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Musso XLV Ultimate in the 4x4 Australia shed: part five

By Matt Raudonikis, 22 Dec 2020 Reviews

2020 SsangYong Musso XLV Ultimate water

How does the SsangYong Musso perform under the 4x4 Australia long-term microscope?

Part 1: Rhino Charge

We get a SsangYong Musso in the shed to play with.

IF YOU’VE been reading this magazine over the past six months, you will know we’ve been pretty impressed with the latest SsangYong Musso. While it’s pretty easy to say that a $38,000 double-cab ute is a lot of car for your dollar, it’s not just the bang for your bucks that draws us to the Musso.

This latest model Musso, which came out in Australia in the middle of 2019, is one of the best-driving utes in the highly competitive 4x4 ute segment. Folks are quick to joke when we say we like the Musso, but that soon changes after they ride in it.

This has prompted us to add the Musso (a Korean word for rhino, in case you were wondering) to our 4x4 fleet. We’ve gone with the XLV variant with its 110mm longer wheelbase and massive cargo tub over the standard model. We also chose the mid-spec Ultimate for its coil-spring ride and comfort, and better equipped interior.

While the Ultimate is the mid-spec, it is loaded with features you’ll be paying a lot more for in other 4x4 utes. Heated and vented leather seats, and a big eight-inch screen in the dash with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto feeding an eight-speaker audio system, all in a cabin that feels (and is) much wider and more spacious than any other ute on the market.

The VW Amarok might come close to the Musso in cabin width, but there’s certainly no rubbing shoulders with the front seat passenger as you get in Benz X-Class or Mitsubishi Triton.

The Musso doesn’t miss out on any safety tech and is up there with the Triton as one of the best-equipped utes in this regard. Standard kit includes all the features you expect including electronic stability and traction control, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), forward collision warning, front vehicle start alert (FVSA), lane departure warning, tyre-pressure monitoring system (TPMS), front and rear park assist, blind spot detection, Lane Change Assist (LCA) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).

We have found the lane departure warning to be overly sensitive and annoying on narrower roads, and thankfully you can turn its chime off. FVSA was a new one for us and is an alert that lets you know when the vehicle in front has moved on when sitting in traffic if your mind is elsewhere.


We always love a good TPMS for keeping us informed of the pressures in all the tyres, particularly when you’re on rough roads that can be hard on tyres.

A nice touch to the Musso’s TPMS is that it randomly flashes up the current situation of the tyre pressures. We’ve only noticed this happening once in the first two weeks of driving this car, but it’s a great feature. How often do most of us check our tyre pressures?

The mechanical package comprises the 420Nm 2.2-litre diesel engine backed by a smooth eight-speed auto and part-time four-wheel drive.

The rear locking diff is an auto-locking unit and not driver-selectable, but has proven to be very effective in past tests.

WhichCar brings a Musso to the Deni Ute Muster...

We loaded the Musso up with some factory accessories that come from some well-known brands including the Ironman 4x4 suspension kit and underbody protection, Redarc Tow Pro brake controller, factory tow bar and tonneau cover.

These are all factory-backed and dealer installed, and fully covered by SsangYong’s excellent seven-year warranty.

We look forward to putting this Rhino to work over the coming months and getting a true feeling of what it’s like to live with.


TOTAL KM: 563km
PRICE: $37,990 - $42,848.90

Part 2: Stuck in the 'Burbs

New Maxxis RAZR tyres and some light-duty use for our SsangYong.

WITH the Melbourne lockdowns restricting us to a five-kilometre radius of home, we haven’t been able to put many miles on the SsangYong Musso XLV this past month, but it is proving to be a comfortable urban commuter.

The extent of our travels have been the commute to the shops and back, and we’ve appreciated the big, comfortable interior space, heated seats, and the large screen and clear reversing camera that help us slip into the parking spaces at Woollies.

Despite being bigger than some of the other utes in its class, the Musso is easier to park than most, thanks to its expansive glasshouse and visibility, and the aforementioned rear camera and parking sensors.

We did squeeze in a bit of off-roading with the ‘Rhino’ when we headed out to the Melbourne 4x4 Training & Proving Ground, but before we did we replaced the tyres that came on it with a set of Maxxis’ new AT811 RAZR tyres.

We were mighty impressed with the RAZR MT772 muddies when we had them on our Ranger and when we saw the AT811s at the SEMA Show last year, and we were keen to try them out. The new all-terrain RAZRs only landed here in July, and when we saw the ATs had launched in Australia we queued up to get a set.

Of course, being an all-terrain tyre the 811s are a less-aggressive tyre than the 772 and deliver a better on-road driving experience, but Maxxis took some of the tech from the muddy and applied it to the AT to give it a more purpose-built appearance.

Aggressive side biters sit in between deep shoulder lugs for improved off-road traction and sidewall protection, and these are aided by the relatively open design of the chunky tread blocks across the tread face.

All but one size (33.105R15) in the 21-size range of AT811 RAZRs are light-truck construction, with a durable 10-ply rating and 3-ply sidewall for strong resistance to punctures and damage.

We replaced the Musso’s tyres with RAZRs in the same 265/60R128 size as OE spec, albeit these are LT tyres. These retail for $310 to $320 per tyre, so shop around to find the best deal on them. We had them fitted by our good friends at Competition Tyres & More in Murrumbeena, Victoria.

Initial impressions on wet and dry roads are that they are super quiet and comfortable, with nothing to really challenge them in commuter conditions. At the proving ground they made light work of the gravel, mud and rocks found around the property at road pressures.

Having the more aggressive tyres on the already capable Musso makes a good thing better, allowing us to take it more places. So we’re looking forward to getting out to some more challenging terrain once the pandemic lockdown lifts, to see how both cars and tyres perform.


TOTAL KM: 643km

Part 3: Making Musso Memories

Understanding what Aussie drivers do with their vehicles is something Korean carmaker SsangYong has quantified - 27/10/20

ANOTHER month of Victorian lockdowns has meant another month of us not being able to go far in our Musso XLV. In fact, we still haven’t had to put any fuel in it.

While we haven’t been able to put the Musso to much use it has been interesting to read a survey recently commissioned by SsangYong on how Australians are likely to use their vehicles over a seven-year period.

SsangYong chose seven years as that’s how long its vehicles are covered by the factory unlimited-kilometre warranty.

While there might be people who will have questions about buying a vehicle from a relatively small importer such as SsangYong, that seven-year warranty should certainly allay any fears about the vehicle’s quality and dependability.

On average, Australians drive 13,400km per year, so that’s 93,800km over the seven-year warranty period.

“Across seven years, an average Australian driver will make 5063 individual trips,” according to Stevan Dimitrovski, the national marketing manager at SsangYong Australia.

“They’re likely to pop the boot 1343 times, play 3167 songs, make 877 hands-free calls, and have 302 unique arguments over directions.”

Relating this to our experience with the Musso XLV; it has a tailgate and not a boot and the tailgate is locked via the central locking, a very handy feature not found on many popular 4x4 utes.

Playing music, making hands-free calls and seeking directions is easy in the Musso thanks to the Apple CarPlay and relatively large eight-inch screen.

The eight-speaker sound system fitted within the Musso XLV Ultimate is a step above most popular utes as well; some of them only offer two speakers! But we do wish the sound system had more volume as I often find it already at its max when I go to crank it up.

SsangYong’s ‘Long Drive’ study also found that across that seven-year period, men are expected to take 692 more trips than women (5424 compared to 4732) and the blokes are also expected to open windows more (2162 times) compared to women (1820 times). Australians are predicted to reverse park 1569 times on average over seven years.

Interestingly, 98 per cent of Australians are likely to harbour memories of their cars associated with life milestones or family occasions, rather than memories about their ‘new car’ experience.

This is particularly relevant for a go-anywhere adventure 4x4 ute like the Musso; you’re more likely to remember what car you were in when you conquered the Simpson Desert’s ‘Big Red’ sand dune than elements of getting a new car.

What’s that other saying? No one remembers the time you got 10L/100km fuel economy.

Equipping the Musso with factory-backed accessories such as the Ironman 4x4 suspension, underbody vehicle protection and all-terrain tyres, as we have done on the XLV, furnish the Musso for such memorable adventures. All the accessories are also covered by the same seven-year factory warranty.

So far the lockdown is creating memories for all the wrong reasons. We’re just itching to break free from the suburbs and set out on some memorable adventures in the Musso.


TOTAL KM: 771km

Part 4: Back to Work

We're finally getting our and using the Musso as intended - 22/12/20

AFTER months in a hard Victorian lockdown and being tethered to the suburbs, we’ve been able to venture a bit farther afield in the Musso, using it as the photographer’s car on a worker permit.

This allowed our snapper Alastair to drive it up to Lederderg for these pics and later down to Gippsland to shoot Anthony’s Patrol for the cover of this issue.

Just as the Musso has been a comfortable and easy car to live with around town, it works well for these little day trips and light off-road use. The spacious cabin is well-equipped in this Ultimate specification and, as it is the long-wheelbase XLV model, the massive cargo tub easily accommodates any gear we need.

On the day these photos were taken we had the new Mazda BT-50 there to shoot, and driving the two back-to-back you quickly appreciate the wider cabin of the Musso that gives a much bigger feeling inside the car.

It’s also quieter inside and after sampling both the BT-50 and Isuzu D-Max siblings around the same time, I’ve got to say the Musso is much more refined in the cabin with less noise from the engine and lower NVH levels all-round.

We weren’t comparing the two utes on the day but as an indicator, where the Mazda scraped its side-steps cresting a large hump, the SsangYong cleared it, but it did touch its tail on departure; a price you pay for the larger cargo space.

Even with its optional Ironman 4x4 suspension package raising the ride height around 45mm, the Musso still feels low. That said, it is an essential option for anyone wanting to use their Musso off-road.

While the rear overhang is something you need to be wary of when off-road, the benefit of that massive tub (300mm longer than the standard Musso) is how much you can fit in it.

Being allowed farther afield allowed me to pick up some wheels and tyres and five 265/75-15s fit in there easily, with room for two more and you’d still be able to keep them all under the tonneau cover.

Having the weight of these wheels and tyres in the tub also softened out the all-coil spring suspension a bit for a more comfortable ride.

Like any one-tonne ute the Musso can be a bit choppy in the ride department when there’s no load on board, but a light load like this balances it out nicely.

In XLV Ultimate trim like our car, the Musso has an 880kg payload. If you need more, the lower-spec ELX model with leaf springs under the back gives 1025kg payload with all 4x4 Mussos having a 3500kg towing rating.

Getting out of town allowed us to put a more respectable 700km on the Musso XLV and the highway driving dropped the fuel use down to a 10.9L/100km average.

The more time we spend in the Musso and the kilometres we rack up in it, the more we think this is the most underrated ute in its class and definitely one that buyers should check out before they pass it by.


TOTAL KM: 1428km

Part 5: Breaking Free

We leave suburbia behind and take a long-overdue off-road day trip - 14/01/20
Words: Tristan Tancredi

FOLLOWING months of hibernation, Netflix and food deliveries, it was great to get out again and enjoy the Victorian sunshine and clock up some proper mileage in our long-term Musso.

We say that as a big slab of our time spent with the Musso has been whittled away during lockdown, with the Korean dual-cab mainly sitting in the carpark, and used sparingly to pick up groceries and Bunnings orders.

With restrictions lessened considerably over the past month or so, we decided to point the Musso to Healesville and beyond to Toolangi, to dust off the cobwebs and take a long-overdue off-road day trip.

Located at just over 70km from Melbourne via blacktop, Toolangi is a sweet spot for off-roaders looking to escape for a weekend – or just an afternoon, really.

With a selection of interweaving off-road tracks – ranging from mild to somewhat wild – the region is lush with vegetation, and well-used by four-wheelers throughout the year.

Being a weekday on our jaunt, though, we had the place to ourselves.

On the tarmac drive to reach the dirt, the wide, spacious interior and securely heated and vented front pews (no height adjustment for the passenger) make the Musso a comfy vessel for the occasion – though the cheap plastic clothing the dash is to be expected.

That there was a fair bit of weight in the Musso’s extended tub – courtesy of some used wheels and tyres editor Matt picked up on the cheap – made the ute feel well-connected to the bitumen.

This particular Musso is the XLV variant, which means it has a longer wheelbase (by 110mm) and a bigger cargo tub than the standard model.

Despite its size, though, rear parking sensors and a rear camera make it a cinch to park. It also has the Ironman 4x4-developed suspension setup, which can be purchased and installed from the factory.

You really feel it off-road, too, with the Musso feeling well-connected to terra firma on undulating backroads. On some of the more challenging climbs, the Musso had no issues keeping up with a 2020 Toyota Hilux cab-chassis we had along for the ride.

The 4WD system is easily manipulated via a dial on the centre console, with 4WD High able to be activated on the fly.

There are a few nit-picks, though, including the sensitive driver assistance systems such as lane departure warnings and a chime that alerts the driver when the vehicle in front of them has departed.

The alarm button on the key fob is also too big and obtrusive - and accidentally pressed on numerous occasions.

There are a few upcoming trips planned with our long-term Musso, so stay tuned to see how it coped with end-of-year festivities.


TOTAL KM: 2761km

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