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GMC Terrain: All-New for 2018

By Frank A. Aukofer, November 18th, 2017

GMC, the truck division of General Motors, manufactures a full array of pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles, vans, and crossovers. It has been riding the current wave of customer infatuation with crossovers -- vehicles that resemble but differ from SUVs because they are built like cars with unit bodies. True sport utility vehicles have body-on-frame construction like pickup trucks.

The 2018 all-new, second-generation Terrain, a crossover SUV, is an upscale fraternal twin of the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. They share three new engines: a 170-horsepower, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder; 252-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and a 137-horsepower, 1.6-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder.

The Terrain uses a nine-speed automatic transmission on its gasoline-engine models, where the diesel engine connects to the wheels via the six-speed automatic.

The Terrain features a new system for shifting the automatic transmission, which GMC says was developed with an eye toward the future when cars will be able to drive autonomously. Switches are mounted on the dash: You pull out the ones for "drive" and "reverse," and push in for other functions.

The Terrain is available with front- or all-wheel drive. The 2018 lineup includes three versions: luxury-oriented Denali 2.0 AWD with a starting price of $40,245, an SLT FWD diesel starting at $35,140, and the focus of this review, the SLE AWD with the 1.5-liter engine, starting at $30,545.

Of the three, the diesel is the fuel economy champ with an EPA certified city/highway/combined fuel consumption of 28/39/32 miles to the gallon. The 1.5-liter gets 24/28/26 and the 2.0-liter is rated at 21/26/23.

Though the Terrain's all-new styling graces a vehicle that is slightly smaller than its predecessor, it is a roomy compact crossover with passenger room similar to that of a midsize sedan and a cargo area of 30 cubic feet, which is about double that of most midsize cars.

It also is distinguished by an unusual design element: each trim level -- SLE, SLT, and Denali -- has its own distinct grille, so astute neighbors can instantly detect your Terrain's uplevel appeal.

The top-line Denali, which has standard and optional features intended to rival those of luxury vehicles, can be equipped with state-of-the-art safety features, including low-speed automatic braking, forward collision alert, lane-keeping assist with lane-departure warning, blind-zone alert, and rear cross-traffic alert. Especially appreciated is the notice to the driver to check the back seat after parking. It could save a child's or pet's life.

Another welcome innovation is teen driving parental control, which can set speed limits and audio volume, as well as produce a report card on the teen's behavior behind the wheel.

The Denali also features such comfort items as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats with memory settings, automatic tailgate, automatic dual-zone climate control, 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, and a full-fledged infotainment system. Curiously for this luxury-oriented trim, the right front seat has manual adjustments and the right front window does not have express up and down.

If you're willing to give up some of the luxury and convenience items, then the all-wheel-drive SLE version is a satisfying vehicle in its own right -- and in this test had a price tag $11,240 lower than that of the Denali.

Its smaller 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, with 170 horsepower and 203 lb.-ft. of torque, delivered sprightly acceleration with the nine-speed automatic transmission. Its main drawback is that its towing capability is 1,500 pounds compared to the 3,500-pound rating with the 2.0-liter engine.

The SLE's front seats are comfortable and supportive, upholstered in sturdy cloth that keeps the torso cool in summer and warm in winter. The ride is pleasant on all but the roughest surfaces, and the Terrain handles securely on curves as long as it is not pushed too hard.

Overall, it is a competitive offering in the burgeoning compact crossover class and a good alternative -- depending on an individual's tastes


Base price $30,545 (as tested: $33,210)
Curb weight 3,622 lbs.
Displacement 1.5-liter
Engine type turbocharged 4-cyl. w/DI
Epa mileage rating 24 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 15.6 gal.
Horsepower (net) 170 at 5600 rpm
Overall length 182.3 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 203 at 2000-4000 rpm
Transmission 9-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger AWD compact crossover SUV
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