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Foton Tunland


Great Wall Steed

Summary

Foton Tunland

Marcus Craft road tests and reviews the new Foton Tunland dual-cab 4X4 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

When I told mates I’d be testing a Foton Tunland a few snort-laughed their craft beer out of their noses in not-so-mock shock. “Why don’t you save yourself the hassle and just write about another HiLux or Ranger or Amarok?” they said. The idea of me supposedly risking my skin in a Chinese dual-cab ute, lambasted in the past for lacklustre build quality and dogged by doubts over vehicle safety, delighted these blokes.

“Is your life insurance up to date?” one fella quipped. Yep, funny. Well, the joke’s on them because this latest-gen Tunland is a well built and well priced dual-cab ute with a bloody good Cummins turbo-diesel engine and a stack of other top-quality components thrown in for good measure. But, it’s not all good news – there are some safety issues. Read on.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.8L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8.3L/100km
Seating2 seats

Great Wall Steed

Great Wall has been China’s best-selling ute brand for nearly two decades, so it’s not surprising to see the company spreading its global footprint into Australia’s hotly contested dual-cab 4x4 ute market. 

What its diesel-powered Steed may lack in performance and overall refinement compared to mainstream rivals, it balances with a huge saving in purchase price. And therein lies the choice of going Chinese - price vs quality.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency9L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Foton Tunland 7/10

The Tunland is a damn good value-for-money proposition and it’s the best of the budget dual-cab ute mob, but a less than ideal suite of safety features impacts its appeal.

If those flaws are erased from the updated model, then it will likely stake an even stronger claim in a highly competitive ute market.

Does Foton's Tunland make the cut as a family-friendly work truck? Tell us what you think in the comments below.


Great Wall Steed6.5/10

On face value the Great Wall Steed 4x4 looks like a bargain, with its eye-poppingly low price, one-tonne payload rating and long list of standard features, particularly when compared to entry-level dual cabs offered by the segment leaders. However, those competitors more than make up for that lack of bling with superior all-round safety, performance, comfort, refinement and resale value. So for buyers more concerned about purchase price and creature comforts than any of its shortcomings – and there are quite a few - the Steed 4x4's value for money equation is about right. In other words, it needs to be this cheap to get buyers in.

Is the Great Wall Steed a bargain or is the low price just what it's really worth?

Design

Foton Tunland 7/10

The Tunland looks good, not spectacular; like a noughties-era dual-cab rather than a contemporary one. And you know what? That’s fine with this journalist because it’s an easy fix. The Tunland is not unlike the BT-50 of recent years, in that once you’ve thrown a bull bar over the ordinary-looking front end (with its Wi-Fi-symbol-rotated-90-degrees-looking Foton logo) then all is forgiven.

Elsewhere, the Foton is a softer edged beast than some of its modern counterparts, with rounded headlights flowing back to a 'truck-lite' rear end, but it retains a robust, old-school ute presence.

Inside, the Tunland is neat, tidy and roomy. It looks ready for day-to-day duties – whether as a job-site workhorse, a daily driver, or a family mover. There is grey plastic everywhere but the cabin has nice touches like the leather-trim seats and wood-look panels.


Great Wall Steed6/10

The Steed is deceptively large. Compared to the Ford Ranger dual cab 4x4, it's 235mm longer, 50mm narrower, 40mm lower and its ladder-frame chassis rides on a 3200mm wheelbase, which is only 20mm shorter. Like the Ranger, it has double-wishbone front suspension and a leaf-spring live rear axle, but runs rear disc brakes where the Ford has drums. 

Off-road credentials include 171mm of ground clearance, an approach angle of 25 degrees, departure angle of 21 degrees and ramp-over angle of 18 degrees, all figures which are far from class-leading. Plus there's a large 14.5-metre turning circle (compared to Ranger at 12.7m and Hilux at 11.8m).

It has a relatively slim body profile when viewed from the side, which translates to a relatively short floor-to-roof height, reminiscent of utes past. This means shallower foot wells and higher knee/upper thigh angles that concentrate more weight on the base of the spine, reducing comfort on longer journeys. 

The rear outer seating positions are tight, particularly for tall adults, with limited head and leg room. For those sitting in the centre rear position, headroom is even less. And because the front doors are considerably longer than the rears (like the Amarok), the B pillar’s more rearward location impedes the ‘pathway’ to the rear seat, particularly for those with larger shoes.

Overall panel fit is acceptable, but some areas of trim, like the crooked stitched seam across the dash-pad directly in front of the driver, affect perceptions of quality. 

Practicality

Foton Tunland 7/10

Tunland’s remote entry is two-stage: first press unlocks only the driver’s door; second press unlocks the other doors – that can be annoying when you have people champing at the bit to get into the vehicle during a heatwave, and there is an almost-comical series of mistimed attempts at opening doors and pressing buttons.

The cabin is spacious. Build quality and fit and finish have been improved well beyond expectations. One or two buttons feel a bit flimsy and the button to adjust the wing-mirrors is tucked away on the right-hand-side dash behind the steering wheel; quite awkward to see, reach and use.

The air con defaults to ‘off’ every time you re-start, which is a bit of a niggle, especially during the heatwave conditions during which some of this review took place.

Seats are supportive enough without going beyond the call of duty; the front seat bases are a touch too short for tall people and extra side bolstering would be welcome.

There is ample head and leg room, front and back, although rear-seat passengers are forced into an upright, knees-high position; still they should be used to that if they’ve been riding around in utes for any length of time. Cupholder count runs to two in the front centre console.

The dual-cab Tunland has a 1025kg payload, a maximum braked towing capacity of 2500kg (1000kg less than most other utes) and 750kg unbraked.

Its cargo area is 1500mm long, 1570mm wide (1380mm, internal width at floor level; 1050mm internal width between the wheel arches) and 430mm deep. The tray has four tie-down points at each interior corner and a poly tray-liner which protects the top ‘lip’ of the tray and that’s a big bonus.


Great Wall Steed6/10

The Steed’s 1900kg kerb weight is relatively light for its size and with a 2920kg GVM it’s a genuine ‘one tonner’ with a maximum payload of 1020kg. It’s also rated to tow only 2000kg of braked trailer, but with a GCM of 4920kg it can carry its maximum payload while doing it, which is a practical compromise.

The fully lined cargo bed is 1545mm long, 1460mm wide and 480mm deep. Like most dual-cab utes there’s not enough width between the wheel arches to carry a standard Aussie pallet, but it has four sturdy and well-positioned anchorage points for securing loads.

Cabin-storage options include a bottle holder and upper/lower storage pockets in each front door, a single glovebox, centre console with open storage cubby at the front, two cup holders in the centre and a box with padded lid at the rear that doubles as an armrest. To the right of the driver’s head there’s also a roof-mounted sunglasses holder with a spring-loaded lid, but it’s too shallow to be able to close the lid with a pair of Oakleys inside.

Back-seat passengers get overlooked when it comes to storage, as there are only slim pockets on the rear of each front seat and no bottle holders or storage pockets in the doors. And there’s no fold-down centre armrest either, which would be a useful place to offer at least two cup holders when the rear seat only has two occupants.

Price and features

Foton Tunland 7/10

The manual-only Tunland is available as a single cab 4x2 ($22,490), single cab 4x2 styleside ($23,490), single cab 4x4 ($25,990), dual cab 4x2 ($27,990), or dual cab 4x4 ($30,990), which we tested. Single cabs have an alloy tray. Metallic paint on any model is $400 extra.

For a ute firmly located at the budget end of the pricing scale, the Tunland’s interior has a fair few cheeky little extras packed into what is, at first glance anyway, a standard-looking workhorse inside and out. It has a tilt-adjustable-only, leather-trim, steering wheel with controls for Bluetooth, audio and cruise control.

The Tunland audio set-up plays MP3 files and CDs. There is an auxiliary port for a mini USB right beside the CD slot. Music can be streamed from Bluetooth-compatible devices. Air conditioning, electric windows, electric wing mirrors (with defrost function) and remote two-stage unlocking are all standard on Tunlands.

All seats in the dual-cab are leather trimmed and the driver’s seat is (manually) eight-way adjustable.

There are plenty of storage receptacles: a good-sized glove box, cup holders, door and seatback pockets, as well as a few handy little spaces for knick-knacks.

Standard features elsewhere on the dual-cab include daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear step bumper with parking sensor and fog lights, and a tyre-pressure-monitoring system; handy for off-road tourers.

Our test vehicle was one of the last of the model year 2016 examples, fitted with disc brakes all-round and stability control, and had a Euro 4 emissions compliant engine, according to general manager of Foton Motors Australia, Alex Stuart. An updated model, expected mid year, will have a Euro 5 engine, “but with the same exterior and basically same interior”, Mr Stuart said.

Accessories include pretty much everything you could ever want on a ute, ranging from a clear bonnet protector ($123.70) and full recovery kit ($343.92), to bullbar ($2237.84) and winch ($1231.84). Foton has a Tunland kitted out with most, if not all, of its available accessories as an example of what a fully geared-up Tunland looks like – and it looks bloody good.


Great Wall Steed8/10

Available only as a dual-cab ute with five-speed or six-speed manual transmissions and a choice of petrol 4x2, diesel 4x2 and diesel 4x4 drivetrains. It’s also only available in one well-equipped model grade, so every Steed buyer gets a burger with the lot. Albeit a Chinese burger.

Our test vehicle was the diesel 4x4 six-speed manual, which, at only $30,990, presents a compelling value-for-money comparison for those wanting a brand new ute who don’t have big dollars to spend. For example, the cheapest Ford Ranger dual cab 4x4 is the XL with 2.2 litre diesel and six-speed manual at $45,090, and the cheapest Toyota Hilux equivalent is the hose-me-out Workmate 2.4 diesel with six-speed manual at $43,990. 

The Steed’s single model specification also includes numerous features and creature comforts you won’t find on rival entry-level utes costing 30 per cent more. There are lots of chrome body highlights, including roof racks, stainless-steel sports bar and door scuff plates, side steps, cargo bed liner, 16-inch alloy wheels with 235/70R16 tyres and a full-size spare, leather-appointed trim including steering wheel and gear-knob, heated front seats with six-way adjustable powered driver’s seat, electric-folding door mirrors with demisters and indicators, tyre-pressure monitoring and six-speaker sound system with touchscreen, steering-wheel controls and multiple connectivity including Bluetooth, to name a few. A tow bar, tonneau cover and sat-nav with reversing camera are optional.

Engine & trans

Foton Tunland 8/10

The Tunland has a Cummins 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine, producing 120kw at 3600rpm, and 360Nm at 1800rpm-3000rpm, backed up by a Getrag five-speed manual transmission. These are two components with great reputations made by the best of the best in their respective fields: engines and transmissions.

BorgWarner, another industry leader (in powertrains, among other things), built the two-speed transfer case in the Tunland 4x4s. All Tunlands in Australia have Dana axles and differentials; the rear is a LSD. 


Great Wall Steed6/10

The GW4D20B is a Euro 5-compliant 2.0-litre turbocharged common-rail four-cylinder diesel that delivers 110kW at 4000rpm and a relatively small 310Nm serving of torque between 1800-2800rpm.

There’s only a six-speed manual available, so an automatic option would broaden the Steed’s showroom appeal enormously. The 4x4 drivetrain uses a Borg Warner part-time dual-range transfer case with electronic dashboard control, and there’s no locking rear differential.

Fuel consumption

Foton Tunland 7/10

The Tunland has a  76-litre  fuel  tank,  and is claimed to use 8.3L/100km (combined cycle). We recorded 9.0L/100km after 120km of stop-start city traffic, dirt, and some off-roading.


Great Wall Steed8/10

Great Wall claims a combined figure of 9.0L/100km and at the end of our test the instrument read-out was showing 9.5. That was close to our own figures, based on ‘real world’ trip-meter and fuel-bowser readings, which came in at 10.34, or about average for this segment.  

Based on those numbers, its 70-litre fuel tank should deliver a driving range of around 680km.

Driving

Foton Tunland 7/10

The dual-cab Tunland is 5310mm long, 1880mm wide (excluding wing mirrors), 1870mm high, and has a 3105mm wheelbase. Kerb weight is listed as 1950kg. 

In other words, it’s a big ute, one of the biggest models in Australia, but it doesn’t feel like such a cumbersome beast when you drive it.

The Tunland has a wide stance and sits well on the road, only exhibiting that tell-tale ute sway when it was really thrown into corners. Its hydraulic steering is faster and lighter than you’d assume in a hefty ute at this price-point although there is some ‘play’ in it.

The Cummins engine is a real cracker; gutsy and responsive. We had fun with it in city traffic, on the highway and along back country roads, winding it up, giving it the boot, hearing it growl. Driven judiciously it maintains the rage throughout the rev range. 

The five-speed manual is a tall-geared, big-shifting unit; slick and fun to use. We had a few moments early on, but swiftly became used to the notchy action.

The Tunland has double wishbones and coil springs up front and leaf springs down the back. The set-up seemed firm but nothing out of the ordinary for a ute. Overall, ride and handling was drawing ever nearer to that of car-like dual-cabs that cost at least $10,000 more than this.

Our test vehicle was shod with Savero HT Plus 265/65 R17 tyres, which were generally fine on bitumen, gravel and off-road, however, we’d opt for ATs for off-road touring.

Visibility is mostly good, except for the chunky A-pillar and window shield combination, which eats into the driver’s view, and the shallow slit of a rear window, again not an unfamiliar feature for ute drivers everywhere. (The window shields are dealer-fit accessories).

Off-road, the Tunland is more than capable. It has an unladen ground clearance of 200mm, the BorgWarner dual-range transmission and LSD at the rear.

We took it through a couple of shallow water crossings (the air intake is up high in the engine bay), over a section of knee-high jagged and staggered rocks, along a heavily rutted bush track, through sand and along washed out dirt roads. Some of it was very slow going, challenging stuff. The Tunland handled everything with ease.

Working through 4WD modes is simple enough: the driver uses buttons just in front of the gear stick to shift between 4x2 High and 4x4 High at speeds of up to 80km/h. You have to stop the vehicle to engage low range.

Underbody protection includes a steel plate sump guard, which is standard on the Tunland 4x4. 


Great Wall Steed6/10

There’s a pleasant whiff of leather when you open the door, but the driving position is compromised by the high floor height and relatively shallow foot-well. For taller drivers this positions the knees  close to the steering wheel, even in its highest position, which can hamper turning, and comfort, at times. Ergonomically wonderful it is not.

The left footrest is well positioned but the vertical section of console right next to it has an uncomfortable sharp-radius edge where the upper shin and knee rest against it. And on the right-hand side, the window control panel at the front of the door-pull also has quite a hard edge where the right leg rests against it. Softer, larger radius edges on both sides would greatly increase driver comfort.

The power steering is too lightly weighted and remains vaguely linear in feel regardless of road speed. The gearing is also too low and requires excessive wheel-twirling relative to steering response, which is required often given its large turning circle and the number of multi-point turns needed as a result.

The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel’s lack of low-down torque is really noticeable below 1500rpm, as it falls off a cliff with what feels like zero turbo boost. The gearshift feel is also a bit notchy and the gear-stick itself has an annoying vibration in fifth and sixth gears.

The ride quality when empty is acceptable if a bit harsh in the rear over bumps, which is not uncommon with leaf-spring live rear axles designed to carry more than a tonne. We loaded 830kg into the cargo bed, which, with a 100kg driver equalled a payload of 930kg, or about 90kg short of its 1020kg maximum rating. 

The rear springs compressed 51mm and the nose rose 17mm under this load, leaving adequate springing capacity. The ride quality also improved noticeably, with minimal decline in steering control and braking response. By keeping the revs up (and therefore turbo boost) it coped reasonably well with stop-start traffic. 

The Steed definitely felt more at home at highway speeds, however. In top gear with the cruise control engaged, it rumbled comfortably within the engine’s peak torque band, showing just 2000rpm at 100km/h and 2100rpm at 110km/h. Engine, wind and tyre noise were unexpectedly low, allowing conversations to take place at normal levels. 

The tyre-pressure monitor displayed in the driver’s information scroll works well (mandatory in the USA and EU) and adds considerable peace of mind, but the info menu should also include a digital speed read-out. A permanent display of the cruise control’s speed setting would be handy, too.

Given its small torque figure and the fact it had close to a tonne on its back, the Steed coped pretty well with our set climb (albeit with the right foot flat to the floor) powering up the 13 per cent 2.0-kilometre gradient at 60km/h in third gear at 2400rpm.

Safety

Foton Tunland 6/10

The Tunland has a three-star ANCAP rating, and was last tested in 2013.

As standard there are driver and front passenger airbags (no front side airbags); height-adjustable, front seat belts with pre-tensioners, as well as ABS and EBD. Our test vehicle also had the ESC package, which includes disc brakes all around.

There is only a lap belt for the middle passenger in the rear and there are no curtain airbags. 

There are no top tether points in the rear seats for child-seat restraints, but those are coming in the 2017 model, Mr Stuart told CarsGuide. Only booster seats, which don’t require those top tether points, should be used in the 2016 models.

Those safety flaws are substantial, but it seems Foton plans to have them sorted out in the next-gen Tunland.


Great Wall Steed6/10

There is no ANCAP rating for this Great Wall so far but the 4x2 variant tested in 2016 achieved only two stars out of five, which is terrible. Still, this one is equipped with dual front airbags, front-side and full-length side-curtain airbags, a three-point seatbelt for the centre rear passenger (but no head rest), ISOFIX child seat anchorage points on the two outer rear seating positions and a top tether for the centre seat position. 

Active-safety features include Bosch electronic stability control with traction control, brake assist and hill start assist, but no AEB. There are also rear parking sensors, but rear view camera is optional (and should be standard).

Ownership

Foton Tunland 7/10

There is a three-year/100,000km warranty, including roadside assistance.


Great Wall Steed6/10

Three-year/100,000km warranty and three-year roadside assistance. Service intervals and recommended (not capped price) servicing costs start at six months/5,000km ($395) then 12 months/15,000km ($563), 24 months/30,000km ($731) and 36 months/45,000km ($765).