Did you know I had a hand in the introduction of the car pictured above?
Well, sort of.
At the last Chicago Auto Show, I was with Alex Villani and Nick Saporito of GMInsideNews as we were talking to one of the product managers for GMC's crossover lines. We talked about our experiences with the 2012 Terrain SLT-2 with him – comparing notes and what we liked and disliked about it. We were asked these questions: What if GMC did a Denali version of the Terrain? What would you like to see in it?
Several months later, I met up with the product manager at the Midwest Automotive Media Association Fall Rally outside of Chicago. The subject of the new 2013 Terrain Denali was brought up. He stated that Alex, Nick and I were almost dead on with the top shelf version of the compact crossover.
I drove it, actually. Though it was taken on a 10-minute loop near the venue in Hoffman Estates and Barrington, I noticed a few things about the luxo Terrain. The seats improved, while the Intellink integrated infotainment system was a welcome addition from prior Terrains.
The biggest change was under the hood – a 301-horsepower 3.6-liter High Feature V6. While I was pretty mixed about the previous V6 under the hood of the 2012 SLT-2s, the bigger engine turned the Terrain into a hot rod. It certainly changed the dynamics of GMC's smallest offering.
I thought I was done with the Terrain. After all, it played a huge part in the growth of V&R after the rebranding of this site and such. It also played a big part in my work with Lavender magazine – something I am forever grateful. It kept my contacts with General Motors in good graces.
Guess what I found when I came home from one stressed-out, brain-dead, tired and pissy commute home? Yes – it was a 2013 GMC Terrain Denali.
Being this is the fourth Terrain I have driven in the course of 15 months, I had to come up with something to talk about with this Denali. The first Terrain was subjected to a road trip from Minneapolis to Chicago, while the second one enjoyed the Twin Cities' first snowfall of the season last year.
What should I do with this Terrain Denali?
Considering this is the holiday season, it was time to be festive and spread some cheer. It is a time for holiday parties at work and around town, to give white elephant and/or Secret Santa gifts, and wear ugly sweaters. It is about seeing who believes in Santa Claus, or to find meaning in the spiritual celebrations throughout the season. It is also a time for charity as a way to extend the spreading of cheer during a time of need.
The idea where faith and culture meets comfort and care is universally understood. Those who find joy in this time of year will also run into a Grinch or a Scrooge. The one who brings the "bah humbug" to the Holidays is a foil for those of us looking for that comfort and care the Holidays. Said person could be as close as a relative – not exactly the best situation for any of us to deal with this time of year.
One aspect of the Holidays is a chance for any of us to find a little bit of luxury in our lives. Even if we have little, a single moment of pampering and frivolity would make for a year full of challenges. Luxury may range from a schedule of Holiday parties with friends, co-workers and even complete strangers to the full spa treatment or buying that expensive piece of clothing or electronic device you always wanted.
This is where the Terrain Denali comes in. The idea to add the Denali is two fold – to expand the Denali brand across the GMC line to its second most popular product in the line (next to the Sierra pickup) and to enable mid-cycle improvements for the Terrain.
The Denali adds simple details, such as satin-finished chrome, the sub-brand's distinctive grille and exclusive 19-inch wheels. The all-black cabin is adorned with Denali identifiers set off with satin finishes and red stitching. There are a few exclusive features that distinguish the Denali from the SLT, such as a power passenger seat.
The flip side to all of this luxury is the price. The Carbon Black Denali tester came to over $40,000 – right into Acura RDX territory. A pretty good place to be, if you ask me.
Looking back at this past Chicago Auto Show, perhaps this example was what we expected from a Terrain Denali. Frankly, I was hoping for more. To the consumer, if one does not need the Denali trim and could live without a power passenger seat – the SLT-2 suits me just fine. After all, the standard chrome 18-inch wheels are the best looking on any Terrain.
Of course, I am missing the point. The Holidays are about indulgence. This befits the intention of the Terrain Denali. It is exactly what the GMC brand wanted to do with its second most popular vehicle in the lineup. That should bring some Holiday cheer to vehicle buyers this season.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by General Motors.
All photos by Randy Stern