Ride, Handling & Performance
Interior Comfort & Practicality
Technology & Safety
Value & Ownership
SsangYong’s Australian resurrection kicked up a gear this week with the arrival of the Musso XLV, the long-wheelbase ute that is charged with broadening the company’s appeal.
The Musso XLV joins the range to complement the regular Musso line-up. When compared to the Musso, the XLV is 310mm longer, 15mm taller, while the wheelbase extends 110mm.
In this instance, the increase in size translates to a larger cargo volume. The Musso XLV offers an impressive 1262 litres of space in the tray.
Digging a little deeper, the tale of the tape is an interesting one for buyers looking for a workhorse instead of a show pony. At 1610mm long, 1570mm wide and 571mm deep, SsangYong says the tray is 12 per cent larger than anything else in the segment and it will easily carry a Euro pallet.
The differences don’t stop there, the Musso XLV is available with leaf spring rear suspension which increases the payload to 1020kg, a significant 30 per cent jump over models equipped with coils at the rear.
SsangYong is offering the Musso XLV in ELX, Ultimate and Ultimate Plus grades with prices starting at $33,990 and topping out at $43,990. As with the wider SsangYong line-up, all prices are drive-away.
At launch, the majority of our time was spent in the entry-level ELX variant. For a price leader, it’s loaded with kit, 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and push-button start, cruise control, automatic wipers, automatic headlights, a rear-view camera and a 12V/120W power outlet in the tray are all included.
An 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also standard.
Aside from the overall metal for money equation, SsangYong is very competitive when the topic of safety arises. Autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, front vehicle start alert and six airbags are all standard.
With such a long list of safety features, it’s puzzling why the brand is still using a lap-only middle seatbelt. It’s the one inconsistency that looks like an oversight in what is a very strong safety suite at this price point which embarrasses many of the established brands.
Simply put, all grades are well equipped and present a very compelling value argument. For a detailed breakdown of specs and pricing click here.
The most important thing to note is the suspension differences between models. Buyers wanting to carry the maximum payload will need to stick with the ELX grade, it’s the only option with leaf springs at the rear, the Ultimate models use the same multi-link coil spring rear suspension found in the shorter Musso which reduces the payload to 800kg.
As luck would have it, our assessment of the Musso XLV began in the ELX grade with said leaf springs. Starting with the six-speed manual version, it produced a surprisingly compliant and relaxed ride. For a model looking for a role as a work pick-up, the driveline refinement and comfortable suspension calibration will exceed the expectations of many.
Plenty of work has been done to limit NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels. SsangYong tells us eight new body mounts, polyester wheel arch linings, upgraded engine bay sealing, larger rubber engine mounts and aerodynamically designed wiper blades are responsible for the quiet cabin. Country tradies who are required to cover long distances between gigs will find the most satisfaction here.
On test, with an unladen tray, the leaf springs were far more settled than expected. This was particularly evident when driven back-to-back with the coil set-up found in the Ultimate variants. There was not as much fidgeting when traversing undulated sections of road.
Regardless of length, every Musso is powered by a SsangYong-built 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, in the XLV it’s tuned to produce 133kW at 4000rpm and 420Nm from 1600-2600rpm, that’s 20Nm more than the regular Musso. It’s more than enough to get the ute moving. For context, most of the Japanese utes now offer over 450Nm of torque.
Every Musso also gets a part-time four-wheel drive system with proper low-range gearing and a locking differential.
The manual transmission was also surprising, it’s a smooth shifting stick with a light clutch. There’s lots to like about the manual both on and off-road. Only the ELX can be had with a manual, a six-speed automatic is an option on the base model and standard on Ultimate grades. It’s an Aisin-sourced auto that won't disappoint.
Off-road, the longer wheelbase adds to the overall stability on uneven terrain. On a wickedly slippery track, the stock Musso performed admirably and its off-road ability will satisfy the majority, but only if the tyres are changed. The standard tyres are only for road use, so a quality set of all-terrain hoops will work wonders if fresh air calls.
Tyres aside, the Musso's off-road skills completely disregard the absence of the specs that accompany the segment leaders. The ground clearance is 215mm with an approach angle of 25 degrees, departure angle of 20 degrees and a ramp-over angle of 20 degrees.
SsangYong is yet to provide the official turning circle figure, but the Musso XLV is easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces thanks to a light low-speed steering set-up.
We were unable to test the XLV with some weight in the tub, same goes for towing. The official braked towing figure is 3500kg with a down ball weight of 350kg. Mathematically speaking, with a Gross Combination Mass (GCM) of 6370kg for manual leaf spring models, the tray can still carry 710kg when the maximum towing capacity is reached.
The mix of on and off-road driving at the launch wasn’t conducive to an accurate real-world fuel consumption reading, the official rating for the manual model is 8.2L/100km, while automatics are rated at 8.9L/100km.
Now a word (or two) on the design, the longer tray gives the Musso a masculine silhouette. It’s a good looking ute with plenty of contemporary style wrapped in a high-quality finish. It won’t look out of place parked next to higher-priced rivals.
Moving to the interior, this is where the Musso walks very tall. Cabin presentation along with fit and finish defy the sticker price. It looks and feels more like an SUV than a tool of the trade or rugged weekender. There’s an upmarket atmosphere in what is a roomy cabin with an impressive amount of back seat legroom. It’s also worth mentioning, every variant gets a genuine set of rear air vents.
In terms of ownership, SsangYong is backing the Musso with the best after sales package of any ute currently for sale in Australia. The brand’s ‘777 Car Cover’ includes a seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, seven years’ roadside assistance and seven years’ capped-price servicing which SsangYong calls ‘service price menu’.
Maintenance intervals are set at 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first with costs capped at $375 plus any incidentals. It’s easily the most transparent service price schedule we’ve seen, giving owners long term clarity by including everything from wiper blade replacements to changing the transmission fluid.
Like all of SsangYong’s current models, the Musso XLV is aimed at those who shop value. Even with a sharp price, the XLV is nice to drive, well-appointed, aesthetically pleasing inside and out, with the best after sales package of any ute in Australia.
With two body and suspension choices, there is a Musso for everyone. Tradies, lifestyle buyers and ute enthusiasts will find a model to suit their requirements. The only question left is whether or not your ego can cope with something other than the establishment offerings.
2019 SsangYong Musso XLV Specifications
Price from $33,990 drive-away Engine 2.2-litre turbo-diesel Power 133kW @ 4000rpm Torque 420Nm @ 1600-2600rpm Transmission six-speed manual or automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 8.2-8.9L/100km Tank Capacity 75L Length 5404mm Width 1950mm Height 1855mm Wheelbase 3210mm Kerb Weight 2170kg Ground Clearance 215mm Turning Circle TBA Service Intervals 12 months/15,000km Warranty seven year/unlimited kilometre
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