New SsangYong Musso Saracen 2022 review
The Musso has always positioned itself as a pickup that majors on value for money, but the improvements here mean it feels like much more than just a cheap alternative to the established competition. The engine refinement is great, and it’s backed up by strong towing weights and payload ratings, plus lots of standard kit.
This is the revised SsangYong Musso. The Korean brand is hoping that the stock of its pickup will rise over the next year or two, given the withdrawal of rivals like the Mitsubishi L200. Indeed, SsangYong UK says that demand is currently outstripping supply.
The most obvious change comes at the front, where there’s a significantly larger, bolder grille. More subtle exterior graphics are also present, and the cabin remains largely similar to before.
That’s no bad thing. The dashboard design is shared with the Musso’s SUV cousin, the Rexton. By pickup standards it feels almost plush – the design is functional but feels sturdy, while the tidy rows of switchgear all feel nicely damped when you press them. The 9.2-inch infotainment system, which gets built-in navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, is simple to use, has clear graphics and loads reasonably quickly. It’s at least as good as anything else in the segment.
The double cab body offers space for five, and it’s fairly comfortable in either row. There’s enough legroom in the back for adults, and the flat floor makes it easy to climb in and out of either side.
The most significant improvement to the Musso comes under the bonnet. Here, there’s a 2.2-litre diesel engine which, like the dash, is now shared with the Rexton, and it brings a big improvement in refinement. Where the old unit was a little rough around the edges, this model has barely a hint of clatter, especially when idling – in fact it’s smoother even than the 2.0-litre unit in our favourite pickup, the Ford Ranger. Even under hard acceleration, it’s fairly muted.
The engine is paired with the same Aisin six-speed automatic gearbox as the old model. It’s smooth enough, but can’t match the responsiveness and flexibility of the Ford’s 10-speed unit. Another downside is that at 29.5mpg, the Musso is much thirstier than the Ranger on paper – the Ford is capable of 36.7mpg.
You can try to maximise that mpg figure by making use of the switchable four-wheel drive system. On the road, it’s best to have all the torque sent to only the rear wheels, but on trickier terrain there’s the option of four-wheel drive mode, plus a low ratio setting for when the going gets really tough. Hill descent control and a hill start assist can also help out with serious off-roading.
There’s only a subtle improvement in performance for the new engine, though. While nobody will notice the single extra horsepower compared to the outgoing engine, the new torque figure of 420Nm is up 20Nm from before. That higher peak figure is reached at the same revs as before – 1,600rpm – and carries through to 2,600rpm, so it’s a great boost when towing or hauling heavy loads.
And that’s an area where the Musso excels. If you feel the need, then you can make the full use of its 1,095kg payload and its ability to tow a 3.5-tonne braked trailer at the same time. The load box dimensions are within millimetres of the Ford’s in length and width, but it’s actually slightly deeper.
When we first sampled the car back in summer 2018, we were critical of the ride; the rear suspension was very harsh, which made driving the car unloaded pretty much unbearable. That has long since been addressed, however, and now it runs the Ranger close for comfort. The other side to that is that the Musso is a little more wayward through the corners than the Ford, but it’s not a deal breaker for a vehicle like this.
What might be for some business owners, however, is price. This high spec Saracen model comes to £31,010 on the road before VAT (that’s £37,143 inclusive), and has a huge standard kit list: nappa leather seats (heated front and rear, and ventilated up front), cruise control, auto headlights, parking sensors front and back, plus that 9.2-inch touchscreen are all included.
It’s not short on safety tech, either. Lane departure warning, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert – which helps alert the driver to passing traffic when backing out of a space – are all standard on the Saracen.
If you’re happy to do without that kit and plump for a manual gearbox, then the base spec Musso EX starts at £23,610 – that’s £3,390 less than the entry level Ranger. If you have no allegiance to either brand and just want a rugged, dependable workhorse, it’s hard to look past that price difference. The same goes for the warranty: all SsangYongs get a generous seven-year, 150,000 mile package as standard.
There’s a selection of extras that help to make the Musso that little bit more versatile, too. A fixed towbar costs £370 fitted before VAT, while a soft tonneau cover comes to £382. If you want fully covered storage, then the full hard top over the rear cab adds £2,525.
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