There’s a new flagship ute in town. From the people over at GWM in China comes the 2023 Cannon-XSR Ute, a machine that’s kitted out with almost everything, looks like a beast, and costs a little over $50,000.
Powered by a 2.0-litre 120kW/400Nm four-cylinder turbo diesel engine, the XSR is paired with quite a smooth ZF 8-speed automatic transmission. The claimed economy is 9.4-litres/100km, which was close to the mark in our testing.
It misses the mark a little on the power front, thanks to its small engine, which in turn translates to some sluggish performance. If you can get past that, or you don’t need some big kahunas in your ute, it’s got some cool kit.
On the outside, the Cannon-XSR sports a black grille, snorkel and a very sturdy rear sports bar. Both the front and rear bumpers are steel, meaning you miss out on front parking sensors, but there is a rear camera, of pretty excellent quality.
It also comes with a 360-degree around view monitor, LED headlights and taillights, roof rails, privacy glass, and big steel side steps. Shift inside and you’ll find an interior similar to the Cannon X we’ve tested previously.
It’s here you’ll find some nicely designed diamond quilted leather, and heated and power adjustable front seats (6-way for the driver/4-way for the passenger). There’s no shortage of soft touch points, which is nice.
GWM even offer a sunroof, which is exclusive to the Cannon-XSR. Built into the dash is a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s two USB-A charging ports, and a wireless charging pad.
Oddly, there’s no satellite navigation, so you’ll have to rely on your smartphone for that (not entirely unusual in this space). AM/FM radio is paired to a 6-speaker sound system that offers an adequate audio experience.
You get to play multiple choice when it comes to the air-conditioning, with the option to use manual controls or the infotainment screen. Sitting in the rear row, there’s decent leg and even headroom, thanks to a cut-out in the roof.
You can fold these seats either up or down for storage, and there’s a centre armrest, but it comes sans cup holders. A single USB charging port, and a universal household socket can both be found in the back.
A generous glove box in the front and a centre console cubby are both nifty, with a sliding tray for smaller items and a deep storage slot, complemented by twin cup holders. On the road, we were pleasantly surprised by how quiet it is inside the cabin.
That said, at higher speeds you will experience wind noise from the snorkel. The suspension does a good job on smooth surfaces, but relatively hard, ensuring you will feel dips and bumps in the tarmac. It has a pretty average turning circle as well.
Thanks to larger tyres, wrapped around 18-inch black alloys, ground clearance has been improved to 228mm, with an underbody bash plate providing extra protection. The Cannon-XSR grabs eye-catching red brake callipers, with front and rear disc brakes.
Despite ticking so many boxes and screaming value, there’s a few things we need to call out in terms of driver assists and safety tech. Let’s start with the adaptive cruise control, which struggles to maintain speed, particularly up hill.
Lane departure warning, lane keep and centring assist, while all being nice to have in terms of semi-autonomous features, drove us mad with their inability to hold the middle of the lane, instead often pushing the ute closer to one of the lane markers.
The instrument cluster will constantly display safety information, with access to other important date requiring you to push and hold the OK button to unlock the screen. Each time a safety feature wants to update the driver, it locks you out again.
Off road, the Cannon-XSR has plenty to offer, including turn assist (which brakes the inside rear wheel to improve the circle), and part time 4WD, in both high and low range. The upside is you can run in 2H on the highways, for improved efficiency.
That aside, the 4WD platform is quite impressive, handling pretty much anything we threw at it. It offers a range of pre-programmed modes too, including Sand, Snow and Mud, and even a Crawl setting to help keep a consistent speed when traversing rugged terrain.
A front and rear locking differential complete the package, with a braked towing capacity of 3,000kg also ensuring you can haul a caravan or trailer if you need to. The load space is equally as impressive, measing 1560mm long and 1146mm between the wheel arches.
To get yourself inside, fold down the door, supported by dual gas struts, and there’s even a nifty little step ladder you can pop out. There are tie-down points to support a payload under 875kg. Side steps are built into the rear bumper.
At $52,490 drive away, the 2023 GWM Cannon-XSR is up to $20,000 cheaper than pretty much every vehicle it rivals. That alone is a convincing argument. It’s available in five colours, and comes with a 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
You also get 5-years roadside assist and 5-years capped price servicing. To find out more, you can visit the GWM Haval Australia website, or talk to your local dealership. If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.
Our test vehicle was provided by GWM Haval Australia, for review purposes.