The Terrain is brand-new for the latest model year, sporting a whole new set of exclusively turbocharged powertrains, including a diesel.
The Terrain rides on a 107.3-inch wheelbase and features a four-wheel independent suspension system, with wide front and rear tracks that help it deliver a comfortable ride along with and capable handling. A range of 17-inch, 18-inch aluminum and 19-inch wheels are available.
The Terrain's design now eschews the previous model's hodge-podge of boxy GMC heritage and attempts to streamline the look with a sleeker, more rounded shape. The result is a design much more in line with its contemporaries, though the proportions are a bit nose-heavy.
The cabin features a futuristic center stack and contoured dashboard with tons of modern connectivity, including a USB Type-C port in the center stack. The standard infotainment system is a 7-inch touchscreen unit with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The up-option is an 8-inch unit with navigation.
The tech theme continues in the rear, with standard second-row USB charge points and available USB data ports in the center console.
Speaking of practicality, the Terrain offers 29.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row or 63.3 cubes with it folded. The front passenger seat can also be folded flat, expanding the total usable volume to 81 cubic feet (and making room for items up to eight feet in length inside the cabin).
Ever engine option for the Terrain is now turbocharged. There are two options for the standard gasoline motor, a 1.5- and a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo. Both gas engines are mated to GM's nine-speed automatic and are available in either front- or all-wheel-drive.
The 1.5-liter makes 170hp and 201ft-lbs of torque and is rated at 26 mpg city and 30 highway in front-wheel-drive and 24/28 if all four wheels are driven. The 2.0 liter makes 252hp and 260ft-lbs of torque and is rated at 22/28 with front-wheel-drive and 21/26 with AWD.
The most efficient motor in the lineup is the 1.6-liter turbo diesel making a scant 137hp but offering up 240 ft-lbs of torque. The diesel is paired exclusively with a six-speed auto no matter how many wheels are driven, and despite the somewhat archaic nature of the transmission, it still returns excellent mileage. The official EPA numbers have it at 28 mpg city and 39 mpg highway for front-drivers and 28/38 for all-wheel-drive models.
GM's new compact SUV platform makes use of a MacPherson strut setup in the front and a four-link independent setup in the rear. Denali models receive unique spring isolators and different spring and anti-roll-bar rates for a smoother, more upscale ride.
Standard and optional features
The Terrain is offered in SL, SLE, SLT and Denali trim levels.
Standard equipment on the SL model includes single-zone climate control, heated side mirrors, a six-speaker audio system, USB Type-A and -C data ports (one each), rear USB charge-only ports, Bluetooth connectivity, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Stepping up to the SLE gets you an auto-dimming mirror, a split-folding rear seat with mechanical release levers, a roadside repair kit and body-color mirror caps. This is also the first trim on which all-wheel drive is available. Additional available options and packages include a luggage rack, heated front seats, and dual-zone climate control.
SLT models are next-to-loaded. 8-inch infotainment becomes standard, along with a 4.2-inch full-color driver display, a 110-volt power outlet, remote start, a power adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats and LED turn signal repeaters in the side mirrors. Optional upgrades on this trim include a power rear liftgate, a heated steering wheel, a Bose audio system and driver's seat memory.
Like most GMC models, the Terrain gets a Denali trim to top off its hierarchy. "Denali" is GMC-ese for "loaded." This is the only trim with LED front lighting, body-colored exterior trim pieces, chrome mirror caps and navigation standard. Some of these options, such as navigation, are available on lower trims if you're willing to pony up more cash for packages.
Otherwise, Denali incorporates all of the appropriate upgrades from the lower-level trims.
Standard equipment includes dual-stage frontal, and thorax side-impact, driver and front passenger, and head curtain side-impact airbags (front and rear outboard seating positions); stability control; tire-pressure monitoring; a rear-view camera and GMC's "Teen Driver Mode."
For those who want additional features, the Driver Alert package is available on SLE models and above. It includes lane change alert, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear park assist and a rear seat monitoring system.
Driver Alert II (available on SLT and Denali) includes low-speed emergency forward braking, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, following distance indicator and IntelliBeam headlamps.
The Advanced Safety package is exclusive to Denali models and adds automatic parking assist and a surround vision camera system.
Those looking for a small, luxurious crossover like the Terrain Denali should also cross-shop two kinds of competitors: fully-loaded versions of mainstream 'utes like the Ford Escape and the Honda CR-V, and entry-level luxury machines like the Acura RDX and the Infiniti QX50.