It’s priced from $52,990 drive-away, so costs about $7500 more than you’d pay for the standard Cannon X on which this special edition ute is based. But it still undercuts similarly-equipped top-spec Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux utes by about $20,000.
It also has LED headlights with LED DRLs, side steps, powered mirrors, keyless entry, push-button start, power-adjustable and heated front seats, a leather steering wheel, single-zone climate control air conditioning, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, tinted rear glass, and a six-speaker audio system.
The XSR wears a price tag of $52,990, excluding on-road costs. (Image: Marcus Craft)
As well, the XSR gets a part-time 4WD system (with 2WD high-range, 4WD high-range and 4WD low-range), rather than full-time 4WD, which is on lower-spec GWM utes; a front differential lock (in addition to the existing rear diff lock) and Cooper Discoverer AT3 all-terrain tyres.
It also gets red brake calipers, an underbody bash plate, wheel arch flares, and a sunroof.
Elsewhere, it gets steel front and rear bumpers and a new black grille.
Standard features include an assisted tailgate, with a pop-out step. (Image: Marcus Craft)
The XSR features a raised air intake (aka a snorkel). (Image: Marcus Craft)
This dual-cab 4WD ute is intended as an off-road-focussed vehicle and has visual and mechanical upgrades over the rest of the Cannon stable. (Image: Marcus Craft)
Standard features include a 9.0-inch multimedia touchscreen system. (Image: Marcus Craft)
The XSR wears 18-inch black alloy wheels. (Image: Marcus Craft)
Design – Is there anything interesting about its design?
It looks like the mongrel child of a HiLux, Ranger and D-Max – in a good way.
The wider-than-standard wheel track, as well as the snorkel, sports bar, substantial bash plates, tyres and even red brake calipers add to this ute’s presence.
The XSR is 5439mm long, with a 3230mm wheelbase. (Image: Marcus Craft)
Protecting the belly of the XSR are substantial bash plates. (Image: Marcus Craft)
Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?
The XSR’s five-seat interior is a neat and roomy space but, in line with most utes at this price-point, if you scrutinise it in a critical way you soon discover that some parts feel a bit cheap and flimsy, such as some buttons, dials and switches.
As mentioned, the XSR has part-time 4WD – with 2WD high-range, 4WD high-range and 4WD low-range – rather than the full-time 4WD set-up that’s in standard Cannons.
The XSR has the Cannon’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Marcus Craft)
Driving – What's it like to drive?
If you’re not expecting a dynamic, sporty driving experience from the Cannon XSR, then you won’t be disappointed.
I’m enjoying the fact that off-road vehicles from China and India are improving all the time but there are significant trade-offs when opting for a much cheaper version of the ute you actually want.
The XSR is not an insubstantial ute, but that doesn’t excuse its less-than-ideal steering (which feels too loose) or its stiff ride on upgraded suspension which, even though it increases wheel travel (for 4WDing – more about that later), seemingly hasn’t been tuned to suit the XSR’s bigger tyres, wider wheel track and greater bulk than its lower-spec stablemates.
Off-road traction control and other systems including hill descent control are adequate. (Image: Marcus Craft)
Also, this ute has an unwieldy turning circle of 13.7m, which makes it an interesting vehicle to manoeuvre along busy urban streets or through a bustling car park.
This is a well priced ute if compared to similarly equipped, much more expensive utes, but that doesn’t excuse its touchy throttle and thrashy transmission.
However, its engine, which can feel underdone when challenged, has a relaxed feel about it when open-road cruising and if you aren’t putting too much pressure on it you likely won’t think it’s much of a let-down.
The XSR had no strife getting up and over one of our more severe set-piece hill climbs. (Image: Marcus Craft)
Overall, the XSR does okay on sealed surfaces, without ever getting anywhere near great – it’s simply not as refined or compliant as it could – or should – be.
On the dirt track leading to our 4WD test track, the XSR was very skippy over corrugations and tended to thump through potholes.
This ute does go well off-road though when it comes time for low-range 4WDing but, equipped with front and rear diff locks, that’s to be expected.
The XSR's upgraded suspension has boosted wheel travel. (Image: Marcus Craft)
Off-road traction control and other systems including hill descent control, are adequate without being as seamlessly smooth as the equivalent systems in more expensive vehicles.
It also has 'Crawl Mode' (allows for no-pedal, low-speed driving) and 'Turn Assist' (which brakes the XSR’s inside rear wheel to reduce the ute’s turning circle on traction-compromised surfaces).
The over-sensitive throttle is far from ideal during low-speed low-range 4WDing when you need absolute control for safe driving, but I did become used to it – or at least I put up with it.
The XSR is a capable twin-locked 4WD without ever being exceptional – and that’s fine. (Image: Marcus Craft)
As mentioned earlier, the upgraded suspension has boosted wheel travel, which means you’re more than likely able in the XSR to stretch a tyre to the dirt for better traction and controlled forward progress.
The XSR’s Cooper Discoverer AT3 all-terrain tyres help, especially when the dirt becomes sticky mud that would gum up a lesser tyre, and we had no strife getting up and over one of our more severe set-piece hill climbs on that rubber.
All in all, the XSR is a capable twin-locked 4WD without ever being exceptional – and that’s fine.
The Cannon XSR has towing capacities of 750kg (unbraked) and 3000kg (braked).
Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?
The Cannon XSR has a listed fuel consumption of 9.4L/100km on a combined cycle.
Actual fuel consumption on this test, from pump to pump, was 11.2L/100km but, as is the nature of my testing, I did a lot of low-range four-wheel driving.
The Cannon XSR has an 78-litre tank so, going by that fuel figure above, you could reasonably expect a driving range of about 696km from a full tank.
The Cannon XSR has a listed fuel consumption of 9.4L/100km on a combined cycle. (Image: Marcus Craft)
Note: Drop 30km to 50km from any vehicle’s total calculated fuel-range figure for a better idea of that vehicle’s safe touring range – so, following that advice, the above driving range figure (696km) would become 666km after a 30km safe-distance buffer has been subtracted.
Also, remember that numerous other factors affect your fuel consumption and so impact your driving 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.
Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?
The Cannon range has the maximum five-star ANCAP rating from testing in 2021, however the Cannon XSR is not covered by this rating.
Standard safety gear on the XSR includes seven airbags, AEB (sans pedestrian detection) forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assistance, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera and tyre-pressure monitoring.
It does not get front parking sensors, lane-change assist or a door-open warning.
Standard safety gear on the XSR includes a 360-degree camera. (Image: Marcus Craft)
Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?
The XSR is covered by a seven year/unlimited km warranty.
The first service is scheduled at the six-month/5000km mark (and costs $260), then every 12 months or 10,000km, with each service costing $360 a pop.
The XSR is covered by a seven year/unlimited km warranty. (Image: Marcus Craft)
In a very competitive ute market, the GWM Cannon XSR represents plenty of bang for your buck, but it’s just not as refined as you’d hope.
It should be better at this price-point, especially when it’ll be unfavourably cross-shopped with lower-spec variants in the Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max and Toyota HiLux line-ups.
It’s a nice enough vehicle on-road, and the XSR is an effective 4WD on the dirt without ever being truly exceptional – but that’s fine for those who want to save big bucks and still drive away in a well-equipped twin-locked off-road vehicle.
Front and rear diff locks
Well priced for something with so much gear
Not as refined as it should be
Jittery ride on irregular surfaces
Overly busy transmission
Based on new car retail price
Daily driver score
Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.
Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.
Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'
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