2022 SsangYong Musso Rhino review: Long-bed pick-up is hard to beat for the price

Big-value alternative to Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max and Toyota Hilux offers unrivalled load carrying and practicality

The SsangYong Musso name has a slightly odd history. It was first applied in the 1990s to a plug-ugly SUV cobbled together from old Mercedes parts. That briefly became known as a Daewoo Musso in the UK before the name reverted to SsangYong and was then applied to a pick-up truck based on the same SUV in 2002.

That truck was a very rough and ready thing, with rugged underpinnings and a pretty agricultural look and feel that left it languishing behind rival trucks. But in 2018 an all-new Musso was launched, marking an enormous step forward for the model. It was even tougher and more capable but also brought a design and quality that was lightyears ahead of the old one. For 2022 SsangYong has tried to refine that further without compromising the Musso’s underlying capabilities.

The most obvious change is the massive new grille, which is supplemented by new headlights, vertical running/fog lights and a new bumper. It’s certainly bold but whether it’s better is a matter of personal taste.  In the standard chrome finish the horizontal slats resemble a budget sci-fi villain’s costume but higher spec Saracen and Rhino models get a black finish that’s a bit more subtle and a bit more appealing.

Under the skin, the Musso’s platform is unchanged, so the body still sits on a ladder frame chassis with multilink rear suspension (on standard vehicles) and selectable high/low ratio four-wheel drive. That platform is shared with the brand’s Rexton seven-seat SUV and one advantage of that is that a lot of the Musso’s interior is also shared, from switchgear to upholstery. So as far as pick-ups go it’s pretty pleasant, with a distinctly more SUV-like look and feel. The materials aren’t quite as robust feeling as in a Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux but they’re a step above the budget ambience of the Isuzu D-Max. Opt for a higher-end model like our Rhino and there’s even Nappa leather upholstery and a 12·3-inch digital instrument display straight out of the Rexton.

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While new styling and an interior shared with an SUV are well and good, a pick-up truck has to be practical above all else and here SsangYong has gone to town to make sure the Musso can more than hold its own.

In keeping with all its rivals, the standard wheelbase version can carry a Euro pallet. The bed in the 5.4-metre-long Rhino version, however, is 31cm longer and offers the largest, longest bed in the class. Both variants can carry a one-tonne-plus payload and automatic versions can simultaneously tow a trailer weighing up to 3.5 tonnes. That gives the Musso the highest combined load capacity for any pick-up on sale in the UK (4,640kg for the Rhino) and makes it the only truck that can tow 3.5 tonnes whilst carrying a one-tonne load in the bed.

To help with all that load-lugging, the Musso’s engine has been retuned for 2022 to increase its output. The 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel gets 12% more power and 5% more torque than before, giving it 199bhp and 325lb ft. That’s better than the D-Max and entry level versions of the Ranger and Hilux but slightly less than the 2.8-litre Hilux and the more powerful twin-turbo Ranger. It’s still plenty to haul whatever needs hauling. The engine update has also improved the Musso’s economy, lifting it to 31.5mpg, which is on a par with the Ranger and marginally better than any version of the Hilux.

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Despite SsangYong’s rugged reputation the Musso’s engine is surprisingly smooth, as is the six-speed automatic transmission that’s standard on the Rhino edition. It’s also impressively quiet thanks to sound deadening designed to meet the passenger-focused requirements of the Rexton SUV. However, the ride remains a weak point, especially in the long-bed version which has leaf springs at the rear.

One of SsangYong’s biggest appeals has always been its value and while the top-spec Rhino sails close to the list price of a Limited spec Ranger or D-Max DL40, it brings bundles of equipment for its £32,010 list price. Front and rear seats are heated, as is the steering wheel and the fronts are also ventilated. Dual-zone climate control, cruise control and a 9.2-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring are also standard along with safety kit including blind spot warning and lane keep assist. Top-spec rivals bring some extra safety features and luxuries but carry a substantial price premium.

Although the Musso’s updated looks are challenging, elsewhere 2022’s changes bring improvements to an already impressive package. The budget-friendly price and appealing interior remain while the drivetrain is better than before and it offers unrivalled practicality as a workhorse.

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SsangYong Musso Rhino

Price: £32,010 (excl. VAT); Engine: 2.2-litre, four-cylinder, diesel; Power: 199bhp; Torque: 235lb ft; Transmission: Six-speed, automatic, four-wheel-drive; Top speed: 113mph; 0-62mph: n/a; Economy: 30.2mpg; CO2 emissions: 235g/km