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GWM Ute 2022 review: Cannon-X off-road test

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

3.5/5

The Cannon X is the top-shelf variant in the GWM Ute line-up and, as such, spearheads the latest Chinese-built charge into the Australian ute market.

Is this budget-friendly Great Wall Ute workhorse cheap and cheerful, or just cheap and nasty? Well, it’s no longer so cheap because its price-tag has wandered into the $40K-and-then-some territory. Nasty? Well, we tested one for a week to find out. Read on.

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

The Cannon X is the top-shelf pick in a three-variant GWM ute range which consists of the Cannon, Cannon L and the Cannon X. Actually, four variants if you include the Cannon 4x2.

Price as tested for the Cannon X is $42,490 (driveaway, prices correct at time of writing).

Standard features on the Cannon X include a 9.0-inch multimedia touchscreen system (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), a 7.0-inch digital driver info display, quilted leather door and seat trim, 18-inch "Luxury" alloy wheels, a sports bar, an assisted tailgate (with a pop-out step) and roof rails. 

The Cannon X is the top-shelf pick in a three-variant GWM ute range. (image: Glen Sullivan) The Cannon X is the top-shelf pick in a three-variant GWM ute range. (image: Glen Sullivan)

It also has LED headlights with LED DRLs, side steps, powered mirrors, keyless entry, push-button start, power-adjustable and heated front seats, leather steering wheel, single-zone climate control air conditioning, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, tinted rear glass, and a six-speaker sound system.

Exterior paint jobs include Pure White (no cost), or Crystal Black, Blue Sapphire, Scarlet Red and Pittsburgh Silver, all of which cost $595. 

Standard features on the Cannon X include a 9.0-inch multimedia touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (image: Glen Sullivan) Standard features on the Cannon X include a 9.0-inch multimedia touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (image: Glen Sullivan)

Is there anything interesting about its design?

In terms of styling, the Cannon X has a pretty standard contemporary ute appearance. 

There are hints of the HiLux at the front end, nods to the Amarok around the Cannon X’s ‘shoulders’ and a wink to the Ranger along the side on the way to the rear end.

It’s 5410mm long (with a 3230mm wheelbase), 1886mm wide and 1934mm high, so it’s a big unit – about as big as a Ford Ranger – but it wears its bulk well.

The Cannon X has a pretty standard contemporary ute appearance. (image: Glen Sullivan) The Cannon X has a pretty standard contemporary ute appearance. (image: Glen Sullivan)

The tray is 1560mm long (internal length), 1515mm wide (internal width; 1145mm between the wheel arches), 535-563mm (front-rear, internal depth), and load height is listed as 840-865mm. 

The tailgate is an assisted soft-drop/lift style version and there is a nifty pop-out rear step in the top of it, which is rated to cop up to a 150kg person using it as a step up into the tray. 

The tray load space has a spray-in tub liner, which looks suitably durable, and four sturdy-looking tie-down points.

The tray is 1560mm long, 1515mm wide, and load height is listed as 840-865mm. (image: Glen Sullivan) The tray is 1560mm long, 1515mm wide, and load height is listed as 840-865mm. (image: Glen Sullivan)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Cannon X has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, which produces 120kW at 3600rpm and 400Nm at 1500-2500rpm. Those power and torque figures aren’t exactly going to get anyone’s pulse racing but they are well-managed and sufficient for this ute – more about that later.

The Cannon X has an eight-speed automatic, an on-demand 4WD system, a low-range transfer case and a rear diff lock.

The Cannon X has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. (image: Glen Sullivan) The Cannon X has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. (image: Glen Sullivan)

In the grand tradition of Chinese manufacturing, GWM has cherry-picked proven components from other vehicles and use them to their advantage – such as the torque-on-demand Borg Warner transfer case and ZF automatic transmission in this ute.

How practical is the space inside?

The interior is quite impressive. It’s rather spacious and there’s a real premium feel to everything, with quilted leather on the seats and door trim, and there are plenty of storage spaces: the usual glovebox and centre console, as well as cupholders, door pockets and space here and there for you to dump your wallet and phone into.

The seats are comfortable and driver and front passenger seats are power-adjustable and heated. 

There are a few other nice touches for a forty grand ute: there's a brushed-metal effect here and there, and piano-black on the dash.

The media screen is big and bright, but we had more than a few problems with functionality – it’s a little bit counterintuitive, I reckon. 

The interior is quite impressive. (image: Glen Sullivan) The interior is quite impressive. (image: Glen Sullivan)

The driver's display is also bright and clear, but I had problems with its functionality, in terms of general day-to-day use of it. 

The Cannon X has a few other quirks, and a lot of them are related to the media unit and the interior, but they are more laugh-makers than deal-breakers, including misspelt words on the display screen, such as “scaning” (scanning) and “voiceassit” (voice assist), among others; the sunglasses case is located where I'd expect the driver’s grab handle to be; and the blind spot monitor lights look a lot like the kind of smoky night-lights you’d put in a baby’s room.

In the back seat, it’s very roomy – ample space for head, knees and toes – and you get a fold-down armrest (no cup holders in it though), air vents, a power socket and a USB point, as well as bottle holders in the doors.

Plenty of room in both the front and rear. (image: Glen Sullivan) Plenty of room in both the front and rear. (image: Glen Sullivan)

What's it like as a daily driver?

On-road, the Canon X does a decent job – well, there aren't any nasty surprises that you may well expect, and it’s not as ordinary as you might assume. 

It exhibits many of the positive qualities of more expensive utes and it ends up being rather quiet, refined, and nice to drive. 

Steering (reach and rake adjustable) is generally well balanced, but lane-keeping assist tends to be intrusive, abruptly correcting the steering wheel at the slightest sign of straying. It can be switched off, but it does re-engage again when you start the vehicle.

Kerb weight is 2100kg, and the four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine manages to keep the Cannon X trucking along at a fair clip. Acceleration is okay, and while 120kW and 400Nm are far from the best power and torque figures in the modern ute mob, the Cannon X’s engine-and-auto combination has a nice even-handed way of making the most of those figures, although it can be a touch agricultural in its delivery.

On-road, the Canon X does a decent job – and it’s not as ordinary as you might assume. (image: Glen Sullivan) On-road, the Canon X does a decent job – and it’s not as ordinary as you might assume. (image: Glen Sullivan)

Drive modes are Eco (4x2 / rear-wheel drive), Normal and Sport (all four wheels), with the on-demand four-wheel drive system coming online via your choice of modes.

The suspension set-up – yes, double wishbones at the front, leaf springs at the rear – offers up a comfortable ride.

Turning circle is not T-Rex massive at 13.1m, but it does demand a bit of extra thought and care from the driver on busy city and suburban streets, and along some narrow, twisting bush tracks.

One of the positives in the Cannon X’s favour is the fact it has plenty of driver-assist tech onboard including AEB, for a cheaper ute.

What's it like for touring?

This ute will handle most light- to medium-duty off-roading in Normal or Sport mode because that operates off the torque-on-demand BorgWarner transfer case – acting like 4WD high range – and the Cannon X is pretty stable on loosely gravelled tracks and dirt roads. 

And it's on those kinds of tracks where this ute, like every other unladen ute, tends to skip around a bit. Not terribly so, but something to be aware of, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the ol’ ute dirt-track dance.

As mentioned earlier, the steering wheel is reach-and-rake adjustable, which is handy when you're off road, because when you rack yourself up close to the steering wheel – as I do – you can then adjust the steering wheel to best suit your driving position, and get stuck into some fun 4WDing with optimum control. 

The steering has a nice lightness to it, which again is important when you're going over rough terrain at lower speeds and need to be able to manoeuvre your way through tricky bushland.

Overall, the Cannon X is rather impressive for something at this price-point. (image: Glen Sullivan) Overall, the Cannon X is rather impressive for something at this price-point. (image: Glen Sullivan)

Traction control is on the wrong side of ordinary – it’s just not active energetic enough and feels a bit old in its application. Note: traction control disengages (on the front axle) when the rear diff is locked.

When heading into more difficult terrain, the driver can engage 4WD low-range at the press of a button. During low-speed low-range 4WDing, there is a decent amount of torque at low revs and there’s an easy-to-engage rear diff-lock (also via a button) for even tougher challenges. 

And those are certainly help if you're tackling more difficult off-roading, but this ute is better suited to medium-duty stuff, such as gravel tracks and dirt roads. 

There is nice throttle control at low speeds, but hill descent control is a bit patchy, not maintaining a fixed low speed on steep downhill slopes as seamlessly as most other utes.

When heading into more difficult terrain, the driver can engage 4WD low-range at the press of a button. (image: Glen Sullivan) When heading into more difficult terrain, the driver can engage 4WD low-range at the press of a button. (image: Glen Sullivan)

Official ground clearance is 232mm (unladen; 194mm laden) and wading depth is 500mm. Approach, departure and ramp breakover angles are 27, 25 and 21.1 respectively, and the Cannon X feels quite low and prone to scraping its under-carriage on minor lumps in the terrain.

Also, the plastic side steps are vulnerable to damage.

As always with most showroom standard utes, the Cannon X’s tyres are better suited to driving on bitumen than they are suited to four-wheel driving, but if you’re thinking of making this ute your next touring vehicle, all-terrain tyres are an easy replacement.

And you might also think about getting mild lift just to give the Cannon X a little bit more height.

Official ground clearance is 232mm (unladen; 194mm laden) and wading depth is 500mm. (image: Glen Sullivan) Official ground clearance is 232mm (unladen; 194mm laden) and wading depth is 500mm. (image: Glen Sullivan)

Again, you have to give some credit to the Chinese though because they combine high-quality components, such as a torque-on-demand BorgWarner transfer case and a ZF automatic transmission, to underpin what is a relatively cheap workhorse vehicle.

Overall, the Cannon X is rather impressive for something at this price-point.

Towing capacity is 750kg (unbraked) and 3000kg braked. 

Payload is listed as 1050kg, Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) is 3150kg, Gross Combined Mass (GCM) is 5555kg.

How much fuel does it consume?

Official fuel consumption is 9.4L/100km on a combined cycle. 

Our actual fuel consumption during this test was 10.2L/100km, which was reasonable because we did do a fair amount of time on the dirt, with some low-range 4WDing. 

So, if you drive like me – in other words like a risk-averse old codger – you should get an effective touring range of about 764km out of the Cannon X’s 78-litre fuel tank, when doing a mix of road and dirt tracks, and some low-range 4WDing. 

That range grows to 830km and up if you can get your fuel use closer to the official fuel-consumption figure.

Note: Drop 30km to 50km off any fuel-range figure for a better idea of your vehicle’s safe touring range. Also, remember that numerous other factors affect your fuel consumption and so impact your touring range, including how much extra weight you have onboard (passengers, camping gear etc), whether your vehicle is fitted with any aftermarket equipment (bullbar, spare-wheel carrier, etc), whether you are towing (a camper-trailer, caravan, or boat etc), your vehicle's tyre pressures, and the conditions.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Cannon X has the maximum ANCAP safety rating of five stars, for vehicles built from August 2021.

As standard, the Cannon X gets seven airbags and a substantial serving of driver-assist and safety tech including AEB, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot monitoring.

The Cannon X has the maximum ANCAP safety rating of five stars. (image: Glen Sullivan) The Cannon X has the maximum ANCAP safety rating of five stars. (image: Glen Sullivan)

It has an electronic park braking (with auto-hold), hill descent control and hill-hold assist.

It also has a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, as well as a surround-view camera system and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Cannon X has a seven year/unlimited warranty, which means it’s one of the best utes around in terms of warranty. It is, however, bettered by the Triton’s 10-year (conditional) coverage. 

GWM also offers five years of free roadside assistance, which is impressive.

Service intervals are scheduled for every 12 months/10,000km, after the first service is done at the six-month mark.

Capped price servicing does apply. Your first service will cost $260 and it’s $360 for each service after that up to number five. 

The GWM Cannon X signals another significant step forward in the actual quality of Chinese-built utes – at least in terms of a first impression.

It’s comfortable, capable, and drives rather well. 

It also has a comprehensive suite of driver-assist tech, plenty of features as standard and still manages to be more of a budget-friendly option than many others in a market swamped with much pricier utes.

$34,490

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

3.5/5

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'

Price Guide

$34,490

Based on new car retail price

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.