Pleasingly, the SsangYong Musso is no utilitarian workhorse inside. The dash layout isn’t particularly original, but it’s neat and uncomplicated with controls falling easily to hand. The front seats are well bolstered and supportive with a nice leather-look trim. The inclusion of soft-touch materials lifts the ambience and while it’s not at VW Amarok comfort levels, it’s a step above some more established utes, like Nissan’s Navara.
There are storage options aplenty, with two bottle holders in each door, a massive central compartment, lockable glovebox and decent storage in the console as well as on the top of the centre stack. It might have car-like comfort levels, but it also offers the practicality of a proper tradie ute. The Musso has excellent visibility all round thanks to generous use of glass.
SsangYong’s infotainment system feels a generation behind some of its rivals and doesn’t have the functionality of Ford’s Sync system, but it doesn’t do anything particularly wrong either.
Second-row occupants get knee-level air vents, a central armrest/drinks holder, map pockets and decent door storage, as well as comfortable, supportive seats. There’s plenty of head and knee room and loads of storage space under the rear pew.
Under the bonnet is a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine that delivers 133kW of power and 420Nm of torque – a 20Nm boost over the regular-wheelbase Musso – driving all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s a surprisingly responsive engine, offering strong performance from a standing start. It lacks the turbo lag of some of its rivals, and steering feel is on the lighter side, ensuring it’s a great vehicle for around town.
Our Musso had coil-spring suspension and the ride when unladen was slightly jittery on poor-quality roads, but on smooth blacktop we had no complaints. A short stint on a rough, unsealed road revealed a bit of shuddering at higher speeds, but the four-wheel-drive system ensured it maintained traction the whole time.
The Musso handles better than expected too, despite a bit of body roll through bends. The Musso’s brakes feel a little spongy, but stopping performance is not compromised. One gripe was the overly sensitive lane-keeping aid that intervenes a little too quickly.
One of the many surprises with the Musso is how quiet and refined it is. Compared with a few other diesel utes, the noise, vibration and harshness levels are seriously impressive. Holden, Isuzu and Nissan could all learn a few things from SsangYong.
SsangYong says the Musso XLV consumes 8.9 litres per 100 kilometres on the official combined cycle. We recorded 10.3L/100km over a week of testing.
Our recent review of the Mitsubishi Triton highlighted the value equation for that vehicle. While that stands, the Musso takes value to a new level. It offers the most ute for your dollar in its segment, and also shames some of its more popular rivals when it comes to driveability and refinement. Welcome back, SsangYong.