First Drive: 2010 GMC Terrain

September 24, 2009
2010 GMC Terrain

2010 GMC Terrain

GMC made news at the 2009 New York Auto Show when it unveiled its new 2010 Terrain small SUV, and this past Monday, I was able to get some time behind the wheel of GMC's latest offering.

The Terrain shares its platform with the redesigned-for-2010 Chevrolet Equinox, but there are differences. For one thing, the Terrain has more rugged exterior styling that stands out in contrast to the softer lines of the Equinox--only the roof and windshield are shared between the two. There are also some interior differences between the two. Finally, Terrain offers several features as standard that are optional on Equinox--such as a rearview camera, a USB port, and heated sideview mirrors. There is one Terrain-exclusive feature, and that is heated cloth seats.

Still, despite the differences, particularly in terms of styling, it's not hard to tell that these two are related. The two interiors may not be the same, but they are noticeably similar, although some of the materials in the Terrain appear to be slightly higher in quality than the Equinox.

On the road, the differences remain subtle. Both Terrain and Equinox are powered by either a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder or a 264-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6, both of which have direct injection. Both are available with all-wheel drive, and both vehicles get the same 6-speed automatic transmission.

So what's the difference? Well, as one might expect, not much. The Terrain's steering feels slightly heavier than the Equinox, for one. Other than that, the 4-cylinder sounds the same regardless of which hood it's under, and the smooth ride quality is similar, as is the lack of intrusive noise. Also like the Equinox, the Terrain's cabin is a handsome place to do business. GM may take pride in the differences between the two vehicles, but a blindfolded passenger probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

GM says that due to fuel-economy concerns on customer's minds, the company expects the 4-cylinder, which gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway with front-wheel drive and 20/29 with all-wheel drive, to be the best-selling Terrain. While customers who opt for the 4-cylinder will find that acceleration is lively enough around town, it's no surprise that the V-6 pulls away from a stop better than its counterpart. It also offers a 3,500 lb towing capacity, whereas the four-banger can handle just 1,500 lb.

Terrain includes some interesting features, such as a noise-cancellation feature for 4-cylinder models that will be available later in the model year, and a sliding rear seat. GM hopes that an array of desirable standard features at an attractive price (a top-line SLT-2 with all-wheel drive bases at $31,000) can bring customers back into its showrooms, and the redesigned Equinox and its new Terrain sibling are a big part of the company's plan.

Terrain is a solid addition to the GMC line, now that Pontiac and the unloved Torrent have gone to the big junkyard in the sky.  GM has its sights set on big goals, such as using the Terrain to woo BMW X3 customers. That's a tall order, but given the high amount of standard content, the smooth ride, and the handsome interior, GM has at least a fighting shot.

[Source: GM]

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