It’s been a long haul, in more ways than one, but there are a loads of reasons why Professional Builder has enjoyed getting into bed with SsangYong’s new LWB Musso Rhino pick up.
Who would have believed it? Us getting all misty eyed as our lockdown companion of more than nine months finally disappeared down the road in a squeal of rubber on tarmac. But then global pandemics do strange things to men and machines, and we had grown unusually attached to our long-term vehicle test, the SsangYong Musso 4×4 LWB Rhino Pick-up.
Ever since that first tentative trip to the local shops for essential provisions, to that triumphant foray into the re-opened builders’ merchant’s yard in search of precious sand and cement for that new patio, the Rhino has been there for us on every step of an unprecedented journey.
Of course, even with an easing of some restrictions some things have remained resolutely off limits. For instance, we would have liked to have had the opportunity to thoroughly test its much vaunted off road capabilities, which claims to draw on SsangYong’s long pedigree in all wheel drive technology. The Musso comes with one engine option, a 2.2 litre turbodiesel, and features a selectable 4-wheel drive system with power delivered permanently to the rear wheels and front wheel drive dialled in electronically in the neutral position. Hill decent control and hill start assist help to provide optimum grip traction and, of course, extra safety during inclement weather and difficult site conditions.
Social distancing also meant that we couldn’t ask four burly builders to join us in the dark tinted rear privacy glassed cab to test leg and bum room, but the overall impression is that the passenger space is clearly on the more generous side than many similar vehicles we have driven. The door apertures are wide and rectangular without intrusions and, although not adjustable, the rear seat back is inclined slightly, rather than the bolt upright seating in most double cab pick-ups and has a high base for a good all-round view. The cabin, which is very closely related to its Rexton car cousin, is fitted and finished impressively enough with everything where it should be. Although a word of warning…. always make sure ‘Park’ is engaged when stopped as the battery will drain very quickly if left in neutral – as we discovered to our cost!
No doubt the Covid-postponed official launch day back in early March would also have been used to highlight the Rhino’s impressive towing figures. It’s generally accepted that most pick-ups cannot tow a trailer at maximum weight, and carry a full payload at the same time, but the Rhino is different in that it can comfortably tow 3.5 tonnes to give it a segment leading advantage. With the sector’s largest load bed offering capacity for over a tonne, this is a serious shifter of crew, materials, and plant. And build quality feels reassuringly good, with the use of ultra-strength steel for a stiffer chassis, and rear traditional leaf springs instead of the standard Musso car like coil springs. Occupants can take comfort that they are also surrounded by a total of eight safety bags and impact absorbing elements within the steering wheel and column.
With Musso translating to Rhino in South Korean, the new revamped pick-up offering is well named, and not just because the company has needed a thick skin over the years to deflect some barbed criticism of appearances and handling. Like its animal counterpart you certainly wouldn’t want to be in the way of a rampaging one coming at you at full charge, although design features have been incorporated in the frontal area to improve pedestrian safety as well.
Clearly, the company has taken on board some of those earlier negatives surrounding the ride quality of its original line-up. Now, with all round improvements to the general aerodynamics, the fitment of eight body mounts, large rubber engine mounts helping to dampen vibration, and polyester wheel arches to help reduce road noise, the company are confident they can make serious inroads on their better known big beast rivals.
And without these fundamental changes, it’s probably fair to say that the Musso could have quite easily gone down the same path as its animal namesake and become something of an endangered species. Simply being robust and workmanlike is not enough in this increasingly highly competitive market, with customers demanding something that also drives like a car and looks good for both work and pleasure.
Clearly there are many things that we will be quite happy to see the back of as 2020 draws to a close but our Musso Rhino is most definitely not one of them!
Builders have a choice of three other models in the Musso Pick-up range…..
The short bed offers the market entry level that is built for a hard day’s work at a competitive price. It comes with 17in. alloy wheels, a DAB audio system, six air bags, electric windows, remote central locking that includes tailgate, manual air conditioning, automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers and AdBlue.
Again short bedded, it builds on the EX specification adding roof rails, floor mats, 8in. smart audio infotainment system with goggle car play and android auto rear reversing camera, leather look seats, front seats that are heated, together with steering wheel and black and silver side strips and Rebel graphics.
Adding a premium feel to the short bed offering it has 18in. alloys, leather seats, 9.2in. screen with TomTom navigation, cruise control front and rear, parking sensors and Saracen graphics. Prices start from around £22,000, rising to £30,000, and all come with a market-leading 150,000 mile or seven-year warranty.
For further information on the SsangYong Musso 4×4 LWB Rhino Pick-up go to www.ssangyonggb.co.uk/