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- Highs Interesting looks, versatile interior, solid powertrains.
- Lows Clunky pushbutton gearshifter, chintzy interior, expensive.
- Verdict A good-enough compact crossover that's let down primarily by its hefty price.
Completely redesigned last year, the GMC Terrain traded the previous generation's blocky styling and available V-6 engine for svelte—albeit somewhat polarizing—looks and a trio of turbocharged four-cylinder engines, including a fuel-efficient diesel. On the road, the Terrain prioritizes comfort over driver engagement, and its refined chassis provides the smooth serenity of a luxury vehicle.
What's New for 2019?
GMC launched a Black Edition package for the Terrain for 2019; available on SLE and SLT models, the package adds a unique darkened grille insert, black exterior trim, and 19-inch glossy black wheels. The SLT model can also be had with the new Chrome package that does the same thing, but only with chrome trim and 19-inch machined-aluminum wheels. The optional Driver Alert II package (SLT and Denali trims) now includes adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection; a 360-degree camera is now also optional on the Denali model.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
GMC charges a pretty penny to purchase a Terrain relative to its competition, which is why our ideal Terrain would be the lower-level SLE model that includes such niceties as a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a proximity key with push-button start, and high-intensity-discharge headlamps. On top of this we'd add the Driver Alert package, which includes a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, and heated exterior mirrors. Opting for the Driver Alert package, though, requires also checking the box for the Driver Convenience package (power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, and roof rails).
Engine, Transmission, Performance, and Towing
Likes: Three engine choices, fuel-efficient diesel, creamy ride.
Dislikes: Slow base four-cylinder, clumsy handling, upgraded 2.0-liter turbo costs extra.
The Terrain gets a choice of three four-cylinder engines, but only one—the largest turbocharged version—is a lively partner. The standard engine and available diesel are both generally apathetic. We haven't tested the base 1.5-liter in a Terrain but we have put that engine through our testing regimen fitted to its mechanical twin, the Chevrolet Equinox; it took 8.9 seconds to reach 60 mph. Expect slightly more sprightly performance from the GMC and its nine-speed gearbox, as the Chevy pairs the 170-hp engine with a six-speed automatic. The Terrain's diesel-drinking 137-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder pairs with a six-speed automatic transmission. It's even slower, and unlike its smooth and refined siblings, the diesel is coarser and less refined. The engine we like best is the effervescent 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder; it's available on SLE and SLT trims as an option and comes standard on the Denali. In our testing, the Terrain Denali sprinted to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds.
Terrains equipped with either the turbocharged 1.5-liter or the 1.6-liter diesel are limited to a maximum tow rating of 1500 pounds. Adding the more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter pushes the compact crossover’s towing capacity up to 3500 pounds. The Terrain provides its passengers with a comfortable and cosseting ride. Although the softly sprung suspension is a boon on long highway drives, the comfort-oriented setup drains the compact crossover of driver engagement once the tarmac gets twisty. Likewise, the direct but syrupy steering, which provides effortless turn-in at low speeds, proves as uninformative as a mob boss in a police interrogation room.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Both of the Terrain's available gasoline-fired four-cylinder engines offer class-competitive EPA fuel-economy figures, while the diesel engine provides the Terrain with exemplary fuel efficiency that matches that of many compact sedans. We've yet to put the 1.5-liter through our real-world highway fuel-economy test; however, the 2.0-liter and diesel Terrains, both equipped with all-wheel drive, outperformed their respective EPA highway fuel-economy estimates at 28 and 39 mpg, respectively.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: Plenty of passenger space, competitive cargo room, easy-going infotainment interface.
Dislikes: Weird push-button shifter, some low-rent interior materials spoil the ambience.
A spacious and accommodating interior is let down by subpar build quality and a middling mix of materials. Meanwhile, the Terrain's ergonomically challenged push-button shifter sprinkles salt in the compact crossover's interior wounds. It consists of several switches that look like power window controls, located low on the center console and less than intuitive to use. Although it's something that we think owners would grow accustomed to over time, we found the small buttons difficult to locate at a glance—especially when groping for reverse—making it difficult to pull off three-point turns quickly or operate the transmission's manual mode.
Easy to operate and quick to respond to commands, the Terrain's infotainment system benefits from clear graphics, logical menus, and the latest in-car connectivity features. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot are all standard. While the entry-level SL and SLE models come standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, higher-end SLT and Denali trims feature an 8.0-inch unit. An in-dash navigation system is standard on the top Denali and is available on SLE and SLT models. The SLE with navigation swaps the smaller setup for the 8.0-inch touchscreen.
The Terrain is an amenable partner for lugging large loads of various sizes. Credit a standard 60/40 split-folding rear seat, as well as an available fold-flat front seat. The Terrain's cargo area offers class-competitive space. In our carry-on-luggage test, the Terrain held 24 cases with the rear seats folded; those in search of the absolute maximum cargo room will be better served—albeit only slightly—by the Honda CR-V.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
The Terrain earns solid marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and performed well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's crash tests. It missed out on a Top Safety Pick award from that agency, though, because its headlamps performed poorly in testing. A host of driver-assistance features can be added but none of them are standard. Key safety features include:
- Available automated emergency braking
- Available lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for the first visit