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- A stylish new turn, floating roof and all
- Lushly appointed Denali version
- Fuel-efficient diesel version
- Advanced 9-speed automatic
- Handles better, rides sweetly
- So long, sliding second row
- Denali models top $40,000
- Hefty diesel can’t tow much
- Down on headroom and cargo space
- Enough with the weird transmission interfaces, everybody
The 2018 GMC Terrain tucks into a jazzy new body, and boasts a great new turbo-4 drivetrain, but needs to spread its safety message farther, and wider.
Compact crossover SUVs aren’t inherently macho, but don’t tell the 2018 GMC Terrain that.
The new sport-utility vehicle from General Motors digs liberally into same parts bin as the Chevy Equinox, but adds creased metal, bigger fenders, and a tougher grille to stand apart.
The Terrain is offered in SL, SLE, SLT, and top Denali trims. It competes against a cadre of cars including the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, and new Mazda CX-5, as well as the Equinox.
We rate it at 7.2 out of 10, thanks to strong features and performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
We’re into the Terrain’s new style. GMC’s ditched the Qbert cues, and smoothed so many boxes out into a sleek and comely shape. The roofline glimmers in metallic trim, while a blacked-out portion of the rear roof pillar appears to make it float. It’s a cue headed rapidly toward cliche, but it looks great, here and now. Inside, the Terrain’s cabin can wear warm-toned leather and aluminum trim, and it hangs together despite looking like three individual unrelated zones.
For performance, GMC offers a choice between three engines. We thought we’d be more smitten with the turbodiesel-4, but it’s light on tow capacity, produces noticeable vibration, and accelerates moderately. High EPA fuel economy notwithstanding, most drivers will be better off with the new 1.5-liter turbo-4 and 9-speed automatic in base and midrange Terrains. It’s good for 170 hp, and quick to respond to the throttle, though GMC’s console-mounted transmission switches make any driver involvement a remote possibility. The best choice is a 252-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 with vivid acceleration that doesn’t diminish even when all-wheel drive is on board. (It’s a rudimentary part-time system that requires a spin of a knob to spring into action.)
With the Terrain, GMC’s biased handling toward poise instead of prowess. The It can be hustled through mountain ridges and around trios of unexpected deer. Steering could be crisper, but ride quality is very good, thanks in part to hefty curb weights. Denali editions check in at about 3,800 pounds.
Interior space is down slightly. The Terrain is now a direct rival for todays’ Ford Escape, less spacious than a Honda CR-V. Driver and front passenger aren’t affected, but tall people will touch the headliner in the back seat, and GMC’s dropped the second-row sliding bench function. It does stuff the Terrain with more sound deadening than Chevy does the Equinox, and it’s good and quiet.
Crash-test scores aren’t in, and the Terrain makes forward-collision warnings an option available only on the top two trims. A rearview camera comes standard, and blind-spot monitors are pretty widely available. All Terrains have power features, a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and wi-fi hotspot capability. At peak Denali pricing—as high as $44,000—the Terrain has ventilated front seats, a power tailgate, LED headlights, and Bose audio.