I’ve become a bit of a cynic when anyone says they’re going to ‘miss’ or give a ‘fond farewell’ to a long-termer. Whether or not it’s because I’ve never ‘clicked’ with a car I’ve lived with, or if it’s just I’m too heartless to care, I’m not so sure.
That was until ‘my’ SsangYong Musso Rhino LWB departed earlier this month, though, which has left a rather vacant gap in my life – as well as in our driveway, now its 5.4m-long stature has gone. In what was – and I’m no meteorologist – one of the coldest and snowiest winters I’ve seen in some time, I’m honestly not sure I could have asked for something better-suited if I tried.
Despite most of my tenure with RK70 CPZ being during a lockdown in some shape or form – and only doing a couple of longer journeys during eased restrictions – it still managed to clock up over 4,000 miles.
Like many, the various lockdowns lead me to take up a hobby, and for me that was mountain biking, with a local bike park being just 10 miles away. Though, yes, I could have pedalled there if feeling particularly energetic, I always chose the easy option – taking the Musso.
With most pick-ups, you’d still struggle to fit a full-size mountain bike in the load bed, but not with the Musso, with its 1.61m-long trunk being the largest of any double-cab pick-up on the market, and fitting in my bike in with ease. This was probably my favourite thing about it, during all my time with the SsangYong, and the smug-feeling when seeing others try to mangle bikes into the back of a hatchback and mess about with roof carriers never faded.
During the cold winters, I particularly enjoyed its heated steering wheel and seats, both of which were usually on full whack, but its ability in the snow was exemplary. We’re lucky enough to live in rural North Yorkshire, and live on a farm with plenty of steep hills that are ideal for sledging and snowboarding down.
They’re all down rather rough and long tracks, though, which a typical SUV would struggle with. No such issue with the Musso, however, as its lockable four-wheel-drive setup proved no match for the powder, which was even snow drifting up to the top of the wheels at times.
But what about what it was actually like to live with on a daily basis? Well, for all its pick-up abilities – like many owners of such vehicles – most of the time I simply used it as a car. And yet despite its size, it never really proved that much of an issue. Granted, in some car parks you’d have to pick your space carefully to avoid sticking out into the road, but light steering, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera meant it never felt quite as big as it was.
The equipment list was long and lengthy, and though not getting all the latest technology, a large touchscreen with smartphone mirroring and satellite navigation proved useful, as did the wipe-clean leather upholstery when it came to mountain biking in the height of winter.
It also impressed others during its time, too – not least my Dad, who’s an ardent pick-up owner who currently has a Volkswagen Amarok, arguably the most ‘premium’ model in this segment. While his vehicle was in the garage for repairs – somewhat ironically as the SsangYong never put a foot wrong – he used the Musso a few times, reporting back how much he liked the interior and that he also reckoned it was just as capable at towing as his VW.
And any things I didn’t like about it? Well, my only real gripes are those that would be common in any pick-up. The ride was never especially smooth when unladen, and there were many visits to the petrol station – averaging only around 26mpg during my time with it, though predominantly small trips undoubtedly contributed to this. On the occasional longer trips, it was quite easy to see 30mpg and upwards, which is actually a better figure than the 28.2mpg that SsangYong claims.
The Musso, for me at least, feels like a model that is truly on par with rivals in this segment, shunning off SsangYong’s budget roots. With a seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty (the longest of any pick-up), it’s an especially appealing choice.
It truly has been one of the most useful vehicles I’ve ever lived with, and one that I have drastically missed since it has left – not least when it comes to mountain biking. Would I recommend one? Yes, and without any hesitation.