China’s Great Wall Motors ute has had its biggest overhaul in more than a decade. New hi-tech model promises five-star safety, gets more equipment than Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max at a fraction of their price.
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UPDATE, 12 January 2021: The GWM Ute has had its towing capacity officially certified to 3000kg.

When initially launched in late 2020, GWM listed a 2250kg towing capacity for the Ute, but has now been certified the model for towing up to 3000kg, with a maximum downball weight of 300kg.

GWM has also announced an additional $1000 of genuine accessories for GWM Ute purchases. Buyers trading in a Great Wall Motors Steed or Haval model will be eligible for a $1000 trade-in bonus. Both offers are only valid to 31 March 2021.


23 November 2020: The pioneer of Chinese vehicles in Australia – Great Wall Motors – has delivered its biggest overhaul in more than 10 years, and is poised to shake-up the affordable end of the double-cab ute market.

The 2021 GWM Ute is an all-new model with more technology than the segment leaders – and more equipment than the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 at a fraction of their price.

While Great Wall Motors will move away from its current bargain-basement $19,990 drive-way offers on its range of outdated vehicles, the new-generation GWM Ute promises to undercut the competition by a significant margin.

Three models in the GWM Ute range – priced from $33,990 drive-away, $37,990 drive-away and $40,990 drive-away – are available for similar money as lower grades of the Mitsubishi Triton, but come with equipment found on $60,000-plus utes.

While the original Great Wall Motors utes got off to a bumpy start, with a two-star safety rating in 2009 – backed up by another “poor” two-star safety rating with an update released in 2016 – the GWM Ute promises to make up for lost ground with a fully-loaded pick-up that will leave previous excuses behind.

The GWM Ute is also likely to overshadow the LDV T60, the first ute out of China with a five-star safety rating (from 2017). However, the GWM Ute has a longer list of standard equipment than even its closest Chinese rival.

The GWM Ute is yet to undergo a full round of crash safety assessment by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), however it has the technology needed to achieve a five-star result against the latest, more stringent criteria.

All three examples of the GWM Ute will join the new-generation Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 with a centre airbag between the front seats, a requirement to be eligible for a five-star safety result in 2020 – and which prevents head injuries in severe side impact crashes.

If the GWM Ute achieves a five-star safety score, it will have done something the top-selling Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger utes are yet to achieve, as their five-star results were graded against older and less stringent criteria (in 2019 and 2015 respectively).

As a result, the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger are missing much of the technology that will be standard in the new GWM Ute.

GWM Australia head of marketing, Steve Maciver, said: “We knew we had to come out with a strong offering, and that’s what we’ve done. But it’s a new nameplate and new brand to reflect a completely new model, so it will take some time to build awareness with potential buyers.”

Mr Maciver said the switch to the new GWM name from Great Wall Motors was not designed to disguise the vehicle’s origins.

“We are extremely confident in the quality of this vehicle and we believe the value will speak for itself. This is a new generation product, hence the new name,” said Mr Maciver.

For the detail-oriented, the steering wheel retains the Great Wall Motors logo, while the grille has a new symbol designed for the Ute.

CarAdvice understands GWM plans to almost double its Australian dealer network from 48 showrooms today, to 80 or so by this time next year – and the Ute will play a crucial role in “kick-starting” the renamed brand.

Although GWM is yet to outline where its new retail outlets will be located, the Ute will be sold alongside an updated Haval H2 SUV and a new Haval H6 SUV next year.

The company says the GWM Ute is targeting “value-conscious tradies and families who want a vehicle that’s built for work and play”, though it has not nominated which particular rival ute it wants to outsell.

“We don’t sit in a war room and target a particular brand or ute, but we are looking for significant growth next year and we believe this is the vehicle that will help deliver that,” said Mr Maciver.

“We’ve engineered the car to be as safe as possible, we’ve included every piece of safety technology available to us, but we need to wait for the assessment by ANCAP.”

CarAdvice understands testing has been scheduled for early next year. Until then, the vehicle will be listed by ANCAP as “unrated”.

GWM is also planning to introduce a range of factory-approved accessories including a bullbar, tow bar and protective equipment. However they will come on stream early next year.

A capped-price servicing program is yet to be established, and (after a first service at 5000km) the routine maintenance schedule is 10,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first. Most rival utes have 15,000km/12 month service intervals.

There will initially be three model grades in the 2021 GWM Ute range, starting from $33,990 drive-away for the regular Cannon, climbing to $37,990 drive-away for the mid-grade Cannon-L, and $40,990 drive-away for the top-of-the-range Cannon X (pictured).

Unlike its rivals, all GWM Ute models come standard with automatic transmission – normally a $2000 to $2500 option on other utes.

Furthermore, the automatic gearbox is an eight-speed ZF transmission (in a class dominated by six- or seven-speed autos).

The GWM Ute has a switchable four-wheel-drive system, as per most double-cab utes (which can only be used in 4WD in slippery conditions), and a rear differential lock.

All models come with four-wheel discs in a category where rear drums are the norm (the VW Amarok V6, LDV T60, Ssangyong Musso and Ford Ranger Raptor have four-wheel discs).

The GWM Ute comes standard with a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and five years roadside assistance.

With the exception of the Ssangyong Musso, which also has a seven-year warranty, the GWM Ute has a longer factory warranty than the Isuzu D-Max (six years) and the rest of the ute field (Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan Navara and Volkswagen Amarok), all of which have five-year coverage.

Under the bonnet of all versions of the GWM Ute is a 2.0-litre diesel (120kW/400Nm) with a variable geometry turbocharger, and an upgraded air intake throttle and camshaft.

Despite the upgrades, this output puts the GWM Ute towards the back of the pack versus its rivals (see table below).

GWM Ute 2.0T 120kW/400Nm
Toyota HiLux 2.8T 150kW/500Nm
Ford Ranger 2.0TT 157kW/500Nm
Isuzu D-Max 3.0T 140kW/450Nm
Mazda BT-50 3.0T 140kW/450Nm
Nissan Navara 2.3TT 140kW/450Nm
Mitsubishi Triton 2.4T 133kW/430Nm
VW Amarok 2.0TT 132kW/420Nm
VW Amarok 3.0TDV6 165kW/550Nm
VW Amarok 3.0TDV6 190kW/580Nm
LDV T60 2.8T 110kW/360Nm
LDV T60 2.0T 120kW/375Nm
Ssangyong Musso 2.2T 133kW/420Nm

The GWM Ute is intended to have a towing capacity of 3000kg (with a tow ball down weight of 300kg). However, as this article was published, GWM had only provided documentation to Australian authorities for a 2250kg towing capacity.

The fuel economy rating label average is listed as 9.4L/100km, which is thirsty compared to most rivals.

The suspension set-up comprises a double wishbone design up front and leaf springs for the rear. Payload and gross combination mass were yet to be disclosed as they were still being assessed.

In addition to four-wheel disc brakes, the GWM Ute is unique in the heavy duty segment with an electric park brake.

Standard safety technology on all models includes:

Seven airbags, including a centre airbag between the front seats;
Forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection;
Lane departure warning;
Lane keeping assistance;
Lane change assistance;
Rear cross-traffic alert;
Adaptive cruise control (camera or radar based)
Traffic sign recognition and speed alert;
Stability control and anti-lock brakes;
Individual tyre pressure monitors;
Rear-view camera and sensors;
Nearside camera;
Collision automatic unlock;
Collision automatic fuel cut;
Hill start assist;
Hill descent control

Standard exterior equipment on all models includes:

18 inch alloy wheels (steel spare);
Body-coloured bumpers, wheel arches and mirror scalps;
Power adjustable door mirrors;
Dusk-sensing LED headlights;
Daytime running lights;
Fog lights;
Cornering lights;
Side steps;
‘Shark fin’ radio antenna

Standard interior equipment on all models includes:

Keyless entry;
Push button start;
Leather-like seats;
Air-conditioning;
Steering wheel audio controls;
Paddle shifters for the automatic transmission;
9-inch LCD infotainment touchscreen;
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto;
3.5-inch colour instrument cluster;
Power outlet in mirror housing for dash-cam;
12V power socket;
2 front USB ports and 1 rear USB port;
Driver’s sunglasses storage

GWM Cannon-L gains:

Sports bar;
Premium 18-inch alloy wheels;
Spray-on tubliner;
Spring-loaded tailgate;
Cargo ladder;
Leather-wrapped steering wheel;
Heated front seats;
Six-way power adjustable driver’s seat;
Digital air-conditioning control and rear air vents;
Front parking sensors;
360-degree view camera;
Chrome grille, door handles, and mirror scalps;
Electric folding door mirrors;
Roof rails;
Rear privacy glass;
Auto-dimming rear-view mirror;
220V power outlet

GWM Cannon-X gains:

Leather seats;
Tilt and reach adjustable steering;
7-inch colour instrument cluster;
Wireless phone charging;
Four-way power adjustable passenger seat;
Power assisted steering modes;
Door open warning;
Back seat splits 60/40;
Voice Recognition

Dimensions:

Length: 5410mm
Height: 1934mm
Width: 1886mm
Wheelbase: 3230mm
Ground clearance: 194mm
Wading depth: 500mm
Approach angle: 27 degrees
Departure angle: 25 degrees
Rampover angle: 21.1 degrees
Payload: 953kg (model yet to be specified)
Towing capacity: 2250kg (aiming for 3000kg)

2021 GWM Ute Australian pricing

  • GWM Ute Cannon automatic – $33,990 drive-away
  • GWM Ute Cannon-L automatic – $37,990 drive-away
  • GWM Ute Cannon-X automatic – $40,990 drive-away