- Arresting style
- Rides well
- Denali feels almost luxurious
- Good infotainment system
- Annoying all-wheel-drive system
- Thirsty engines
- Active safety should be standard
- Price escalates fast
The 2020 GMC Terrain is a stylish crossover SUV that we wish had more standard safety gear.
The 2020 GMC Terrain is a five-seat crossover SUV that delivers on style, comfort, and standard equipment, but it can be costly when fitted with active safety tech. We give it 5.8 out of 10 overall. More standard safety tech would push it over 6. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
GMC kept changes to the 2020 Terrain minimal, adding only one additional paint color and a premium option package for the Terrain Denali. Trim levels include the Terrain SL, SLE, SLT, and Denali featuring increasing levels of creature comforts.
Sleek looks inside and out and a standard 9-speed automatic transmission help set the Terrain apart from its Chevrolet Equinox sibling, but the engine choices are identical. The GMC gets a 1.5- or 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 or a 1.6-liter turbodiesel (with a 6-speed automatic transmission). Naturally, the 2.0-liter offers the most power and 3,500 pounds of towing capacity, but fuel economy suffers. The diesel engine offers more pull and better mileage, but it’s not our favorite engine of the bunch due to its gruff nature and high price. Front-wheel-drive is standard and all-wheel-drive is optional on most versions.
With room for four adults and plenty of cargo, the Terrain is practical in a pinch, but flat-bottomed rear seats will have occupants wishing they called “shotgun.”
Every Terrain is well-equipped with 17-inch wheels, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and active noise cancellation as standard, but top-tier Denali models could almost pass for luxury vehicles thanks to chrome, leather, and every feature in the order book.
Unfortunately, the Terrain is pricier than popular rivals from Toyota and Honda and fails to include standard active safety technology like many other competitors are coming around to. That makes it hard to recommend over others with better fuel economy, better value, and better safety records.
2020 GMC Terrain
The 2020 GMC Terrain recently traded its right angles for some curves, and the result is a sleeker SUV.
In the case of the 2020 GMC Terrain, it’s better to be bold than boxy. A sleek shape and “floating roof” design warrant a rating of 7 out of 10 in the styling department. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
GMC makes no changes to the 2020 Terrain from a styling standpoint minus the addition of one more color, and from our eyes that’s a good thing. While the polarizing front end is not for everyone, the Terrain sports sleek sheet metal that looks upscale in comparison to rivals. With black or chromed-out styling options that can transform the Terrain to sinister or chic, this is one of the most eye-catching midsize crossovers for sale, and is certainly more distinct than its platform mate, the Chevrolet Equinox.
A gaping grille and floating roof at the rear are staple luxury SUV design cues, and in Denali form, the Terrain has just the right amount of glitz to at least look like it’s worth the cost of entry. Inside, the business-like cabin is more pickup than sports car, but that’s indicative of the brand’s commitment to SUVs and trucks and works well from a design and functionality standpoint. Top-tier models add low-sheen materials, leather, and contrast stitching among other flourishes, but sometimes simplest is best, and the Terrain looks good in any number of interior options.
2020 GMC Terrain
The 2020 GMC Terrain is turbocharged whether you like it or not, but one of the three engine options stands out.
The 2020 GMC Terrain offers three flavors of turbocharged power including one diesel engine, a sign of the times. With its smooth and composed ride and slick-shifting 9-speed automatic transmission helping to offset a bizarre all-wheel-drive system, the Terrain earns 6 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
A 1.5-liter turbo-4 is standard, making 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque which is helpful around town but can be breathless when asked to haul the Terrain’s 3,500-pound heft around at speed.
Higher trims get the option for a 2.0-liter turbo inline-4, this one with 252 hp and 260 lb-ft, and only a $1,300 premium over the base engine. This powerplant is capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped, and for the money it’s the best option. It’d be worth a point if it was the standard choice.
Both gas engines get a smooth 9-speed automatic transmission and either front-wheel-drive as standard or optional all-wheel-drive for the gas engines.
The 2020 Terrain will also continue to offer a 1.6-liter turbodiesel with 137 hp and 240 lb-ft, but with a two rating of only 1,500 pounds and an extra cost over the gas engines, we recommend skipping this power plant and its sluggish 6-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive will also no longer be offered with the diesel engine due to very low sales figures in that configuration.
All-wheel drive is a part-time affair for the Terrain, as the system defaults to front-wheel drive full time with power sent to the rear wheels additionally only when the driver rotates a knob on the console to engage it. This is meant to save fuel and likely cost, but it feels clunky and dated in comparison to rivals that have automatic systems that don’t require any driver input for slippery situations.
Thankfully, the Terrain delivers in the ride comfort department. While not sporty, the suspension is controlled and smooth, and with small 17-inch rims as standard equipment, the Terrain is as comfortable as some much more expensive SUVs. The tip-tier Denali suspension is equally capable, as it’s tuned to handle the glitzier model’s bigger 19-inch wheels.
2020 GMC Terrain
Comfort & Quality
The 2020 GMC Terrain is less spacious than its stylish suggests.
The 2020 GMC Terrain actually shrunk with its redesign a few years ago, but four adults will still find it plenty comfortable and with ample room for cargo, earning 7 out of 10 points here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
A 107.3-inch wheelbase provides plenty of room for front seat passengers, including an impressive 54.4 inches of hip room. Seats are heavily-bolstered, comfortable, and power-adjustable up front, but longer-legged drivers may find the bottom cushion lacking in support.
Rear seat passengers get nearly as much leg room as up front (39.7 inches), but the flat bench cushion is not nearly as comfortable as the thrones up front.
The Terrain’s most impressive practicality trait is its ample storage space including multiple large bins and cubbies throughout. A push-button shifter saves crucial cockpit real estate, even if it takes some acclimation so small-item storage is easier for those up front. In the rear, there is 29.6 cubic feet of space behind the back seats, and 63.3 cubes with them folded (admittedly not completely) flat.
Soft-touch materials are a nice, well, touch. Active noise cancellation as standard and ample sound deadening make the Terrain one of the quietest cabins in its class, noticeably more so than its Chevy-badged sibling.
2020 GMC Terrain
The 2020 GMC Terrain performs well in crash tests, but a lack of active safety tech on most is disappointing.
The 2020 GMC Terrain manages solid crash-test scores as any good family SUV should, but a lack of active safety tech is surprising when most rivals include those features as standard now. We give the Terrain X out of 10 here as such. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
While updated IIHS ratings haven’t been released (the 2019 Terrain earned “Good” scores all around with a “Poor” headlight rating), the federal government has crash-tested the 2020 Terrain and given it five stars in everything except rollover rating.
However, the Terrain does not include active safety technology such as parking sensors, blind-spot monitors, forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, upgraded headlights, and more for less than at least $800 extra, and only on mid- and top-tier trims. While Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and others are already offering these systems as standard on their best-sellers, GMC would be smart to follow suit.
2020 GMC Terrain
The 2020 GMC Terrain is well-equipped as standard, but the price of top-tier models quickly erodes its value.
The 2020 GMC Terrain is positioned as more upmarket than its sibling, the Chevrolet Equinox, but that doesn’t mean that it’s worth the cost of entry for top-tier trims. We give it 5 out of 10 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The 2020 Terrain is available in SL, SLE, SLT, and Denali form, and runs the gamut from value-oriented to downright posh. The base SL comes standard with 17-inch wheels, active noise cancellation, cloth seats, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless ignition, two USB charging ports, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the option for 4G LTE Wi-Fi in vehicle. The SLE and SLT trims add additional creature comforts and style features such as larger wheels and leather upholstery, and the top dog Denali trim includes a heaping of chrome and 19-inch wheels, leather, parking sensors, LED headlights, blind spot monitors, a heated steering wheel, and an upgraded 8.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation. Even at the top end, however, automatic safety features like emergency braking and active lane control are optional.
For 2020, the Denali trim adds a premium package that includes all active safety features as well as other comfort options, and there’s one more color to choose from: White Frost Tricoat.
Our value pick is the Terrain SLT, which includes leather, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch wheels, the upgraded touchscreen, and heated front seats for a significant discount over the Denali. We also recommend stepping up to the 2.0-liter engine for an additional $1,500 or so.
2020 GMC Terrain
Full numbers aren’t available just yet, but the 2020 GMC Terrain is average in the efficiency department.
The 2020 GMC Terrain makes smart use of its turbocharged engines, but fuel economy remains average for the segment with some help from the diesel option. We give it 5 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
While the numbers aren’t released for every version yet, the base 2020 Terrain with front-wheel-drive and the 1.5-liter turbo-4 manages 26 mpg city, 30 highway, and 27 combined thanks to its 9-speed automatic transmission. Adding all-wheel-drive drops those figures slightly to 25/28/26 mpg, while the more powerful 2.0-liter engine manages only 21/26/23 mpg with all-wheel-drive.
Updated diesel figures aren’t available yet, but last year’s model made 32 mpg combined, a significant improvement over the gas engines that will still probably take a while to recoup.