Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
July 20, 2012
Back in January, Drew got his hands on a 2012 GMC Terrain SLT-2 AWD with the 3.0L V6. Seven months later, I have almost the same GMC Terrain, right down to the black paint.
However, Drew has driven the Terrain and its platform mate, the Chevrolet Equinox before. This would be my first go with it.
After a week, what would I think about the Terrain?
Has anything changed since the Terrain's last visit to C&G Garage?
Only a few items of note. In the infotainment department, the Terrain dropped its base radio and replaced it with a large, seven-inch touchscreen radio. Also, GMC's Intellilink which provides smartphone integration, and the ability to stream Pandora and Stitcher Internet Radio is now on the option list.
Also on the options list (only for the SLT-2 model though) is lane departure warning and forward collision alert.
The Outside & Inside Story
The Terrain definitely fits the "Professional Grade" persona that GMC puts out there. The front end features a large, bold chrome grill that lets everyone know what you're driving. A pair of large, square headlights and a uniquely sculpted hood complete the front. The side profile features prominent front and rear fenders, body cladding running along the bottom of the doors, and a set of five-spoke, eighteen-inch chrome wheels. The back end has a set of taillights that flank a large chrome bar hiding the release for the hatch and a rear-view camera. Also featured on the rear are twin exhaust pipes.
However, the designers pumped up the fake testosterone too much and the end result looks like it is trying too hard to fit the Professional Grade persona.
Given the choice between the Terrain and the Chevrolet Equinox, I would choose the Equinox every time.
Stepping into the Terrain's interior, I was amazed as to how much interior space there was for passengers. Front seat passengers get a pair of heated leather seats, with the driver getting eight-way power-adjustments. Back seat passengers will have nothing to complain about with Terrain as head and legroom are well above average. Also, back seat passengers can also recline and move the seat backwards and forward. Cargo space for the Terrain measures at 31.6 cu.ft. with the seats up and 63.9 cu.ft. with the seats down.
As for the Dash, build quality and materials are good. The center stack is laid out well and most of the controls are in easy reach. The only set of controls that I would move is for the trip computer. The buttons are set too low in the stack for easy reach. I would put them onto a stalk on the steering wheel column like other GM vehicles.
The Terrain comes with a variety of infotainment options, ranging from a standard seven-inch touchscreen radio that provides AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD and USB input to a Naviagtion system with a 10 GB hard drive for music. This particular Terrain came with GMC's Intellilink system. Like the Chevrolet Malibu Eco and Buick Verano, I had a couple of problems (iPod playback at Alvin & Chipmunks speed on certain tracks and Pandora playing without sound).
Powertrain, Ride, Safety, and Verdict
The Terrain comes with the choices of a 2.4L direct-injection four-cylinder or a 3.0L direct-injection V6 engine, and front-wheel or all-wheel-drive. This Terrain is equipped with the 3.0L DI V6 producing 264 horsepower and 222 lf-ft of torque and all-wheel drive. No matter which engine or drive configuration you choose, the only transmission available is a 6-speed automatic. The 3.0L V6 makes its 222 lb-ft of torque at a high 5100 RPM leaving the crossover's transmission constantly on the hunt for the right gear. Making a pass requires a lot of planning.
Fuel economy for the V6-AWD is 16mpg city and 23mpg highway, which shockingly, is identical to the more powerful, larger, and heavier GMC Acadia V6 AWD. Somehow, I was able to coax out 21 MPG for my average.
If you want/need V6 power in your Terrain, wait for the 2013 models with the 3.6L DI V6 to begin rolling out.
Ride & Drive
Driving the Terrain is very a pleasant experience. The suspension does a good job of providing a comfortable ride and isolating road imperfections.
Also, the suspension does a good job of keeping the Terrain stable in cornering and emergency maneuvers. As for the steering, it is weighted just right.
Noise from the engine and the road is kept to a minimum thanks in part to triple door seals, double pane glass, and other sound deadening materials.
This particular Terrain was equipped with the optional lane departure warning and forward collision alert. Using a camera mounted in the rear-view window, the two systems warn you if you're drifting into another lane or are about to run into the back of a vehicle. In theory, both systems should work very well. In practice, one out of two isn't bad.
The lane departure warning is more a nuisance than a help, just a warning light and audible beep. Also, a study from HLDI found out vehicles equipped with lane departure warning were in more accidents than vehicles without the system. The forward collision alert is a good system, flashing a big, red light on the dash and beeping. The system also prepares the braking system for the driver to hit the brakes quickly.
One item I do have to give GMC kudos for is the dual mirrors for the side-view mirrors, which helps minimize the Terrain's blind spots.
The GMC Terrain is one of the best CUVs on sale today. Despite my dislike for the exterior styling, most of the overall package is just right for most crossover buyers.
There is an Achilles heel though to the Terrain and that is the optional 3.0L V6. The power isn't quite where you want it in certain situations, the six-speed automatic hunts for gears, and fuel economy makes you think you're driving a larger vehicle. This is a case of right car, wrong engine.
For most buyers, the 2.4L Ecotec four is all you need. For those who need V6 power, wait till the 2013 Terrain comes with the 3.6L V6. You'll sacrifice nothing in fuel economy but gain more horsepower and torque.
Disclaimer: General Motors provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gas for this review.
Year - 2012
Make - GMC
Model - Terrain
Trim – SLT-2
Engine – 3.0L DI V6
Driveline – All Wheel Drive, Six Speed Automatic
Horsepower @ RPM - 264 @ 6950
Torque @ RPM - 222 @ 5100
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/23/19
Curb Weight – 3798 lbs
Location of Manufacture – CAMI Assembly, Ingersol, Ontario
Base Price - $33,010.00
As Tested Price - $36,495.00 (Includes $810.00 Destination Charge)
William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.