The SsangYong Musso XLV is the long-wheelbase version of the Musso dual-cab, released last year, with this stretched variant measuring a touch over 5.4 metres in length, with that additional size allowing the XLV to boast a longer rear tray and the ute segment’s highest payload capacity (1025kg in ELX with leaf-spring rear) as a result.
The SsangYong XLV is available in three model trims – ELX, Ultimate and Ultimate Plus – all powered by a EU6-compliant 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that pushes out 133kW of power at 4000rpm and 420Nm of torque (1600-2600rpm), backed by the choice of either a six-speed manual or six-speed auto gearbox.
SsangYong is predicting the XLV to end up accounting for up to 60 per cent of Musso sales.
The XLV hides its increased overall length reasonably well, with a side profile that is slightly wedge-shaped from front to back.
The sheer bulk of the high sided rear tray does dominate the standard wheelset, regardless of whether it’s the 17-inch alloy wheel equipped ELX, or the Ultimate Plus sitting on its stock 18s (or optional 20s), making them look a tad inadequate.
The long, wide-opening doors are the first indication of the additional length, with the wheelbase extended by 110mm allowing additional legroom in the rear as well as easier ingress to the vehicle.
It’s the monstrous rear load tray that really stands out style-wise, though, as it is not only long – at 1610mm, it’s 310mm longer than the SWB Musso - but it’s also deep. The rear tray includes four low-set sturdy tie-down points, as well as a 12V outlet.
The interior impresses with a grey and black palette matched to a mix of hard and soft-touch surfaces. The range-wide 8.0-inch multimedia screen (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto standard on Ultimate and Ultimate Plus variants and Bluetooth across all models) sits front and centre and is easily accessed by the driver or passenger and intuitive in use.
Seating is fabric for the ELX, ‘Endure-Lite’ for Ultimate (these are also heated and cooled), while Ultimate Plus owners score powered leather.
WhichCar tested both an ELX and the Ultimate Plus variants and found both vehicles’ seats firm but supportive and comfortable. Rear seating is also comfortable for adults, with sufficient legroom for a 180cm tall adult to sit comfortably.
All switchgear (indicators, lights, windows, mirror-adjust, and 4WD settings) is easy to hand and very easy to operate. Fit and finish is surprisingly good, with tight gaps on panels and a reassuring thud when the doors close.
Price and value
The XLV is highly specced across the range, with standard kit including a Limited Slip Diff, 8.0-inch multi-media system, six airbags, reverse camera, six-speed manual gearbox, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Departure Warning all standard kit across the range. The six-speed auto gearbox is a $2k option.
To that aforementioned list, the base-spec ELX adds leaf spring suspension, a fabric interior, 3500kg towing capacity and SsangYong’s industry-leading seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Driveaway price for the ELX is $33,990.
The Ultimate will set you back $39,990 and swaps the leaf spring rear for the multi-link coil setup, adds 18-inch alloys, Lane Change Assist, Daylight Run Lights (DRL), a larger instrument cluster, Front/Rear Park Assist, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, heated and cooled Enduro-Lite seats and a leather steering wheel.
For the Musso Ultimate Plus ($43,990), you cop speed-sensitive steering, the leather heated/cooled and powered seats, 360-degree camera and HID lights. SsangYong does offer 20-inch alloys as an option, as well as a sunroof.
Compared to other models in the ute segment, the XLV represents excellent value for money, considering its high levels of modern safety tech and driver-aid tech, plus that lengthy warranty and the impressive levels of fit and finish.
The SsangYong Musso XLV includes plenty of passenger safety technology right across the model range, with six airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Front Vehicle Start Alert, reverse camera and Lane Departure Warning across the three spec levels.
Add in Lane Change Assist, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert on the top two models and you’ve got a comprehensive safety suite – far more so than a number of other competitors in the ute market, such as Isuzu D-Max and Nissan Navara, both of which are more expensive to boot.
Warranty and running costs
If you consider SsangYong’s ‘Triple 7’ of seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, seven-year capped servicing and seven years of roadside assist, you can see why SsangYong believes the Musso XLV has the potential to be a big seller.
The 2.2-litre turbo-diesel is claimed to use 8.2L/100km in the combined cycle with the six-speed manual, and 8.9L/100km when backed by the six-speed auto. Combined with a 75-litre tank, it makes for a reasonable – but not great – touring range.
Servicing is getting easier and more convenient too, thanks to the growing dealer network. Currently, there are 40 dealers, and SsangYong claims there will be 50 by the end of the year. Impressive indeed when you consider the company started with 22 only in January of this year.
On the road
SsangYong engineers have done a lot of work to ensure the Musso XLV is comfortable on Aussie roads both sealed and unsealed, with the XLV suspension an evolution of that on the Musso short-wheelbase.
The company is also currently in the final moments of finalising a local suspension tune (and, further down the line, an OE accessory lift kit, using the same tune). Even now, without this new tune, the on-road handling impresses.
Surprisingly, it is the leaf-sprung ELV that is the better-handling vehicle on bitumen. The ride is firmer than the coil-sprung Ultimate Plus, but it feels more planted and connected to the road surface. The coil-spring variants feel a little more nervous on-road, while the steering on the Ultimate Plus transmits more road vibration back through the steering wheel.
The 2.2-litre TD feels a mite underpowered on the road, with acceleration from a standing start nothing exciting but offset by the more dynamic rolling-speed performance.
And speaking of performance; even when under acceleration, the vehicle is astonishingly quiet. The cabin, in fact, would rate as one of the quietest in the dual-cab ute market, with very little road or engine noise audible from inside.
Off the road
There’s no getting around the fact the Musso XLV is long, and one of the negatives of this is a low ramp-over angle when driving off-road; that long belly looks, at first appearance, to be way too low to traverse even slight lumps on the tracks.
The XLV belies its long and low appearance, however, and on our sometimes-challenging 4x4 test track, didn’t scrape its underbelly once. We still think a two-inch lift would be a welcome modification, however; the ute tray’s long overhang is quite vulnerable to steep drop-offs.
The 4WD system in the XLV is straightforward in use and quite effective; a simple twist of the console-mounted bezel selects either 2WD, 4WD High or 4WD Low, with the Low setting called into action for some particularly steep and slippery Victorian High Country trails during the test drive.
The XLV’s Hill Descent Control is relatively effective, although we’d like to see the minimum speed set to 1 or 2km/h, rather than 4km/h. In very steep, slippery terrain, being able to rely on a very low speed significantly improves the ability to negotiate challenging terrain.
Ssangyong is very confident that the Musso XLV has what it takes to be a genuine competitor in the 4x4 dual-cab ute market. With its very keen pricing and high spec levels – not to mention the surprisingly adept on- and off-road performance, the XLV definitely sits above a number of other models in the ute market.
But, the problem will be actually getting buyers to consider the model, or indeed the brand. With its chequered history Down Under, SsangYong knows it has a hard job ahead to convince prospective buyers to have another look at its many models.
With strong enthusiasm from SsangYong Australia’s team, headed by managing director Tim Smith, and with vehicles such as this Musso XLV, it might just be the perfect combo to make it happen.
Model: SsangYong Musso XLV
Engine: 2157cc 4-cyl turbo-diesel
Max power: 133kw @ 4000rpm
Max torque: 420Nm @ 160-2600rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual/6-speed auto
Weight: 2160kg (leaf) 2170kg (coil)
Economy: 8.2L/100km (manual); 8.9L/100km (auto)
Price: from $33,990