Toyota Hilux, SsangYong Musso and Ford Ranger

Can SsangYong Musso Hold Its Own Against the Crowd-Favourites?

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Amid the popularity of utes in Australia that’s spearheaded by the perpetual rivalry between Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, along came SsangYong Musso, a little-known ute from South Korea.

First launched in the country in 1997 as an SUV, a dual-cab ute version called Musso Sports was later introduced in the mid-2000s albeit it did not really take off. After a two-year hiatus, the Korean carmaker reopened for business as a factory-owned importer and with its reopening was the reintroduction of the dual-cab Musso as being “right at home in Australia”, the spiritual home of the ute.

Launched alongside Ssangyong’s Rexton large SUV, mid-sized XLV, and Tivoli compact SUV, the Musso is offered within the $30,490 to $39,990 (drive away) price range⁠—an affordable option for dual-cab utes in the market.

But apart from being economical, is there anything special about this Korean ute? Can it compete against the crowd-favourites like Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger? Let’s find out!

Power and Performance: Competitive

Named the Best Value Ute of 2020 by Delivery Magazine, the Musso shares its underpinnings with the Rexton SUV that’s powered by a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine with a maximum power of 133 kW at 4,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 400Nm from 1,400, matched to a 6-speed manual transmission or 6-speed Aisin automatic.

This engine power translates into a 3.5-tonne maximum towing capacity, which is what the leading ute brands like Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger are offering.

Displacement-wise, it’s lower compared to some of its rivals, like the 3.2-litre Ford Ranger, 3.0-litre Isuzu D-Max, and the 2.8-litre Toyota HiLux. It matches the D-Max for torque but falls 30Nm short of the HiLux.

The car's four-wheel-drive system features a selectable 4x4 system with low range and electronic driver aids for optimum grip and traction on and off the road. It also has hill descent control and hill start assist to give the extra push needed as the road conditions demand.

Exterior and Interior: Capacity King

Musso has body-on-frame construction, quad-frame, and a four-wheel-drive system. It is strong and has an excellent off-road driving performance.

Outside, the Musso looks strong and muscular with its purposeful front-end design, bold chrome line across the radiator grille, and bonnet curves. The shoulder wing grille stretches out to the headlights and creates a powerful stance with the dynamic character lines to the side and rear.

The load bed dimensions of 1300mm long x 1570mm wide x 570mm deep provide a great room for cargo, making the ute very favourable for transporting agricultural and industrial stuff. The generous load deck can take 1,011 litres of cargo with a payload of 800kg. It is also equipped with a tough fitted load liner, a 12V/120W power outlet, and rotating hooks to help tie loads.

The long-wheelbase Musso XLV is called the “Capacity King’ with its longer tray (+310mm) and wheelbase (+110mm) than the regular Musso. With a class-leading bed that measures 1610mm long, 1570mm wide and 571mm deep, the XLV is said to be what SsangYong benchmarked against HiLux and Ranger.

The Musso is also one of the largest utes in the market with a cabin interior at over 5 meters. Inside the ute, the styling is based on the Rexton with a high standard of detailing, fit and finish. It has one of the most spacious interiors in its segment with even the second row of seats that can comfortably accommodate three passengers.

Meanwhile, the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels inside the ute are low because of the fitment of eight body mounts and large rubber engine mounts, as well as the use of polyester wheel-arch linings to reduce road noise and fourfold door sealing and aerodynamically designed wiper blades to reduce wind noise. The engine bay is also well-sealed to improve the sound, dust, and waterproofing.

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Infotainment and Comfort: Decent

Affordable yet equipped with modern entertainment and convenience features, all Musso models have an advanced infotainment system that includes AM/FM radio with Bluetooth connectivity. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is available on mid- and top-spec models.

Other standard features include cruise control, central locking, adjustable tilt and telescopic steering wheel, air-conditioning with fine dust filters, electric windows, and a 12V/120W power outlet in the cargo deck area. The top-spec Ultimate has front and rear cameras and the latest suite of electronic safety aids.

Other great ute features that Musso can take on its rivals include:

  • Rear coil springs that provide an SUV-like ride
  • Aerodynamic tuning by Pininfarina
  • Comfortable rear seating with spacious legroom
  • Heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats on pricier models

Safety: Not Yet Tested by ANCAP

The Musso’s high-strength steel construction of its quad-frame makes the vehicle stiffer than most of its competitors with improved body strength yet reduced weight. The structure and materials in its frontal area are also designed to improve pedestrian safety.

Six airbags are installed on all models. There are also impact-absorbing elements in the steering wheel and steering column to minimise injuries from a frontal collision.

Every model also comes standard with autonomous emergency braking, forward-collision warning, front vehicle start alert, high beam assist, and lane departure warning. The mid-range ELX has additional reversing camera, tyre pressure monitoring system, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot detection, lane change assist, and rear cross-traffic alert, while the top-spec Ultimate comes with all these features plus a 360° reversing camera and speed-sensitive steering.

Unfortunately, the all-new Musso is not yet tested by ANCAP, making it less reassuring to drive compared to Toyota HiLux’s 5-star rating from 2019, Ford Ranger’s 5-star from 2015, or even Volkswagen Amarok’s 5-star from 2011.

Warranty: Industry-Leading

Ssangyong’s 777 Care Cover for Musso and its other vehicles in the SsangYong Australia range is industry-leading. In fact, it is the first carmaker in Australia to provide seven long years of warranty service.

Under the 777 Care Cover, Musso owners can enjoy:

  • 7-year, unlimited kilometres, bumper to bumper warranty
  • 7-year Service Pricing Menu
  • 7-year Roadside Assistance

After launching its 7-year warranty program, several carmakers began offering longer warranties for its latest models.

Nevertheless, compared to rivals, Musso still reigns supreme.

  • Isuzu D-Max: 6 years, 150,000 kilometres
  • Toyota Hi-Lux: 5 years, unlimited kilometres
  • Ford Ranger: 5 years, unlimited kilometres

It Musso Be The One

The Musso has proven itself as a trusty and dependable ute that can:

  • Effortlessly carry and tow heavy loads
  • Comfortably transport passengers
  • Provide entertainment and convenience

It also offers the best price range and the best warranty in the ute market.

Budget and purpose-wise, we’d say the Musso can beat up its rivals.

Buy the all-new SsangYong Musso and take advantage of the $150K instant asset write-off threshold with a car loan. Call 1300 722 210 to talk to our Car Loan Specialist now!

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