Cars > Driven

GWM Cannon Pilot 4x4 MT: Competent, loaded, and priced to sell

A workhorse that’s not without a few luxuries

Not exactly a howitzer, but still punchy. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

I love pickups. I don’t have one yet, but my next new-car purchase will be. Today’s pickups are versatile beasts that aren’t so slow and rough on the kidneys like the trucks of the 2000s.

The Cannon is GWM’s entry for the very competitive compact pickup class, and when I last reviewed the automatic SLux 4×4, I said it was very competitively priced and spec’d and just in need of a wider dealer network to raise its appeal.

The Chinese do like this style of grille, wouldn't you agree? PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

This lower-spec Pilot is pretty much like the SLux, but deletes the driver-assistance tech to bring the price down and make it more appealing to fleet buyers and old-school guys like me who don’t care much for tech toys.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a poverty-spec variant. It still gets ABS, four airbags, traction and hill descent control, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring system, cruise control, reverse sensors, and rear and curbside cameras.

The seats are wrapped in leather, the driver’s seat is power-adjustable, the air-conditioning is automatic, and the nine-inch touchscreen supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. With the same 161hp and 400Nm engine and the same drivetrain as the SLux, the price is just P1,118,000 for the manual 4×4 version (or P998,000 for a 4×2).

Slab-sided flanks but a big bed make it very useful for the working man. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

The body-on-frame chassis is solid and flex-free, let down only a bit by the underdamped suspension. Perhaps in a bid to soften the ride of the rear leaf springs, the shock absorbers have excessive rebound, creating a bobbing sensation over rough surfaces.

The steering is mildly ponderous but just about what you’d expect for a truck, while the 2.0-liter turbodiesel is torquey if not especially sprightly. Rowing the six-speed is a non-issue if you’re used to manual transmissions, with a slightly notchy gate and moderate clutch effort. Still, those with chicken legs might want to cough up the extra dough for the auto-equipped SLux. Or just don’t skip leg day.

With its wide flanks and weird, stiff-kneed but also flaccid-feeling suspension, it doesn’t feel particularly sporty to drive like the Mazda BT-50 or the Ford Ranger Wildtrak. It’ll haul, but it’s just not particularly engaging like the better sorted-out competition.

The cabin is roomy for a pickup truck. Even this base-model Pilot gets leather. PHOTOS BY ANDY LEUTERIO

The cockpit is a high point of the Cannon, with its clear sightlines, logical ergonomics, and tasteful materials.

Great visibility all around, with a handsome cockpit. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

Physical buttons and dials below the screen are for the climate control, the volume, and the stability control. A rotary dial behind the shifter lets you choose drive modes. As with the SLux, the latter is a gem.

Analog dials look good in this truck. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

The analog dials are handsome, although the font size of the 3.5-inch info screen could stand to be more legible for drivers who have fuzzy vision. The infotainment screen is easy to use and mainly for the audio system and the secondary controls.

A manual is still a great option if you won't be stuck in traffic all the time. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

Supplied by BorgWarner, the Torque-on-Demand system lets you choose among two-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and 4-Low, or even lock the rear differential for serious off-road work.

Approach, departure, and break-over angles of 27°, 25°, and 21.1° will also let you play in the boondocks without scratching the underside too much.

It comes standard with a bed-liner, too. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

As for bed size, measurements of 1,520mm by 1,520mm by 540mm put it just a notch below the class-leading Ford Ranger, but bigger than the Toyota Hilux or the Isuzu D-Max. Over the course of several days, the Cannon made itself useful by easily hauling bikes, dog crates, palettes, and other bulky items.

Fuel economy of 11-12km/L in the city was quite painless, and if the Cannon didn’t quite stand out for anything spectacular, neither did it underwhelm. The plain Jane styling with the slab-sided flanks grows on you after a while, and nothing that a set of flashier tires and wheels can’t remedy.

While I didn’t really miss the ADAS features of the SLux, I could have used a rear window defogger as the back kept fogging up while I was driving down from Tagaytay.

The hood even uses expensive struts. A nice touch for a base model. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

It has been several months now since the Cannon was launched, with a low price as its main draw. However, Mitsubishi fairly recently announced pricing of the upcoming Triton. With the manual GL coming in at an introductory price of P1,157,000, this Cannon Pilot may have its work cut out for it justifying why it deserves a spot in your garage.

It's honestly a good truck that deserves a hard look among shoppers. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

By itself, of course, the truck feels well-built and competent for the hard life that most pickup trucks are meant for. If you need a modern truck that can still be had with a stick shift, it deserves a place on your short list.


Engine2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission6-speed manual
Power159hp @ 3,600rpm
Torque400Nm @ 1,500-2,500rpm
Dimensions5,425mm x 1,883mm x 1,882mm
Drive layout4WD
UpsideRoomy cabin. Large bed. Loaded with useful features. Torquey and fuel-efficient drivetrain.
DownsideUnderdamped suspension won't settle down over the rough stuff.

Andy Leuterio

Andy is both an avid cyclist and a car enthusiast who has finally made the shift to motorcycles. You've probably seen him on his bicycle or motorbike overtaking your crawling car. He is our motorcycle editor and the author of the ‘Quickshift’ column.