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3 Comments

2012 GMC Terrain SLT-2 AWD


One of the nice things about being a webmaster is with the right tools you can find out what your visitors are interested in without them telling you directly. With these tools, I can learn what the people who visit this website are interested in by the search term they used on Google to lead them here. Out of all models from any brand currently in production, none bring more visitors to Cheers and Gears than people searching for information on the GMC Terrain.

Armed with that knowledge, I requested one from the GM Press fleet and they delivered this 2012 Terrain SLT-2 with AWD and nearly every bell and whistle you can think of for your reviewing enjoyment.

One of the first things that struck me about the 2012 model is how much firmer the suspension feels. We've had both a 2010 GMC Terrain and its brother a 2010 Chevrolet Equinox in the past. Both of which were noted for their comfortable, car-like ride. I'm not implying that the 2012 Terrain has an uncomfortable ride, but let us just call it more "Professional Grade".

The Terrain is GMC's entry into the mid-size crossover segment. However there is no smaller CUV in GMC's stable. In fact, no brand from General Motors offers a CUV smaller than the Terrain/Equinox siblings at least until the sub-compact 2013 Buick Encore joins the lineup sometime early next year.

This Terrain came equipped with a 264 horsepower, direct injected, 3.0 liter V6. While that sounds okay on paper, things aren't so hot when you read the torque figure. You get just 222 ft-lb of torque at 5100 rpm. That relative lack of torque means the transmission is on a constant Easter Egg hunt for just the right gear. Equipped with all wheel drive, the Terrain V6 is rated an almost GMC Acadia like 16/22 city/highway.

So what are your other engine options? Well there is the 2.4 liter direct injected Ecotec 4-cylinder rated at 182 horsepower and 172 ft-lb of torque. That engine won't get you there faster than the V6, but you'll at least be getting 22/29 city/highway.

While the V6 is smooth enough, I've had a good enough experience with the 2.4 4-cylinder to tell you to skip the V6 in favor of the 4 and pocket the savings at the fuel pump.

So that's it for the drive for now. We'll cover the interior and other options in future updates. In the meantime, gear up your questions for this 2012 GMC Terrain SLT-2.
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38 Comments

How do these things ride and drive compared to a larger SUV like a Tahoe?
obviously there is less power, but there is also significantly less weight
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Not a question, just some commentary: when the new 2.5L finds its way under the hood of these, it will make the 3.0 less necessary. They'll need a more powerful 6 cylinder at that point. 3.6?
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I feel the Terrain is a great CUV, but underpowered for AWD. With that said, I also feel GM has diluted the Denali package by putting it on everything.

The Terrain is perfect for a Terrain Typhoon Package. All Black with a V6 Turbo.
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Terrain Typhoon has a sexy ring to it.
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Drewbert, please let us know how the fuel mileage is with the 6 cylinder. When the Terrain first came out I thought it was small... now I think it's big. I have an aunt & uncle looking to replace their '97 Blazer (bought new, still in excellent shape, I don't take after them, ha), and they mistakenly believe these have no room in the back seat. I told them it slides fore and aft a good bit, they were surprised. They are still mad about the bailout, and currently like the Forester as a replacement because of its excellent visibility, handy size, and the fact Subaru did not participate in the US government bailout (duh, they're Japanese, I'm sure their government helps ensure their success, at least at home).

I am trying to steer them away from the Forester and toward an Equinox or Patriot... the bailout is still big in their minds, however. Funny, since the bailout I've had a Colorado, Fiesta and Patriot.
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How is the fit and finish, has it gotten better?
How is the road noise?
Could you see yourself taking this on a long road trip, 1500 to 2000 miles and not feel worn out at the end of a long 10hr drive day?
For me I never thought there were blind spots, do you feel this vehicle has any large blind spots?
Does it have remote start?
Layout of the buttons, does it make sense or is it a jumbled mess?
Does the cruise control work smoothly or does it speed up and slow down?
Does this v6 seem to be thrashy at times when you step on it?

Looking forward to your updated report. :)
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So I sent another email to GMC about my Idea of the following:

Terrain Typhoon Edition
Black Chrome in place of traditional chrome. (yes in my eye's a metalic black or metalic red with the Black Chrome looks sweet) Even the limited run of bing cherry that they had on the escalade would look good with Black Chrome.
Dual Scroll Turbo charged V6
Dash has carbon fiber trim in place of brushed aluminum
Dash has a Terrain Typhoon Edition Serial Numbered plate.
Seats have TT embossed into them.
Floor mates would have Terrain Typhoon embossed onto them.
All windows would be dark tinted.

What do you think?
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blu, how could one seriously consider a Forester if they have driven one and already driven something else? Forester=turd......

Hope the Eq/Terrain gets the 2.5 and the 3.6 becomes the option across the board.....

I like the Terrain big time....
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I am averaging about 20 mpg with the 3.0 - good mix of around town and highway. It gets better gas millage than the 3900 in my Malibu.

Cruising at 70 mph it shows an instant mpg in the 30's.

I find the ride quite nice.

Gotten used to the 3.0 and the 6 speed. Would rather have the 3.6 (the LaCrosse can move quite well) in the beginning the trans would hunt and peck, but once I got used to the 6 speed I can keep it under control.

I just hit my 1 year with the 2011 Terrain SLT2 FWD and no problems and no real complaints. I still love the interior, still love the looks. No problems and never gone back to the dealer for anything. It's the most trouble-free GM car I've owned so far.

Here's my responses DFelt after a year of ownership:

How is the fit and finish, has it gotten better? - No complaints at all - one of the best interiors I've seen in this class of truck.

How is the road noise? - Relatively low for an SUV. No wistling or rushing wind noise at high speed even with the roof rack cross rails.

Could you see yourself taking this on a long road trip, 1500 to 2000 miles and not feel worn out at the end of a long 10hr drive day? - Yes- though the longest I've probably been in it is around 2 1/2 hours. I find it comfortable and this comes from someone who much rather be closer to the ground in a Camaro.

For me I never thought there were blind spots, do you feel this vehicle has any large blind spots? - Not that effects me. It has the standard (for all Terrains) back up camera that has the screen in the rear view mirror, so it makes backing up super easy.

Does it have remote start? - SLT2s do. Not sure of the lowest level, but I think so.

Layout of the buttons, does it make sense or is it a jumbled mess? - I love the dash. Everything is good - the radio buttons are a reach, but everything is duplicated on the steering wheel. My main complaint for 2011 (and not sure if it is fixed for 2012) is that you cannot Bluetooth streaming audio to the radio - I have to use a physical jack (that's all I listen to is Slacker off my phone). Not terrible, but I assumed when I bought it, it would work.

Does the cruise control work smoothly or does it speed up and slow down? - Just used it on Tuesday and of all the times I have used it I have noticed no jerky acceleration. Smooth.

Does this v6 seem to be thrashy at times when you step on it? - It could use more power. It took me some time to get used to the 6 speed and the lower-torque 3.0, but for regular driving once you get the feel of it, I am happy with it. It can get loud when you've got it pinned to pull out on the highway, but it gets out of its own way and gets you up to speed quickly. No complaints- but I will always want to see more power. The 3.6 would make this thing a rocket.
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dfelt, don't forget some serious, non-blingy wheels and performance tires, upgraded suspension, driveline, brakes and exhaust system.

reg, you're right about the Forester v. an Equinox/Terrain. I think the best way for US citizens to get their money back... is to support the home team, any of the three, but especially GM/Chrysler.

Walt, been waiting to hear a long-term report. Nice to hear you still like yours after a year of ownership.
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Blu - ask your aunt and uncle how many American tax payer dollars has been handed over to Subaru for their assembly plant in Indiana.

They are subsidizing them.

(The factory was given $98 million in state and local tax incentives when it opened in 1988, and these remain in place.)
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when ford stops making the escape in its current form, i think the folks that do not like the new one will move over to the terrain and equinox even faster.....
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Fit and finished has improved over the 2010 Terrain I had two years ago. Maybe I had an earlier production vehicle back then. The fit issues I complained about then aren't there on this one.

Road noise isn't Buick quiet, but it is close. You can hear a bit more engine than in a Buick.

I don't know there is any vehicle that you can drive for 10 hours straight and not feel worn out. On the open road, this feels fine. I'm not planning any roadtrips in it.

This does have remote start.

The blind spots aren't bad. GMC put the small convex mirrors on the outside to aide in that. The back up camera in this Terrain displays on the NAV screen rather than in the rear view mirror like Walt's.

The V6 is nice and smooth across the RPM band, exhaust is oddly tuned so that it has a sound with a hint of 3800 in there. People familiar with the 3800 will notice, people not familiar with it wont.

The cruise control works as it should, but here in hilly Western PA, the transmission still has to downshift more often than I would like for a V6. I would expect it for a 4-cylinder, but if I'm paying extra for a V6 both on the sticker and at the pump, I want the power when I want it.

I'm mixed on the buttons on the center stack. Once you learn them they are fine.... once you learn them.

$36k sticker and there are a few things I think are missing that should be there.

I HATE lane departure warning and crash avoidance warning. I leave them turned on just to annoy me and remind me how much I hate them. I don't think it would matter what car I was in, I simply do not like these features.

MPG may not be a fair test on this one as I'm using the remote start often on account of the very cold weather we are having here.

Rear seat leg room is almost luxury sedan like.
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Glad to see GM sent you a 2012 Terrain SLT-2 AWD V6. I drove an '11 like this in the summer at the Philadelphia Main Street in Motion (I came away very impressed with the V6 over the 4cyl, but that's just me). I'm still tempted to go to the dealership and have them run leases numbers... but I do LOVE my Envoy and the size (and height) it has over the Terrain. Please post some pictures and keep the commentary coming. Looking forward to the Philly Auto Show (going on Sat 2/4) and once again checking out the Terrain in person.
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Thanks Oldsmoboi for the update on the 2012, sounds like they are getting it closer to being dialed in as an excellent small suv. :P

Still wish they had a Terrain Typhoon edition as I think a dialed in performance version whould be a perfect Halo vehicle for GMC.
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I'm not saying I'm not impressed with the V6. I'm just saying that for the fuel economy penalty, especially on the AWD edition, I would expect more torque and thus less transmission hunting on hills. Switching to the 3.6, even just tuned to 280hp like in the Lambdas, would be an improvement.

The 3.0 has never been a steller performer for fuel economy in any vehicle it has been in. Going from the 3.0 to the 3.6 costs you nothing in fuel efficiency but gains you a lot in power.
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I'm not saying I'm not impressed with the V6. I'm just saying that for the fuel economy penalty, especially on the AWD edition, I would expect more torque and thus less transmission hunting on hills. Switching to the 3.6, even just tuned to 280hp like in the Lambdas, would be an improvement.

The 3.0 has never been a steller performer for fuel economy in any vehicle it has been in. Going from the 3.0 to the 3.6 costs you nothing in fuel efficiency but gains you a lot in power.


I agree with you 100%. I think GM is allowing Caddy to benefit the SRX with the 3.6L V6 for 2012, and the Terrain/Equinox will dump the 3.0L V6 for 2013 and have the 3.6L V6 in its place (like ocnblu already stated a few posts up). Honestly, I would wait another year for the 3.6L V6 engine to be the upgraded engine option (though if the 2.5L 4cyl is a vast improvement over the 2.4L 4cyl, maybe I'd consider that) for me to consider a lease option. I don't want a Denali version just to get a 3.6L V6 though; however, it could have that as the only engine available.

dfelt, I'm not sure I'd want to see the Typhoon name return (and boy do I LOVE the original Syclone/Typhoon). I think the Denali name would suffice for what you propose to be a Terrain Tyhoon (btw, isn't a Terrain Typhoon called a Tornado? :lol: ). I still think GMC should offer the normal packages (W/T-SL, SLE, SLT) in addition to the Denali luxury and and All-Terrain off-road packages. Then GM could restyle the Hummer Hx Concept as a GMC Jimmy offering to compete with the Jeep Wrangler & Toyota FJ Cruiser, and I'd love to see an All-Terrain version of the Terrain (if possible, which I believe PCS/Oracle once said the Theta platform could be made into a beefier 4WD - a'la Jeep Patriot). Giving GMC those model packages could differentiate them enough from their Chevy counterparts (assuming the General doesn't give Chevy the same stuff).

Anyway, I hope the 3.6L V6 engine is offered on the 2013 Terrains, and a slight MCE too would be nice (but not necessary).
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I'm not sure the Terrain will ever get a V6 larger than the 3.0. The Terrain is going down in size/weight slightly for the next generation making room for a slightly smaller/lighter Acadia.

I could very well see such a vehicle getting the 2.5/2.0T combination eschewing the V6 all together.
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And with the recent news of the GMC Granite being dead in the water, I can see your gen2 Terrain vision coming to life. It would be nice though as a last hurrah to send the current Terrain out with a better V6 option.
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GMCTruckGuy, I see your point, but one issue I have is that I feel GM has totally Diluted the Denali level by having it on every model they sell.

I think the current GMC Terrain would be perfect in a Typhoon edition, Black chrome rims, Grill, etc with a Turbo V6 AWD limited Production run would be a Perfect Halo Auto.

GMC Needs a Halo version Vehicle that would bring some passion back into what I see as a hohum product line with the same trim levels on everything including a bling version Denali. Not everyone wants a chrome bling version, some of us love our monochromatic vehicles with all the bells and whistles on it.

Mercedes has proven that not everything needs to be chromed out.

I email GM about this that they need to realize that there are plenty of people out there that want that sleeper look but still have all the luxury toys on the inside.

I'm not sure the Terrain will ever get a V6 larger than the 3.0. The Terrain is going down in size/weight slightly for the next generation making room for a slightly smaller/lighter Acadia.

I could very well see such a vehicle getting the 2.5/2.0T combination eschewing the V6 all together.


With a smaller Terrain, I could see a pumped up 2.5T AWD as a Typhoon edition. Metallic black, Windows blacked out, the suspension tweeked to ride tight and the monochromatic version or at least a black chrome version to give it that sweet Darth Vader look. :D
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Walking into a Buick dealer in 4 years, the CUV lineup may look something like this.

Buick Encore - Gamma
GMC Terrain - Delta-Gama
Buick Something - Theta-Epsilon - SWB
GMC Acadia - Theta-Epsilon-LWB
Buick Enclave - Lambda

All premium vehicle with equipment above what you get in a same size/platform Chevy if one exists.
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GMCTruckGuy, I see your point, but one issue I have is that I feel GM has totally Diluted the Denali level by having it on every model they sell.

I think the current GMC Terrain would be perfect in a Typhoon edition, Black chrome rims, Grill, etc with a Turbo V6 AWD limited Production run would be a Perfect Halo Auto.

GMC Needs a Halo version Vehicle that would bring some passion back into what I see as a hohum product line with the same trim levels on everything including a bling version Denali. Not everyone wants a chrome bling version, some of us love our monochromatic vehicles with all the bells and whistles on it.

Mercedes has proven that not everything needs to be chromed out.

I email GM about this that they need to realize that there are plenty of people out there that want that sleeper look but still have all the luxury toys on the inside.


I'm not sure the Terrain will ever get a V6 larger than the 3.0. The Terrain is going down in size/weight slightly for the next generation making room for a slightly smaller/lighter Acadia.

I could very well see such a vehicle getting the 2.5/2.0T combination eschewing the V6 all together.


With a smaller Terrain, I could see a pumped up 2.5T AWD as a Typhoon edition. Metallic black, Windows blacked out, the suspension tweeked to ride tight and the monochromatic version or at least a black chrome version to give it that sweet Darth Vader look. :D


well. I don't think they will turbo the 2.5 directly. There will be a smaller displacement engine of the same family that will be turboed. It might even end up being another turbo 2.0, but entirely different from the current one.
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My mother is nearing 1 year (in about a month) with her 2011 Terrain SLT-1 AWD with the 3.0L as her only option, and loves it. Fits everything, comfortable, quiet, and continue to be pleased with the 3.0L/6-spd/AWD combo. Better mileage than her 2010 Camaro 3.6L before, highway and around town, since day one according to my father.

Having read reviews but never driven, I wasn't sure they'd like the 3.0L, especially after a 3.6L Camaro. A year later and almost 15k miles with a lot of long trips, neither has anything but great things to say about it. Dad, who usually complains of powertrains (thinking back to the years with a 300M, etc.) that need revved for power, thought I was nuts telling him about reviews of the 3.0L elsewhere.

Great ride. Never have had a chance to test the AWD in bad weather yet, but glad she has it. After my CX-9 that's larger, I was still impressed with how large and silent the smaller Terrain felt inside.

3.0L is simply smoother, quieter and quicker, even if it doesn't seem overly torquey. I know from driving also at Main Street the track difference of FWD vs. FWD model was small, but noticeable.
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Is is possible that the AWD feels more "on" all the time?
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Is is possible that the AWD feels more "on" all the time?


Wondering. I've only have driven FWD models. That said, they do have different gear ratios, and I've read reviews saying 4-cyl AWD models for instance take off differently...so presumably so for both.

Interesting, however, my brother who drives an old V8 Regal and different trucks at work said "it's like it has no torque...have to prod the pedal to get it to roll even in the driveway", vs. her past vehicles, the Camaro, etc. Partly true. Does like to rev, but that's intended.
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