SSANGYONG MUSSO & KORANDO
Riding heavily on the Mercedes engines installed, the Korean-built SsangYong Musso arrived to challenge the luxury leisure 4×4 market in 1995 and the model, due largely to its competitive price, has done quite well. The Musso is a road vehicle with fair off-road ability. The handling feels limp and awkward and the moment one pulls away the reason for the Musso’s budget price-tag becomes evident: Early, normally-aspirated diesel versions were grossly underpowered. The later petrol versions are really quite quick and may make a nice tow vehicle. Off-road the Musso is a reasonable performer. Ground clearance is the Musso’s biggest problem but can be improved by adjustment of the torsion bars.
Transmission is part-time four-wheel drive Borg Warner 5-speed manual gearbox and automatic free-wheel front hubs. Mussos are not particularly well made and those that spend a lot of time on gravel roads and rough conditions do not fair well and breakdowns become common and as the suspension components wear it becomes even more loose, losing even the little bit of steering feel it possessed when new. A double-cab derivative is available and is called the Sport.
The Korando is no longer the ugliest and tastelessly styled 4x4s ever made: This honour must now go to the Ssanyong Actyon. But at least the Korando has low-range gearing, which means it is still a fair off-roader. Based on a shortened Musso chassis, off-road performance of the Korando is below average in most respects because while its engine works very nicely off road, it is constantly let down by the overly large front-end overhang that causes the front suspension to dive in, bottoming at the slightest provocation. Wheel travel is fair but clearance, especially between the front wheels is poor. While the Korando petrol versions feel powerful its road feel is heavy and ponderous for such a compact vehicle. The turbo-diesel model is the better choice.