2011 GMC Terrain Performance

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Performance
Last year a pair of clean-sheet, new-think powertrains arrived, and they make the Terrain competitive with the best in the class for fuel economy and refinement, if not performance. The base four-cylinder engine is a 2.4-liter with direct injection, making 182 hp, while a 264-hp, 3.0-liter direct-injected V-6 is available.

Both Terrain engines also feature variable-valve timing, and both are mated to six-speed automatic, but drivability with the transmission hasn't been the best, from our experience--especially with the four-cylinder engine, and possibly related to the four's lack of low-end torque. Push the accelerator harder and let the four rev and it actually has plenty of power for most needs; only those typically towing or carrying very heavy loads will need the V-6—which ups the tow rating from a measly 1,500 pounds up to 3,500 pounds.

An "ECO" button on the dash in the four-cylinder model lowers the torque converter lockup speed to 1,125 rpm for enhanced efficiency, though then the engine feels a little less responsive.

While both of the engines available on the 2011 GMC Terrain are smooth and refined, you have to choose between fuel-efficient and punchy.

Depending on which engine you choose, you'll end up with a completely different steering system; the four-cylinder models have a new electric power steering system that helps save fuel, while V-6 models have a tried-and-true hydraulic one. We tend to like the hydraulic one a little bit more, but the electric system is now one of the better units, with a nice, settled feel at speed. Brakes are good, and overall the Terrain has an on-road poise that you might not expect for such a buff, trucky-looking vehicle.

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