The pickup segment is one of the most competitive in the country. Every major carmaker has its warrior to slug it out with the rivals. Sadly, Filipino vehicle buyers are so accustomed to the usual suspects. When one thinks about buying a pickup truck, the Toyota Hilux, the Ford Ranger, the Nissan Navara, the Mitsubishi Strada and the Isuzu D-Max immediately come to mind.
Others often get bumped off the conversation even though they are also good enough. Allow us to show you one perfect example: the SsangYong Musso Grand.
The Musso has been around since the late 1990s. It was called the “Musso Sport” then, back when the Korean carmaker had just been introduced to our market. It was one of the three vehicles that the brand offered. The others were the Musso SUV and the very popular Istana van.
Sadly, the truck didn’t get much success in the Philippine market. Some swapped the SsangYong badge for the German tri-star logo, which, to be fair, had some truth to it. All of these vehicles shared mechanical bits, thanks to a technology-sharing deal with Mercedes-Benz.
But the truck (along with the other models) just faded into oblivion as the new millennium came. SsangYong had some sort of renaissance when India’s Mahindra Automotive took over the brand. It launched some interesting vehicles, including the new Musso.
The Musso and the Musso Grand share most design cues with other SsangYong models. It isn’t head-turning, so to speak. But any petrolhead would end up doing a double-take, as the truck’s unconventional shape is something new. Especially in the sea of Japanese and American trucks in the country.
Looking mostly like the original Musso it was based on, the Grand is almost half a meter longer. While the cab’s dimensions are largely similar to the original truck, much of the added length was because of the huge cargo bed. SsangYong claims that this is the biggest on the market today. And it’s easy to see that, as the truck is even longer than the Toyota Hiace.
Since this is just a mid-variant of the Musso Grand, the interior is rather spartan. The dashboard is more practical than stylish, but that doesn’t mean it looks bad. It just happens to lack most bells and whistles that the range-topping variant has. It has a simple instrument cluster but provides all the information you’ll need.
The steering wheel is made from urethane, but is chunky and rather nice to hold. It has manual climate controls with big knobs and buttons that have a reassuring click when you press them. The seats are upholstered in fabric, but are supportive of your bum and back.
This variant of the Musso Grand is a no-nonsense truck. In a world of fully loaded lifestyle trucks, it offers relative comfort and practicality to compensate for its lack of pizzazz. After all, this is meant to be a work truck.
Speaking of work trucks, the Musso Grand is built, um, tough. It sits on a ladder-frame chassis and rear leaf springs. While very capable of hauling heavy loads, the suspension absorbs road imperfections quite well. My fiancée, who suffers from vertigo, had no complaints about the ride.
The 2.2-liter e-XDI 220 diesel engine is undeniably small. But it makes 179hp and a generous 420Nm of torque. Equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission, the truck pulls its weight with all of its cargo with ease. And though it has a drive mode selector, the “winter” setting doesn’t make sense in this tropical country of ours.
Now, for what this vehicle is, hauling cargo is the best thing it can do. The truck bed is 1,610mm long, 1,570mm wide, and 571mm in height. This makes it ideal for carrying stuff, much more than what other trucks are capable of. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try it as we didn’t have much to transport during the lend-out period.
A quirk that I had to deal with was the transmission tuning. The slightest pressure on the throttle makes it downshift, which fires up the engine in the process. This makes it rev a little bit more than it should.
I got to drive the truck for around 820km, and still had enough fuel for probably 30km more. Average fuel consumption was around 12km/L, which was from a 40/60 of city/highway usage.
Another thing I wish the truck had was a set of backup sensors. Given that it has the biggest bed in its class, parking sonars would have made wonders in parking this burly vehicle.
But for a work truck, the Musso Grand is (literally) the biggest thing to hit the market. It is surprisingly comfortable, capable, practical, and very affordable. How affordable, you ask?
This Grand Musso 2.2L 4×2 AT retails for only P1,240,000. That comes with a one-year free service plan. And if that’s not enough, the distributor has some great offers that could even bring that price down to P990,000 after discounts (ask about it).
If you’re willing to look past the badge and the absence of more features, it’s hard to beat this truck. They say that great things come in small packages. But if you’re looking for a work truck, the Musso Grand deserves to be on your short list of choices.
SSANGYONG MUSSO GRAND 2.2L 4X2 AT
|Engine||2.2-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel|
|Power||179hp @ 4,000rpm|
|Torque||420Nm @ 1,400-2,800rpm|
|Dimensions||5,405mm x 1,950mm x 1,820mm|
|Upside||Big truck bed, good suspension and powertrain tuning, and affordable price.|
|Downside||Lack of added features to differentiate it from the base manual model.|