Stiff, unrefined, and mostly agricultural. These are stereotypes often associated with pick-ups, but nowadays, pick-ups are focusing towards becoming more lifestyle-oriented offerings, and there’s no other pick-up that’s closer to that statement than this, the 2019 SsangYong Musso.
The reason for the Musso’s un-trucky-ness is because of how it was designed. Whereas the industry standard of having pick-ups like the Toyota Hilux come out first before their SUV counterpart like the Toyota Fortuner, SsangYong did the complete opposite. The Musso is based on the equally plush and supremely good looking Rexton, which our sources say is coming sometime this year.
This philosophy is evident outside. Whereas most pick-ups try their best to have toughened-up looks, the Musso instead has an elegant fascia, characterized by a slim grille flanked by projector halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights. Whereas most other pick-ups have a step board to climb in, the Musso has a slightly lower than usual step-in height. The rear and side profile could use some pizzaz though, plus the wheels look a bit too small for its body. At least it’s something that contributes to its excellent ride. More on that later.
The SUV-first roots are even more evident on the inside. I mean, just look at this interior. There’s soft-touch plastics, satin silver finishes, and even plush Nappa Leather upholstery. Since the Navara-based Mercedes-Benz X-Class isn’t sold here in the Philippines, the Musso takes the title of having the most premium interior among pick-ups. It’s well laid out, plus the buttons have a reassuring feel to them, except for the hazard button and EWP drive-mode selector, which feel cheap and are the small details that detract from the otherwise premium and plush interior.
Apart from the lush brown Nappa Leather, all seats feature heating, while the front thrones feature cooling. Both driver and front passenger seats also feature 8-way power adjustment. Again, we’re still talking about a pick-up here.
Another hint of its SUV origins are the back seats. Rear seat space is easily the most spacious among pick-ups. There are tonnes of leg and headroom, plus there are even rear aircon vents. The cabin is also quite wide than most pick-ups, which means that sitting three people abreast is not an issue.
There’s also an 8-inch touch screen infotainment system. Unlike most of the brand’s offerings, this one uses SsangYong’s own hardware and software. The graphics of the user interface are nice is extremely user-friendly. It also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The six-speaker sound system also produces the best sound quality in its class in my opinion.
Under the hood is a 2.2-liter diesel engine producing 179 hp at 4,000 rpm and 420 Nm of torque from 1,400 to 2,800 rpm. It’s mated to an Aisin-sourced 6-speed automatic that shifts so smoothly, it merely remains in the background for most of the time.
Starting up the Musso creates the typical diesel rattle you expect, but once the engine’s settled, it becomes very quiet, even more so inside the cabin. Once you’re out on the open road, you’ll be surprised at how good this pick-up drives. While a certain Korean brand markets itself to have “The Power To Surprise,” I think this statement couldn’t be any truer when it comes to the SsangYong Musso. To shorten it simply, this SsangYong Musso has the best on-road manners of any pick-up I’ve ever driven, and it begins with how supremely quiet it is inside. Road noise barely permeates through the cabin, even when past 100 kph. Engine noise is the most hushed than even compared to a Ford Everest with Active Noise Cancellation, though wind noise can be quite heard in higher speeds because of the large wing mirrors. Apart from that, this Musso is the pick-up to beat when it comes to on-road manners.
Steering is also one of the nicest in its class. It’s not too light that it feels dead, nor does it feel cumbersome like the Toyota Hilux when going through tight confines. It also provides a nice feel through the wheel. It does not react as quickly as the one in the Mitsubishi Strada, but for a pick-up, this steering scores an A+ on my book.
By default, the Musso starts out in Eco mode. Through this EWP drive mode selector, you can bring it to Power if you truly want to make it extremely eager to overtake. Personally, Eco is more than enough for my daily routine since it provides the best balance between power and fuel economy. Speaking of which, I regularly achieved around 9.8 km/l, which is about par with its competitors. Nevertheless, this 2.2-liter diesel engine is also one of the best. It’s supremely quiet, refined, and has plenty of pull in the lower rev range. Torque tapers off quite nicely in the mid rpm ranges, unlike the Ford Ranger’s where all of its pull is concentrated at the lower RPM range.
Unfortunately, its class-leading on-road manners come with a compromise. It can’t go head-to-head with the class sales leaders when going off-road. Its lower than usual ride height and long front overhangs give it poor approach and break-over angles. Also compromised is its bed, depending on who you ask. It’s wider than it is longer, so if you regularly carry long items with you, then this pick-up isn’t for you.
Lastly, the reason for its excellent ride is its rear coil spring suspension, limiting payload to 850 kg at the back, though this more or less on par with the Navara which uses the same rear suspension set-up. Do note that due to the rubber dampers, the bed shakes much more than the rest of the body when going through rough roads.
Pricing for the Musso starts at P1,495,000 for this sole 4×2 variant, and it comes with those aforementioned features, plus six airbags, rear view camera, but unfortunately, no electronic stability control, something that I think should be standard on all cars regardless of price.
The SsangYong Musso may not have the edge when it comes to off-roading, but with what most people do with their pick-ups, this is the best one yet that matches their lifestyle. It’s quiet, refined, spacious for people, and quite frankly, luxurious. It has all the adjectives you normally don’t associate with pick-ups.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★★
Space and Practicality: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★★
Overall: 4.4 out of 5
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