The SsangYong Musso has been treated to a makeover.
The 2022 model has a more aggressive front end than its predecessor, and has been treated to a series of detail tweaks inside. It doesn’t really mess with the formula, but it didn’t really need to.
After all, the current-generation Musso was an excellent ute for tradies on a budget when it launched in 2019, and strong competition from the likes of Great Wall Motor and LDV hasn’t done much to diminish its appeal.
On test here is the base 2022 SsangYong Musso ELX with an automatic transmission, in longer-wheelbase XLV guise.
Unlike the more comfort-oriented Musso Ultimate, it has leaf springs at the rear to improve its load-lugging ability, and misses out on some luxuries behind the wheel.
Should you save your money and stick with the ELX, or stretch to the Ultimate with its longer list of luxury goodies?
The Musso ELX XLV automatic on test here is priced at $38,490 drive-away.
2022 SsangYong Musso pricing:
- SsangYong Musso ELX manual: $34,990
- SsangYong Musso ELX XLV manual: $36,490
- SsangYong Musso ELX: $36,990
- SsangYong Musso ELX XLV: $38,490
- SsangYong Musso Ultimate: $41,290
- SsangYong Musso Ultimate XLV: $42,790
All prices are drive-away.
Musso XLV ELX highlights:
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Cruise control
- LED daytime running lights
- Fog lights
- 8.0-inch infotainment system
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired)
- Reversing camera
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Leather steering wheel
- 7.0-inch trip computer display
Although it’s well-featured for its price, the Musso Ultimate gains some high-end features such as a surround-view camera, leather-look seats with heating and ventilation, and tyre-pressure monitoring.
The Musso hasn’t been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.
There are two front airbags, front thorax airbags, and side head-protecting curtain airbags covering both seat rows.
Standard on the base Musso ELX are:
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Lane departure warning
- Driver attention monitoring
Although blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-change assist are available, you need to stump for the Ultimate to get them.
Even the base Musso has a solid, upmarket feeling from behind the wheel.
The steering wheel is leather-wrapped, and the seats are trimmed in what feels like quality cloth. The shifter is still a bit awkward, but the fundamentals are good in the Musso.
With plenty of adjustment in the wheel and seat, there’s enough space for taller drivers to get comfortable, and burly tradies won’t struggle to get comfortable behind the wheel. There’s lots of storage space, including a cubby at the base of the dashboard, twin cupholders, and a spacious underarm bin.
Simple, clean analogue dials flank a colour 7.0-inch trip computer capable of showing media, trip computer, or speed data. It’s not the last word in sophistication, but it gets the message across nicely – and it’s fancier than you’d expect of a regular entry-level ute.
Pride of place in the dashboard belongs to an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with AM/FM radio and Bluetooth media streaming. It’s quick, and the reversing camera is clearer than you get on plenty of the Musso’s bigger-name rivals.
Factory satellite navigation would be handy though, especially if you’re spending a long time in rural areas with poor phone reception. The screen is also hard to see in direct sunlight, something common in cheaper utes.
It feels far more polished up front than most of its rivals though, the Musso, especially when you consider what grade of Triton, Ranger, or HiLux its sticker price will buy you.
Rear seat space is good, but not standout. The bench is reasonably wide, and the rear air vents are a brilliant inclusion if you’re carrying kids around – but legroom is quite tight, and the rear door opening is strangely shaped. Kids will feel at home, burly apprentices might not be so comfortable.
Along with storage space beneath the bench, there are top tethers on the back of all three seats, and ISOFIX on the outboard seats.
The Musso XLV is more about space in the very back, though. The XLV is 314mm longer than the standard Musso, and has a 210mm longer wheelbase.
The tray on our XLV had what felt like a quality plastic liner, although a spray-in liner would be higher-end again. It also has a canvas tonneau cover which sits solidly in place, and doesn’t flap around in the breeze.
It’s a bit fiddly to remove in a hurry, although we’d wager anyone who’s using the tray regularly will just take it off and not bother re-attaching it. The big tailgate is quite heavy, and isn’t counterweighted – although that’s also the case on its rivals as well.
Payload in this particular model is the highest in the range, at 1025kg. The load bay in the XLV is 300mm longer than that of the regular Musso, and there’s an extra 251 litres of space measured to the top of the tray.
Power in the facelifted SsangYong Musso comes from the same 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel as before, making 133kW of power and 400Nm of torque in the standard-wheelbase model.
Opting for the XLV on test here ups the torque output to 420Nm, in a nod to the fact it’s more likely to be hauling a heavy load. Claimed fuel economy is 8.9 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.
There’s a six-speed manual transmission, or a six-speed Aisin automatic. A switchable four-wheel drive system is standard, complete with low-range. There’s no locking rear differential, but you get a mechanical locking unit designed to achieve a similar outcome.
Braked towing capacity is 3500kg, and un-braked towing capacity is 750kg.
The current-generation Musso has always had one of the best engines in its class, and the updated model does nothing to change that.
Its outputs aren’t standout, but the way it delivers its performance is more polished than you’d expect. Any rattle from the diesel engine is kept nicely at bay, even on cold starts, and it rarely raises its voice when you’re behind the wheel.
Put your foot down and there’s a hint of lag, but the accelerator is smartly-tuned and the mid-range torque comes on smoothly when you need to get a move on. It’ll spin the rear wheels off the mark when the road is wet, which is pretty common in dual-cab utes.
The six-speed automatic in the Musso is a smooth mover, shuffling unobtrusively through the lower gears when you’re cruising around town. It kicks down smartly when put your foot down, and isn’t afraid to hang onto gears to wring the most out of the turbo-diesel engine.
With light steering and decent all-around vision, not to mention its crisp reversing camera, parking the Musso XLV is easy enough… once you’ve found a spot long enough. It looks a bit awkward in the pictures, and it’s a bit awkward in the real world.
It’s not the happiest truck in tight city streets, and isn’t one for people with tight underground garages.
The long rear overhang also means you’ll need to be careful off-roading, although SsangYong would argue the shorter Musso is more suited to bush-bashing anyway.
Ride quality is decent in town, but you’re acutely aware of the fact the XLV is meant to have a load in its tray.
Unlike its coil-sprung brethren it’s firm over small lumps and bumps, and speed bumps send a shudder through the frame unless you tiptoe over them. It feels like a commercial vehicle, in other words.
The Musso is backed by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000km.
The first seven services cost a combined $2625, or $375 per year.
The Musso ELX XLV doesn’t change what really mattered about its predecessor.
It’s still affordable, with a smooth-moving engine and well-featured cabin, and it’s still the best Musso for anyone who wants to lug a load.
If you’re a lifestyle-focused buyer who won’t be loading up the tray, take a look at the shorter-wheelbase model, or the Ultimate with its coil-sprung rear end. The one-tonne payload has had an impact on ride comfort, and the sheer length of the XLV makes feel big on tight city streets.
It’s also worth noting SsangYong’s rollercoaster 2021. The brand is in the process of finding a new buyer, and has some big plans for its future, but it’s still not as secure as Great Wall Motors, let alone a brand like Mitsubishi or Toyota.
Go in with your eyes open, though, and there’s plenty of appeal in the Musso.
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