2022 GWM Ute v SsangYong Musso comparison

2022-gwm-ute-v-ssangyong-musso-comparison

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Which dual-cab 4×4 ute is better: the GWM Ute Cannon X or the SsangYong Musso XLV Ultimate Utility Crew Cab?

2022 GWM Ute v SsangYong Musso comparison-0
2022 GWM Ute v SsangYong Musso comparison-0

Utes are popular in Australia. That could be because the tradie industry is enjoying high demand – have you tried getting a plumber, builder or sparkie lately? – or because others are attracted to these vehicles’ rugged versatility.

Today we’re shining the light on a couple of lesser-known dual-cab utilities. Two vehicles that can match the tub-thumbing, load-lugging capabilities of the more popular Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, but do so at a more affordable price.

We’re talking about the GWM Ute in Cannon X specification and the SsangYong Musso Ultimate with XLV extension kit. Let’s get stuck in and see how these two square off.



As the range-topper in the GWM Ute range, the 2022 GWM Ute Cannon X comes with everything you could want.

From ute must-haves like four-wheel drive and a maximum 1050kg payload down to nice-to-have bits that are hard to find in the segment, like a 360-degree camera, 9.0-inch infotainment and all-LED exterior lighting. All while keeping the price tag under $45K.

The clincher here, for some, is that the GWM Ute runs a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine producing 120kW and 400Nm, whereas most utes in the class sit closer to 150kW/450Nm or more. The Ute’s towing capacity also sits behind the pack at 3000kg, not the almost default 3500kg of the class.



On balance, though, the GWM Ute range, which starts from $34,990 for the 4×2 Cannon base model or $37,990 for the 4×4 Cannon, and rises to $43,490 for the Cannon X seen here (all drive-away), is searing value next to competitors. A basic 4×4 ute in most ranges is about the same price on the road as GWM’s flagship.

For this review, we took a slightly less hardcore route and put the Cannon X into duty as a lifestyle hauler. These reviews can tell you more about how the Ute range handles a load and how it copes off-road. It’s also worth mentioning the car tested here doesn’t carry suspension tweaks expected later in 2022.

As for the Cannon X, as the flagship model it boasts some neat touches over the rest of the range. Little details like one-touch up and down windows on all doors, leather seating instead of leather-look, tilt and slide steering wheel adjustment, and a 7.0-inch digital instrument display.



That’s on top of features found across the range including a chrome grille, mirrors and door handles, 18-inch alloy wheels, a slide-away tailgate step, keyless entry and start, and single-zone climate control.

2022 GWM Ute v SsangYong Musso comparison-0

In the ute-loving Australian market, there seems to be two camps: those who spend big on popular models like the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, and Isuzu D-Max, or those who chase value and end up with a GWM Ute or LDV G60 in their driveway.

The Musso was updated in the second half of 2021, but the changes were largely aesthetic, so even though this comparison has pre-facelift photos, the mechanicals underneath are largely unchanged.



What you’re looking at is the SsangYong Musso XLV Ultimate priced from $43,590 drive-away. This one has been optioned in Space Black paint for an additional $495, and also has a 3500kg tow bar and Redarc electric brake controller for an extra $1614 and $599 respectively.

The XLV means it’s the big one, with the tub stretched out by 300mm for an additional 251L of capacity, and the wheelbase given an extra 110mm to help spread the load.

Being the XLV Ultimate, it’s the top-of-the-line variant, which adds a swag of gear to the features list – but reduces the maximum carrying capacity from 1025kg in the lower-spec Musso XLV ELX to 880kg. Still decent.



At 1570mm wide, 1600mm long, and with a depth of 570mm, it comes with a very usable tub, and it’s particularly good with the water-resistant 12-volt plug in the back. The highly popular dual-cab Ford Ranger may be able to carry 70kg more in its tub, but the Musso beats it on the tape measure.

Key details2022 GWM Ute Cannon X2021 SsangYong Musso XLV Ultimate
Price (MSRP)$43,490 drive-away$43,590 drive-away
Colour of test carPittsburgh SilverSpace Black
OptionsMetallic paint – $595Metallic paint – $495

Tow bar – $1614

Redarc brake controller – $599
Price as tested$44,085 drive-away$46,298 drive-away
2022 GWM Ute v SsangYong Musso comparison-0

Climb into the cabin and the process is familiar. The GWM Ute is no shrinking violet or scaled-down ute. It’s every bit the size and scope of the utes it competes with. That’s a good start.

Better still is the initial impression of a pretty flash interior. Swing the door open and you’re greeted by diamond-quilted leather trim, and a dash design that’s modern, neat and tidy.

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That wouldn’t count for much if there wasn’t room to move, and again the GWM doesn’t disappoint. The front seats have stacks of room, although on longer trips some lumbar adjustment to go with the electric slide and recline would be handy.

In the rear there’s good leg room, plenty of head room, and a backrest that’s angled just enough to save that bolt-upright stance found in some dual-cabs. There are also rear air vents, plus USB and 220-volt household (international plug) power outlets.

In terms of features you’ll find single-zone climate control, a wireless charge pad for your mobile phone, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rear view mirror with dash cam-ready USB power socket, and a pair of lower console USB points.

The fit and finish of parts and panels are pretty good. Some bits, like the big plastic panel on the passenger side of the dash, can look a little chintzy (and you don’t get this finish in the two lower grades) but it’s pretty neat overall.

Speaking of differences, subtle though they may be, the Cannon X has a slightly different upper dash, different air vents, more brightwork, and a stitched upper dash pad. It does, however, lose the little storage recess found on lower grades.

Because there are a lot of leather and high-gloss surfaces in the interior, it’s hard to know how everything will stack up over time. There’s a nice solid feel to anything you touch, but not everything looks entirely worksite-compatible.



The biggest selling point, though, and firm on the ‘why didn’t they think of it before?’ list for any ute, is the ease of tray access. Drop the damped tailgate, press a button in the gate and out pops a folding step. It’s sturdy and secure, and makes loading anything in or out of the far reaches of the tub a breeze.

The Musso comes standard with LED daytime-running lights, fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, cruise control, leather steering wheel and push-button start. Move up to the Ultimate and you’ll get synthetic leather trim, comfortable heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, 360-degree camera, HID headlights, proximity entry, tyre-pressure monitoring, black 18-inch alloy wheels, blind-spot monitoring with lane-change assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Looking at this extra-long dual-cab ute from the outside, its proportions don’t really give away its size. It looks just as it should, despite the extra length tacked onto the end. So when I slid behind the wheel, it made sense that there’s a ton of head room above my noggin, which sits atop my roughly 180cm (6ft) frame. The Musso is just a little bigger in every direction, without stepping into the category of an American full-size pick-up. It’s big but proportionate.

It’s also honestly a really nice place to spend time. The quality of the touch materials is surprisingly very good, as is the overall fit and finish. This is a legitimately great interior, and it’s in a dual-cab ute from Korea. There are aspects of this interior that are genuinely better than some found in high-end German SUVs of recent years. There’s a solidity in the Musso I really wasn’t expecting to find.

With the Musso, it really feels like someone’s been through the interior to check which surfaces are touched and used, and tried to improve the experience as best they could. I didn’t care that the heater controls were made of plastic, because they had a knurled finish that both looked good and felt nice to the touch.

Then there are the ergonomics and buttons. Everything falls to hand easily, and can be identified in an instant. I love good design, but I don’t believe it should ever come before function. And here, in this ute, it’s a great balance of both.



Another thought: Hyundai was launched in Australia in 1989 or so, and was the butt of jokes for a decade. SsangYong eagerly followed, launching the very square Musso SUV locally after 1993. While Hyundai has grown to produce quality cars on the same level as Toyota, Volkswagen, and BMW, sitting in this 2021 Musso, it really feels like SsangYong has followed a similar trajectory. Okay, so it’s not quite at the level of the Toyota HiLux or Volkswagen Amarok, but the gap really isn’t as great as some may have you believe. The Musso is nipping at their heels.

2022 GWM Ute Cannon X2021 SsangYong Musso XLV Ultimate
SeatsFiveFive
Payload1050kg880kg
Length5410mm5409mm
Width1934mm1950mm
Height1886mm1855mm
Wheelbase3230mm3210mm

Infotainment and Connectivity

While the Cannon X is the only model in the range with a digital instrument cluster, all variants come with a 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. It’s one of the biggest in the class, just behind the LDV T60 Max.

Within you’ll find access to Bluetooth, AM/FM radio and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s no inbuilt navigation or digital radio, though. The Cannon X also packs a unique feature in voice recognition.

You can give it voice commands like “I’m too cold” and it’ll bump the climate control up, or you can ask it to heat your seat, or dial a contact from your phone. Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but in testing the system tended to be less error-prone than some we’ve used in BMWs or Mercedes cars – plus GWM has given the personal assistant an Aussie accent.

The SsangYong Musso has a 7.0-inch colour display between analogue gauges, and an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also has a 360-degree camera that comes in handy given the vehicle’s size.

Satellite navigation and digital radio are not fitted to the Musso Ultimate. Nor does it have voice activation.



All GWM Ute models come with autonomous emergency braking including pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, lane-centring steering assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and traffic sign recognition linked to the adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist.

The base model has a reverse and kerb-view camera; the Cannon L and Cannon X add a 360-degree camera with interactive 3D flyover view function. The Cannon X also adds door-open warning to let occupants know if a vehicle or cyclist is approaching to prevent door strikes.

ANCAP awarded the GWM Ute range a five-star safety rating, with a 2021 time stamp for vehicles built after September 2021. For earlier vehicles, the brand is retrofitting head restraint and steering column parts that bring older (and technically unrated) cars up to the five-star standard.

In testing, ANCAP scored the GWM Ute 86 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 67 per cent for vulnerable road user (pedestrian and cyclist) protection, and rated safety assist systems at 73 per cent.

2022 GWM Ute v SsangYong Musso comparison-0

On the safety front, buyers get autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, high beam assist and six airbags. Musso Ultimate buyers also get blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist.

There’s no ANCAP rating for the Musso or Musso XLV.



At a glance2022 GWM Ute Cannon X2021 SsangYong Musso XLV Ultimate
ANCAP rating & year testedFive stars (tested 2021)Not tested
Safety reportANCAP reportn/a
2022 GWM Ute v SsangYong Musso comparison-0

On purchase price alone, the GWM Ute range gives more established players in the segment a hard time, and while still very much a ute, Cannon X trim starts to feel a little more like a well-equipped family SUV.

Budget players like the SsangYong Musso and Mitsubishi Triton come close, but still outprice the GWM. Fellow Chinese rival, the LDV T60 Max, is a closer price rival, but has a 160kW/500Nm ace up its sleeve for those seeking more power.

Knowing that there may be some lingering perception problems, GWM has paired the Ute range with a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, five years’ roadside assist and a five-year capped-price service program.

A little unusually, the first service falls at six months or 5000km. From there intervals stretch out to 12 months and 10,000km. Service pricing is $260 for the first visit and $360 apiece for the next four visits.

Official fuel consumption is rated at 9.4 litres per 100km, which appears a little higher than most utes in class that claim fuel use around the eights. On test, however, the Cannon X returned 10.6L/100km, and was used for plenty of short trips and suburban journeys, so it doesn’t feel too excessive.

On the subject of comprehensive insurance, our quote for a 35yo male driver with a clean record living in Chatswood, Sydney came back at $1736.



The Mitsubishi Triton most closely matches the SsangYong Musso on paper, but the Musso outclasses the Mitsubishi with superb interior fit and finishes, and still hands back more change after the contract is signed. It’s also worth mentioning SsangYong’s excellent seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which may not match the Mitsubishi’s 10 years, but doesn’t require you service only within the Mitsubishi network to get full measure.

Compared to the many dual-cab utes on sale today, the SsangYong Musso XLV Ultimate occupies a middle ground – a space somewhere between the more expensive class leaders and the affordable entry-level offerings. It is excellent value for money for what it delivers, and offers more of what you would expect from the pointy end of the segment, but at a pricepoint that’s closer to the other end of the scale.

It’s relatively affordable to own, with servicing costing less than $400 per year, and a fuel consumption on test that really surprised us. The manufacturer claims 8.9 litres per 100km, but I ended up returning 8.1L/100km – assuming the computer wasn’t fibbing.

Insuring the Musso comprehensively is more affordable than the Great Wall, with our quote for a 35yo male with a clean driving record living in Chatswood coming back at $1456.

At a glance2022 GWM Ute Cannon X2021 SsangYong Musso XLV Ultimate
WarrantySeven years, unlimited kmSeven years, unlimited km
Service intervalsFirst service at six months/5000km

Subsequent services every 12 months/10,000km
12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs$980 (3 services), $1700 (5 services)$1125 (3 services), $1875 (5 services)
Fuel cons. (claimed)9.4L/100km8.9L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test)10.6L/100km8.1L/100km
Fuel typeDieselDiesel
Fuel tank size78L75L

While the on-paper specs might look a little less substantial than most other utes in the segment, on the road the GWM Ute is well-rounded and decent to drive.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine is one of the smallest in its segment (only Isuzu and Mazda offer smaller at 1.9L). Its power outputs are also on the low side with 120kW at 3600rpm and 400Nm from 1500–2600rpm.



While you might think that makes the package more sluggish overall, in general driving it feels little different to other utes in the segment. Backed by an eight-speed automatic, the Ute is able to keep itself on the boil with astute gear selections, and manages to avoid shuffling through gears or hunting for the right ratio.

There are some tuning quirks. Floor the accelerator and the engine is slow to react, takes time to build boost, and only builds speed after a few moments’ delay. Roll onto the pedal more progressively, though, and the package is much swifter to pile on speed.

The drive mode selector offers a choice of Eco (which locks the system into 4×2 mode), Normal and Sport, which activates the ‘torque on demand’ transfer case to send drive to the front wheels when required. Sport also sharpens up the throttle response and holds gears a touch longer.

Curiously, though, there are no off-road modes, so while the GWM Ute offers the rare capability of sealed-surface all-wheel drive (along with some Triton and Amarok models), as well as selectable low-range four-wheel-drive, picking over rough terrain is largely up to the driver not the electronics.

There’s a bit of delay when you start the car. Whereas most utes pre-glow as you climb into the cabin, it appears the GWM does not, so you thumb the starter button and count to three before the engine fires into life.

No real problem, but if you’ve been spoiled by other modern diesels, you may do as I did and reach for the starter button a second time, cancelling the start before you realise.



There’s a little diesel drone and clatter heard from inside the cabin, but mostly it’s a fairly quiet and smooth engine on the go. Not really keen to be revved too hard, but with peak torque available down low it doesn’t need to be.

I didn’t load it up too much on this occasion, but to see how the Ute handled a heavy load, you can read our launch coverage.

Instead, for this loan, the Cannon X was used as a holiday hauler. That mean Esky and beach chairs in the tray, air-con maxed out, and two, three or four occupants at a time. Honestly, for work like this it thrived.

It can’t escape its ute underpinnings, and the leaf-spring solid rear axle complications that come with those. We know utes can ride well (the Ford Ranger, in particular, proves this), but the GWM feels like it skipped finishing school.

Although it doesn’t handle poorly, the rear end tends to rattle and reverberate over small road imperfections. Even fairly smooth tarmac starts to feel juddery through the back end of the lightly laden Cannon X.

In town, the fairly slow steering makes itself known as you frantically spin the wheel to manage small spaces, and with a turning circle just over 13m, you’ll need plenty of space to swing around.



Ultimately, though, there’s no alarming or unsafe behaviour from the suspension, but there’s certainly room for improvement.

While most utes still call on real drum brakes, the GWM Ute uses four-wheel disc brakes, which is good to see, though the pedal does need a bit more of a shove than you might expect to deliver its best work. There’s no snatchiness or grabbing, though, and the pedal has a progressive feel to it.

At the other end of the SsangYong is a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine putting out 133kW of power and 420Nm of torque, sending it to the wheels through a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission. The unofficial 0–100km/h sprint is done in roughly 10 seconds.

While its performance doesn’t match the likes of the Ranger or the Toyota HiLux, it does sit above the 120kW/400Nm GWM Ute and the 110kW/360Nm LDV T60. But in both performance and price, the top-spec Musso is more closely matched with the mid-spec Mitsubishi Triton GLX+, with its 2.4-litre turbo diesel offering 133kW and 430Nm for $43,690 drive-away.

It doesn’t feel oversized or unmanageable on the road. Yes, you have to be aware of its longer wheelbase in tight corners, but it never felt intimidating or demanding. It never asked anything more of me as a driver, and I appreciated that.

Nor does it feel slow – or particularly fast, for that matter. Relaxed but capable. I rarely felt the need to push the car, I just let the engine torque and the gears swing me up to the speed limit. It might be why my fuel economy figures came back lower than expected.

While the load-carrying rear coil suspension seems to do a good job of taking on the lumps and bumps in the road, it’s the Musso’s chassis that is by far the most disappointing part of the ute. It’s just a bit floppy. Whether it’s due to the extended wheelbase not being appropriately reinforced, I don’t know, but there was a lot of vibration and shake echoing through the vehicle when it was being driven unladen.

For venturing off-road, our Musso offers selectable four-wheel drive with low-range and an automatic locking rear differential for added traction – though road tyres do come as standard on the model.

On the road, the engine is refined and the cabin quiet when at speed. Not just good when compared to other commercial vehicles, but well insulated as a passenger car.

Then there’s the little rocker button on the side of the shifter, which allows you to manually shift. It’s not suited to slapping through gears in a street drag, but more along the lines of down-changing when you’re pulling a heavy load and you’re about to hit a steep bit. And that hints at what the Musso is about.

You might think you want a huge Japanese four-wheel drive to tow your caravan around the country, but the Musso XLV Ultimate really feels like it’s been designed and built for the grey nomad. It’s comfortable, easy to use, and great value.

It’s a smart-looking thing too. Perhaps not a leader in this area, but certainly less controversial than Mitsubishi’s offering.

Key details2022 GWM Ute Cannon X2021 SsangYong Musso XLV Ultimate
Engine2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Power120kW @ 3600rpm133kW @ 4000rpm
Torque400Nm @ 1500–2600rpm420Nm @ 1600–2600rpm
Drive type‘Torque on demand’ 4×4 with low-range transfer casePart-time four-wheel drive
TransmissionEight-speed torque convertor automaticSix-speed automatic
Power to weight ratio51kW/t61kW/t
Weight2175kg2170kg
Tow rating3000kg braked, 750kg unbraked3500kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Turning circle13.1m11.8m

Going on price alone, the GWM Ute Cannon X appears the better buy. But is it, really? 

Both of these vehicles are the top of their respective ranges, so they are as well equipped as their makers can make them. 

The GWM in particular has many nice features mentioned above that the SsangYong doesn’t, but at its core, the engine is sub-par for the class. That in turn means the GWM cannot tow the same 3500kg as most of its rivals. Still, it can carry a tonne, which the Musso cannot, and it comes with fold-down steps to make tray access easier. 

We didn’t test the off-road capability of either ute, so we won’t be using that as a decision driver here. From past experience, both utes will handle light to moderate off-roading capably. 

On the running costs front, the first blow is struck by the GWM’s lower drive-away price, although it’s only a C-note. The GWM also has commendably low servicing costs, although the 10,000km frequency means you will pay for two extra services in the first five years.

The Musso’s servicing costs are only $15 more each time after the first, so over five years it will save you money if you do 15,000km per year like the average Australian does. 

Add to that the Musso’s $300 cheaper insurance cost and 2.5L/100km fuel-efficiency advantage (which adds up to $900 a year), and it is clearly the more affordable car to own.

On the safety front, the fact that GWM has allowed its ute to be crash-tested by ANCAP and SsangYong has not must count for something. Both cars have commendable – if not class-leading – levels of safety assistance systems. 

As for how they drive, the Musso is clearly the better choice. The GWM has too many foibles and refinement issues to mount a serious challenge. The GWM’s leaf-sprung rear end is also more of a handful to handle than the coil-sprung Musso.

So, based on running costs, how they drive, and how much they can tow, we’re awarding the win to the SsangYong Musso. But if you’re attracted to the GWM’s nicer interior and equipment levels, then choosing second-best is not exactly an imposition.

2022 GWM Ute v SsangYong Musso comparison-0

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2022 GWM Ute v SsangYong Musso comparison-0

Overall Ratings

Drive’s Pick

2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X Utility Dual Cab

7.9/ 10

7.9/ 10

2022 SsangYong Musso Ultimate Utility Crew Cab

7.7/ 10

7.7/ 10

Ratings Breakdown

Performance
2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X Utility Dual Cab
2022 SsangYong Musso Ultimate Utility Crew Cab
Ride Quality
2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X Utility Dual Cab
2022 SsangYong Musso Ultimate Utility Crew Cab
Handling & Dynamics
2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X Utility Dual Cab
2022 SsangYong Musso Ultimate Utility Crew Cab
Driver Technology
2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X Utility Dual Cab
2022 SsangYong Musso Ultimate Utility Crew Cab
Interior Comfort + Packaging
2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X Utility Dual Cab
2022 SsangYong Musso Ultimate Utility Crew Cab
Safety
2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X Utility Dual Cab
2022 SsangYong Musso Ultimate Utility Crew Cab
Infotainment & Connectivity
2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X Utility Dual Cab
2022 SsangYong Musso Ultimate Utility Crew Cab
Fuel Efficiency
2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X Utility Dual Cab
2022 SsangYong Musso Ultimate Utility Crew Cab
Value
2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X Utility Dual Cab
2022 SsangYong Musso Ultimate Utility Crew Cab
Fit for Purpose
2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X Utility Dual Cab
2022 SsangYong Musso Ultimate Utility Crew Cab

Ben Zachariah

Ben Zachariah is an experienced writer and motoring journalist from Melbourne, having worked in the automotive industry for more than 15 years. Ben was previously an interstate truck driver and completed his MBA in Finance in early 2021. He is considered an expert in the area of classic car investment.

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