Ssangyong Musso Car Reviews | NRMA Motoring & Services

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SsangYong Musso Car Review

Author: NRMA Motoring Date: 22 December 1996

Mercedes Benz has placed its stamp of approval on one of the latest entries into the already well catered for 4WD recreational market, the SsangYong Musso from South Korea.

Marketed here in Australia by Mercedes Benz Australia through its dealer network, the Musso is leaning heavily on its association with Benz and that it is equipped with petrol and diesel powerplants plus an automatic transmission designed by Benz and assembled under licence by the SsangYong Motor Co.

Although SsangYong is not a household name in Australia, the company has been operating in Korea as a 4WD and commercial vehicle manufacturer for over forty years with the first thirty plus years under the name of Ha Dong Hwan Motor.

The equipment levels available in the Musso are essentially determined by the choice of diesel or petrol engine. Once this decision is made the list of standard features tends to follow automatically. The diesel version of the Musso is priced at $40,900 whilst our petrol test vehicle is competitively priced at $49,700.

The Musso is quite clearly targeted at the mid four wheel segment of the market and Pajero, Prado, Jeep and Pathfinder are clearly in its sights.

Along list of features is standard on the Musso with a short list of extras such as alloy wheels, cruise control, remote keyless entry and sunroof are also available, although this list does not include air bags.

The most talked about and seemingly attractive feature of the Musso is its Mercedes-Benz designed engines. Although assembled by SsangYong, the 3.2 litre six cylinder petrol and 2.9 litre five cylinder diesel engines are essentially the same as those used by Benz in the E320 saloon and the G-wagon.

Although claiming to be the most powerful four-wheel drive in its class, the Musso really has to be driven with some enthusiasm to appreciate the power available. The petrol engine in our test vehicle performed very well is spite of the extent of engine noise evident when full throttle is employed. The Musso is at its best cruising on the highway with good handling characteristics at touring speeds.

The 4 speed automatic transmission is from Benz, whereas the 5 speed manual box is a Borg Warner unit. The auto changes are typical of the Benz tradition having a tendency to flare slightly on up shifts.

The ride provided by the torsion bars on double wishbones at the front and coil springs and multi-links at the rear is quite acceptable on the bitumen surface. However, it is inclined to be little skittish on loose surfaces requiring the driver’s full attention.

Its off-road ability would be described as average only, with some limitations on wheel travel and departure angle, and the gear selector gate is not conducive to quick selection between drive and reverse in bog mode. Although the Musso is a full-time four-wheel drive, low range can only be selected whilst stationary and in neutral.

Seating is quite comfortable front and rear with adequate head and leg room available for four adults. A fifth position in the centre rear however, is unsuitable for all but short trips. I did find the driver’s seat lumbar support a little harsh on the highest setting.

General storage and luggage space was sufficient for this size vehicle.

Body styling of the Musso either attracts or distracts depending on your personal likes and dislikes. It certainly has a unique style and identity of its own attracting both positive and negative comments.

Quality of finish however, is of relatively high standard.

Service intervals are set at 10,000 km and the three year or 100,000km warranty is supported by SsangYong’s three year free roadside assistance scheme. Servicing is assured wherever there is a Benz dealer.


The Musso is not a vehicle that will appeal to all four-wheel drivers and it certainly has room for improvement to raise it to the level of its major competitors.

It does however provide good comfortable touring attributes and medium level off-road performance.

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