Notice I mention just the SUV lineup. We all know that GMC is known for their pickup trucks.
When you read or hear that GMC is the “Professional Grade” brand, is that an invitation to compromise on your SUV?
Notice I mention just the SUV lineup. We all know that GMC is known for their pickup trucks. Tough, brawny work-a-day rigs ranging from the mid-size Canyon to the massive Sierra HD.
GMC is also the home of Denali trim. Every model gets the full luxury treatment of a Denali – a top-of-the-line trim level that sometimes will make you think you’re driving a traditional Cadillac.
The Denalis are also found on their SUV lineup – sometimes an oft-forgotten part of the GMC lineup. They shouldn’t be, since all three SUVs offer a competitive product against their counterparts within and outside General Motors.
At the gateway of the GMC brand is the Terrain SUV. This compact model offers a more distinctive – rather, “professional grade” – two-row vehicle that is more common in various places than you think. Even in a world full of RAV4s, CR-Vs, and CX-5s, there’s plenty of Terrains rolling around our highways and shopping centers serving a reminder that GMC is still relevant in the marketplace.
What about the Terrain? It has been around since the 2018 model year. In some areas, you could write it off as being outdated for the marketplace. Then, you are reminded that the 2022 model year brought on some refreshed elements both inside and out.
For example, the front end is more three-dimensional with more defined headlamp units and grille shape. The rear got some cleaning up, while keeping the roofline and “claw”-shaped taillamps. However, the Terrain retained its narrow C-Pillar glass. At least you can see the difference between the GMC and its competitors.
This SLT tester came with the Elevation Edition package. This appearance package adds blacked-out elements, including black finished badges, black trim, and a set of gloss black 19-inch alloy wheels. Think of this as a sporty upgrade to a “professional grade” SUV.
Interior-wise, we start with an instrument cluster with small-ish analog dials – including fuel and temperature above the main row of instruments – and a robust information screen between them. The controls are usual what you find in other GMC and GM vehicles, including the steering wheel. There are two knobs underneath the eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, along with some buttons. So far, very straightforward.
Then you get to below the center stack. This is perhaps the most controversial element of the Terrain – the transmission selector. This was GM’s first try at a button-and-toggle controller. It works, but there may be some drivers that are worried about reaching these controls. Obviously, I had no trouble with it. You will get used to it.
The perforated leather seats offer plenty of comfort and support. Especially, up front, which I felt relaxed behind the wheel. Rear seat room is very good for a lot of bodies to enjoy short and long trips. Cargo space is equally generous, with 29.6 cubic feet available behind the rear seats. With the rear seats folded down, cargo space grows to 63.3 cubic feet.
The Terrain is motivated by a 175-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It puts down 203 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive round out this tester’s driveline.
Honestly, I wished there was more punch to this engine. As long as you’re cruising at speed, you’re fine. It is the acceleration is where I wished for more. However, the driveline is fine with smooth shifts. As far as fuel consumption is concerned, the Environmental Protection Agency rated the Terrain with AWD for an average of 26 MPG.
Ride quality was very smooth and comfortable. It does a great job absorbing rougher road surfaces without hesitation. We found the overall handling a bit on the soft side. Yet, the behavior was very controlled with solid cornering.
The steering system works quite well with a solid turning radius. On-center feel was a bit on the soft side, but it kept the Terrain within the lane. Brakes felt very good and offered a solid pedal feel. Then Terrain turned in pretty solid stops in normal and panic situations.
For 2023, you can get your GMC Terrain in four trims, along with packages on some trims. They do offer AT4 and Denali versions, as well, all starting from $30,395. This SLT AWD tester with the Elevation Edition package came with a sticker price of $41,680.
If you set aside the terms “relevance” and “professional grade,” the GMC Terrain is a solid choice in a very competitive segment. Sure, it’s one of the longest-running products in the segment. Perhaps that should tell you how well it has held up against a slew of newer competitors.
For every vehicle there is a customer. GMC has plenty of them coming in and checking out the Terrain for their two-row compact SUV. That alone is another reason to even consider one.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Walser Buick-GMC, Roseville, Minnesota
All photos by Randy Stern