Powered by
Subscribe to the only car newsletter you’ll ever need

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 review

Curt Dupriez
Deputy editor

The flagship of GWM’s ute range brings big off-roading promise at an enticing low price point, so what are the catches?

Good points

  • Enticing driveaway price
  • Loaded with features
  • Genuine off-road specification
  • Diff locks on both axles
  • Presents well inside and out
  • Seven-year warranty

Needs work

  • Class-trailing outputs
  • Modest 875kg payload
  • Braked towing just 3000kg
  • Cabin indifferent to X and Vanta
  • Wayward on-road dynamics
  • Choppy ride quality

It’s quite a simple if multi-layer pitch that comes with GWM’s flagship ute, the XSR, launched in the middle of 2023 to bolster the Ute Cannon, erm, canon to seven variants.

At $52,990 driveaway – or even cheaper at a tenner under $50K on offer until June 30 – it undercuts the higher grades of big-selling dual-cab 4×4 juggernauts in Ford’s Ranger, Toyota’s Hilux and Isuzu’s D-Max by a fair wedge or three in fully loaded guises.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 rear 3/4

Beyond that, it boasts an array of off-road focused equipment and features right off the showroom floor and no aftermarket required, including dual axle differential locks absent on most higher-priced competitors.

Against key direct rival LDV T60 Max, the XSR appears more 4×4 focussed in specification despite the similar styling and pricing.

Bundle that together, and you not only get a turnkey all-terrain proposition at a relative bargain, it’s a Chinese-made package that’s vastly more attainable to younger budding 4×4 enthusiasts than a modified Thai-built alternative. And without the insurance and warranty challenges demanded by dipping into the aftermarket.

Thing is, $53K isn’t chump change, or anything like as enticing as the entry point to the GWM Ute pick-up range, called simply Cannon, that can be had for just $37,490 driveaway in optional 4×4 guise.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 front

Further, it looks pricey against logical upper-spec rivals such LDV T60 Max Luxe auto (from $45,884 driveaway) and Ssangyong Musso Ultimate (from $45,000 driveaway).

In assessment, all of the above poses multi-layered questions. Is it a decent ute on singular merit? How is, on balance, good enough given the value proposition? And, further, as the pricey Ute Cannon option, what do you get over and above its sharper-priced stablemates?

This last bit is significant given that every variant in the range fits the same 120kW and 400Nm turbo-diesel four and everything bar the entry Cannon RWD – so all seven grades – can be had with 4×4 and the same ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 rear tray

In terms of workhorse stats, braked towing is 3000kg (across the entire Ute Cannon lineup) while payload in the 1.52-metre-square tub is just 875kg, or a fair bit down on other stablemates boasting as much as 1050kg.

In fact, interestingly, it’s only our XSR flagship test subject that fits part-time (selectable) 4×4, as all other guises have a permanent/full-time design.

What are the Ute Cannon XSR’s features and options for the price?

Pricing has been a bit of a moving target in GWM’s Ute lineup in the first half of 2024.

While prices rose between $500 (XSR) and $4000 (X and Vanta) for most variants over 2023 figures, a good many are – at the time of writing – on discounted driveaway offers advertising savings of between $1000 and $3000 through to June 30.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 snorkel

The short of it is that XSR’s regular national driveaway price is $52,990 (or as low as $48,990 on conditional EOFY runout at the time of review).

Standard XSR features include:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • 265/65 R18 Cooper all-terrain tyres
  • Front and rear locking differentials 
  • Part-time 4×4 with dual range
  • Passive front stabiliser bar
  • Steel bumpers
  • Underbody protection
  • Snorkel and roll bar
  • Tailgate ladder
  • Sunroof
  • Faux-leather accented trim
  • Six-way driver/four-way front passenger power-adjustable seat
  • 7.0-inch colour driver’s display
  • 9.0-inch LCD media touchscreen
  • AM/FM radio
  • Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Single-zone climate control
  • 360-degree camera system
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Three USB-A outlets
  • Wireless charging
  • Full-size spare wheel

That’s a lot of cake and lots of icing in dual-cab-land for a tenner under $53K parked in your driveway. From bash plates to the sunroof, there’s also plenty of variety in the features set, though the XSR does lack in some areas such as the absence of DAB+ and front parking sensors.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 side steps

Standard paint is Pearl white, while four premium colours, including our tester’s Scarlet red, each command a $595 upcharge.

A factory 3000kg-rated tow bar assembly and wiring harness is $599 fitted.

How does the Ute Cannon XSR drive?

Disclaimer time: the old ute Cannon X long-termer that kicked about the Chasing Cars dig a while back was before my time.

So your reviewer is coming at the GWM pick-up experience fresh, albeit straight out of decent seat time in both Ford’s Ranger Wildtrak X and Volkswagen’s Amarok Aventura petrol (both the thicker end of $80K).

So right off the bat, the XSR’s 120kW and 400Nm 2.0-litre oiler feels a little underbaked.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 driving front

Some of that is characteristic, given it runs out of puff beyond 3600rpm and its torque peak is a narrow (though not unusually so) 1500-2500rpm window. And some of it is that, at around 2220kg kerb, the fanciest variant is around 120kg up on other tub-bodied Ute Cannon trim levels (GVM is 3025kg).

It’s a decent if unremarkable marriage between the engine and the ZF-sourced eight-speed auto – no manual is offered – that’s shared with the rest of the range.

The oiler is quite the rattler especially under strain which, sonically, seems to be a fair amount of the typical drive time. Not helping matters is that the auto is quite hyperactive, perhaps in effort to pin that 1000rpm wide torque sweet spot as often as possible.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 driving rear

The shifts themselves, though, are quite smooth – this auto is a good unit – though this powertrain as a whole is quite prone to unusually peaky response even in high-range, and it’s all the sharper in the XSR’s exclusive low-range Crawl mode.

On road, drivability is…fine. But this combination does lack the polish and resolve of some of ute-dom’s leading lights. And the modest torque output doesn’t mask the pickup’s kerbs weight as convincingly as many rivals’ fours and sixes.

The slow steering and knobbly Cooper rubber aren’t the best solution for hot-mix, making the Ute Cannon feel quite vague and at times tough to judge on the road. Lateral grip is limited in the dry and you really have to cull your enthusiasm in corners, both with your hands and with the right foot – and doubly so in the wet.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 front 3/4 close
GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 interior low rang toggle

Right here is the Achillie’s heel to the XSR package, and its part-time 4×4, against the permanent all-paw drive of other Ute Cannons and many competitors.

Beyond anything full-time 4×4 on hard-sealed surfaces reduces traction loss – without it, those mud-kicking Coopers simply cry freedom too quickly and easily. The compromise is less about pace and much more about fundamental road holding at even urban commuting speeds.

The XSR doesn’t necessarily feel dangerous on road per say, and there are plenty of electronic safety nets fitted. But this particular Ute Cannon variant doesn’t instill much driver confidence in a broad range of fairly normal driving situations, be it around town or in the sticks.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 off road 3

Some of its disconnect, too, is the suspension. The ride quality is very fidgety at any pace, which does make it quite fatiguing as a default. More concerning is the lack of damping discipline that makes the suspension, particularly the front end, bounce.

Over a large speed hump or a serious divot off-road, you’d swear the front tyres actually leave the deck…

The XSR is, on balance, happier and more match fit off road. Suddenly, the slow steering becomes your ally and those chunky Coopers start to pay handsome dividends with traction and grip regardless of how tricky the surface seems to become.

It still bounces unnervingly, but the XSR will plough a confident course across the rough or slippery trail even without the aid of the locking diffs, the precision of low-range, or the gamut of traction smarts in the so-called All Terrain Feedback chassis mode.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 off road 2

Throughout, it’s underpinned by a 4×4 system by Borg Warner, so the slick smarts available are backed by the surety of the OE supplier’s deft engineering nous. As a result, there’s something about the XSR’s running gear that feels bulletproof once you point the pickup towards anything challenging and tricky.

Lock those diffs up and, across most anything, the XSR feels pretty much unstoppable. Part of the traction trick bag, too, is the passive front stabiliser arrangement that essentially allows a greater degree of wheel articulation.

However, like on road, the suspension lacks much in the way of compliance. Give it a head of steam across a lumpy patch and the XSR will pitch and bounce about like a child’s plaything – fun, but pretty fatiguing during long bush-bashing stints.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 off road

There’s also the rather nifty Turn Assist, that helps greatly reduce the ute’s whopping 13.7-metre turning circle by braking the inside rear wheel for added rotation and maneuverability in tight situations, but only to be used off-road of course.

In short, the flagship Ute Cannon is a noticeably more convincing package off-road than it is on.

What is the Ute Cannon XSR’s interior and tech like?

One thing GWM has become adept at is strong first impressions, particularly with interiors and often in high-grade variants. And that’s certainly the case with the XSR pickup.

However, if you’ve not poked around the rest of the Ute Cannon lineup, you mightn’t realise that the flagship is pretty much a dead ringer for grades sat below it.

Outside of the sunroof, little separates the XSR from, say, the X variant sat two rungs lower and some $7500 lighter on the hip pocket.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 interior
GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 interior sunroof

Once you do settle in, the XSR reveals itself as a bit of a mixed bag.

The seats, for their part, look fantastic, are six- and four-way electrically adjustable for the driver and front passenger respectively, are heated, and the partial faux leather trim is reasonably supple.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 interior front seats

The problem is, they’re hardly pillars of default comfort and support and there’s no lumbar adjustment whatsoever, which is a crook deal for a trim level seven grades up.

The seat base is quite short, and the whole shebang makes it tricky to dial in an ideal long-haul setting, something not helped in the driver’s seat given the limited range of steering wheel adjustment.

However, and understandably for a 5.4-metre-long device, the cabin is roomy, it feels airy and outward visibility is actually quite good. Still, something this size demands caution and care when negotiating multi-story car parks and other tighter confines.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 interior digital dash
GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 interior screen 2

Both the 7.0-inch driver’s screen and the 9.0-inch media touchscreen are workmanlike and hardly on technology’s bleeding edge – the gear in Ranger and Amarok cream the Ute Cannon.

The multimedia system is functionally basic, a bit slow to respond, lacks features – such as DAB+ – and even the audio quality is thin and patchy.

There’s no wireless phone charging and the camera system is just okay. It’s a base-level bundle as fitted into the basic-grade Ute Cannon, and this flagship variant deserves better.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 interior back seats

You do get a nifty by-wire transmission controller and the control array along the central stack and console is clean and simple enough, though the Old-Benz-style buttons have tiny labelling so they’re quite tricky to read. The steering wheel buttons, too, are quite clumsy and laggy to use.

One highlight to the cabin is that the strong presentation of the first row continues through to row two, rather than punishing rear passengers with lower-grade accommodation. From the seat trim to the door cards, there’s consistency throughout the XSR cabin.

The rear bench is surprisingly comfy, there’s ample knee room, and you get rear air vents, a sole USB-A port and a 220V three-pin charging outlet for larger devices and white goods. There are also handy grab handles on the A-pillars up front and B-pillars in row two.

Is the Ute Cannon XSR a safe car?

The Ute Cannon was awarded five stars by ANCAP in 2021…and it doesn’t apply specifically to either the XSR or cab chassis versions. So our test vehicle was and remains unrated.

Why? Well, starting with common features with other Ute Cannon variants, the XSR fits:

  • AEB
  • Forward collision warning
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keeping assist
  • Traffic sign recognition with overspeed warning
  • Rear parking sensors

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 driving front 4

What the XSR omits compared to five-star-rated stablemates is:

  • Pedestrian detection functionality for the AEB
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Lane change assist
  • Door open warning
  • Front parking sensors

What the XSR adds over other Ute Cannon variants includes:

  • Selectable 2H/4H/4L mud, snow and sand drive modes
  • Crawl mode
  • Turning assist

On test, we found that the forward collision warning system would trigger unnecessarily and the lane keeping feature does, annoyingly rearm after each restart. There’s also the aforementioned marginal road holding in mix conditions on sealed roads, brought about by the combination of the all-terrain rubber with 4×2 running on-road.   

What are the Ute Cannon XSR’s ownership costs?

The XSR is covered by GWM’s seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is a fine vote of confidence by the importer for a dedicated all-terrain vehicle (and, yes, non-competitive off-roading is covered).

GWM offers “five years” of capped price servicing, although with a short first six-month/5000km first interval ($260) and 12-month/15,000km intervals ($360 each) thereafter, you’ll be making five visits for maintenance within the first 54 months (4.5 years).

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 engine

The XSR isn’t exactly frugal. GWM claims 9.4L/100km combined for every 4×4 variant in the lineup, though we saw 8.9L for extra urban and a sobering 12.8L average around town, so closer to 10.8L for a combined average.

That’s hardly stellar for the oiler’s modest outputs and proof it works hard even when and where it shouldn’t, though its 78-litre tank brings (realistic regional cruising) range of around 800km between top ups.

The honest verdict on the Ute Cannon XSR

As a relatively affordable, turnkey off-roading machine that sidesteps the costs, hassles and legality considerations of aftermarket dabbling, the Ute Cannon XSR makes a compelling case for younger and less affluent buyers, be they experienced or curious.

Sure, other, cheaper utes including XSR’s stablemates are all-terrain capable, but this flagship is an off-road specialist – a significant difference – and, at its regular $53K driveaway with seven years warranty, it fits a rarefied niche for a particular buyer very nicely indeed.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 driving rear 2

For instance, you’ll need to dig much deeper for a Jeep Wrangler, a Ford Ranger Raptor or a Toyota Land Cruiser 300 Series to find dual locking axles. And the XSR, for budding off-road owners, makes a more logical gateway drug and a potential stepping stone to loftier options.

That said, the XSR certainly seems match fit for serious off-roading in its own right.

However, as a cheap ute allrounder it stacks up less impressively. Its $53K isn’t chump change, and there are areas of execution and polish – from cabin fit-out to on-road manner – that struggle in measuring up to leading lights such as Ranger and Amarok.

GWM Ute Cannon XSR 2024 front 3

Sure, you’re still a fistful of outlay away from the lower variant rungs of Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navara dual-cab 4x4s – perhaps not the fairest of fights – but, by measures of muscle such as performance and towing the XSR does trail much of the broader pickup pack.

For instance, it’s well down on the 160kW and 500Nm combination of its key rival in the LDV T60 Max that wants for less outlay, and a little shy of the more affordable Ssangyong Musso’s 133kW and 400Nm.

Thus, the XSR stacks up as reasonably solid and well-rounded value, rather than anything like the ute bargain of its era.

In fact, the higher-output (135kW/480Nm) and surlier towing (3500kg) if no larger Cannon Alpha diesel pickup due mid-year appears, on paper at least, a fitter allround competitor for the dual-cab 4×4 fray that’s currently here in Australia.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

1996 cc
Diesel Turbo
120kW at 3600rpm
400Nm at 1500rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
0 litres
9.4L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
0km (claimed)
5410 mm
1934 mm
1886 mm
Unoccupied weight
1965 kg

About Chasing cars

Chasing Cars reviews are 100% independent.

Because we are powered by Budget Direct Insurance, we don’t receive advertising or sales revenue from car manufacturers.

We’re truly independent – giving you Australia’s best car reviews.

Terms and conditions

The estimate provided does not take into account your personal circumstances but is intended to give a general indication of the cost of insurance, in order to obtain a complete quote, please visit www.budgetdirect.com.au. Estimate includes 15%^ online discount.
^Conditions Apply

Budget Direct Insurance arranged by Auto & General Services Pty Ltd ACN 003 617 909(AGS) AFSL 241 411, for and on behalf of the insurer, Auto & General Insurance Company Limited(ABN 42 111 586 353, AFSL 285 571).Because we don’t know your financial needs, we can’t advise you if this insurance will suit you. You should consider your needs and the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision to buy insurance. Terms and conditions apply.

Indicative quote based on assumptions including postcode , 40 year old male with no offences, licence suspensions or claims in the last 5 years, a NCD Rating 1 and no younger drivers listed. White car, driven up to 10,000kms a year, unfinanced, with no modifications, factory options and/or non-standard accessories, private use only and garaged at night.

^Online Discounts Terms & Conditions
1. Discounts apply to the premium paid for a new Budget Direct Gold Comprehensive Car Insurance, Third Party Property Only or Third Party Property, Fire & Theft Insurance policy initiated online on or after 29 March 2017. Discounts do not apply to optional Roadside Assistance.
2. Discounts do not apply to any renewal offer of insurance.
3. Discounts only apply to the insurance portion of the premium. Discounts are applied before government charges, taxes, levies and fees, including instalment processing fees (as applicable). The full extent of discounts may therefore be impacted.
4. We reserve the right to change the offer without notice.