Pickups are the tall, tough workhorses on the motoring scene, but they are morphing from builders’ mobile toolboxes to family leisure wagons.
Fresh snow fell in the Alps last week, and rather a lot of it. For the many Brits who make an annual pilgrimage to the white world of winter skiing, it was both a blessing and a curse. The ski season is nearing its end for this year, and a big blizzard brought welcome new powder snow to the pistes, but also tricky conditions to the roads.
I was there on a brief diversion for a weekend’s skiing on route to the Geneva motor show, having driven out from the UK. Happily I was at the wheel of a big 4×4 pickup, well able to cope with tough going. It was a SsangYong Musso, and in common with other 4x4s in the Korean manufacturer’s mostly all-wheel-drive range, it rides on standard-equipment mud-and-snow tyres.
Sales of pickups are growing, as more buyers are wooed by their rugged practicality, height elevation and go-anywhere adventurousness. Once the sole preserve of builders and other tradesmen with heavy gear to carry, they now enjoy rising popularity with active families needing to transport sports leisure kit like body boards, kite-surfers and equestrian tack.
So there has been a steady gentrification of some pickups with each new generation, and now even Mercedes-Benz is looking at joining in, with a pickup concept car on its Geneva show stand.
It’s an odd name, Musso, but a rather appropriate one for a butch, tough vehicle. It’s the Korean word for a rhinoceros. The first model to wear a Musso badge was an SUV dating back to 1993. Then sold under the brand new Daewoo, its chunky styling was the work of a British designer, Ken Greenley, and that car was in production until 2005.
SsangYong has revived the name for its
SSANGYONG MUSSO REVIEW: ALL SEASON RUGGEDNESS
20th March 2017
new pickup, launched late last autumn to replace the old Korando Sport model that was rather a rough diamond, keenly priced but a bit of a redneck to drive.
The new Musso is still a bit of a brute compared with some of its smoother, more lifestyle-orientated rivals, but it’s a heck of a lot better than its differently-named predecessor. It has a new 2.2 litre diesel engine and transmission, plenty of power at 176 bhp, and meets the current benchmark Euro 6 emissions regulations.
For a pickup, it’s not excessively fuel-thirsty either. This auto range-topper model has a combined economy figure of 37 mpg.
Double cab five-seater
With a five-seat, double-cab body design, the Musso is a practical family vehicle with an elevated seating position that gives you a good view out. The downside is that it’s quite a clamber to haul yourself up into the cab, but once there it’s pretty much as comfortable as a mid-range SUV.
The cabin is a bit plasticky across the dash, but generally civilised and well-kitted out with desirable features such as automatic climate control, auto lights and wipers, leather seats and front seat heaters, although it’s a bit of a downer that there’s no standard satnav.
On the move, the Musso drives very decently. There’s still something of a workhorse edge to it, and the rather numb-feeling steering doesn’t help, but it doesn’t roll unduly on the bends and it pulls strongly and is rowed along efficiently by the six-speed auto gearbox.
The Musso usefully has a 1,050 kg payload, and can tow up to 3,000 kg. Price-wise, it’s one of the most affordable pickups. This range-topper version is under £23,000 including VAT, which is a lot less than rivals like a Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger or Mitsubishi L200, even after the £1,650 for the loadbay-covering hard top is added.
Click here to download a brochure of one of our current models.