So what's new?

Rhino - a replacement for the previous Musso (which actually means, ahem, "Rhino") was launched at the start of this year.

It's substantially cheaper than your average one-tonner ($25,990-$43,490), but good quality. If you don't want one of those top-five utes that are all made in Thailand, it's also a bit different in being from a Korean brand... and made in Korea. Authenticity?

It's one of very few utes to offer a petrol-engine option (2WD only) and it eschews the truck-like look of the trad one-tonners for something a little more SUV-like: the styling is pretty close to the Rexton, the wagon with which Rhino shares much of its mechanical makeup as well. It looks different to most utes without being cheesy. We like it.


Rhino also gets Rexton's five-link coil-spring rear suspension.

How does it all come together?
The point that we're trying to make is that if you're among the many who want a ute for "lifestyle" purposes (whatever that may mean - not "work" basically), the Rhino is highly tempting proposition. It's nicely executed, incredibly good value for money and just a bit different. Without being weird.

In 4WD form as tested it's not the gruntiest diesel, with its 133kW/420Nm 2.2-litre - but it's strong all the same. It's not the best off-road because it can't match the big names for approach and departure angles - but it's still pretty capable and tough. It also has a short tray (just 1300mm), although if you're serious about load-carrying you can go Rhino XL, with a 1600mm load length, on any model.

But at these prices you can't expect it to the be the very best at everything in the segment.

Instead, you get a nicely rounded package that just does everything really well.

It's smooth to drive and handles nicely thanks to the coil rear suspension. The kids will also thank you for Rhino because it has a rear seat that's angled like a rear seat (27 degrees) rather than a park bench.

There is a trap with the Rhino however, and that's what we're here to warn you about. It's part of the one-tonner template to have a dress-up flagship model - the townie's truck if you like.

The Rhino incarnation of this concept is the SPR and at $43,490 you'd be sorely tempted to go the whole hog. Sorry, Rhino. After all, it's just $6500 extra over the Sport with the same powertrain and you're getting a lot of extra equipment.

But don't. The SPR's 20-inch alloys are big and shiny but they do the ride, which is impressive on the Sport with its 17in rims, considerable harm.


Some of the SPR equipment is worth having, like dual-zone air conditioning, power-adjustable/heated/vented front seats and especially the 360-degree camera, but the upmarket leather upholstery seems out of place with the Rhino's nice-but-no-frills cabin architecture. It just seems like it's trying too hard.

And the Sport is a much nicer drive anyway.

Any other utes I should consider?
The $40k bracket (well, less for the Sport) buys you nothing close to the comfort and lifestyle appeal of the Rhino among mainstream utes.

Well... maybe the Mitsubishi Triton, which seems to be eternally on special: at the time of writing you can buy a GLX-R double-cab automatic for a limited-offer $41,990.

A Toyota Hilux SR double cab is $48,990 under Toyota's no-discount Drive Happy pricing regime, which is just $5k more than the Rhino SPR. But it's also $12k more than the Rhino Sport, which simply reinforces the idea that Sport model represents the sweet spot for SsangYong's ute.

Lower down the price ladder find yourself among the Chinese brands such as Great Wall and Foton. They're a different thing, really - more budget workhorses than all-rounders. In terms of quality, comfort and driving dynamics, Rhino is in another league.

Base price: $36,990/$43,490.

Powertrain and performance: 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four, 133kW/420Nm, 6-speed automatic, part-time 4WD, fuel economy 8.6 litres per 100km/CO2 224g/km (source: Rightcar).

Vital statistics: 5095mm long, 1840mm high, 3100mm wheelbase, tray 1300mm long, 1570mm wide and 570mm high, braked tow rating 3500kg, 17/20-inch alloy wheels.

We like: Looks different without being weird, smooth to drive, value and quality.

We don't like: Short tray unless you go XL, big wheels ruin SPR model's ride.

Traditional one-tonne pickup trucks are so very popular in New Zealand - five out the top 10 selling new vehicles of any kind so far this year - that the segment is large enough to have its own little niches.

Korean brand SsangYong has certainly found one with its Rhino. It does not challenge the highly fashionable mainstream models on sales volume (Ranger outsells it 34-to-one!)
and does not intend to: instead, its appeal lies in value for money and offering buyers a slightly different take on the whole ute thing.