-end design, however, is undeniably attractive - it’s essentially the Rexton’s nose, with a nice set of sculpted headlights with LED daytime running lights. The front-end design, however, is undeniably attractive - it’s essentially the Rexton’s nose, with a nice set of sculpted headlights with LED daytime running lights.

It is pretty crude - not just due to the fact that it looks weird with such a short tub (there will be a long version of the Musso, which we saw some images of, and it looks a little bit smarter) - but also because the rear doors have sharp edges at the top of them that could prove frustrating to owners: I hit my arm on the edge a few times when trying to access the back seat in a tight parking space, and I just fear that young children might cop a knock to their shoulder or head, if they’re not careful.

The tub also sits quite high - that’s not unusual for a dual cab ute, but the Musso has a very deep tray (570mm) so loading things in and out may be difficult for shorter drivers… especially if the lift kit is an option!

The front-end design, however, is undeniably attractive - it’s essentially the Rexton’s nose, with a nice set of sculpted headlights (halogens, unfortunately) with LED daytime running lights. The grille has some nice form to it, and so does the front bumper. The wheels - expected to be 18-inch rims, and maybe with optional 20s - looked pretty smart, too.

  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.
  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.
  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.
  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.
  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.
  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.
  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.

The Musso’s dimensions are as follows: 5095mm long (on a 3100mm wheelbase), 1960mm wide and 1825mm tall. That makes it small for a dual cab ute. But that’s for the short version, which will launch first in November - and it will only come with a coil-spring rear suspension set-up, similar to the Nissan Navara. The load bed is small at 1300mm long, 1570mm wide and 570mm deep. 

There will be a Musso model with a longer tray (and the choice of coil springs or leaf springs in the rear) that measures 5400mm total will be offered. Tray dimensions are expected to be 1595mm long by 1570mm wide and 570mm deep.

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

The SsangYong Musso could well be the most spacious ute in this segment. Sure, a big Ford F-150, RAM 2500 or Chevrolet Silverado will have more space, but as far as the other, regular-sized rivals I’ve sat in, the Musso is excellent.

There is easily enough room for me to sit behind my own driving position, and I’m 182cm tall. I had enough knee, toe and headroom to sit in the back comfortably, and it’s probably more amenable for three-across than, say, a Toyota HiLux, which is quite narrow.

Perhaps the most impressive element of the Musso’s cabin is that it feels more SUV-like than ute-like. Perhaps the most impressive element of the Musso’s cabin is that it feels more SUV-like than ute-like.

It’s not just back-seat space where it excels, either. It has a really good cabin layout, with practically placed controls and thoughtful storage options: there are cup holders up front and in the back (in a fold-down armrest), plus bottle holders in all four doors, too. Loose items can be stored in the centre console, sunglass holder, dash-top dish or the small space in front of the shifter.

The seats are very comfortable and quite supportive, and they offer good adjustment, too. And unlike plenty of the workhorse utes out there, the Musso has steering wheel adjustment for reach and rake.

Local Musso models are expected to come with a big media screen packing all the mod-cons like an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Local Musso models are expected to come with a big media screen packing all the mod-cons like an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

But perhaps the most impressive element of the Musso’s cabin is that it feels more SUV-like than ute-like. That’s obviously because of its roots, but the design of the dashboard, the materials used and the features available all add to the ambiance.

Plus local Musso models are expected to come with a big media screen packing all the mod-cons like an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (expected to be offered on higher-spec versions), plus USB (and maybe HDMI) and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming. 

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

This is the most difficult section of this review, because we don’t know exactly where the SsangYong Musso will be priced. And to be 100 per cent frank, the price will determine whether this vehicle is a success or just another also-ran in the segment.

SsangYong is expected to offer a range of accessories for the Musso, including - but not limited to - a nudge bar, canopy and roof racks. SsangYong is expected to offer a range of accessories for the Musso, including - but not limited to - a nudge bar, canopy and roof racks.

For instance, if SsangYong decides to offer three grades (as we think they will), and the entry-level manual diesel 4WD variant is $29,990, it could do quite well. But if the price tag the Korean brand settles on for the base model is closer to $34,990, it could be too much.

By that logic, the top-spec model with a diesel automatic 4WD drivetrain and almost everything you could think of - including some benchmark-equalling safety technology - should cost more than $40,000 if the brand wants to make a real impression. 

If SsangYong fails to position the Musso - and, indeed, all of the new models it plans to launch - correctly, it could be a disaster: like someone pouring water over the campfire before anyone had a chance to toast a marshmallow.

  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.
  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.
  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.
  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.
  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.

SsangYong is expected to offer a range of accessories for the Musso, including - but not limited to - a nudge bar, canopy and roof racks. A cargo slider for the tub may be offered (it was fitted to our test ute), plus a light bar, sports bar and possibly a bull bar will be available to purchase.  

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   6/10

There’s a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, and both are rated at 133kW/400Nm. That’s one of the lowest torque outputs of any diesel ute in the class.

The engine is small in terms of its capacity, and the outputs are pretty modest, too. The engine is small in terms of its capacity, and the outputs are pretty modest, too.

The engine is small in terms of its capacity, and the outputs are pretty modest, too. But the Musso is reasonably light for its class, with a kerb weight of between 2080kg and 2177kg for the manual, and between 2090-2192kg for the automatic.

There are some good numbers to boast for SsangYong when it comes to the Gross Combination Mass (GCM), which is a huge 6700kg. That means, according to the brand, you will be able to tow the maximum 3.5-tonne braked trailer capacity with 1.0-tonne of payload on board… and it gives the Musso an advantage over almost every other ute in the segment.

There is some confusion over payload figures - in one instance SsangYong is claiming a 1.0-tonne payload capacity, but in other documentation the figures suggest a range between 688kg and 800kg.

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

Fuel use is claimed at 9.7L/100km for the manual and 10.9L/100km for the auto, which is high in both cases. Most utes claim less than 8.0L for a manual and 9.0L or less for auto. The tank holds 75 litres.

But at least these figures appear to be pretty honest - on test we saw an indicated 9.6km/L on the digital driver info display of our automatic test ute, which translates to 10.4L/100km. 

To be fair, was subjected to six different drivers across a mix of different scenarios including some off road testing, and had a few hundred kilograms of additional optional equipment fitted.

What's it like to drive?   6/10

The Musso is not bad to drive, but it’s the refinement of it that is its standout feature. Not just in terms of the engine, which revs smoothly and quietly, but the general quietude of the cabin is unmatched in the segment. According to SsangYong, the Musso has been tuned by Pininfarina to feel more luxurious in terms of the ambiance in the cabin (Pininfarina is a luxury design house that was recently purchased by SsangYong’s parent company, Mahindra).

Matt Campbell drove the modified version with a lift kit and big wheels, which was jittery and pretty clumsy (and a bit underdone in terms of power); as well as the stock standard version, which was a marked improvement. Matt Campbell drove the modified version with a lift kit and big wheels, which was jittery and pretty clumsy (and a bit underdone in terms of power); as well as the stock standard version, which was a marked improvement.

The engine doesn’t have huge numbers and nor does it feel like a powerhouse drivetrain, being let down by some turbo lag from a standstill. But throttle response on the move is better, and the transmission does a reasonably good job of using the smallish amount of torque that’s there.

I drove the modified version with a lift kit and big wheels, which was jittery and pretty clumsy (and a bit underdone in terms of power); and I also drove the stock standard version, which was a marked improvement. The braking in both was quite sharp, with some other journos suggesting they found the pedal a little hard to modulate.

The suspension of the regular version was still a bit unsettled, with its coil-spring live rear axle set-up and empty tray combining to feel twitchy if the surface wasn’t perfect under the tyres. This could be a bit of an issue in Australia, because we don’t have many perfect surfaces…

I can’t say whether the Musso behaves itself better with weight in the tray, or with something in tow, because that wasn’t part of the test drive brief in Korea. 

But we did get a chance to do a short off road review, where we mildly tested the ground clearance (215mm) but found - in the regular model, at least - that the the suspension travel could have been longer to better help with the shallow approach angle (20.2 degrees) and departure angle (23.0deg).

  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.
  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.
  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.
  • 2018 SsangYong Musso. 2018 SsangYong Musso.

It wasn’t a challenging enough course for us to really explore the potential of it, but we hope to do that when the Musso launches in Australia in November.

There weren’t many corners on our drive, either, so making a conclusive judgment on the steering of the Musso is a challenge. 

But over the limited bendy bits I drove, I thought the steering felt pretty decent, with good communication from the tiller on the off road coarse we drove, and okay feedback in other situations. There was a bit of odd weighting to the rack at times, but the best thing about the steering was the Musso’s tight turning circle at lower speeds. And the surround view camera system fitted was perhaps the best example of the tech I’ve come across outside of a very recent BMW.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

7 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

There is no ANCAP crash test rating for the SsangYong Musso, and it’s unlikely there will be. It’s not expected the Musso will be tested.

That could be enough to rule it out for you, especially given many utes these days have a maximum five-star ANCAP score, even if they were tested a few years ago.

But the fact is that the Musso is available with some pretty good safety technology available, including auto emergency braking, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert.

The Musso comes with six airbags, including rear seat curtain airbag coverage, but the press information handed out by SsangYong at the international launch suggests the entry model ute doesn’t have a reversing camera.

But there is an available (excellent) surround view camera on some models (expect it in the top version). ISOFIX child seat anchor points for the rear window seats are standard.

Given there’s clearly a lot of tech available, the Musso could offer very impressive safety package - if the brand wants that. 

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

This is another unknown at the time of writing. But there is a very, very good chance the SsangYong Musso will be the first ute in Australia with a seven-year warranty. That’s right - SsangYong could join Kia as offering one of the best ownership plans on the market, with a seven-year/unlimited kay warranty.

If that doesn’t happen, at the very least the warranty plan for the Musso will be a five-year offer, which is better than a Mazda BT-50, Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navara or Volkswagen Amarok.

It is expected that SsangYong will also offer a form of capped price servicing. The company says it wants to be transparent with its customers, but that mightn’t mean a plan like Toyota’s with very low - but more regular - servicing costs. 

In fact, SsangYong has made it clear that it would prefer 12 month/15,000km intervals. We’ll have to wait and see what happens on that front, and how much those services might cost. 

Verdict

I cannot understate the importance that pricing and specifications will play in the success of the SsangYong Musso ute. The rating could be pretty high if the price and spec - including the safety equipment offer - is right. Or it could be lower.

As a challenger brand with a pretty unconventional offering, SsangYong needs to be realistic in what it expects customers to pay for the Musso. For some it may well make a compelling dual cab option - or even an interesting alternative to an SUV.

Would you spend your money on a SsangYong Musso? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Pricing Guides

$34,240
Based on 10 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$30,888
Highest Price
$40,440

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
ELX 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $26,510 – 32,670 2018 Ssangyong Musso 2018 ELX Pricing and Specs
EX 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $29,950 – 30,990 2018 Ssangyong Musso 2018 EX Pricing and Specs
ULTIMATE 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $39,990 – 40,440 2018 Ssangyong Musso 2018 ULTIMATE Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6.8
Design6
Practicality9
Price and features7
Engine & trans6
Fuel consumption6
Driving6
Safety7
Ownership7
Matt Campbell
Senior Editor

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Pricing Guide

$29,950

Lowest price, based on 10 car listings in the last 6 months

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