With price as a significant lure, Chinese automaker Great Wall is hoping to entice buyers into its Steed 4x4 ute with a very attractive $29,990 driveaway sticker and a few unexpected creature comforts.
That puts a positive skew on value compared to 4x4 utes that start above the $40k mark. However, recent crash testing by ANCAP reveals the Steed offers minimal occupant protection and scored a lowly two-star rating.
That makes the Steed an unsuitable proposition for Australian families, and even small business operators looking for the best deal may have concerns over employee safety behind the wheel of a Steed. Regardless of all that, we’ve dived a little deeper to see what Great Wall’s latest ute is like to live with.
Vehicle Style: 4x4 dual cab ute
Price: $29,990 driveaway
Engine/trans: 110kW/310Nm 2.0 4cyl turbo diesel | 6sp manual
Fuel Economy Claimed: 9.0 l/100km | Tested: 9.4 l/100km
Great Wall offers the Steed as a single model in Australia, highly specified with features like climate control, leather-look seats (heated up front), and a powered driver’s seat as standard. A dual cab ute is the only bodystyle available, likewise a manual is the only transmission, but there is a choice of 4x2 petrol, 4x2 diesel, and 4x4 diesel drivetrains.
It’s the 4x4 diesel that we’ve picked for this review as it’s likely to be the most popular choice amongst buyers and aligns well with Australia’s booming market for dual cab utes.
Unfortunately the Steed misses out on a standard reversing camera, something crucial on a vehicle of this size, and buyers that would prefer an automatic will have to look elsewhere, an omission that could prove critical in a market where manual transmissions are falling out of favour.
- Standard Equipment: Single-zone climate control, artificial leather trim, heated front seats, powered driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, side steps, rear sports bar, tubliner, power windows, auto-dimming rear view mirror, LED tail lights, front fog lights, 16-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: CD player, AM/FM radio, USB and Aux inputs, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, six-speaker audio
- Load area dimensions: 1545mm long, 1460mm wide, 480mm deep
- Payload: 1020kg diesel
Step up into the cabin of the Steed and first impressions are positive. The dash design is simple and well laid out, the plastics feel pretty good even though hard surfaces dominate the dash and doors, but the armrests and instrument pod are soft-surfaced at least.
There’s artificial leather on the seats, which actually feels pretty good - you could be convinced it it’s the real deal - plus the driver gets electric seat adjustment. Instrumentation is basic but legible and ergonomics aren’t too bad.
Peer a little closer and some of the silver trims across the dash and doors don’t line up accurately, and the gaps between plastics can be variable - those things aren’t deal breakers though.
More likely to stand out are pedals which are offset to the right, and a rear seat with a short base that makes the rear row feel like there’s some extra room to move, but on longer trips passengers might not be too happy.
The standard head unit is an ‘old fashioned’ push button type with an LCD display, so newer touchscreen units in other utes have it licked for functionality, and the audio reproduction, be it radio, CD or via Bluetooth isn’t great.
Out back, the Steed doesn’t lose out severely compared to ‘big’ utes like the Navara or Ranger - the long tub gives it a comparable cargo length, though it is slightly narrower inside the tub. A standard bed liner and cargo tie-down points add a few extra functional touches.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 2.0 four-cylinder turbo diesel, 110kW @4000rpm, 310Nm @1800-2800rpm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual, low-range four wheel drive
- Suspension: Double wishbone front, leaf-sprung solid rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes
- Steering: Hydraulic power steering
- Towing Capacity: 2000kg braked, 750kg unbraked
The Steed has a handicap compared to some of the more expensive utes on the market thanks to its smaller cubic capacity With a 2.0-litre turbo diesel that only produces 110kW and 310Nm of torque the Steed trails heavy-hitters the like the 470Nm Ranger and 440Nm Colorado manual.
Although it may not match the more expensive utes, if you consider the Steed a medium duty ute, rather than a heavy-duty hauler then it doesn’t seem so bad. The Steed’s 2000kg towing capacity is another area where it falls short of some competitors, but with a 1020kg payload it at least holds its own there.
The engine itself is a little more noisy and vibey than some of the best in the segment, but hardly too far off the pace. It needs a decent shove to get rolling though and likes a few revs on board before moving off, with progress leisurely until peak torque hits at 1800rpm.
Once underway the Steed gets along just fine, although you may find yourself rowing through the six-speed manual frequently to keep the engine in its ideal operating band, but doing so isn’t such a chore thanks to a light clutch pedal that doesn’t require too much effort.
Around city streets the super-light steering can be a handy thing to have, but pick up the pace on the highway and the lack of steering weight can see the front-end wander about, a problem made more obvious on the scarred tarmac of rural roads.
Away from sealed surfaces entirely, the Steed becomes surprisingly confident. On rutted gravel tracks the Great Wall sat confidently on the road and as the going got steeper a quick press of the AWD button is all it took to engage high range 4x4 on the fly.
As gravel roads gave way to fire trails low range came into action, and again the Steed acquitted itself with little issue; steering wheel kickback is minimal over rough terrain, and in the dry at least the Giti Savero HT Plus tyres found enough purchase to keep things moving (best of luck trying to match one off the shelf at most tyre shops should one get damaged though).
Once again, the real struggle for the Steed proved to be its lack of torque, even in low range the engine needs to be kept high in the rev range to prevent it from running out of steam uphill. A low 171mm of ground clearance also puts the undercarriage in closer proximity to obstacles than would otherwise be ideal.
With a day of four-wheel drive crawling and a week on mostly highway running with a few shorter in-town drives the Steed returned 9.4 l/100km, close to the claimed 9.0 l/100km combined cycle figure and frugal enough to keep would-be owners happy.
ANCAP Rating: 2/5 Stars - the Great Wall Steed scored 16.49 out of 37 possible points when tested by ANCAP in 2016.
Safety Features: Six airbags, load-limiting front seatbelt pretensioners, 3x three-point rear seatbelts, electronic stability control, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring.
Important Notes: ANCAP’s assessment of the Steed was conducted using the organisation's 2016 assessment criteria, not the more stringent 2017 rules. Advanced safety systems such as autonomous emergency braking are not available. A reverse camera is part of a $1000 option package. The Steed does not include child seat anchor points.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Servicing: The Steed calls its first service at six months or 5000km (whichever comes first) but then moves to intervals that fall at 12 month/15,000km intervals. Pricing for the first three years looks like this: 6 months/5000km - $321, 12 months/5000km - $635, 24 months/30,000km - $658, 36 months/45,000km - $837
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Having entered into runout phase ahead of a facelifted model, the Foton Tunland 4x4 could be yours from a competitive $30,990 driveaway. Like the Steed, the Foton provides a decent equipment list, plus a Cummins diesel engine, and a three-star ANCAP score.
It hasn’t arrived yet, but fellow Chinese brand LDV has already shown its T60 ute ahead of a local launch. Pricing is sure to be sharp but we won’t make a definitive call on it until it arrives.
With a better warranty and a superior brand reputation, the Mitsubishi Triton GLX can be yours from a still-competitive $37,000 with a dual-cab body and manual transmission, while that is a big step up in price (and a small step down in features) the Triton is a five-star ANCAP recipient.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
First and foremost, any vehicle offered for sale in Australia must comply to a high level of standard safety - Australia is not an emerging economy that needs to be ‘put on wheels’ at any cost, we’re in a privileged position to demand better and until Great Wall can deliver better safety credentials for its products it has put itself in an awkward position.
That’s a real shame, because with a five star safety score (even four stars if we’re being generous) the Steed would provide the basis of a good fleet vehicle with economical running and a low purchase price that company accountants are sure to find attractive.
A well kitted and comfortable interior make the Steed a decent place to be for hours behind the wheel. Refinement and handling might be a half-step behind established competitors, but the difference really isn’t so stark as to make Great Wall’s ute the odd one out.
Here’s hoping the brand gets the message and does all it can to improve safety for its Australian customers.
MORE: Great Wall News and Reviews
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