SsangYong Musso Grand – Great worker at a good price

South Korea’s pickup truck replacement, the SsangYong Musso Grand is already a certified work truck that not only builds on the brand’s reputed toughness, but also on some pretty decent equipment. Recently, this piece has undergone a rather large rejuvenation and has come to us for an editorial test.

The upgraded version is probably not to be confused with the previous one. The facelift has a huge front fascia with horizontal ribbing that actually dominates the entire car. The Rexton has undergone a similar transformation, and both cars now look a little more valuable. The Musso Grand in particular, however, stands out from the rather conservative competition with this move.

The test Musso was in nice black metallic and halogen headlights are standard. In our Premium trim, the headlights were xenon and the LED tech only has daytime running lights and fog lights. Nighttime luminosity in the Musso Grand is below average by today’s standards, and it’s worse with the sidelights. In sharper corners, you practically can’t see where you’re going, and the fog lights don’t support the dimming function.

Wheels are standard 17-inch, steel wheels with the option to add aluminum wheels. Interestingly, however, you can pay for both 18s and 20s. However, they are tied to the use of a five-link rear solid axle. Design-wise, then, you won’t find much new, except maybe a different taillight graphic, but you’d have to put the two models side by side.

The Musso Grand measures 5405 mm in length, 1950 mm in width and 1855 mm in height. The wheelbase is 3210 millimetres. In the domestic market, the Grand is, by name, the larger variant and there is also a shorter version on offer, but it is not imported to us. The body itself is 1610 mm in length, 1570 mm in width and 570 mm in height. Ground clearance is a respectable 220mm, and fortunately, there are grab handles for getting in, which both rows of seats have.

SsangYong is known for being able to take a lot of liberties when it comes to vehicle trim. So the Premium trim tested included 2-zone climate control, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats, a large infotainment system with smartphone mirroring support,  navigation, heated steering wheel or parking cameras with  360-degree view. Space is king for five passengers, especially headroom, and second-row legroom is also ample. The driver’s seat is comfortable and although it doesn’t have any significant side guidance, and you do fall out a bit in corners, but you get in and out of these cars very often and the side rails would be a bit of a nuisance.

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And the customer who would like just an ordinary working machine will not be deprived of interesting equipment. Even the basic Style trim offers cruise control, all power windows, air conditioning, height-adjustable driver’s seat, four-speaker radio, USB connector and heated windscreen. Alternatively, for a small extra charge, the car can be equipped with electrically adjustable front seats with heating (even for the rear seats) and a heated steering wheel.

Happily, the interior still follows the classic concept with lots of buttons and rotary controls, whose placement is exceedingly logical. Not too much has changed here as part of the facelift, perhaps just different stitching and accessories. It’s also nice that lane deactivation can be switched off permanently with a single button to the left of the steering wheel. The workmanship of the materials is very decent and the materials themselves are of course not among the best, but it should be remembered that this is still a working pick-up.

Musso Grand is a work pickup on a space frame with a trapezoidal axle at the front. At the rear, however, you can choose whether you want a leaf feather or a five-link rigid axle. This choice matters quite a bit, as you can load 1000kg of cargo on the body above the leaf springs and only 805kg above the five-element. This can be crucial for many customers. Maximum towing capacity, in turn, is not based on the axle chosen, but on the transmission. The manual will pull 2600kg, the automatic up to 3000kg. For most tasks this will be sufficient, but in numbers the Musso Grand beats the competition.

The Musso’s driving characteristics are second to none with other competitors. With an unloaded five-link rigid rear axle, the rear end bounces on bigger bumps and every start from an intersection starts with a squeal of rubber. However, just load some 100kg onto the hull and you can already feel the shift towards comfort and axle reassurance. Fortunately, our specification didn’t make up for the large and heavy 20-inch wheels, which aren’t exactly ideal for a comfortable ride, and we rode on nice black 18s, which certainly improve both comfort and off-road handling.

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While before the facelift the Musso Grand shared the same tuned powertrain with the Rexton, after the facelift the SUV has been treated to more horsepower, while the Musso Grand retains its original power. Forward, it is thus once again powered by the 2.2-litre, 177bhp, 133kW e-XDI diesel four-cylinder, which produces a respectable 420Nm of torque.

This may not seem like much for a car with a kerb weight of 2,100kg, but the opposite is true. The dynamics are rather decent, but that’s not what these cars are primarily for, and the competition isn’t much better. The important thing here is that you have peak torque from just 1,600rpm, and you can probably forgive the Musso’s slightly higher idle noise and vibration in work applications, too.

The engine is paired with a six-speed manual transmission as standard. However, for an extra €1,800, it can be paired with an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission. Our test piece had it, too, and like the engine, it feels very deliberate. It shifts gently and there are no bad gearchanges either, but it takes too long to downshift up a hill, for example. You can also shift manually using the miniature selector on the gear lever, but even then it’s not much quicker.

The fit within the category is much better than I would have expected. The average for the week was 8.6l/100km, but with less motorway. So with a light foot you can easily get well under nine litres. Around town and on the motorway, the engine asks for just over 10 litres easily. For the Musso Grand, plug-in all-wheel drive is standard, including reduction. Our Premium+ trim then adds an automatic locking rear differential.

The SsangYong Musso Grand is not at all average in its segment. And that’s both in equipment, motoring and utility. Its charm lies in the fact that it can still pack it all into a very affordable price tag and spares no expense on equipment. At a price starting from €28,390, there’s really no-one on our market that can offer a double cab on frame pick-up like this. What’s more, now that it’s had a facelift, it doesn’t look bad at all, so it certainly won’t blend in with the crowd…