Having recently moved back home to rural North Yorkshire, it became apparent that you can’t function without a pick-up around here.
Both the roads and people’s driveways are absolutely swamped with them, and it’s the Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux, Volkswagen Amarok and Ford Ranger that truly dominate.
But what there aren’t many of are SsangYong Mussos which is surprising given how careful with their money us Yorkshire folk are and what great value this South Korean truck represents. It’s also got a seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty, which is by far the longest offered on any pick-up on sale today.
However, one more Musso has joined the roads around here recently – ‘my’ new one.
Replacing the Korando Ultimate that I lived with for the past seven months, it’s safe to say this SsangYong is a complete change of scenery – going from a sensible front-wheel-drive crossover to a mammoth pick-up.
This isn’t a standard Musso, though. No, it’s the new long wheelbase (LWB) model. It’s the only LWB pick-up on the market today, and has the longest pick-up bed of any double cab truck sold new in the UK – measuring 1.61m. That’s 30cm longer than the standard Musso, and remedies an area where this SsangYong has always lagged behind rivals.
All LWB versions also come in a specification called ‘Rhino’, as if you couldn’t already tell from the enormous graphic plastered down the size of it.
It also sits right at the top of the Musso range – commanding a £1,700 premium over a similarly-specced standard Saracan model. It represents great value for money, too – with a price of £29,995. That’s excluding VAT, as because pick-ups are classed as a commercial vehicle, many driving such trucks will be doing it for business reasons. The price with VAT is £35,931.
The only options on it are the cool Indian Red colour, and also a useful Mountain Top rollover cover that means things can securely be left in the back.
And as you might expect for a top-spec pick-up, it’s not short of kit. While it’s not quite as plush inside as my previous SsangYong Korando – mainly because of the lack of digital dials system and funky ambient lighting – you certainly won’t feel short-changed. Luxuries including a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated seats, Nappa leather upholstery and a large 9.2-inch touchscreen all feature. While well-equipped, though, it was disappointing to realise that it comes with old-fashioned-feeling halogen headlights – a shame given rivals feature Xenons or LED units instead.
That’s a very slight gripe, though, and apart from that, I’ve been loving truck life so far. The ride takes time to adjust to – it has the typical pick-up characteristic of feeling fidgety but that’s just the case when the load bed is empty and not being used for towing.
It’s brilliant on the potholed roads around here, as with huge tyre walls surrounding the small 17-inch alloy wheels, you don’t have to worry about hitting a rut, while should you encounter a car on a narrow road, you can happily clip the grass verge and know you won’t end up getting stuck.
I’ve also been pleasantly pleased by the powertrain as well – a 178bhp 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel unit mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. Sure, it’s not quick and the transmission doesn’t like being forced to respond quickly, but driven leisurely it’s very smooth and refined, more so than the Korando beforehand.
With a mixture of long journeys lined up, as well as even a bit of city driving, and of course the joy of getting to live with a pick-up over winter, I’m looking forward to learning what the Musso is all about.
And if anyone needs a hand moving house with that gigantic pick-up bed, you know where I am…
Model: SsangYong Musso LWB Rhino
Price as tested: £29,995 (excl VAT)
Engine: 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel
0-60mph: 11.7 seconds
Top speed: 107mph
Fuel economy: 28.2mpg
Emissions: 262g/km CO2