Fuel efficiency Ancap rating
$35,990–$46,490 8.3–9.4 L/100km 5

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A Brook 220726 2022 GWM Ute Cannon X 2

2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X review

GWM's Ute Cannon-X takes aim at the big dual-cab players

14 Oct 2022

Let’s begin with two irrefutable facts before we dive into a review of the GWM Ute Canon-X. Firstly, Australia’s favourite type of car is currently the dual-cab ute. Secondly, almost all segments – including one-tonne utes – are heavily price-led.

With that in mind, the Cannon range is priced from $35,990 while the range-topping Cannon-X costs just $45,490 (both drive-away), so you might expect it to be warmly received Down Under. Correct.

It isn’t troubling the industry heavyweights for sales just yet, but it has managed to snare a 3.5 per cent share of the 4x4 ute segment with nearly 4500 sales to the end of August this year. Not bad for a company that only really got serious about dual-cabs in 2020.

If you’re in the market for a dual-cab, no doubt you’ll have given the segment-dominating Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux and Mitsubishi Triton a look, but should the GWM be on the list too?

But it’s easy to see why so many Australians are giving the Chinese challenger brand a chance. Bargain basement entry-level versions of the GWM Ute Cannon are best left to the workhorse end of the market with relatively spartan specs, but at the pointy end of the line-up, the Cannon-X is absolutely packed with standard equipment and features.

Its cabin is one of the most impressive in the entire segment, including the Cannon’s proportionally more expensive rivals. Plush quilted synthetic leather upholstery covers the seats and doors to create a decidedly un-ute-like interior ambience, high-quality materials are used in almost all areas including the dash covering, there is leather for the steering wheel and pleasant decorative trim inserts.

Then there’s the class-leading technology. A fully digital instrument cluster complements a large 9.0-inch central touchscreen. It contains excellent levels of technology including a 3D 360-degree camera that’s unique to the segment and home-screen shortcuts for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with wireless device charging located below.

But just as the Cannon is stacking up with some serious firepower, the functional fails start to sneak in.

A single button that appears to activate heated seats but does nothing when pushed. An auto-on manoeuvring camera that takes over the touchscreen when slowing to a standstill and must be manually deactivated each time if other infotainment functions are required – even changing the audio volume.

The steering wheel is visually attractive but has poor ergonomics with nowhere for the driver’s fingers to comfortably settle – like trying to pick up a big cardboard box with no handles.

What initially appears to be a sophisticated and advanced cabin doesn’t stack up quite so strongly once you scratch the surface.

Front seat comfort is generally good and the driver gets a lofty 80mm of headroom but there’s no adjustment for lumbar or seat base tilt. A pair of USB-A and a 12-volt socket are standard in the front row but there’s an additional 240-volt power point in the second row.

Rear passengers also have a USB-A socket, reasonably comfortable seating and heaps of space with a massive 130mm of knee room and 65mm of headroom. Our only main gripe in the second row is a weird ridge on the floor that is less comfortable to rest your feet on.

Go for a drive and the disappointments keep coming. Up front is a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine that produces 120kW and 400Nm which, on paper, is at the lower end of the category but still just about comparable with its rivals. Unfortunately, in practice, the manner in which the performance is delivered is not.

Noticeable turbo lag from a standing start feels as though it will be followed by a mountain of torque once the boost threshold is reached, but the resulting peak grunt is only a small increase over off-boost driving and is short-lived. The engine quickly revs out to its 4300rpm limit.

Thankfully, noise and vibration levels are almost as refined as the GWM’s exterior suggests, with only a little clatter making its way into the cabin. Power production is smooth compared with some other small-capacity diesels under ute bonnets.

Progress is, in part, redeemed by a solid ZF eight-speed automatic transmission that uses its tight ratios to more effectively keep the engine in its frustratingly narrow torque band (just 1100rpm between 1500rpm and 2600rpm).

Gearshifts are snappy and urgent but still smooth, and if you don’t completely agree with the selection, the GWM is one of the few utes to offer steering wheel paddles.

No dual-cab is known for offering car-like steering feel or limousine levels of ride comfort but, even relatively speaking, the GWM doesn’t score highly when it comes to either.

About the dead-ahead mark, the steering is heavy but becomes excessively light when turned away from centre and a variable mode only adds or removes weight not feel. About half the time, the button refused to do anything at all when pressed.

An over-sprung ride would probably behave much better when loaded – again, a trait common to many rear leaf-spring arrangements – and the stiff tune does result in surprisingly good body control in corners. The downside is poor ride quality when cruising.

The combination of vague steering and jarring ride makes the GWM Ute Cannon tend to wander in the lane and occupants will find it harder to relax on longer road trips.

One feature that frequent road users will appreciate is the generous level of standard safety tech and driver assistance systems.

Particularly impressive is the lane-keep warning which only warns of a departure when an actual excursion is imminent, unlike many rival systems that are far too paranoid and nagging.

It’s offered alongside lane-keep assistance, auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, speed sign recognition, hill start and descent controls, seven airbags and a five-star ANCAP safety rating. Thankfully we had no cause to test the other various safety features during our time on the road.

A black mark against its name, however, is the lethargic reversing radar that makes its final continuous warning beep shortly after an object would have been collided with if the driver hadn’t applied the brake in anticipation.

Speaking of which, stopping is not an issue for the GWM thanks mostly to the standard fitment of rear disc brakes – another unusual feature in the dual-cab world, as is the innovative step that unfolds from the open tailgate to help short or less agile users in and out of the tray without risk of falling.

Away from sealed roads, the GWM’s manners improve. Negotiating gravel trails is possible with confidence and the more agricultural suspension set-up lends itself better to loose surfaces. Cooper Discoverer HTS all-terrain rubber seems more at home on damp dirt than on the freeway and the electronic stability system is calibrated to be a little on the slack side without becoming unnerving.

If you intend to spend a fair share of your driving time away from freeways and the school run, the GWM would be easier to live with.

While almost all other ute offerings come at the market with an even focus on driveability, practicality, comfort and equipment levels, the Cannon’s strategy puts more of a weighting on the latter. With a braked towing capacity that’s 500kg down on the industry standard of 3500kg, sub-par ride comfort and too many functional fails, it can’t compete with the more mature and refined dual-cab utes.

That said, it does offer the segment’s second-longest warranty at seven years, has an almost unbeatable list of standard kit and a price that’s hard to believe. That in itself should be seen as a show of confidence by GWM but the recommendation is still very much try before you buy.

Showroom appeal of the Cannon-X is undeniable and, on paper at least, the range-topping version offers irresistible value for money. But it’s the things that can’t be arranged in sales brochures and presented in spec tables that unravel the model’s value equation in practice.

Budget dual-cabs certainly have a place and it would be unrealistic to expect the same levels of refinement of the most expensive options in something costing about $10,000 less.

But affordable alternatives such as the SsangYong Musso prove that you can have a cut-price family workhorse with decent levels of equipment without the hidden compromises.

2022 GWM Ute Cannon X specifications

Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling

Things we like

  • Generous equipment
  • Plush interior
  • Likeable looks

Not so much

  • Below-par ride and handling
  • Skinny torque band
  • Too many functional fails

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