GWM’s top-dog ute feels more like a prestige SUV than a workhorse, yet undercuts competitors significantly. Is it missing anything you need, or bridging an otherwise overlooked gap?
- Car-like interior amenities
- Knockout value in its segment
- Tailgate step should be mandatory on all utes
- Down on punch compared with other utes
- Infotainment light on features with no nav, no DAB+
- Suspension in need of some final finishing work
As the range-topper in the GWM Ute range, the 2022 GWM Ute Cannon X comes with everything you could want.
From ute must-haves, like four-wheel drive and a maximum 1050kg payload, down to nice-to-have bits that are hard to find in the segment, like a 360-degree camera, 9.0-inch infotainment and all-LED exterior lighting. All while keeping the price tag under $45K.
The clincher here, for some, is that the GWM Ute runs a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine producing 120kW and 400Nm, whereas most utes in the class sit closer to 150kW/450Nm or more. The Ute’s towing capacity also sits behind the pack at 3000kg, not the almost default 3500kg of the class.
On balance, though, the GWM Ute range, which starts from $34,990 for the 4×2 Cannon base model or $37,990 for the 4×4 Cannon , and rises to $44,490 for the Cannon X seen here (all drive-away), is searing value next to competitors. A basic 4×4 ute in most ranges is about the same price on the road as GWM’s flagship.
For this review, we took a slightly less hardcore route and put the Cannon X into duty as a lifestyle hauler. These reviews can tell you more about how the Ute range handles a load and how it copes off-road. It’s also worth mentioning the car tested here doesn’t carry suspension tweaks expected later in 2022.
As for the Cannon X, as the flagship model it boasts some neat touches over the rest of the range. Little details like one-touch up and down windows on all doors, leather seating instead of leather-look, tilt and slide steering wheel adjustment, and a 7.0-inch digital instrument display.
That’s on top of features found across the range including a chrome grille, mirrors and door handles, 18-inch alloy wheels, a slide-away tailgate step, keyless entry and start, and single-zone climate control.
|Key details||2022 GWM Ute Cannon X|
|Price (MSRP)||$44,490 drive-away|
|Colour of test car||Pittsburgh Silver|
|Options||Metallic paint – $595|
|Price as tested||$45,085 drive-away|
|Rivals||LDV T60 Max | SsangYong Musso | Mitsubishi Triton|
Climb into the cabin and the process is familiar. The GWM Ute is no shrinking violet or scaled-down ute. It’s every bit the size and scope of the utes it competes with. That’s a good start.
Better still is the initial impression of a pretty flash interior. Swing the door open and you’re greeted by diamond-quilted leather trim, and a dash design that’s modern, neat and tidy.
That wouldn’t count for much if there wasn’t room to move, and again the GWM doesn’t disappoint. The front seats have stacks of room, although on longer trips some lumbar adjustment to go with the electric slide and recline would be handy.
In the rear there’s good leg room, plenty of head room, and a backrest that’s angled just enough to save that bolt-upright stance found in some dual-cabs. There are also rear air vents, plus USB and 220-volt household (international plug) power outlets.
In terms of features you’ll find single-zone climate control, a wireless charge pad for your mobile phone, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rear view mirror with dash cam-ready USB power socket, and a pair of lower console USB points.
The fit and finish of parts and panels are pretty good. Some bits, like the big plastic panel on the passenger side of the dash, can look a little chintzy (and you don’t get this finish in the two lower grades) but it’s pretty neat overall.
Speaking of differences, subtle though they may be, the Cannon X has a slightly different upper dash, different air vents, more brightwork, and a stitched upper dash pad. It does, however, lose the little storage recess found on lower grades.
Because there’s a lot of leather and high-gloss surfaces in the interior, it’s hard to know how everything will stack up over time. There’s a nice solid feel to anything you touch, but not everything looks entirely worksite compatible.
The biggest selling point, though, and firm on the ‘why didn’t they think of it before?’ list for any ute, is the ease of tray access. Drop the damped tailgate, press a button in the gate and out pops a folding step. It’s sturdy and secure, and makes loading anything in or out of the far reaches of the tub a breeze.
|2022 GWM Ute Cannon X|
Infotainment and Connectivity
While the Cannon X is the only model in the range with a digital instrument cluster, all variants come with a 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. It’s one of the biggest in the class, just behind the LDV T60 Max.
Within you’ll find access to Bluetooth, AM/FM radio and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s no inbuilt navigation or digital radio, though. The Cannon X also packs a unique feature in voice recognition.
Interestingly, the system allows you to interact with the car far more comprehensively than you might think at first. You can give it voice commands like “I’m too cold” and it’ll bump the climate control up, or you can ask it to heat your seat, or dial a contact from your phone.
Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but in testing the system tended to be less error-prone than some we’ve used in BMWs or Mercedes cars – plus GWM has given the personal assistant an Aussie accent.
GWM even gives you the choice of two appearance packages for the infotainment. No major changes, but you can pick an overlay that appeals to you the most.
The system itself isn’t too hard to decipher, although if you venture deep into the settings it can be a bit confronting. Once you’ve got your car set to your liking, though, you’re unlikely to need to delve too far in too often.
I do reckon the seat heaters could do with a physical button, though, instead of needing to dive into the settings screen. Small gripe, but come winter this menu is sure to be one of the most used.
Safety and Technology
All GWM Ute models come with autonomous emergency braking including pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, lane-centring steering assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and traffic sign recognition linked to the adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist.
The base model has a reverse and kerb-view camera; the Cannon L and Cannon X add a 360-degree camera with interactive 3D flyover view function. The Cannon X also adds door-open warning to let occupants know if a vehicle or cyclist is approaching to prevent door strikes.
ANCAP awarded the GWM Ute range a five-star safety rating, with a 2021 time stamp for vehicles built after September 2021. For earlier vehicles, the brand is retrofitting head restraint and steering column parts that bring older (and technically unrated) cars up to the five-star standard.
In testing, ANCAP scored the GWM Ute 86 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 67 per cent for vulnerable road user (pedestrian and cyclist) protection, and rated safety assist systems at 73 per cent.
|2022 GWM Ute Cannon X|
|ANCAP rating||Five stars (tested 2021)|
|Safety report||Link to ANCAP report|
Value for Money
On purchase price alone, the GWM Ute range gives more established players in the segment a hard time, and while still very much a ute, Cannon X trim starts to feel a little more like a well-equipped family SUV.
Budget players like the SsangYong Musso and Mitsubishi Triton come close, but still outprice the GWM. Fellow Chinese rival, the LDV T60 Max, is a closer price rival, but has a 160kW/500Nm ace up its sleeve for those seeking more power.
Knowing that there may be some lingering perception problems, GWM has paired the Ute range with a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, five years’ roadside assist and a five-year capped-price service program.
|At a glance||2022 GWM Ute Cannon X|
|Warranty||Seven years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||First service at six months/5000km
Subsequent services every 12 months/10,000km
|Servicing costs||$980 (3 years), $1700 (5 years)|
A little unusually, the first service falls at six months or 5000km, from there intervals stretch out to every 12 months and 10,000km. Service pricing is $260 for the first visit and $360 apiece for each of the next four visits.
Official fuel consumption is rated at 9.4 litres per 100km, which appears a little higher than most utes in class, which claim fuel use around the eightish mark. On test, however, the Cannon X returned 10.6L/100km, and was used for plenty of short trips and suburban journeys, which doesn’t feel too excessive.
Fuel Consumption – brought to you by bp
|Fuel Usage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||9.4L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||10.6L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||78L|
While the on-paper specs might look a little less substantial than most other utes in the segment, on the road the GWM Ute is well-rounded and decent to drive.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine is one of the smallest in its segment (only Isuzu and Mazda offer smaller at 1.9L). Its power outputs are also on the low side with 120kW at 3600rpm and 400Nm from 1500-2600rpm.
While you might think that makes the package more sluggish overall, in general driving it feels little different to other utes in the segment. Backed by an eight-speed automatic, the Ute is able to keep itself on the boil with astute gear selections, and manages to avoid shuffling through gears or hunting for the right ratio.
There are some tuning quirks. Floor the accelerator and the engine is slow to react, takes time to build boost, and only builds speed after a few moments’ delay. Roll onto the pedal more progressively, though, and the package is much swifter to pile on speed.
The drive mode selector offers a choice of Eco (which locks the system into 4×2 mode), Normal and Sport, which activates the ‘torque on demand’ transfer case to send drive to the front wheels when required. Sport also sharpens up the throttle response and holds gears a touch longer.
Curiously, though, there are no off-road modes, so while the GWM Ute offers the rare capability of sealed-surface all-wheel drive (along with some Triton and Amarok models), as well as selectable low-range four-wheel-drive, picking over rough terrain is largely up to the driver not the electronics.
There’s a bit of delay when you start the car. Whereas most utes pre-glow as you climb into the cabin, it appears the GWM does not, so you thumb the starter button and count to three before the engine fires into life.
No real problem, but if you’ve been spoiled by other modern diesels, you may do as I did and reach for the starter button a second time, cancelling the start before you realise.
There’s a little diesel drone and clatter heard from inside the cabin, but mostly it’s a fairly quiet and smooth engine on the go. Not really keen to be revved too hard, but with peak torque available down low it doesn’t need to be.
I didn’t load it up too much on this occasion, but to see how the Ute handled a heavy load, you can read our launch coverage.
Instead, for this loan, the Cannon X was used as a holiday hauler. That mean Esky and beach chairs in the tray, air-con maxed out, and two, three or four occupants at a time. Honestly, for work like this it thrived.
It can’t escape its ute underpinnings, and the leaf-spring solid rear axle complications that come with those. We know utes can ride well (the Ford Ranger, in particular, proves this), but the GWM feels like it skipped finishing school.
Although it doesn’t handle poorly, the rear end tends to rattle and reverberate over small road imperfections. Even fairly smooth tarmac starts to feel juddery through the back end of the lightly laden Cannon X.
In town, the fairly slow steering makes itself known as you frantically spin the wheel to manage small spaces, and with a turning circle just over 13m, you’ll need plenty of space to swing around.
Ultimately, though, there’s no alarming or unsafe behaviour from the suspension, but there’s certainly room for improvement.
While most utes still call on real drum brakes, the GWM Ute uses four-wheel disc brakes, which is good to see, though the pedal does need a bit more of a shove than you might expect to deliver its best work. There’s no snatchyness or grabbing, though, and the pedal has a progressive feel to it.
|Key details||2022 GWM Ute Cannon X|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel|
|Power||120kW @ 3600rpm|
|Torque||400Nm @ 1500-2600rpm|
|Drive type||‘Torque on demand’ 4×4 with low-range transfer case|
|Transmission||Eight-speed torque convertor automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||50.6kW/t|
|Tow rating||3000kg braked, 750kg unbraked|
Sure, the GWM Ute positions itself as an equal all-rounder, with a huge price advantage when positioned alongside the Navaras, Tritons, and BT-50s of the world. That’s not untrue, but it feels like there’s a gap in the market it could better fill.
Because the Ute tows a little less, and because the engine doesn’t quite pack the brawn of some rivals, it might be a better family ute.
Certainly, in Cannon X trim, with all bells and whistles included, the GWM Ute bridges a gap between rough and ready base dual-cabs at the same price, and mid-size SUVs so beloved by Australians.
It’s a small point of difference, but between school drop-offs and commuter runs during the week, and a spot of landscaping or an escape to the country on weekends, the GWM Ute Cannon X has its own little niche to occupy.
The brand will want to be quick, though. The civilised ute space will no doubt soon be joined by the next-generation Ranger and Amarok, not to mention new Triton and Navara probably not too far behind – though it’s doubtful any of those established players will deliver the knockout sub-$45K punch the GWM can.
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