ONCE exclusively the preserve of tradesmen and farmers, pick-up trucks have more recently become the lifestyle vehicles of choice for all manner of small business owners.
Shrewd self-employed drivers looking for a car they can use for work and family have cottoned on to the lucrative tax breaks afforded by their classification as light commercial vehicles and have flocked to buy these erstwhile workhorses in large numbers.
In response to this broadening customer base pick-ups have improved considerably in quality as big names such as Fiat, Volkswagen and even Mercedes-Benz have all brought trucks to the marketplace.
Indeed, potential buyers now have a wide choice to suit a whole range of requirements and budgets.
SsangYong, however, is probably one of the less familiar names to those looking to buy one - but the South Korean 4x4 specialist's Musso offering is well worth considering if you are.
Based on the same platform and taking many design cues from the brand's flagship Rexton SUV, this is a stylish and well-equipped pick-up that combines family space and comfort with the ability to carry a one tonne payload and tow a 3.5-tonne trailer simultaneously.
Beneath the sloping bonnet of all versions sits the same 2.2-litre turbo diesel power pack, which can be mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or the six-speed automatic that our test vehicle featured.
As you'd expect in a pick-up, the 181ps engine pulls strongly from low revs, with peak torque of 400Nm available from 1,400rpm, before tailing away slightly at the top end. Motorway speeds are comfortably achieved, though, and the Musso is surprisingly quiet and refined when cruising.
A stiff suspension set-up helps to keep body roll in bends to a minimum, although the pay-off is a firm ride that tends to fidget and rattle over potholes. The steering is light and accurate, though, and the overall driving experience much less agricultural than you might expect and more akin to that of most large SUVs.
For better efficiency and fuel economy - never a strong point of pick-ups, with 32.8 miles per gallon claimed on average here - power is delivered to the rear wheels for normal road driving and front wheel drive is dialled in electronically only when required.
If you do plan to actually use your Musso on construction sites and ploughed fields, though, the very capable 4x4 system, drawing on SsangYong's long experience in all-wheel-drive technology, features high and low ratio lock settings as well as hill descent control and hill start assist.
Coupled with its load capacity and towing abilities, this means that this Korean truck can cope with all the tasks traditionally expected of the class and makes an ideal work vehicle.
Climbing into the double cab however, especially in our high spec Saracen model, reveals a roomy, comfortable and well-appointed interior which is a million miles away from utilitarian pick-ups of old.
Leather covered seats are heated in both the front and back and can be electrically adjusted in the front and, although there are durable and hard wearing materials that reflect the dual function of the vehicle, some soft-touch surfaces are used and everything is solidly screwed together.
Head and legroom is good in the back, where the rear bench is wide enough for three to sit abreast in reasonable comfort on short journeys and there is more than ample personal storage provision.
Equipment levels are impressive across the range, with even the work-focused entry-level EX model getting alloy wheels, digital radio with Bluetooth, electric windows, air conditioning and automatic lights and wipers.
Stepping up the range adds some genuine family-car comforts and Saracen trim also includes an easy-to-use 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a rear-view camera, navigation, a heated steering wheel and cruise control.