We've driven the long-wheelbase version of the Musso ute, and there's a surprise pick of the pack!
The SsangYong Musso XLV has arrived to offer buyers even more value for their money. The new, longer version of the Musso ute adds not only an extra foot of tray space, but sees the choice of a leaf-spring rear suspension or the existing coil spring setup. Prices are up for the XLV version - but is it still a bargain buy? Read on to find out.
The SsangYong Musso XLV 2019 model is big news for the brand. It’s just plain big in general, in fact.
The new longer, more work-ready Musso XLV version of the brand’s dual-cab ute is set to offer buyers more for their money. It’s bigger and more practical than the existing SWB version, yet is still a heavy hitter when it comes to value for money.
If you’re wondering what the “XLV” bit stands for, it’s “extra long version”. Or “exciting lifestyle vehicle”. Or “extra large on value”.
No matter what the name means, the Musso and Musso XLV pairing remain the only Korean ute offerings in the segment - something the company feels is an advantage, given Hyundai and Kia have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years.
But not only is it unique because it’s a Korean ute - it’s also one of the only utes in the segment to have the choice of a coil spring or leaf spring rear suspension.
Here’s how it dared at the local launch, in cold and snowy Marysville, Victoria.
So, how big is it? Here are the dimensions: 5405mm long (on a 3210mm wheelbase), 1840mm wide and 1855mm tall. For some context, the existing Musso SWB is 5095mm long (on a 3100mm wheelbase), the same width, and a little lower (1840mm).
The front end design mirrors that of the Rexton SUV (the Musso is essentially a Rexton under the skin), but from the rear doors backwards it’s a different situation. In fact, the tops of the rear doors have edges that could catch you out in a tight parking spot. Youngsters will need to mind themselves around these, too.
To my eye the longer XLV model is more complete looking.
It's 5405mm long (on a 3210mm wheelbase), 1840mm wide and 1855mm tall.
Sadly there is still no rear step bumper.
A lot of dual cab utes - including the Musso XLV - have quite a high tub height, making it hard for shorter people to climb in and out, and difficult to lift in heavy loads, too. Sadly there is still no rear step bumper like you’ll find on a Ford Ranger or Mitsubishi Triton - we’ve been told it’s on its way at some point.
Tray dimensions are 1610mm long by 1570mm wide and 570mm deep, and according to the brand that means the tray is the biggest in its segment. SsangYong says the cargo hold has a capacity of 1262 litres, and the XLV has 310mm of extra tray length available compared to the SWB model.
All models have a hard plastic tub liner and a 12-volt outlet - many rivals don’t, especially at this price point.
The Musso XLV model has exactly the same cabin space as the regular model, and that’s no bad thing - it’s one of the more generous utes when it comes to back seat comfort.
With the driver’s seat set in my position (I’m six-feet tall, or 182cm), I had ample rear seat room, with good knee, head and toe room, and it’s nice and wide across the back row, too - three across is easily more comfortable than a Triton or HiLux. There are rear seat air vents, map pockets, cup holders in a fold-down armrest, and bottle holders in the doors.
The biggest rear seat let-down - for now - is the middle seatbelt, which is a lap only affair. SsangYong promises a proper three-point belt is coming. More on that in the safety section below.
Up front there is a pleasant cabin design, with good ergonomics and decent storage.
I had ample rear seat room, with good knee, head and toe room.
Tray dimensions are 1610mm long by 1570mm wide and 570mm deep.
Up front there is a pleasant cabin design, with good ergonomics and decent storage including cup holders between the seats and bottle holsters in the doors. There’s a good centre armrest storage box, and a space for your phone in front of the shifter - provided it’s not one of those mega large smartphones.
There’s reach and rake adjustment for the steering wheel, which plenty of utes lack, and the seat adjustment is good for tall and short occupants.
The 8.0-inch touch screen media system includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB input, and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming - there’s no sat nav, which may matter to rural buyers, but it’s a good system and worked well on test… just the lack of a ‘Home’ button is a bit annoying.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 9/10
Prices for the SsangYong Musso XLV model are up compared to the existing SWB model - you’re going to have to pay for more practicality, but the standard spec is up, too.
The ELX model is priced at $33,990 drive-away for the manual and $35,990 drive-away for the automatic. All models will attract a $1000 discount for ABN holders.
Standard equipment for the ELX includes 17-inch alloy wheels, smart key with push-button start, auto headlights, auto wipers, cruise control, an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, four-speaker stereo, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, fabric seats, a limited slip differential and a safety suite that consists of a reversing camera, auto emergency braking (AEB) with lane departure warning, and six airbags.
The ELX manual model is $33,990 drive-away, and $35,990 drive-away for the automatic.
Topping the range is the Ultimate Plus, which is $43,990 drive-away.
the Ultimate Plus variant has 20-inch chrome alloy wheels.
Standard equipment for the ELX includes the 8.0-inch touch screen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Ultimate Plus gets power front seat adjustment.
The next model up the range is the Ultimate, which is auto only and costs $39,990 drive-away. It has 18-inch black alloy wheels with tyre pressure monitoring, LED daytime running lights, rear fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, heated and cooled fake leather front seats, a leather steering wheel, a six-speaker stereo, a 7.0-inch driver info display and additional safety gear in the form of blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist.
Topping the range is the Ultimate Plus, which is $43,990 drive-away. It adds HID headlights, speed sensitive steering, a 360-degree camera system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power front seat adjustment, and real leather seat trim.
Buyers who choose the Ultimate Plus variant also have the option of a sunroof (list: $2000) and 20-inch chrome alloy wheels (list: $2000), which can be bundled together for a package cost of $3000.
Colour options for the Musso XLV range include Silky White Pearl, Grand White, Fine Silver, Space Black, Marble Grey, Indian Red, Atlantic Blue and Maroon Brown.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission? 6/10
The Musso XLV sees a modest increase in power from its 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel motor. The peak power output of 133kW (at 4000rpm) remains static, but torque is increased by five per cent to 420Nm (at 1600-2000rpm), up from 400Nm in the SWB models. That’s still at the lower end of the scale in the diesel ute class - the Holden Colorado, for instance, has 500Nm of torque in automatic guise.
There’s a six-speed manual (base model only) and a six-speed automatic transmission (sourced from Aisin, standard on mid and high grade models), and all models sold in Australia will be 4WD.
The weight of the Musso XLV varies based on suspension type. The leaf spring version has a claimed kerb weight of 2160kg, while the coil sprung model is 2170kg.
The Musso XLV sees a modest increase in power from its 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel motor.
For instance, the 2WD with leaf spring rear suspension has a gross vehicle weight of 3210kg, while the coil spring version is 2880kg - meaning it’s clearly less capable in terms of load ability, but likely more comfortable in day-to-day driving. The 4WD version has a gross vehicle weight of 3220kg with leafs, or 2980kg with coils.
The gross combination mass (GCM) for the leaf-spring version is set at 6370kg, and the figure for the coil spring version is 6130kg.
Payload capacity for the XLV with leaf springs is 1025kg, while the coil spring XLV models have a lower 880kg payload. For reference, the coil-spring-only SWB model has a payload of 850kg.
SsangYong Australia has stated the towing capacity for Musso XLV is 750kg (for an unbraked trailer) and 3500kg (braked trailer) towing, with a down ball weight of 350kg.
How much fuel does it consume? 7/10
There are only two fuel use figures to wrap your head around when it comes to the Musso XLV - and it comes down to manual vs auto.
The manual - only available in the ELX - has claimed fuel consumption of 8.2 litres per 100 kilometres. That’s a touch better than the automatic, which uses a claimed 8.9L/100km.
We didn’t get a chance to do a proper measured fuel consumption test at the launch, but the dashboard indication in the auto top-spec model I drove was reading 10.1L/100km across a mix of highway and urban driving.
The fuel tank capacity of the Musso XLV is 75 litres.
What's it like to drive? 7/10
The surprise for me was just how much of a difference the leaf springs make to the drive experience… and, moreover, how the drive experience is even better with the leaf-spring rear end.
There’s a more solid feeling to the ELX than you get in the Ultimate versions, with a rigid rear axle that is less prone to fidgeting over smaller inconsistencies in the road surface. Some of that also comes down to the 17-inch wheels and higher-profile tyres, sure, but you can even feel the improved stiffness in the steering - the wheel doesn’t jostle around as much in your hand in the leaf-spring version.
Indeed, the ride comfort is impressive. We didn’t get a chance to drive one with a load in the tub, but even unladen it was well sorted and handled corners well, too.
The steering is very light at low speeds, making it easy to manoeuvre in tight spots, even though the turning circle has been increased somewhat (no figure has been offered by SsangYong, but it’s just physics).
If you’re wondering why the higher grade versions have coils, still, it’s because of wheel size. The lower-grade version gets 17-inch rims, where the higher grades have 18- or even 20-inch rims. It’s a shame because the ELX is otherwise really impressive, but it just lacks a few of the niceties you might desire - leather seats, heated seats and the like.
There’s a more solid feeling to the ELX than you get in the Ultimate versions.
There was an off road element to our launch drive and the Musso XLV fared well.
The steering is very light at low speeds, making it easy to maneuver in tight spots.
The optional 20-inch wheels fitted on the Ultimate Plus meant it picked up more little bumps.
I also drove the Ultimate Plus, which was fitted with the optional 20-inch wheels and was less enjoyable as a result, simply picking up a lot more of the little bumps in the road, even when I could have sworn there weren’t any.
No matter the model you get, the drivetrain is the same - a refined and quiet 2.2-litre turbo diesel, which isn’t going to win any awards for punchiness, but certainly has the grunt to get the big, long, heavy Musso XLV moving. The auto transmission was smart and smooth, and in the ELX the manual shift was easy, with a light clutch action and easy throw.
There was an off road review element to our launch drive, and the Musso XLV fared pretty darn well.
The approach angle is 25 degrees, the departure angle is 20 degrees, and the ramp-over or break-over angle is 20 degrees. Ground clearance is 215mm. None of those figures are class-leading, but it coped without any major issues on the muddy, slippery track we drove.
We didn’t do rock crawling or wade through any major rivers, but the general compliance, comfort and controllability of the Musso XLV was enough to inspire confidence, even the track was starting to lose purchase after multiple runs.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 8/10
The SsangYong Musso has not received an ANCAP crash test rating, but the brand is working towards a five-star ANCAP score. It’s CarsGuide’s understanding that the Musso will be crash-tested later in 2019.
It should, theoretically, achieve the maximum rating. It comes with some safety technology that many of its rivals can't match.
All models come with auto emergency braking (AEB), forward collision warning and lane departure warning. Higher grades have blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert and tyre pressure monitoring.
SsangYong is working towards a five-star ANCAP score but has not been crash tested this year.
A reversing camera is offered range wide, along with rear parking sensors, and the top-spec version has a surround view camera system.
But there won’t be active lane keeping assist, nor adaptive cruise control - so it falls a little short of the best in class (Mitsubishi Triton and Ford Ranger). However, the Musso still offers more safety gear than most of the big-name brands.
Plus it comes with four-wheel disc brakes, where plenty of rival trucks still have drum brakes at the rear. There are six airbags, including rear seat curtain airbag coverage.
There are dual ISOFIX child seat anchor points and three top tether attachments for baby seats, but the current run of Musso models are all fitted with a lap only middle seatbelt, which is poor by today’s standards - so, it has 2019 tech and a 1999 seatbelt setup. We understand a fix for this issue is imminent, and personally I’d hold off on buying a Musso until it’s implemented.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 10/10
SsangYong Australia is backing all of its models with a compelling seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty, making it the class-leader in the commercial vehicle segment. No other ute comes with this level of warranty cover at the moment, though Mitsubishi is running (a likely permanent) promotional warranty for Triton, at seven years/150,000km.
SsangYong has a capped price servicing plan spanning seven years, too, with pricing for the Musso set at $375 per year before consumables. And the company’s ‘service price menu’ offers excellent clarity on what owners can expect the costs to be like in the longer term, too.
SsangYong also offers seven years of roadside assistance - and the good news for customers, whether they’re business buyers, fleets or private owners, is that the so-called “777” campaign is applicable to everyone.
There is no doubt in my mind the Musso XLV model will be a popular option for customers. It is more practical, still excellent value, and with the choice of leaf or coil springs, it caters to a wide audience, and my personal choice would be the ELX… I just hope they do an ELX Plus, with leather and seat heaters, because by golly you love them when you have them!
We can’t wait to get one through the Tradie Guide office to see how it copes with a load… and yep, we’ll make sure it’s the version with the leaf springs. Stay tuned for that.
Does the XLV put the Musso back on your radar? Tell us what you think in the comments below.