The Great Wall Steed dual cab you see here currently sells for just $24,990 drive-away no-more-to-pay, yet it offers the safety and convenience of on-demand 4WD where even the most expensive Toyota Hilux or Ford Ranger has to make do with relatively primitive part-time 4x4.
The Steed also comes with rear disc brakes, a feature only found on the most expensive Ranger, the $80K Raptor, and VW Amarok V6 models, the least expensive of which is twice the price of the Steed. Inside the Steed you’ll find leather, heated front seats and a whole host of other upmarket equipment.
Sound too good to be true? Let’s find out.
Powertrain and Performance
The Steed’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel claims a modest 110kW and 310Nm but benefits from the fact that the Steed isn’t a particularly heavy or big ute – being more the size of an older generation ute like the Nissan Navara D22 or the last of the Holden Rodeos – so the performance is a little better than you may expect, even if its highway overtaking performance is limited.
The engine is mated to a six-speed manual (there’s no auto option) and off-idle is a bit soft, but it becomes energetic enough with a few revs on-board, helped by the fact maximum torque is on tap over a 1000rpm-wide band that stretches from 1800 to 2800rpm.
The gearing isn’t overly tall, either (50km/h/1000rpm), so once up to highway speeds it holds the taller gears on hills without much fuss. The engine is quiet, smooth and surprisingly refined, while the gearbox offers light shifts but not a notably precise shift gate.
On-Road Ride and Handling
Light but not particularly precise is also the best way to describe the Steed’s steering, especially in the light of the excellent steering feel and precision of the best of the current mainstream dual cabs.
Still, you get used to the Steed just in the same way you got used to many older popular utes that didn’t steer all that well, either… think Navara D22. Our 20,000km-old test vehicle’s suspension also felt underdamped at the front, which did the on-road dynamics no favours.
On a more positive note the ride quality is reasonable, even unladen. Better still is the auto-engaging 4x4 system, which has, at its core, a Borg Warner torque-on-demand transfer case, similar to that used in the Ford Everest.
There’s still a 2WD mode if you wish to use that, but by switching to the ‘AWD’ mode, which you can use on any road surface, the system engages 4WD if and when needed. In effect it’s like having full-time 4x4 and brings convenience and safety benefits on wet bitumen and variable (sealed to unsealed and wet to dry) road surfaces.
The same transfer case, operated by buttons on the dash, offers low-range 4WD with a handy 2.48:1 reduction. Helping the Steed’s cause off-road is decent wheel travel at the rear and effective electronic traction control. Not so good is the fact the Steed is a little low slung and the wheel travel offered by the independent torsion-bar front suspension isn’t anything special.
The upshot of all this is the Steed is useful in easy to moderate off-road conditions, but baulks at the more serious off-road terrain in much the same way as a current Mitsubishi Triton does.
Tall, relatively narrow (235/70) tyres on 16s are positive from an off-road practicality point of view, even if the standard ‘highway’ tread pattern isn’t what you want off-road. There’s no heavy-duty recovery hooks, either, only lighter-duty tie-down hooks.
Cabin and Safety
The Steed’s cabin is surprisingly well-finished for a budget ute and very well-equipped. The cabin is more the size of the smaller (Triton and Navara) mainstream utes, something you notice more in the rear seat than up front. The driver’s seat offers plenty of adjustment, but the steering wheel is only adjustable for tilt, as is the case with many of the more expensive dual cabs.
This particular Steed variant hasn’t been ANCAP safety tested, but it does come with front, side and side-curtain airbags, as well as the now mandatory electronic stability control, the system in question reassuringly supplied by Bosch.
What You Get
The Steed only comes in one 4x4 dual-cab model ($24,990 drive-away) but the equipment runs to leather, electric adjustment for the driver’s seat, two-stage heating for both front seats, a six-speaker audio system, auto wipers, auto headlights, tyre-pressure monitoring system, and steering wheel controls for the cruise control, audio and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
Our test vehicle also had sat-nav, which is a $990 option. There’s also 4WD single-cab diesel for $20,990 (drive-away), which includes an aluminium drop-side tray. Two-wheel drive models are available in diesel and petrol, and single and double cab.
The Steed is only rated to tow 2000kg but offers a class-competitive payload of just over 1000kg. Using bundled rolls of fencing wire we loaded the Steed up to 750kg payload to test its carrying ability and it carried this with surprising ease, both from a chassis point of view and even more surprisingly in terms of engine performance. Certainly, the way it felt with that load on board gave the impression it could cope with the full 1000kg payload.
Currently there are 34 Great Wall dealers in Australia, and the Steed comes with a three-year/100,000km warranty. Since mid-2016 the distribution of Great Wall utes is through a fully-owned factory rather than a third-party distributor, which should bode well for Great Wall’s future here.
A lot of ute
There’s no denying the Great Wall Steed is a lot of ute for the money, especially in terms of its features and equipment. While it may not perform as well on- or off-road as the more expensive mainstream dual cabs, it’s still more than reasonable to drive.
Spend some money on decent dampers and better tyres, and perhaps a reset of the front torsion bars and new rear springs for a bit of off-road lift, and it could be much better.
2019 GREAT WALL STEED 4x4 DUAL-CAB SPECS:
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo-diesel
Max power: 110kW @ 4000rpm
Max torque: 310Nm @ 1800-2800rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
4x4 system: Dual-range on-demand
Suspension (front): Independent/torsion bars
Suspension (rear): Live axle/leaf springs
Tyre/Wheel spec: 235/70R16 106T
Unladen weight: 1900kg
Towing capacity: 2000kg
Ground clearance: 171mm
Fuel tank capacity: 75L
ADR fuel consumption: 9.0L/100km
Test fuel consumption: 10.1L/100km
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