Cars > Driven

Haval H6 HEV Max: A hybrid that’s loaded to the gills

You really need to try this one out for yourself

This Chinese crossover delivers a lot for your money. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

While most of the attention on Chinese brands has been focused on GAC, Geely and Chery, GWM (Great Wall Motors) has been quietly making inroads with its competitively priced entries. The H6 HEV might be its most compelling offer yet.

While a sticker price of P1,788,000 isn’t chump change by any measure, it’s competitive if you cross-shop against better-known options like the smaller Toyota Corolla Cross and Nissan Kicks, or the much more expensive Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V e:HEV.

For that kind of money, you get a very satisfying drivetrain in the form of a series-parallel hybrid system.

It looks like this demo unit has done a lot of dusting. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

The 1.5-liter turbocharged ICE alone already makes 148hp and 230Nm, but pairing it with an electric motor boosts total system output to 240hp and 530Nm.

Do you really need this much power in a car that will mostly be driven in the city? Probably not, but it’s very nice to have it and not need it than to need it one day and not have enough of it.

With a smooth, moderately curvaceous exterior that’s sort of generic Chinese SUV these days, there’s nothing to give you a clue about the hybrid’s prowess other than the blue emblems and the “HEV” badge on its rump.

You need a big 'HAVAL' on the rump so you don't mistake this for a Ford Territory. PHOTOS BY ANDY LEUTERIO

But step on the gas with any sort of urgency and it accelerates with a gratifying surge that will make your return to a naturally aspirated ICE car a bit of a letdown.

It’s that near “instant on” delivery of power–regardless of passenger or cargo load–that will spoil you for anything less. Even without the benefit of all-wheel drive, the hybrid transmission and the electronics do a good job of quelling torque steer and making sure you accelerate in a straight line.

Actually, one has to wonder if all-wheel drive would be even better at harnessing all that power. In any case, the hybrid system is commendably smooth and quiet. You’ll only ever hear a faint drone when the motor kicks in, while the ICE makes a restrained roar at wide-open throttle.

Otherwise, on a smooth road and at part-throttle, it’s almost luxury car-quiet inside.

Styling may be derivative, but the paint quality and finish are very good. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

Then again, Haval, like most other Chinese brands, has yet to master the art of chassis tuning. The suspension is soft and pillowy, quickly erupting into understeer if you enter a corner too hot.

Brake dive is prominent, steering feel is nonexistent, and body roll will discourage you from taking it into the twisties for some spirited therapy.

Straight-line, highway cruising is its mission in life, and it delivers impressive—but not outstanding—fuel economy while at it. City driving nets 12-13km/L, while extended stints on the highway will bump that up a few more clicks.

A handsome, clutter-free cockpit. PHOTOS BY ANDY LEUTERIO

Haval has equipped the H6 with an extensive suite of advanced driving aids like lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, blind-spot alert, emergency braking, and the like—all of which do the job as intended and do help keep you out of trouble.

I mean, in a car that’s so quiet and soft at speed, it’s easy to get sleepy, and you’ll need computers and sensors to keep you from nodding off. The steering—also adjustable for effort—will gently prevent you from changing lanes if you don’t use your turn signals.

Another system will audibly warn you if you’re getting too close to the car in front. There’s also a rear collision warning system and a 360° camera with an event data recorder. With all the systems on, you’d have to be knocked unconscious to lose control of this car on the highway.

Two screens measuring 10.25 inches and 12.3 inches host a wealth of information and settings. PHOTOS BY ANDY LEUTERIO

Indifferent handling aside, the car is a pleasant vehicle to ride in for the sort of day-to-day commute the average driver will subject it to. The dashboard with its floating instrument panel and infotainment screen allows for an expansive view while decluttering the cockpit.

Air-conditioning controls can only be accessed through the touchscreen (meh), but you do get front-seat cooling vents—much appreciated in our tropical climate.

Similarly, all the settings for the ADAS suite are accessed through the touchscreen, as well as the stereo. You’ll want to upgrade the speakers, though. The stock setup sounds like the music is playing underwater.

A spacious, feature-packed cabin. PHOTOS BY ANDY LEUTERIO

Measuring 4,653mm long, 1,886mm wide, and 1,730mm high, the H6 is nearly as long as a Honda CR-V (4,691mm, 1,866mm and 1,681mm) but is actually wider and higher.

So, there’s ample space inside for five adults, and Haval maxed out the seating plan so much that the driver’s left leg pushes against the wheel well where a dead pedal normally is.

It would have been nice to make it a seven-seater, but the battery takes up floor space where a third row would be.

Cargo space is substantial at 600L without having to fold down the seats. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

The Max variant already comes loaded with niceties like a panoramic moonroof, six airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, adaptive cruise control, an auto tailgate with a kick sensor, and ADAS.

But if you’re in a particularly spendy mood, the P1,908,000 Supreme adds automatic parking, automatic reverse assist, and 55-series/19-inch wheels compared to the Max’s 60-series/18-inch wheels.

Haval offers an eight-year/200,000km warranty for the battery. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

Addressing concerns about the uncertainty that comes with a new brand, GWM recently announced plans to open an additional 12 dealerships this year, bringing the total to 20 before the year ends.

It has also come up with an extensive warranty program: seven years or 200,000km of bumper-to-bumper coverage, plus a separate eight-year/200,000km warranty on the battery, the controller, and the motor.

First owners also get a 10-year, 1,000,000km warranty. With the latter, it’s clear that Haval is targeting customers who ride their cars for many years rather than those who only keep them for a few before reselling.

It's quite a sizable crossover for the money. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

Will this strategy work? The H6 HEV delivers a fine experience for what it offers, and an after-sales commitment like this should help soothe the normal concerns about trying out a new brand.

It may not be top-of-mind when you think about hybrids, but the riding experience and the build quality make it worthy of serious consideration for those who are willing to try out something different.


Engine1.5-liter four-cylinder turbo gasoline with electric motor
TransmissionDedicated Hybrid Transmission
Power240hp (combined)
Torque530Nm (combined)
Dimensions4,653mm x 1,886mm x 1,730mm
Drive layoutFWD
UpsideExtensive list of safety and luxury features. Very good build quality. Voluminous cabin. Smooth and powerful drivetrain.
DownsideMushy suspension. Mediocre stereo quality. Nearly all secondary functions are dependent on the touchscreen.

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.