New & Used GMC Terrain: In Depth
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The GMC Terrain is a mid-size crossover that’s closely related to the Chevrolet Equinox. Compared to the truck-based GMC models, or even the bigger Acadia crossover, the Terrain is a bit smaller, less expensive, and has car-like driving dynamics.
Production of the GMC Terrain takes place at GM’s CAMI assembly plant in Ontario, Canada. The Terrain has shared its Theta platform with several crossover models in General Motors’ worldwide vehicle fleet, including the former Saturn Vue and Pontiac Torrent, as well as the Equinox.
MORE: Read our 2015 GMC Terrain reviewPricing that starts under $30k makes the Terrain a competitor for a wide band of crossover utility vehicles--everything from the Ford Escape and Hyundai Santa Fe to the Toyota Venza and Subaru Outback, as well as the Chevy Equinox, with which shares its platform and powertrains.
With the Terrain, GMC has its smallest vehicle, and also its most fuel-efficient offering. It seats five, and has a useful sliding second-row seat that gives it more flexible cargo and passenger space than most other vehicles in its class.
The blocky, rugged-looking Terrain is available with a choice between front- or all-wheel drive, and four- or six-cylinder engines. All models come with direct injection technology to help boost performance and curb fuel consumption, and all versions sport a six-speed automatic transmission.
The base 2.4-liter model has the first four-cylinder engine in a GMC crossover or SUV since the 1980s. It develops a peak output of 182 horsepower. It also delivers a best-in-class fuel economy rating of 21 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. To achieve this drivers must activate the Terrain’s “ECO” mode: at the push of a button, the Terrain’s torque converter in its automatic transmission lowers the lockup speed to 1,125 rpm to help save fuel.
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.