Car reviews - SsangYong - Musso - XLV
Long equipment list, affordable pricing, in-cabin refinement, leaf-spring suspension comfortability, seven-year commercial-use warranty
Room for improvement
Rear seat comfort, no in-built satellite navigation, leaf-spring suspension not available with higher equipment levels, engine could be punchier
High value, refined on-road manners make SsangYong Musso XLV an attractive option
31 May 2019
By TUNG NGUYEN
PICK-UPS are big business in Australia, and South Korean car-maker SsangYong is clearly well aware having brought its Musso ute to market late last year.
As the only Korean-built pick-up on the market, the Musso occupies an interesting space with its value-laden, feature-rich and well-refined package.
To bolster the range, SsangYong has now brought to market a larger XLV version that features a stretched wheelbase, longer rear tray and – in base ELX form – leaf-sprung rear suspension.
SsangYong obviously has high hopes, with the brand predicting the lion’s share of customers to gravitate towards the Musso XLV, but does adding more room unbalance an already impressive offering?
With pricing for the dual-cab Musso XLV kicking off at $33,990 driveaway, there’s no doubt that SsangYong is targeting the budget-conscious buyer.
Better still, Australian Business Number (ABN) holders get an additional $1000 off, which means tradies can walk out a car lot with a brand-new dual-cab pick-up for about the same price as a mid-to-top-spec small SUV.
While the short-wheelbase (SWB) Musso can be had for even less – it starts at $30,490 driveaway – the entry-level XLV grade dubbed ELX differs in that it features leaf-sprung rear suspension, the only version to do so.
With the leaf springs installed, the maximum payload increases from 880kg to 1025kg , but don’t think that missing out on the multi-link rear suspension of the rest of the Musso range is any bad thing.
In fact, in our brief morning drive of the new Musso XLV, we actually preferred the on-road manners of the leaf-sprung ELX grade compared with the more expensive and sophisticated Ultimate Plus that is priced at $43,990.
Of note is that the leaf-spring suspension can only be had with 17-inch wheels and 235/70 rubber, whereas the multi-link set-up is paired with 18-inch hoops and 255/60 tyres, meaning the ELX sports a bit more cushioning at all four corners.
Even without a load in the tray, the manual ELX tester felt more refined and compliant across the Marysville’s wet and icy black top.
Underpinned by a four-wheel-drive system with locking differential, the Musso XLV will even handle the rough stuff thanks to hill decent control and a low-range four-wheel-drive setting.
However, when navigating the hills of Victoria’s Marysville, there were more than a few times the Musso XLV struggled with grip, especially in downhill situations.
Keep in mind though, this was on particular slippery condition after snowfall and with road tyres fitted, but then again, wet weather and wild terrain should be where a 4x4 shines.
A shame then that ELX buyers miss out on some nice creature comforts found in the more equipment-laden and pricier siblings, such as heated/ventilated seats, tyre pressure monitoring, surround-view cameras and a 7.0-inch driver display.
As standard though, there is still a sizeable list of gear, including keyless entry, push-button start, a multi-function steering wheel, automatic headlights and wipers, and an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Take note of the fact that satellite navigation isn’t offered on any grade of the Musso XLV, which means to use maps, owners will need to hook up the smartphone and use the aforementioned mirroring apps.
SsangYong’s approach of developing an SUV first, then pick-up later really shines through the most when sat inside the Musso XLV.
The in-cabin refinement of the Korean pick-up is surprisingly strong, especially when stacked up to the more agricultural offerings of its competitors.
Noise, vibration and harshness levels are kept to a minimum, even during hard acceleration, while the comfortable ride quality makes for easy commuting.
The rear seats, however, while offering ample space even behind our 186cm-tall driver position, feels a little too hard and uncomfortable for our tastes.
Stacked side-by-side, the Musso XLV is 310mm longer, at a massive 5405mm, thanks to the longer tray, while the wheelbase has also been elongated by 110mm to 3210mm.
There’s no getting around that SsangYong’s latest is a big ute, not helped by the swathes of flat and nearly characterless sheet metal along the flanks, but the advantage of a longer tray is increased storage volume, which means an added 251 litres to a total of 1262L.
Tie-down points and a 12V power socket is also featured in the rear, making things a little more convenient when around back.
As with the SWB Musso, all versions of the XLV are powered by a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine outputting 133kW of power at 4000rpm and 420Nm of torque from 1600-2600rpm.
While a more than adequate powerplant around town, we felt the mill runs out of huff a little when approaching freeway speeds.
The six-speed automatic shifts smartly and smoothly, prioritising seamless gear changes over any sort of urgency, but nonetheless ultimately proving enjoyable.
If you are already convinced to give the SsangYong Musso a go based on its price, features and capability, the cherry on top of the cake will no doubt be the seven year/unlimited kilometre warranty that applies even to commercial use.
Taken as a whole then, the Musso offers arguably the best bang-for-buck in the 4x4 dual-cab pick-up segment, and if you are shopping around this end of financial year, do you wallet a favour and put the SsangYong on the short list.
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