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GWM Tank 500 2024 review: Hybrid

After years of seemingly nothing, 2024 is set to see the rebirth of the 4x4 wagon.

We’ve already seen the coming, next-gen Toyota Prado 250 Series that defines the class. We’re also expecting the larger Nissan Y63 Patrol to finally break cover in the not-too-distant future. And beyond that, Mitsubishi is hinting at a successor to the mighty Pajero. It’s all happening.

But GWM from China is more than one step ahead of all three Japanese icons with this – the Tank 500. It’s all-new. It’s hybrid. And it’s here.

Is this the beginning of a new world order in large 4x4 wagons? Let’s take a longer look.

Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Before we get underway, let’s get GWM’s varying brand strategies sorted out.

Great Wall Motors – which is what GWM stands for – is the umbrella company, housing four brands: Haval urban SUVs, Ora EVs, Cannon utes and Tank 4x4s.

Like its Tank 300 kid brother released in early 2023, the full-sized, three-row Tank 500 is off-road focused.

There’s no denying the 500’s sensational pricing, especially when you also consider how much kit it comes with.

The full-sized, three-row Tank 500 is off-road focused. (Ultra variant pictured) The full-sized, three-row Tank 500 is off-road focused. (Ultra variant pictured)

The base Lux kicks off from $66,490 driveaway, while the Ultra starts from $73,990 driveaway.

And, you know what? It’s not as if the Lux is lacking in anything, with auto-levelling LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, a sunroof, side steps, powered and heated front seats, a 360-degree view camera set-up, an electric rear diff lock and a long list of safety items. More on those in the Safety section below.

These, by the way, come on top of goodies like rear privacy glass, leather-like (vinyl) upholstery, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation cluster, auto parking with reverse assist, and front and rear parking sensors. And all in a base grade.  

Stepping up to Ultra bins fake leather for Nappa trim and adds items such as a panoramic sunroof, retractable side steps, a head-up display, vented and massaging front seats with memory, vented second-row seats, a powered third-row bench, 12-speaker premium audio, double-layered glass, noise-cancelling tech and a front diff lock, ambient lighting, back window sun shades and puddle lamps.

The base Lux kicks off from $66,490 driveaway, while the Ultra starts from $73,990 driveaway. (Ultra variant pictured) The base Lux kicks off from $66,490 driveaway, while the Ultra starts from $73,990 driveaway. (Ultra variant pictured)

Except for the missing powered tailgates in either (a curious omission), it’s difficult to think of much else you might want or need.

And, of course, there’s the hybrid system, which at the time of publishing makes the Tank 500 a unique proposition against three-row off-roader opponents like the existing Prado and Patrol.

In time, others will come obviously, but for now, GWM owns this space – yet does so without seemingly greedy pricing.

In this section at least, this is a rare 10/10 from us, Tank!

  • Stepping up to Ultra bins fake leather for Nappa trim and adds items such as a panoramic sunroof. Stepping up to Ultra bins fake leather for Nappa trim and adds items such as a panoramic sunroof.
  • The Tank 500 features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (Ultra variant pictured) The Tank 500 features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (Ultra variant pictured)
  • The Ultra grade features retractable side steps. The Ultra grade features retractable side steps.
  • The Ultra grade features double-layered glass and noise-cancelling tech. The Ultra grade features double-layered glass and noise-cancelling tech.
  • The Ultra grade receives vented and massaging front seats with memory. The Ultra grade receives vented and massaging front seats with memory.
  • The Ultra grade also gets 12-speaker premium audio. The Ultra grade also gets 12-speaker premium audio.

Design – Is there anything interesting about its design?

If “derivative” and “reminiscent of the outgoing Patrol” means interesting in your book, then you should find the Tank 500 tantalising.

Not us, though. We reckon if you asked AI to render a large 4x4 wagon in the mould of a 2000s-era LandCruiser or the Nissan, it might look like this. Beyond the PR nonsense of the grille being inspired by “ancient Chinese eastern architecture”, this could be any 4WD.

At least the old-looking new Tank has presence. And, despite what its name implies and the fact that this is deceptively big, we’re grateful that the 500 doesn’t look at all bloated.

  • GWM says the grille is inspired by “ancient Chinese eastern architecture”. (Ultra variant pictured) GWM says the grille is inspired by “ancient Chinese eastern architecture”. (Ultra variant pictured)
  • The Tank 500 is 5078mm in length, with a wheelbase of 2850mm. (Ultra variant pictured) The Tank 500 is 5078mm in length, with a wheelbase of 2850mm. (Ultra variant pictured)

In fact, dimensionally, with a length/width/height/wheelbase of 5078/1934/1905/2850mm respectively, it is actually longer than the Toyota siblings but a little narrower, splits them for height and sits on the same wheelbase size.

Finally, there’s the badge. Tank 500. If you’re into history or just really old, you might remember the Ford Fairlane 500 "Tank" of the late 1950s. Fun fact: besides the name, they also share body-on-frame chassis construction. And plenty of chintz.

Are we about to indulge in a similar level of Donatella Versace opulence inside? Let’s find out.

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

If the samey styling isn’t your cup of tea outside, then the Tank 500 makes a strong – and surprisingly restrained – case for your cash inside.

For starters, there’s probably more space than the exterior dimensions suggest, offering sufficient accommodation including headroom for most adult-sized occupants. The front seats provide ample support and the driving position should find favour with most people. And vision out is actually pretty good.

In the Ultra grade we drove, there’s a pleasing attention to detail evident throughout, starting with the horizontal symmetry of the dashboard, wide lower centre console and 14.6-inch central touchscreen. It looks and feels good.

  • The front seats provide ample support and the driving position should find favour with most people. (Ultra variant pictured) The front seats provide ample support and the driving position should find favour with most people. (Ultra variant pictured)
  • The Tank offers sufficient accommodation including headroom for most adult-sized occupants. (Ultra variant pictured) The Tank offers sufficient accommodation including headroom for most adult-sized occupants. (Ultra variant pictured)
  • Third row passengers have access to roof-sited air vents, but the lack of USB outlets is disappointing. (Ultra variant pictured) Third row passengers have access to roof-sited air vents, but the lack of USB outlets is disappointing. (Ultra variant pictured)

As with most new cars today, the instrumentation is digital and configurable, there are fast keys for most climate control settings (though weirdly not for temperature control – you’ll need to resort to the fiddly touchscreen) and most switchgear is within easy reach.

However, while owners should become used to them quite quickly, the touchscreen-sited access for most vehicle control settings is fiddly; our car had an annoying buzzy rattle from the dashtop. The driver-assist systems glitched a few times, calling out driver attention issues when they weren’t there, and there is no volume control knob, just the toggles on the (attractive) steering-wheel spokes.

Meanwhile, the middle row benefits from a well-padded cushion and a 70/30-split backrest that reclines a fair amount. There’s a separate climate-control zone with good old-fashioned knobs and toggles, as well as four vent outlets, USB-A and -C ports and the windows wind all the way down. And that panoramic sunroof really showers the cabin with light.

  • As with most new cars today, the instrumentation is digital and configurable. (Ultra variant pictured) As with most new cars today, the instrumentation is digital and configurable. (Ultra variant pictured)
  • Upfront of the Tank 500 is a wireless charger. (Ultra variant pictured) Upfront of the Tank 500 is a wireless charger. (Ultra variant pictured)
  • Middle row passengers have a separate climate-control zone with good old-fashioned knobs and toggles, as well as four vent outlets. (Ultra variant pictured) Middle row passengers have a separate climate-control zone with good old-fashioned knobs and toggles, as well as four vent outlets. (Ultra variant pictured)
  • Middle row passengers also have access to USB-A and -C ports. (Ultra variant pictured) Middle row passengers also have access to USB-A and -C ports. (Ultra variant pictured)

Third-row access is compromised by LHD-centric access, meaning that only the road side of the middle seat lifts and slides forward for less-impeded entry/egress. Once sat, the cushion itself seems fine and is OK for adults as long as the middle-row occupants are happy to compromise. Roof-sited air vents are helpful, but the lack of USB outlets is disappointing.

With all seats up, there is just 98 litres of cargo capacity, ballooning out to 795L in five-seat mode and 1459L with the middle-row folded down. These are well below the LandCruiser 300’s corresponding volumes.

Of course, unlike most hybrid SUVs, this hybrid 4x4 wagon carries a full-sized spare wheel slung on the back door, old-school style.

The Tank 500 comes with a full-sized spare wheel. (Ultra variant pictured) The Tank 500 comes with a full-sized spare wheel. (Ultra variant pictured)

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

Behind that chromey grille is a 1998cc 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, delivering 180kW of power at 5500-6000rpm and 380Nm of torque between 1700-4000rpm.

Mated to a 78kW/268Nm electric motor, GWM reckons the combined power and torque outputs are 255kW and 648Nm respectively.

That torque figure seems very optimistic.

Anyway, it’s all sent through to either the rear or both axles via an in-house nine-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. There are your usual 2WD and 4WD high and low ranges.

Behind that chromey grille is a 1998cc 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine. (Ultra variant pictured) Behind that chromey grille is a 1998cc 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine. (Ultra variant pictured)

Nine driving modes are offered as part of an all-terrain response system, with four on-road and five off-road settings, while low-speed off-road cruise-control and ‘Turn Assist’ function also aid manoeuvrability. The latter essentially cuts torque to the inside rear wheel during a turn to tighten the radius, hand-brake style.

Still off the beaten track, the Tank 500 offers 30 degrees of approach angle, 22.5° breakover angle and 24° departure angle. Ground clearance is 224mm, while water wading-depth capability is 800mm.

Don’t forget, the GWM uses body-on-frame construction, with a double-wishbone independent coil sprung set-up up front and multi-link live-axle coil-sprung suspension out back. Kerb weight is at least 2605kg.

Towing capacity is 3000kg braked and 750kg unbraked. LandCruiser’s is 3500kg.

The Tank 500 offers 30 degrees of approach angle, 22.5° breakover angle and 24° departure angle. (Ultra variant pictured) The Tank 500 offers 30 degrees of approach angle, 22.5° breakover angle and 24° departure angle. (Ultra variant pictured)

Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo hybrid powertrain is rated at Euro-5.

Now, GWM makes a point that the Tank 500’s hybrid system is to improve overall driveability and performance, rather than strive for outright economy.

Keeping this in mind, with standard 91 RON unleaded petrol in its 80-litre fuel tank, the official figures are 8.5L per 100km (versus 8.9 for the LandCruiser 300), for a carbon dioxide emissions rating of 199g/km.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo hybrid powertrain is rated at Euro-5. (Ultra variant pictured) The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo hybrid powertrain is rated at Euro-5. (Ultra variant pictured)

This should mean an average of over 940km between refills.

Speaking of which, we didn’t get a chance to refuel during our test drive on the launch program, however; and remembering that there was quite a bit of thirsty off-roading work done, our trip computer read out a disappointing 12.3L/100km.

Still, that’s nearly half that we witnessed on the trip computer in similar circumstances driving the Patrol with its big thumping V8.

Driving – What's it like to drive?

The Tank 500 hybrid represents another step up for GWM, with a broad array of abilities.

Initial impressions are positive, mainly due to the overall quietness and smoothness of the 2.0-litre four-pot turbo’s performance.

Considering there’s over 2.6 tonnes of 4x4 to haul around, it moves off the mark fairly smartly, and – with the aid of hybrid electric assistance quite seamlessly kicking in to provide that extra bit of boost – delivers more than enough speed and muscle when you need it.

However, that said, while there’s plenty of go for fast overtaking, it is difficult to believe that the powertrain is mustering 648Nm of torque; the Tank 500 hybrid just doesn’t feel quite that strong. As does an 8.3-second 0-100km/h sprint time.

The 2.0-litre four-pot turbo provides a quiet and smooth performance. (Ultra variant pictured) The 2.0-litre four-pot turbo provides a quiet and smooth performance. (Ultra variant pictured)

Still, there’s an innate eagerness to the way the GWM behaves that is also evident in the steering.

Considering this is a ladder-frame-chassis 4x4, the helm is actually quite responsive and direct – and yet also light enough for easy parking.

Furthermore, the Tank 500 doesn’t quite feel its bulk or heft when attempting tight turns, and it handles quite well, too. Impressive stuff, given the unexpectedly cushy ride, ground clearance and amount of wheel articulation on offer.

This is one of those big 4x4 wagons that seems to shrink around you.

The hybrid electric assistance kicks in seamlessly to provide that extra bit of boost. (Ultra variant pictured) The hybrid electric assistance kicks in seamlessly to provide that extra bit of boost. (Ultra variant pictured)

However, GWM still has some homework to do when it comes to the level of interference from the intrusive and at-times even hysterical driver-assist safety systems.

The constant barrage of completely unnecessary warnings and chimes is tiresome even after a short stint behind the wheel, proving that more Australian-road tuning is required before the Tank 500 can truly meet local tastes.

Still, the GWM should win friends over with its comfy suspension, controlled handling and decent turn of speed.

But what about off-road?

The Tank 500 has a 8.3-second 0-100km/h sprint time. (Ultra variant pictured) The Tank 500 has a 8.3-second 0-100km/h sprint time. (Ultra variant pictured)

Our brief excursion onto a 4WD track showed plenty of promise, with sufficient ground clearance, impressive wheel articulation and the right combination of gearing and diff locks in our Ultra Hybrid version to get through a quite challenging course.

And all the while, the Tank 500 imparts a sense of confidence that it can tackle most off-road tracks with a high degree of skill and capability.

Our only notes are that, at times, this lacks the low-down torquey grunt of a diesel when clambering through really challenging paths.

Otherwise, it seems the GWM has the right stuff to keep up with most of the competition.

  • Off road, the Tank 500 demonstrated impressive wheel articulation and the right combination of gearing and diff locks. (Ultra variant pictured) Off road, the Tank 500 demonstrated impressive wheel articulation and the right combination of gearing and diff locks. (Ultra variant pictured)
  • The Tank 500 imparts a sense of confidence when off-roading. (Ultra variant pictured) The Tank 500 imparts a sense of confidence when off-roading. (Ultra variant pictured)
  • The Tank 500 has a sufficient ground clearance. (Ultra variant pictured) The Tank 500 has a sufficient ground clearance. (Ultra variant pictured)

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

There is no ANCAP crash-test rating for the 500 for now.

However, a spokesperson assures us that tanks – I mean thanks – to internal testing, it ought to yield the desired five-star result in the future. We’ll see.

To that end, the GWM features seven airbags (dual front, front side, front centre and curtain), Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with low-speed, intersection assist and Forward Collision Warning tech, Rear Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Central Keeping, Emergency Lane Keeping, Smart Dodge (which detects and avoids larger oncoming vehicles), Lane Change Assist and a door-open warning.

The Tank 500 is yet to be tested by ANCAP. (Ultra variant pictured) The Tank 500 is yet to be tested by ANCAP. (Ultra variant pictured)

Both front and rear cross-traffic alert functionality is also fitted, along with LED adaptive headlights, auto high beams, a driver-fatigue detector, traffic sign recognition, an emergency signal system, a 360-degree monitor, clear chassis view (to aid off-road driving) and parking sensors all-round.

There is no information at the time of publishing as to the operational parameters of the AEB and lane-support systems.

Other safety items include electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist, an event data recorder, Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control.

Finally, ISOFIX child-seat latches are fitted to outboard rear seat positions, while a trio of top tethers for straps are included across the middle bench. You’ll also find a rear-row child monitor.

The Tank 500 features a door-open warning. (Ultra variant pictured) The Tank 500 features a door-open warning. (Ultra variant pictured)

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

So, there you have it. The new Tank 500 hybrid. It’s got the space, the 4x4 capability, the features, the pricing and – most importantly – the hybrid technology to make a real mark in Australia.

Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Ford and the rest of the seven-seater 4x4 wagon fraternity really do have something to worry about.

Being first with electrification is one thing, but hitting the ground running with so much ability for so little is something else entirely.

$66,490

Based on new car retail price

Daily driver score

3.9/5

Adventure score

3.9/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

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