By now, you’ve probably heard of the GWM Ute Cannon.
Forget about the weedy Steed, the Ute Cannon is a grown-up Chinese pickup aimed squarely at the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger. It isn’t perfect, but it’s not short on appeal when you consider the price.
Clearly we’re not alone in being impressed, either. Great Wall Motor has sold 5693 examples of the 4×4 to date in 2021, putting it (very) narrowly ahead of the LDV T60 in the sales race, and nipping at the heels of the Volkswagen Amarok.
Having driven the entry-level Cannon and the mid-range Cannon-L, we’ve now got our hands on the range-topping GWM Ute Cannon-X.
None of its siblings are light on for standard equipment, but the range-topping X takes things to the next level with nicer leather on the seats, a digital instrument cluster, wireless phone charging, and a 60/40 folding rear bench.
A recent price rise means you’ll now pay $42,490 drive-away, making it $3000 more expensive than the mid-range Cannon-L.
Should you bother stretching to the X with its longer list of standard features, or does the lower-end Cannon-L represent a better value?
The 2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X is $1500 more expensive than when it launched, but it still represents good value at $42,490 drive-away.
Based on that price, it lines up neatly with the SsangYong Musso Ultimate ($41,290 drive-away). It also goes head-to-head with the LDV T60 Max Luxe ($42,621 drive-away), and is priced below even the cheapest Mitsubishi Triton GLX dual-cab.
2022 GWM Ute pricing:
- 2022 GWM Ute Cannon 4×2: $33,990
- 2022 GWM Ute Cannon 4×4: $35,990
- 2022 GWM Ute Cannon-L: $39,490
- 2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X: $42,490
All prices exclude on-road costs.
Standard equipment in the flagship Cannon-X includes:
- ‘Luxury’ leather seats
- Tilt and slide adjustable steering
- 7.0-inch instrument cluster
- Wireless phone charging pad
- Power-adjustable passenger seat
- Power-assist steering modes
- Door open warning
- Second row 60/40 folding seat
- Voice recognition
That’s atop the following equipment, which is standard on lower-end models:
The base Ute Cannon comes with:
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Body-coloured bumpers, wheel arches and mirrors
- LED headlights with auto shutoff
- Daytime running lights and fog lights
- Side steps
- Proximity key fob and button start
- Fake leather seat trim
- Manual air-conditioning
- 9.0-inch centre touchscreen
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- 2 x front and 1 x rear USB points
The mid-range Ute Cannon-L gains:
- Sports bar in the tub
- Chrome grille, door handles and mirrors
- Auto-folding side mirrors
- Roof rack
- Privacy glass
- Different ‘premium’ 18-inch alloys
- Spray-in tub liner
- Counterbalanced tailgate
- Cargo ladder
- Leather steering wheel wrap
- Heated front seats and driver’s side power adjustments
- Climate control with rear-seat air vents
- Front parking sensors
- A 360-degree camera view
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- 220V power socket
After initially failing to earn a five-star ANCAP rating, the GWM Ute has since been modified by the factory. It was awarded a five-star rating in November 2021, on the condition vehicles built between September 2020 and July 2021 are retroactively upgraded to the same standards as the five-star vehicle tested later in 2021.
Post August-build Utes scored 86 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 67 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 73 per cent for safety assist.
Standard on the Ute Cannon-X are:
- Seven airbags, including a front-centre inflator
- Reverse and surround-view camera
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Lane-departure warning
- Lane-keep assist
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Adaptive cruise control
- Traffic sign recognition and speed warning
- Tyre-pressure monitoring
- Hill-start assist and hill-descent control braking
Ignore the price, because the Cannon looks and feels pretty high-end from behind the wheel.
The range-topping Cannon-X has a unique dashboard trim compared to the L, and even has a different air vent on the passenger side to match its black-and-silver patterned finisher.
The design is a bit chintzy, but it does look more expensive than the models sitting below it in the range.
With plenty of storage in the doors, under the central armrest, the deep cupholders, and in the glovebox, you won’t struggle to find space for your iced coffee on the way to an early site inspection.
Although it’s not the last word in tactility, the climate dials, transmission shifter, and wheel buttons feel solid. The ‘luxury’ leather on the seats is a nice touch, as is the fact the front pews are heated.
The driving position is good, with plenty of adjustment for different body shapes in the seats and a steering wheel that adjusts for both reach and rake. Long days behind the wheel aren’t taxing, and burly tradies won’t struggle to wedge their frames in.
The glossy 9.0-inch touchscreen sitting high in the the dashboard is generally good to use. The graphics are pretty sharp, and it responds quickly to inputs. Apple CarPlay worked reliably, but drivers who frequent remote areas with no mobile reception will bemoan the lack of factory satellite navigation.
The surround-view camera is class-leading, and its array of off-road views will make nervous pilots more comfortable on tight trails. Great Wall should kill the Chinese script that accompanies the “check surroundings” message, though.
One of the Cannon-X’s calling cards is its digital instrument binnacle, which is lifted from some of Haval’s crossovers. It’s a nice inclusion, but doesn’t really add much functionality given it can’t display maps.
Flicking through the different trip computer options is also harder than it should be, thanks to the clunky steering wheel controls. It’s not for off being good, but at the moment it just feel a bit first-generation.
There’s a lot of reflections off the dash and display in direct sunlight.
With a wheelbase 30mm longer than a Ford Ranger’s, the Ute has an impressive amount of rear-seat space. Headroom is good enough to accomodate tall adults, and you could sit tall teenagers behind a tall driver without many issues.
Kids will appreciate the air vents back there, parents have access to three top-tether child seat mounts and ISOFIX points on the outboard rear seats.
The tub is 1520mm length-by-width (above the arches) and comes with a good-quality protective liner, plus a tailgate with pneumatic arms and a nifty pull-out stepladder in the tailgate.
Power in the GWM Ute comes from a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel produced and developed in-house by Great Wall. It makes 120kW of power and 400Nm of torque, sent to the road through a full-time four-wheel drive system.
An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, and there’s low-range and a locking rear differential as standard.
GWM quotes a braked towing capacity of 3000kg, and an unbraked figure of 300kg.
Claimed fuel economy is 9.4 litres per 100km on the combined cycle. The fuel tank holds 78 litres of diesel.
The Cannon-X isn’t discernibly different from the Cannon-L from behind the wheel, save for the steering. Where the low- and mid-range models have light steering by default, and only adjust the weighting when you flick from Normal in Sport mode, the Cannon-X has a separate button to adjust the steering weight.
It’s fun to play with, but realistically it’s unlikely owners will fiddle too much with it. Given the Cannon is a big beast in the city, the lightest option makes getting into tight parking spaces easy. It’s where we left the dial.
Great Wall hasn’t been able to match the Ranger or HiLux with the outputs in the Cannon, but it doesn’t feel woefully underpowered. There’s a hint of lag off the mark, but the engine’s torque comes on strong as the rev counter swings past around 2000rpm.
GWM has actually updated the throttle map compared to the first Cannon we drove in 2020, after feedback it was a bit too touchy off the mark. The tuning on this car was noticeably smoother off the mark, but it’s still not what you’d call linear unless you’re really gentle with the right-hand pedal.
The engine can be a bit gruff when you lean on it, although it settles down nicely on the highway. That’s down to the sound deadening, but also the fact the smooth-moving eight-speed automatic keeps the revs low at 100 or 110km/h.
Sourced from ZF, the transmission slurs nicely through the gears on light throttle inputs, and is quick to kick down when you demand more performance. It does a good job covering for the engine’s middling outputs, keeping it in the torque band when you need to get a move on.
As is common with unladen dual-cab utes, the Ute Cannon-X feels busy at the rear without a load in the tray. It’s not bouncy, nor does it feel like the back end will get away from you over corrugated country roads, but there’s still some room for improvement.
Mike Costello loaded the car with 650kg in the tray as part of his comparison with the SsangYong Musso, and found there was some squat, but the suspension was still able to soak up speed bumps or city potholes.
Weight over the rear axle settles the ride nicely at a cruise, and the standard rear disc brakes promise more stopping power than the drums standard on most rivals. If you’re hauling a load, being able to pull up in a hurry is never a bad thing.
Nothing in our basic off-road course rattled the Cannon. It walks through the offset mogul test, and low-range engages quickly when you need it. A dry log climb posed no problems in the standard four-wheel drive mode, with traction control occasionally kicking in to minimise wheelspin.
It’s worth noting the longer wheelbase and bulky body do have an impact on the car’s turning circle, though, and the hill-descent control system didn’t have the same ironclad control over the car’s speed as you’ll find in a Ranger.
It doesn’t creep by much, but even a bit of creep is unnerving when you’re piloting a two-tonne ute down a slippery slope.
GWM Australia offers capped-price servicing for the first five visits, required after the first six months or 5000km of ownership, and every 12 months or 10,000km after that.
The first service costs $260, the subsequent four each cost $360.
The Ute Cannon-X is covered by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
All the good things about the lower-end Cannon range carry over here.
It’s still a solid performer on and off the road, and still represents great value compared to a HiLux or Ranger. It’s not a class-leader in any particular area, but it doesn’t need to be with a sticker price around $40,000 drive-away.
The addition of a five-star ANCAP safety rating hasn’t hurt its case, either.
Should you bother with the Cannon-X? It’s not essential. The Cannon-L is already loaded with standard kit, and the extras on the X are nice to have rather than absolutely critical.
Given value is one of the key draws of opting for a GWM, we’d be saving the extra $3000 and sticking with the mid-range model.
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