If there is anything exciting about the 2018 GMC Terrain, it is that it is actually good. Because let’s be honest its previous generation did not exactly win any podiums in comparison tests. This all new, next generation version addresses that and so much more. Positioning itself as a premium truck and SUV brand, GMC already has enough competition with luxury automakers it considers direct competitors. The compact crossover segment in which the Terrain contends has proven to be beyond cutthroat. With no end in sight to segment’s rising sales and market share, mass market models easily compete with premium cars by offering similar features at lower prices. In world of automobiles, offering capability, functionality, and efficiency is a combination consumers have come to expect. Add a fun to drive component with a little bit of ingenuity and heads will start to turn.
At 7 years old, Terrain’s first-generation was long in tooth by today’s standards. With year to date crossover sales at nearly 3 million units (a 7,5% increase), development and execution of next generation Terrain had to be on point. With new engines to choose from and decent supporting numbers, there will be no buyer beware on selection. Replacing the old 2,4 liter 4 cylinder and 3,6 liter V6 is a trio of turbocharged engines, including a diesel. A 1,5 liter inline four is standard and offers 170 hp and 201 lb-ft of torque. But unlike its Chevrolet Equinox sibling, a new 9 speed automatic transmission is paired with smaller gasoline engine. Also mated to 9 speed is a 2,0 liter 4 cylinder engine, which is available on all but base trim. Its output is 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The new to market diesel option is a turbocharged 1,6 liter with a power rating of 137 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque and is matched with the carryover 6 speed automatic. According to GMC, three extra gears provided little efficiency benefits with that particular engine. Based on how our diesel tester performed, this is a fair assessment. Vehicles provided during a recent media preview were a mix of prototype and early production models, but different power bands aside. Vehicles felt planted in corners, a feat many crossovers still fail to accomplish. Dropping roughly 350 pounds and featuring a 34% stiffer body.
A front wheel drive model, Terrain SLT provided a generally compliant ride. The diesel’s lack of power revealed itself during one particular passing opportunity on a rising incline. Either lost or bird watching, you can found yourself following cars whose occupants opted to travel at speeds roughly 20 mph below the posted 45 mph speed limit. This particular two lane stretch extended far enough to allow the diesel to get to speed and safely pass before oncoming traffic broke the crest. On the opposite end of engine spectrum is the 2,0 liter, which we tested behind the wheel of an all wheel drive Denali model. Where the diesel was tepid, larger gasoline engine was hot. Trotting from point A to point B proved to be eye-opening and giggle-inducing. When segment’s core engines average 70 to 80 hp less, you are allowed to smile when the power boost is more than you need but will never be wasted. The standard 9 speed was also surprisingly non-intrusive. Simply going to work in background, its shifts were rather smooth, whether when keeping a steady pace or quickly accelerating. With an assist from standard start-stop technology, fuel economy numbers are competitive as well with FWD models EPA rated at 26 city, 30 highway and 28 combined mpg for 1,5 liter models, 22/28/24 mpg for the 2,0 liter, and 28/39/32 mpg for diesel-equipped vehicles.
As well as all new Terrain performs, it looks pretty good. The redesigned exterior features HID headlights with LED signature lighting in the front and rear lamps. Three new grilles create a bold face and pair nicely with vehicle’s overall muscular shape. One point of contention would be the “floating” roofline, which is akin to the auto industry’s version of a man bun, but why?? Almost always designed with a narrowing C-pillar window, this visual kink is meant to be sleek and sexy but generally translates to a diminished field of vision. Another change of scenery comes with standard Electronic Precision Shift, which replaces a conventional console-mounted shifter with a button and switch interface. A vehicle without a traditional shifter in either knob or stalk form would give anyone pause, but utilization is uncomplicated with an extremely low learning curve. Safety measures also prevent accidental shifting. For example, pressing P (park) while at highway speed merely brings up a warning within the driver information screen that reads verbatim “Conditions Not Correct for Shift.” It is a rather silent and gentle reminder instead of a beep blaring warning, even if you are going 75 mph and should you forget to put vehicle in park when turning the engine off, system defaults into park just the same. EPS interface frees up for cubbies. For example, deleted shifter now allows for pass through storage in the center console. Also new is a flat-folding front passenger seat, which when all rows are folded down, increases cargo flexibility up to 8 feet.
Plenty of extras
Starting at $24’995, standard equipment starts with 17 inch wheels with all season tires, keyless entry, push button start, cloth seats with 4 way manual front seat adjustments, complimentary OnStar Basic for 5 years, 2 12 volt outlets, a rearview camera, a 3,5 inch driver information screen, and 6 speaker audio system. You will always be connected and powered up, thanks to a 7 inch infotainment system, smartphone integration, 2 12 volt outlets, multiple USB ports and a built in Wi-Fi hotspot with a 3 month data trial. Teen Driver also is standard, which allows for custom configuration of vehicle setting and features. All new Terrain also features nearly twice as many safety features as before, including an available 360 degree surround view, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, automatic braking, a safety alert seat and assist systems for parking and staying in your lane.