The GMC Terrain is a bit player in the epic cast that comprises the compact-crossover segment. A perennial sales understudy, the GMC had a U.S. sales volume of 87,925 units in 2016, a drop in the bucket compared with top-billed stars such as the Honda CR-V and the Ford Escape, which sold 357,335 and 307,069 tickets in the same year. GMC understands this and is confident that its individuality appeals to buyers who aren’t easily swayed by the public opinion of the moment.
Still, constant reinvention is the key to putting return customers in the seats, and the 2018 GMC Terrain is new from the foundation on up. Undoubtedly, the Terrain’s indie strategy would not be possible without the economy of scale provided by the Chevrolet Equinox, its bigger-selling mechanical sibling. For its part, the Terrain focuses on premium features, styling, and specific chassis tuning.
We’re on the record with favorable impressions of the new 2018 Equinox, and that regard carries through to the Terrain. Five minutes into our drive of a full-boat, 2.0-liter Denali AWD, lingering memories of the first-gen Terrain vanished like Adrian Zmed’s career. Seating and interior materials are on par with other GMC products, functional first but a bit more premium than Chevy stuff—if your definition of “premium” is slightly thicker and more durable. Some of the Terrain’s approximately 350 pounds of weight savings over its predecessor were achieved in the seat frames, but you wouldn’t know it by sitting in the comfortably firm front buckets. GMC says the multi-density padding helps this cause, although note that those looking for significant side bolsters will be disappointed.
Even though the new Terrain’s wheelbase spans 5.2 inches less than before and it’s 3.2 inches shorter overall, rear passengers lose only 0.2 inch in legroom. We couldn’t really detect that, but we can confirm that two adults can survive long trips in the benchlike rear seats without the aid of muscle relaxers. It’s the cargo room that took a hit from the resizing, with space behind the second-row seat shrinking to 30 cubic feet from the previous model’s 32. Offsetting that somewhat is that the flat-folding front passenger seat now allows carrying materials up to eight-feet long (think dimensional lumber, not sheets), adding versatility the previous model lacked.
HIGHS: Front end no longer looks like a toy choo-choo train, quiet interior, surprisingly agile.
The 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four and nine-speed automatic transaxle come standard with the Denali package, and rightly so. Quiet at idle, the engine transmits virtually no harsh vibration through the chassis. Before we set off in the urban environs of Pittsburgh, however, we had to deal with the Terrain’s controversial electronic shifter mounted low on the center stack. Composed of five primary buttons (P, R, N, D, and L, the last also serving as a manual gear selector of sorts), it’s easier to use than it sounds. GMC’s spin on the topic is that it’s just another step in the march toward autonomy, but meanwhile, it’s a distinctive if slightly inelegant way to free up console space while ensuring that operators pay attention when selecting the proper function. We were effortlessly performing three-point parking procedures by the end of the first day.
Once out into the hills that surround Steel City, the 2.0-liter and nine-speed auto performed competently if not remarkably. No tentative shift action, no unrequested games of Pick-a-Gear, just quiet motivation. The tranquil mood is aided by the quiet cabin, thanks to a new woven sound-deadening material that is both lighter and more effective than the asphalt-based materials used previously. Highway stretches were infuriatingly boring, and we mean that in the best way possible. Out here, you’re just another pod traveling along at 75 mph, so you may as well be comfortable.
On the broken, winding, and looping back roads near Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater home is where the Terrain revealed its best-kept secret: It’s not a total drag to drive enthusiastically. The linear electrically assisted power steering comes by way of a rack-mounted motor, sending orders to Hankook Ventus S1 Noble 2 tires on 19-inch aluminum wheels. GMC claims the chassis is stiffer and that it resists flex with aid from solidly mounted front and rear subframes. That means metal-to-metal mounting, leaving isolation chores to the suspension components and their own mounts.
The brake pedal is firm, General Motors engineers telling us they focused on calibrating for brake-pedal force rather than travel to regulate clamping effort. The first bit of pedal travel (13 percent, say the engineers) moves a massive amount of fluid to position the pads right up against the rotors, and from there mechanical leverage kicks in for more aggressive situations. What it means for the driver is light footwork and predictable results in situations where you want to scrub off just a touch of speed before a corner.
Referring to the aforementioned L “gear selector” as such is bit of a misnomer. In fact, it works more as a range selector of sorts, locking out the gears you want to avoid when towing or descending extreme grades, like downshifting an old-fashioned automatic transmission. Operation is simple: Push the L button and use the adjacent +/- keys to select the highest gear you want the transmission to engage. Select 5 or 6, say, and it will ride your choice downhill, employing engine compression to near the rev limit—no redline is marked on the tachometer—maintaining your rate of speed. Should you need a quick burst of acceleration, it will access gears 1 through 4 as normal. We employed it while following heavy industrial trucks down some pretty intense grades—just remember to tug the D switch to return to full automatic operation. It works all the way down to first gear, although we can’t imagine a situation short of idling through a crowded cow pasture where that choice would be desirable.
LOWS: Front passenger compartment still narrow at the shoulders, C-pillar infringes on rearward vision,controversial shifter.
Also of note is the driver-controllable all-wheel-drive system that offers a front-drive mode that disconnects the rear axle to minimize drag and optimize fuel economy. As with most current systems, the AWD mode automatically controls the fore/aft torque distribution and adjusts throttle response based on numerous inputs. We cycled through both of these and the trailer-towing mode, and we didn’t hear any weird clunks or experience odd dynamics under acceleration during our brief exposure.
Two More Turbos
It’s easy to focus on the performance of the 2.0-liter, but GMC expects 60 percent of buyers to opt for the standard 170-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four and just 10 percent to choose the 1.6-liter turbo-diesel, which makes 137 horsepower. We snagged a Terrain SLE with the 1.5-liter for a quick jaunt and found some not-so-shocking results: It feels very similar to the 2.0, but slower. The ride is a little less refined, as the SLE lacks the Denali’s specific chassis tuning. Also, the audio system’s six speakers lacked the Bose logos and sound quality of the Denali’s seven-speaker unit, the stance on painted 17-inch wheels wasn’t as purposeful as the Denali’s on its 19-inchers, and the climate control was manual. None of this significantly degraded the driving experience. The 1.5 shares the nine-speed auto with the 2.0 (not the case with the Equinox, where the 1.5-liter models get the old six-speed), but the lack of hustle was pronounced. We’ll find out how much slower the 1.5 is when we get the opportunity to strap test instruments to each version.
As for the diesel, no one outside of a small segment of torque-obsessed pickup owners buys into compression ignition expecting to burn rubber. Most are drawn by fuel economy. In the Terrain diesel’s case, the official EPA highway estimate is 39 mpg (FWD; it’s 38 mpg with AWD). That’s a full 11 mpg better than the FWD 2.0-liter and 9 better than the FWD 1.5-liter. At current fuel prices, the $2395 upcharge for the base diesel—a front-wheel-drive SLE model—would require more than 130,000 miles to break even versus a comparably spec’d SLE 1.5T with the Driver Convenience package, assuming both models achieved their advertised highway economy over that distance. It’s most diesel-like at idle, although even then the clatter is somewhat subdued. Acceleration is steady but not helped by being teamed with the old six-speed automatic. If you’re a diesel lover, it’s likely you know what you are looking for long before you hit the showroom. We were disappointed to learn that this diesel—like the 1.5-liter gas engine—is limited to tow just 1500 pounds. The 2.0-liter is rated to tug up to 3500 pounds. GMC mixes up the available features, powertrains, and four trims (SL, SLE, SLT, and Denali) extensively; additional pricing specifics can be found here.
The 2018 Terrain finds itself in the enviable niche of being able to focus on pleasing dedicated fans without bearing the entire brunt of the development cost. Sometimes it pays to be a supporting member of the cast.
2018 GMC Terrain
front-engine, front- or front-/all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve diesel 1.6-liter inline-4, 137 hp, 240 lb-ft;
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 1.5-liter inline-4, 170 hp, 203 lb-ft;
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-4, 252 hp, 260 lb-ft
6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode, 9-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 107.3 in
Length: 182.3 in
Width: 72.4 in
Height: 65.4 in
Passenger volume: 99-103 ft3
Cargo volume: 30 ft3
Curb weight (C/D est): 3500-3850 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
Zero to 60 mph: 6.4-10.6 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 16.5-28.0 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 15.0-17.3 sec
Top speed: 115-130 mph
EPA combined/city/highway: 23-32/21-28/26-39 mpg
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2016 GMC Terrain
$23,975 - $35,925MSRP / Window Sticker Price
|MPG||22 City / 32 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||182 @ 6700 rpm|
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The new front and rear ends help brighten the Terrain’s appearance while giving it a more upscale look
Much of the changes for 2016 consist of exterior visual updates. The new front and rear ends help brighten the Terrain’s appearance while giving it a more upscale look. The front of non-Denali models get a three-bar chrome grille with the familiar black honeycomb backing. A new C-shaped chrome ring wraps around the new LED daytime running lights and connects in the center of the bumper. This brings more visual weight downward, making the crossover look more planted.
That same C-shaped design makes its way rearward and surrounds red reflectors on the rear bumper. Chrome accents dress up the taillight area as well. Terrain Denalis come with the same front fascia as non-Denali models, but get the standard Denali treatment of a much flasher chrome grille.
A new pair of 18- and 19-inch wheels finish off the updates, with the larger wheels belonging to the Denali. Lastly, two new color options are available: White Frost Tricoat and Crimson Red Tintcoat.
Beyond looks, the Terrain gets upgrades with its safety systems
Like the outside, much of the interior is refreshed. The casual observer might not recognize the changes, but the updates consist mostly of changes to the center stack. Revised hard buttons for the infotainment system are more intuitive than before. The door lock button is now moved from the dash to each door panel as well. Gone is the CD/DVD slot under the HVAC controls, replaced by a small shelf for storage. Down below, a revised shifter looks more upscale and include the manual shift buttons on its top rather than hanging off its side.
Coverings for the seats are also new. Coming standard on SL and SLE trims is a new premium cloth fabric while upper trims get the option of a new “Saddle Up” leather color. Denali models get the option of a new Light Titanium and Jet Black color combination.
Beyond looks, the Terrain gets upgrades with its safety systems. GMC now offers Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert on SLE and SLT models where it was only available on the Denali before. Also available with OnStar is GM’s popular 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot for mobile streaming.
Regardless of engine choice, customers can opt for either the standard FWD or optional AWD
Things under the hood remain unchanged for 2016. That leaves customers the option of the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder or the optional 3.6-liter V-6. Both engines offer direct fuel injection and variable valve timing for added efficiency and power production. The 2.4-liter produces 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque while the V-6 offers a respectable 301 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque. Both engines come mated to the six-speed automatic transmission.
Regardless of engine choice, customers can opt for either the standard FWD or optional AWD. Terrains with AWD send power to the front wheels the majority of the time unless traction becomes an issue. At that time, power is diverted rearward for added grip.
Those choosing the Denali trim are treated to a more plush suspension thanks to unique dual-flow dampers. GMC says the dampers give a smoother ride while “improving handling by controlling suspension dampening across a broader range of driving conditions.”
GMC has yet to announce pricing for the 2016 Terrain, but count its MSRP to stick around its current listing. For 2015, prices start at $24,995 and range northward to $38,186 for an AWD Denali.
The CR-V is one year into its own mid-cycle refresh, having been reworked in 2015, so its looks are still very fresh. The Honda isn’t quite the luxury offering the Denali is, but it matches up well with the Terrain’s lower trim options. A spacious cabin offers fantastic fit and finish while two rows of seating offer roughly the same room as the GMC.
Unlike the Terrain, the CR-V only offers one engine choice – a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 185 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, though AWD is available. If you’re looking for a hot rod, you’d better stick with the GMC. Conversely, the CR-V’s prices start at $23,320 and rise into the low $30,000 range. Perhaps 185 horsepower doesn’t sound so bad after all.
Read our full review here
2015 is also a critical year for the Ford Edge as it’s completely new from the ground up. Sportier, more daring looks cover all sides of the Edge, with chiseled corners and angular accents. Things inside are also very modern with two-tone leather seats and an infotainment system by Microsoft.
Where GMC and Honda rely on naturally aspirated engines, Ford takes the turbocharged route, offering both the 2.0-liter EcoBoost I-4 and the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6. The base engine, however, is still the naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6. Prices are more in line with the GMC, starting at $28,100 and rising into the upper $30,000 range.
Read our full review here
This mid-cycle refresh for the GMC Terrain helps broaden its appeal by adding more upscale looks and interior color options. The slight revisions on the dashboard are noticeable, but only to those familiar with the current design. Still the updates are welcomed.
Though no changes are made with its powertrain, the Terrain offers two solid engine options and two drive-wheel options. For those folks looking for a entry-level luxury sedan substitute, the GMC Terrain Denali offers a decent choice. Seating for five, room for stuff with the rear seats folded, two-tone leather upholstery, an intuitive infotainment system, and chrome galore help bring the Escalade’s style to a less expensive (and smaller) GM vehicle.
- Updated design inside and out
- A hot-selling item for GMC
- Competitive in its segment
- No upgrades to the powertrain
- Starts getting expensive with Denali trim
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray. Read full bio
Be Smart, Check in Advance. CARFAX — Your Vehicle History.
CARFAX — Your Vehicle History Expert
Sometimes what you don't know can't hurt you, but that's not the case when buying a used car. As an independent vehicle history provider, at CARFAX we've made it our mission to tell you everything you need to know by uncovering as many events as possible from the previous life of a used car. Our primary goal is to help you get to know your next car from the inside out before deciding to make an investment that will be part of you and your family's everyday life. We believe your next car shouldn't be hiding anything from you.
CARFAX Vehicle History Reports contain over 28 billion historical records from 20 European countries, the US and Canada, which are updated daily with new information.
Even if you live in a country we don't collect vehicle data from, it's still always worth checking the Vehicle Identification Number without obligation. The used car import and export market is booming and many owners would be surprised to find out exactly what happened to their vehicle during its previous life abroad.
Privacy for Customers — Transparency over Vehicles
Let's be clear: Although we strive to find every detail of a vehicle's life so far, we are focused only on the vehicle's history, and do not collect any information on previous owners. The information we provide relates solely to the vehicle, its odometer reading, any accidents that have been covered up, where the vehicle comes from and much more — it never gets personal. We've uncovered irreparable damage several times in the past, but other times our vehicle history checks draw a blank — and sometimes that's actually a good thing.
Second Hand — Not Second Best
Did you know that considerably more used cars are sold than new cars? We think this second-hand system is nothing short of fantastic. However, it goes without saying that it gives rise to different methods and tactics: Some sellers will disguise a car that's been in an accident under a fresh coat of paint, tamper with the odometer or conceal theft. This is one of the less appealing aspects of buying second hand. Our goal is to establish trusting relationships between buyers and sellers, since this is the best way to help customers make the right decision. Your new car should be reliable and make you feel safe, as well as make you feel like you haven't paid too much.
But more than anything else, we don't want you or your family unknowingly sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle that isn't 100% safe. This is why we strive to take these vehicles off the road, which not only makes the used car market safer but our streets safer too.
CARFAX — 35+ Years of Experience in Vehicle Histories
CARFAX was founded in the US in 1984 and expanded into Europe in 2007. Around 100 team members spread across six European offices process vehicle information from 22 countries.
Fostering strategic partnerships with registration authorities, law enforcement agencies, government departments, insurance companies, inspection centers and numerous other leading companies around the world has enabled us to compile a unique international database for vehicle histories. We use this database to help make the used car market more transparent. We give everyone in the process of buying a used car access to what is currently the world's most comprehensive source for vehicle history reports, and is growing day by day.
We remain neutral and independent despite our partnerships — our sole purpose is help customers make an informed choice and ensure their safety and the safety of their family. This includes never collecting any personal details — we do not accept any PII from data sources amongst the information we provide about a vehicle. We ensure that data protection laws are observed at all times. Furthermore, we always collect our data in compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks — in all the countries in which we are active. We expressly distance ourselves from illegal activities such as data theft, scraping and hacking.
Terrain 2016 reviews gmc sle
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit.
Clean Retail Price
The MT clean retail price reflects a reasonable asking price by a dealership for a fully reconditioned vehicle (clean title history, no defects, minimal wear) with average mileage.
|5-Year Cost to Own / Rating|
|$23,975||$15,420||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$23,975||$15,420||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$27,000||$16,895||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$28,500||$18,245||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$28,750||$17,895||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$30,250||$19,295||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$30,820||$19,345||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$32,570||$20,345||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$34,175||$22,020||Coming Soon / N.A.|
|$35,925||$23,245||Coming Soon / N.A.|
- Strong V-6 option
- Good ride in the Denali model
- Too similar to the Chevrolet Equinox
- Not as roomy as competitors
- Underpowered base engine
GMC Terrain Expert Review
The 2016 GMC Terrain gains refreshed exterior styling that includes a power dome hood design, chrome-accented grille in higher trim levels, LED daytime running lights, and new 18- and 19-inch wheel designs. Light Titanium/Jet Black two-tone leather is now available in the Denali trim while Saddle Up leather has been added to the SLT grade. Revised center stack and instrument cluster with a storage shelf and updated graphics and a chrome-trimmed transmission shifter round up the changes inside the cabin. SLT models are now available with eight-way power adjustable seats.
The 2016 GMC Terrain is a five-passenger two-row crossover that's mechanically related to the Chevrolet Equinox and is available in front- or all-wheel-drive configurations. A 182-hp 2.4-liter I-4 serves as the base engine while a 301-hp 3.6-liter V-6 is optional. Both engines are paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Inside the 2016 Terrain, there's plenty of room for four passengers while cargo space is generous behind the split-folding rear seats at 31.6 cubic feet. Folding down the second row increases the Terrain's cargo volume to 63.9 cubic feet; however, this is down compared to some of its competitors like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Additionally, the Fiat 500L tall hatchback and Volkswagen Golf SportWagen offer more space without sacrificing fuel economy. Denali models offer more upscale equipment to distinguish it from lower-grade models in the Terrain lineup.
The optional 301-hp V-6 provides plenty of power to get the car moving even when loaded with passengers or cargo. Denali models also come with dual-flow dampers, which improve ride quality and handling especially over less than perfect surfaces. Handling is respectable for the class but the Terrain's two-ton curb weight means it's not as agile as lighter competitors even with the dual-flow dampers in the Denali model.
Available safety features include blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and forward collision warning.
While it remains a relatively decent choice in the two-row crossover segment, the GMC Terrain is showing its age. In a comparison test that pitted the pre-2016 Terrain against the Kia Sorento, we said that the Denali model provides a good ride and controlled body motions thanks to the standard dual flow dampers. We also tested the Terrain's mechanical twin, the Chevrolet Equinox, and in a 2013 First Drive, we noted that the base 182-hp I-4 was sluggish and struggled to pull the two-ton crossover when loaded with people or cargo.
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