New & Used GMC Terrain: In Depth
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The GMC Terrain is a five-passenger crossover straddling the compact and mid-size segments--but compared to the big Acadia crossover and GMC's large Yukon SUV, it's the most carlike of the bunch. The Terrain shares its underpinnings with the Chevy Equinox, with the two differentiated by interior and exterior styling and trim.
Its size makes the Terrain a rival for a large group of crossover utility vehicles, including models such as the Toyota Venza, Subaru Outback, Ford Escape, and Hyundai Santa Fe.
MORE: Read our 2015 GMC Terrain review
The Terrain is GMC's smallest vehicle, and also its most fuel-efficient offering. The mid-size crossover seats five and features a useful sliding second-row seat that gives it a more flexible cargo and passenger arrangement than many other vehicles in its class.
The Terrain features the same hewn-from-stone styling that is seen on other GMC products, with big, squared-off fender flares and an upright front end. Terrains are offered with a choice of either a four- or six-cylinder engine, with front-wheel drive standard and all-wheel drive an option. Both engines feature direct injection to aid performance while reducing fuel use, and they're backed in all models by a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Terrain's base engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, the first four-pot to be used in a GMC model since the '80s. It's rated at 182 horsepower and delivers claimed best-in-class fuel economy of 21 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway. An ECO mode, activated by a pushbutton, helps save fuel by instructing the transmission's torque converter to lock up at a lower speed—1,125 rpm—which reduces losses due to friction.
Through the 2012 model year, the upgrade engine in the Terrain was a 3.0-liter V-6 engine with 264 horsepower on tap. This particular engine was a downsized version of the 3.6-liter V-6 found in several other GM products and in the Terrain it returned a fuel economy of 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. For 2013, GMC replaced the smaller-displacement V-6 with the full 3.6-liter version, good for 301 horsepower--but with identical fuel economy ratings (with a 16/23-mpg rating on all-wheel-drive models).
Standard and available features include a rearview camera, a power tailgate, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and MP3 playback, and a touchscreen-driven audio system with satellite radio and IntelliLink, a system that links smartphones to the audio system, enabling mobile apps like Pandora.
The 2013 model year brought a new Denali edition that added a soft-touch dash cap, a mesh grille, and a choice of either the four- or six-cylinder engine, and either 18- or 19-inch wheels with those engines, respectively. The Denali also gets a leather interior, wood trim on the steering wheel, and a power passenger seat. Denali Terrains also have some exclusive safety features such as blind-spot monitors with cross-traffic alerts--while all Terrains get new dual-action shocks that soften its ride considerably.
Only minor changes have been applied since then. This year, the 2015 GMC Terrain adds GM's newest connectivity kit--in-car 4G LTE data that allows the Terrain to create its own private wireless network--and two new colors.
A mild face lift is expected for the 2016 model year, as one has already been announced for the Terrain's Equinox sibling. It likely will involve restyled front and rear fascias and lighting elements, an upgraded interior, and additional equipment for some trim levels. The Terrain Denali's blind-spot and cross-traffic monitors are available on the 2016 Equinox for the first time, and may now be come more widely available within Terrain trims.
GM builds the GMC Terrain at its CAMI assembly plant in Ontario, Canada, alongside its platformmate, the Chevrolet Equinox. The Theta platform that underpins the two has also been used in the past on other crossovers, such as the retired Saturn Vue and Pontiac Torrent, while a modified version is also used on today's Cadillac SRX.