GMC Terrain SUV Stylish, Good Value

GMC Terrain SUV Stylish, Good Value


2012 GMC Terrain Review:

When I drove a GMC Terrain a couple years back I was impressed by its fit, finish and good value in the small sport-SUV or crossover market. Not much has changed in a couple years.

The Terrain is larger than many smaller SUVs and crossovers but isn’t big enough to be a seven-person hauler. Yet there is ample room for five adults and their luggage. Plus, in its nine trim levels the GMC comes with a 182-horse 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine that is rated 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. That’s attractive for folks who prefer a taller vehicle to a standard mid-size sedan.

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I tested a Terrain SLT-2 with front-wheel-drive, the second to the highest level offering. The tester started at $31,180 and has an $810 delivery fee.

While the four-cylinder will get the job done, many folks with big kids or who regularly haul more cargo will move to GMC’s 3.0-liter V6 that creates 264 horsepower and 222 pound-feet of torque. This would be the recommended engine if you plan to tow anything; the V6 costs $1,500 extra.

The Terrain is rated at 1,500 pounds of towing power with the I4, but with the larger engine and $350 towing package that the tester included will tow 3,500 pounds.

Both engines are hooked up to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic. I like how this one operates. It gives the SUV a more upscale feel. Power is good, too, but as with many vehicles these days, there is some acceleration lag when you need to call up some of that power, say on the highway or accelerating from a slower corner.

The result is the Terrain feels heavier than it is. This tips the scales at 3,881 pounds, but you’d swear it was well over 4,000. That can be seen as a benefit, in that it feels solid and substantial, or it can make the SUV seem sluggish when trying to pass on the highway, unless you tromp the pedal to drop down a gear. The automatic’s gearing gives the Terrain good low-end power so you can pull away from stoplights with authority.

The ride generally is comfortable and well controlled, even a bit firm. But it becomes choppy on sharp bumps.

Handling also is pretty decent, more carlike than many small SUVs, but heavy. That steering effort, despite its variable assist rack and pinion steering system, seems much heavier at slow speeds than it should. Plus in the tester there was a distinct groan from time to time at low speeds.

Braking is good, thanks to four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. Stabilitrak, GM’s stability control system, is standard. Previous experience tells me the AWD version is preferred if you spend much time trekking through snow.

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The Terrain interior is one of GM’s best efforts for style and function, plus it’s pretty darned quiet. I like the soft touch dash, and the SLT-2 had black leather seats with red stitching, plus some of the same on the main dash’s hood covering the gauges, and on the doors. There’s also brushed or satin metallic trim by the door hands, air vents, radio and steering wheel.

Stepping into the Terrain is easy as it’s not an overly tall crossover or SUV. This makes it attractive to drivers of all ages.

Likewise, controls are laid out well and most buttons are large and easy to see and understand. The main gauges also are good with a red digital trip computer readout between the tach and speedometer. That’s controlled by buttons below the climate control knobs and buttons on the center stack, so a little unusual.

The Terrain uses a keyed ignition, so no push button here, and a manual tilt-telescope steering column. Three-speed heated seats are standard on this model, along with the leather seats. I found the power seats comfortable and supportive, and the power lumbar support is a benefit on longer trips.

Standard equipment includes OnStar, a rear-vision camera, fog lights and a nice radio with satellite service, a USB input and eight Pioneer stereo speakers.

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The navigation system with a 7-inch touch screen is part of a $795 stereo upgrade. Included is a navigation system that shows you if interstate highways you’re traveling on are open (green), have some congestion (yellow) or are backed up or closed (red).

Another feature on the tester was the $295 forward collision alert system coupled with a lane departure warning system. They certainly can make driving a bit safer but can also become annoying in heavy traffic. You can turn them off in such a case, or the collision alert can be set on three distance settings to cut down on the number of warnings you get.

Finally, the Terrain V6 will run on E85 fuel, one that is higher in ethanol than what most vehicles have handled the last 10 to 15 years. It’s not always easy to find but offers you another fuel choice. Be aware that the more ethanol in your fuel, the less power it delivers.

Running on regular unleaded I got 25.3 mpg in strictly highway driving and 22.4 mpg in a couple runs that were about 75% highway miles. The V-6 powered Terrain is rated 17 mpg city and 24 highway.

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