There are worse ways to cruise the streets in a 15-foot SUV than with the new GMC, the Terrain. The new design is rounded and smooth, a step away from the big and bold box-like design of the predecessor. While that was originally the appeal of the Terrain, this new one looks to have enough to make current owners renew, or sway buyers into the GMC family. Efficient small capacity engines will appeal to the environmentally conscious and helping keep emissions low is a new 9-speed automatic transmission. On paper the GMC Terrain is much improved and looks set to be a popular choice.
With a redesign of the exterior to have slimmer dimensions, the interior needed to have a brand new design of its own too. The flowing design looks more like a sports sedan, black and brushed aluminium is a finish option and it’s an option that will have you smiling on every drive.
One new addition is the Electronic Precision Shifter; an intuitive button and switch-based transmission system with a compact design that frees up valuable storage. Seating is for seven and up front a variety of power seat configurations are available, the bucket seats have great comfort and support. Folding seats will get you 63.3 cubic feet of cargo space too, so helping friends move is on the cards. Different packages are available with varying features; wireless charging for devices is one such thing.
With overall dimensions being chopped down from the previous model, the result is a lighter SUV and that means more precise handling with a nimble feel. Feedback through the controls is as you’d expect for an SUV, it's there, but it’s not telling you too much. The small capacity engines are turbocharged and that boost pressure and torque spike does give the impression of good performance, even if figures are merely average.
These small motors are also more responsive than the bigger capacity previous generation engine options, so that does help you feel better about missing the V6. Engines are mated to either a 6-speed automatic (for diesel) or a 9-speed automatic transmission depending on model and option choice. Smooth in operation and fast enough on the changing when you’re in a hurry.
The most powerful engine on offer in the new GMC Terrain lineup is the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, so that’s already 50 hp down, but luckily the new design has seen a weight saving of over 450 pounds which can sort of compensate.
You can expect the GMC to hit 60 mph at just over 7-seconds, which isn’t bad going for a sizeable body with a small engine. The engines get smaller still with a turbocharged 1.5-liter, also gasoline fed, along with a 1.6-liter turbo diesel. Front-wheel drive is ok, it gets the car going, while all-wheel drive will provide the best all round traction, which is an option worth taking.
Seven and eight inch screens are in play to head up the infotainment system that’s capable of all kinds of connectivity, and includes navigation and satellite radio too. If music is important, an upgrade to a brilliant Bose audio system is available.
Teen driver functionality is there for limited car parameters for when the kids need to use the car and come back in one piece. Safety features are the same as seen in the GMC Acadia and include all the mod cons you’d expect, but there are no groundbreaking new systems in play. Low speed automatic braking is probably the most advanced thing, but it certainly is a must for traffic.
The new GMC Terrain may be more rounded and a little tame looking compared to the outgoing angular model, but it’s by no means a bad looking SUV. The different trim levels to have distinguishable features so you can tell which is which, but for the best style and premium looks, the Denali is the one to choose at $38,495. Options will take that to well over $40,000, but for the tighter budgets, the entry model comes at just $21,190. It’s coming in at a more affordable price than the traditional rivals but has the same look and feel as one of them, so for those that aren’t hung up on badges, the GMC Terrain is a worthy contender.