Ingrassia: New Terrain takes on sporty look

The 2018 GMC Terrain has been completely redesigned with more powerful engines and sporty looks.
The 2018 GMC Terrain has been completely redesigned with more powerful engines and sporty looks.

The new GMC Terrain has been completely redesigned for 2018 and offers a plethora of upgrades, but beware of the rising cost to acquire them. The new Terrain has classier looks than its predecessor, though, and that may be enough to lure loyal consumers back.

There are new engines and transmissions, too, which add more power and extra torque to this full-fledged compact SUV.


• Technology packages helpful

• Peppy new engines

• Upscale interior

• Comfortable ride


• Pricey compared to rivals

• Cargo space lacking

• Loud cabin noise at highway speed

• No adaptive cruise control offered

Our test car for a week was the top-of-the-line Denali trim with all-wheel drive, fully optioned with a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivered a spirited scoot factor in highway travel as well as city driving. Terrain is available as a base SL with a starting price of $24,995; additional trims are the SLE, SLT and the Denali.

What makes the Terrain a standout in a crowded segment is its available option packages. The trouble is the base SL has only a pokey four-cylinder, limited access to the desirable equipment and is only available in three colors.

You want leather? Upper trim levels bring out the best of what’s new, including an upgraded interior with leather, power seats, cruise control and a variety of driver convenience options for a price. If you want more toys, you might consider stepping into its sibling, the Chevy Equinox for a lot less coin.

While many rivals offer adaptive cruise control, GMC is not one of them.

Our Denali stickered at nearly $45,000. It delivered a compliant ride with little body roll, and strong brakes and precision steering that felt connected with the pavement.

We felt its nine-speed transmission worked well with the 2.0-liter turbo. Shifting was seamless at lower speeds, including downshifts to match pedal pressure.

We did notice slight hesitation between shifts during highway maneuvers. The zero-to-60 mph stopwatch test scored 7.1 seconds, about average for this segment.

There is plenty of room inside the cabin, more than rivals, with ample leg, shoulder and head room. We were intrigued with push buttons in place of a gear shift, freeing up front console space for storage. Manual shifts were awkward, though, creating a distraction from the road.

Rear visibility is hampered by wide rear pillars, although blind spot monitors were a big help in sensing upcoming traffic.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle for Terrain to overcome is a rival list of crossovers offering comparable and, in some instances, improved equipment for less. Topping that list is the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV 4 and Ford Escape, as well as the aforementioned Equinox.

Terrain leads the pack, however, with a Wi-Fi hotspot that will provide internet connectivity for up to seven devices, a welcome addition on long road trips. Another plus is a Teen Driver feature that will limit top speed, secondary drivers, audio volume and generate an overall report card.

• Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at

Model: 2018 GMC Terrain Denali AWD

Engine: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder

EPA mileage: 21 city, 26 highway, 23 combined

Assembled: San Luis Potosi, Mexico. U.S./Canadian parts content, 45 percent. major source of foreign parts content, Mexico – 40 percent. Country of origin – engine, U.S.; transmission, Mexico

Crash test ratings: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Terrain an overall four star rating with five being the highest. The Terrain received five stars in frontal crash for driver and passenger in tests simulating a 35 mph head on crash between two similar vehicles; five stars for front seat passengers in side barrier and pole collision with three stars for rear seat passengers and four stars overall for rollover protection with a single vehicle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not yet rated the Terrain.

Warranty: 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper; 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain; 2-year/24,000-mile scheduled maintenance.

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