2024 GWM Tank 500 Hybrid new car review

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GWM has Toyota in its crosshairs with the latest addition to its four-wheel drive line-up, the Tank 500.

The bluff-nosed seven-seater is longer, if slightly narrower than a LandCruiser, and is chasing the same adventurous buyers.

With pricing starting from $66,490 drive-away and a hybrid engine, it also has the Toyota Prado and Ford Everest on its hit list.

As with its rivals, the Tank 500 rides on a rugged 4WD ladder-frame platform and has off-road hardware at its core, including a full-size spare wheel on its swing-out tailgate. A seven-year warranty adds peace of mind.

The Tank 500 is available in two models, starting with the Lux, which has 18-inch alloys, imitation leather, a sunroof, heated front seats, powered driver’s seat, 360-degree camera, 12.3-inch digital driver display and a 14.6-inch central infotainment screen with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay.

The Ultra ($73,990 drive-away) adds a panoramic sunroof, retracting side steps, head-up display, heated steering wheel, ambient lighting, noise cancelling, ventilation and massage functions for the front seats and a 12-speaker Infinity sound system. There’s also Nappa leather.

It also has a stack of chrome, wood-look trim and quality materials designed to outshine the cabin ambience of a Toyota or Ford. It works.

There’s no shortage of space, either. Up front there’s a broad centre console with well laid out buttons, while another selection of buttons below the infotainment screen adds to the functionality.

Curiously there’s no volume adjustment; only the driver can change that from the steering wheel.

The attention to detail flows further back in the cabin.

The middle row has great head and knee space, the seats slide and fold, there are separate vents and controls and the Ultra has blinds on the back windows. The third row is best left to smaller adults, who will still find legroom tight and knees higher.

Under the bonnet the Tank 500 forgoes a more common diesel engine for a petrol unit. The addition of a turbocharger and electric motor makes up for the compact 2.0-litre capacity and it delivers 255kW and 648Nm, better than most diesels.

The hybrid system is focused on performance more than economy and uses 8.5 litres per 100km.

The generous torque makes for easy acceleration, with a hearty surge from low in the rev range.

The petrol engine and electric motor sometimes appear out of sync, but there’s enough thrust for effortless cruising.

There are multiple modes, from the familiar Sand, Mud, Rock and Snow through to Eco, Sport and Expert, which is adjustable to the driver’s taste. Less impressive is the traction control that can occasionally – and noisily – chime in to contain the initial surge of torque. It’s at least effective and in tough terrain the diff locks further boost traction.

The Tank also feels bulky and lethargic in corners, even if the steering is light.

Despite the luxury focus elsewhere, the ride is not particularly plush and the suspension can struggle to absorb big hits. But it does fend off bumps and craggy roads confidently, doing its best work in rougher terrain.

Off-road, the Tank 500 has the hardware to get down and dirty, starting with a low-range transfer case for slow-speed hill climbing and rock crawling.

There’s 224mm of clearance and it can wade through 800mm of water. Metal underbody protection shields key components and the long travel suspension does its best to keep the rubber in contact with the ground.

There’s even a turn assist system similar to that in the LandCruiser 200 Series, which tightens the turning circle by allowing the inside rear wheel to temporarily skid when performing tight, low-speed turns off-road.

There’s one area the Tank loses out to its rivals: reputation.

While time may well prove it has the stamina to deal with Aussie corrugations, red dust and mud, for now it’s an unknown that some may not be prepared to risk.

But those who do will enjoy lashings of standard gear in a well presented off-roader that isn’t afraid of rough roads.

VERDICT 3.5/5

Sizeable seven-seater dishes up SUV luxury at a mainstream price but does its best work in rough terrain.

GWM Tank 500

PRICE: From $66,490 drive-away

WARRANTY/SERVICING: Seven yrs/unlimited km, capped servicing not available

SAFETY: Seven airbags, auto emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, rear auto braking, driver monitoring, exit warning, speed-sign recognition

ENGINE: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo, 255kW/648Nm

THIRST: 8.5L/100km

SPARE Full size

LUGGAGE: 795 litres

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