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SsangYong Musso Vs Isuzu D-Max

By Maxine Ashford | May 10, 2022


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We put these two affordable pick-ups to the test

SsangYong Musso Vs Isuzu D-Max

While the popularity of the ever-increasing SUV segment shows little sign of slowing down, more drivers are looking for an alternative. And many are turning to the pick-up sector for its versatile, go-anywhere vehicles with plenty of attitude and practicality thrown into the mix.

We are comparing two very similarly-priced models that are at the lower end of the pricing structure and both are very competitively matched when it comes to vying for sales.

We will be looking at the Korean-manufactured SsangYong Musso and judging it against the Japanese-based Isuzu D-Max. We’ll look at the costs, style, practicality and off-road ability, efficiency, driving impressions and any offers as we help you make your mind up which model is right for your needs. 


Budgets are tighter for many buyers these days and while it would be easy to spend in excess of £60k on a pick-up, we are concentrating on two of the very best models at the lower end of the pricing structure.

But customers looking for a pick-up from either SsangYong or Isuzu are spoilt for choice with varying trim levels, cab sizes, off-road ability and refinement.

SsangYong was established in Korea back in 1954 and initially specialised in the development of trucks. It has since gone on to be the leading light in Korean manufacturing when it comes to 4x4 production.

So the Musso should impress then? And it does just that. There are short and long-wheel base derivatives all in double cab guise and buyers can select from four trim levels called EX, Rebel and Saracen (SWB) and range-topping Rhino which is LWB.

Prices start from £23,610 and rise to £32,010, excluding VAT.

Like SsangYong, Isuzu may not have the brand awareness that some of the big hitters from Ford and Toyota do, but just like the Musso, the D-Max is definitely worth checking out.

With a choice of single, extended or double cab models, the line-up consists of the Utility, DL-20, DL-40 and V-Cross with prices ranging from £21,999 to £32,349 excluding VAT.


Your money goes a long way if you’re considering the SsangYong Musso. The model was totally revamped back in 2018 when the new Musso was launched. It boasted a total redesign with the only common factor being its name. And now in 2022, the new bolder Musso (it means rhino in Korean) is available with a fresh look finished in black for added visual impact.

These days a pick-up has to have a split personality. It needs to fulfil all the day-to-day workhorse demands, but also must offer all the creature comforts and on-board tech we demand from our vehicles.

Stretching more than five metres in length, expect to see the likes of LED fog lights, projection headlamps and daytime running lights, along with practical roof rails. There are bold 17 or 18-inch wheels and a five-seat cab.

The interior is feature rich with nappa leather seats on the range-topper, plus a 12.3-inch digital cluster, eight-inch infotainment screen (on all but the EX) with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and screen mirroring, Bluetooth connectivity, a DAB radio, heated and ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel. As you step up through the trim levels, the Musso gains extra tech and boasts the equipment levels of a high-end SUV, so customers will not be disappointed.

The Isuzu D-Max in high-end V-Cross has plenty of road presence and this model ticks all the lifestyle boxes too. There are gun metal finishing touches and stylish 18-inch alloys. 

Once again, there is a wealth of tech as standard with an eight-way powered, leather driver’s seat that can be heated, a nine-inch colour touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, an eight-speaker sound system, a CD player, DAB radio, along with front and rear USB ports.

Long gone are those days when you had to wear half the clothes in your wardrobe to stay warm in a pick-up.

Practicality and off-road ability

Despite all the bells and whistles, a pick-up must to be able to live up to its working vehicle status whether that’s on a farm, building site or aiding the emergency services.

One of the unique selling points of the Musso is its ability to tow 3.5 tonnes and simultaneously carry a one-tonne payload. A trailer sway system offers added control and stability in the process. Dependant on model, the Musso has a load bay length of 1,300-1,610mm and ground clearance of 215-220mm, 

There are full 4WD controls with high and low-range gears for working in more adverse conditions and the Musso runs in 2WD as standard to maximise efficiency.

It’s also worth pointing out that both the Musso and D-Max are used by the emergency services as their vehicles of choice.

The D-Max can carry a payload that ranges from 1,070 to 1,205kg depending on body style and it can tow a trailer or caravan weighing up to 3,500kg. It can wade through water up to 800mm deep so won’t be fazed by any off-road tasks.

There are three 4WD configurations. The 2H setting is for rear-wheel drive only, 4H delivers drive to all wheels in a high gear ratio for slippery surfaces such as mud or grass, and finally switch across to 4L and that provides drive to all wheels in a low gear ratio for more extreme off-road challenges.

And a huge plus-factor for the D-Max is its maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. The SsangYong Musso has never been tested.


The Musso is powered by a 2,157cc diesel engine matched to a manual or auto gearbox. It delivers 202PS and 400-441Nm of torque. Combined fuel economy ranges from 30.2-33.8mpg and the carbon emissions are set at 220-245g/km.

It’s worth noting that the Musso comes with an outstanding seven-year, 150,000-mile warranty too.

The D-Max is also available with just one engine – a 1.9-litre, 164ps diesel unit delivering 360Nm of torque. The V-Cross can deliver a combined 30.7mpg with carbon emissions of 241g/km.

Driving impressions

There was a time when the SsangYong Musso was quite a poor on-road performer. It was great tackling working tasks, but fell short when faced with smooth Tarmac. But that was then and this is now. The latest Musso offers excellent comfort levels and with many systems based on the multi-award-winning Rexton, it has really upped its game.

It means the Musso is quite refined to drive on the road with noise and vibration levels cut to a minimum on the latest model. It is nicely balanced on the open road and cruises on motorways. 

The road holding impresses too with limited body roll into tight corners. In fact, at times it’s easy to forget you’re driving a pick-up, which again is credit to the ride and handling qualities of this latest Musso.

The latest D-Max is so much better on road than its predecessor with sharper acceleration through the new automatic gearbox which offers 25 per cent quicker gear changes. 

The engine does still get quite noisy under heavy acceleration and there is a fair amount of wind noise from the large door mirrors, but the road holding impresses and there is very little body sway into bends.

It’s also worth mentioning that even the heaviest D-Max V-Cross auto model weighs in at 2,030kg. This is a significant figure because any vehicle weighing above 2,040kg must be driven at goods vehicle speed limits which are 10mph slower on certain roads.


The SsangYong Musso in range-topping Rhino guise is available on PCP deals right now with a customer deposit of £12,850, 48 monthly payments of £399 and an optional final payment of £10,310. This model has an on-the-road cash price of £38,343, but the customer would pay £42,312.

The Isuzu D-Max in high-end V-Cross grade is available on a PCP deal with a customer deposit of £12,304 and 48 monthly payments of £349, followed by an optional final payment of £13,717. The OTR price for this model is £38,092 and on this PCP scheme, the customer would pay a total of £42,773.

All the PCP offers quoted here were available from the manufacturer’s own websites, but there are terms and conditions that need to be read carefully and the offers may also be time sensitive. However, there are lots of deals to be viewed at various dealerships, so it’s definitely worth shopping around.

So, which takes your fancy?

Both the SsangYong Musso and Isuzu D-Max have their own individual appeal and both models have scooped numerous national awards. When it comes to pricing, there are just a few pounds separating the models and it’s the same story when you view the PCP deals available. 

They are equally able off-road although the Musso has a slight edge with its towing and payload combined limit. The D-Max can be driven at normal speeds whereas Musso drivers are limited to certain restrictions due to its weight.

Both feature modern, generously-equipped cabins that are packed with tech, but I felt the Musso was more refined on the open road. 

In all honesty, if you are in the market for a pick-up that is reasonably priced, capable and well-equipped, book a test drive in both these models and decide for yourself.

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