Drew Dowdell

Cheers and Gears Drives: 2010 GMC Terrain SLE-2

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Cheers and Gears Drives:

2010 GMC Terrain SLE-2 FWD I4

By: Drew Dowdell

Photography by: Drew Dowdell and Joe Joyner

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Following our review of the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ, we decided to try something different for this GMC Terrain cousin. This time, I wanted to know what you wanted to know while I was evaluating the vehicle. This gave birth to a unique new concept called the Interactive Review. Well, today I gave the GMC Terrain back to General Motors and picked up a 2010 Buick LaCrosse. The Interactive Review of Buick Lacrosse is underway here.

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The GMC Terrain is GM's most recent entry into the compact crossover segment using the same Theta platform as the Chevrolet Equinox, Saturn Vue, and Opel Antara. GMC is marketing the Terrain to people who want a little something more from their cute-ute.... namely.. looks that are more on the masculine side of the scale. That's not to say that the handsome Chevrolet Equinox looks feminine, the Terrain just looks more brash. The GMC looks like a downsized version of the big daddy GMC Yukon. My partner, who is not at all into cars, preferred the more upscale look of the GMC, likening it to a Cadillac, in spite of a $4,000 lower sticker price for the non-loaded GMC. Without a measuring tape in hand, the Terrain looks bigger than it's corporate cousin, however that doesn't play out when you look at the numbers. Dimensionally, they are the same vehicle.

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Most of the questions I got about the Terrain were in regards to the 4-cylinder power plant. I can safely say that if AWD is not a concern (I haven't tested an AWD version of these vehicles), the direct injected 182 horsepower I4 in this Terrain will satisfy all but the most power hungry. The Terrain will break the front tires loose if you put your foot in it and it feels very peppy around town. The 6-speed automatic it's attached to makes shifting quick and smooth. The only time I had a hunger for more power was the occasional passing maneuver on the highway. Here in the C&G hometown of Pittsburgh, we don't have many flat and level highways, so passing uphill sometimes required some planning. The automatic, however, was plenty willing to downshift twice if need be, and once it did, you were off to the races. Unusual for a 4-cylinder is the Terrain's ability to hold 70mph at just 2050 rpm. This helps, along with some high tech active sound cancellation in the Pioneer audio unit, to give you a fairly quiet highway ride. There was slightly more wind noise noticeable in the Terrain compared to the Equinox, but it was mostly noticeable because everything else was so quiet. When driven conservatively, the Terrain's engine is barely audible. Put your foot firmly on the right pedal and you'll awake a V6 like growl. My one week stay with the Terrain was 95% city driving... during the final shopping days of Christmas and a couple of good snowstorms... as such I only got 22.1 mpg.

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One thing I should mention here is the Eco-Mode option available on just the 4-cylinder versions of these vehicles. According to GM, Eco-Mode improves engine efficiency by lowering the idle RPM, upshifting the transmission sooner, downshifting it later, reducing throttle sensitivity, and locking up the torque converter at a much lower rpm. When in Eco-Mode, driving refinement suffers slightly, but not so much as to be noticeable. You can feel the difference, but only if you're looking for it. Even in Eco-mode, the Terrain is more refined than my 2004 Honda CR-V. My suggestion is to try both and then leave it in Eco-Mode for the gas savings.

Most of the driving dynamics carry over from the Chevrolet Equinox we tested last month, however there is a noticeable difference between the 4 and 6 cylinder models. In the V6, the weight is more noticeable... not cumbersome, but you can feel it's there. The 4-cylinder, though only about 100lbs lighter, actually feels lighter. I'm not sure if this is due to the actual weight of the vehicle or the tuning of the electric assist steering (standard hydraulic power assist comes on the V6). The electric assist feels just slightly overboosted at parking lot speeds but firms up nicely at anything over 25mph.

Pretty on the inside

Instead of the dual cowl Chevrolet dash, a large trapezoid overlays the instrument pod and center stack. The interior of the Terrain gets a slightly more upscale treatment than it's Chevy cousin with extra chrome and faux leather padding with contrast stitching on the instrument pod. Instead of blue ambient lighting, the GMC gets red. If the ambient interior lighting of the Equinox made you feel like you were piloting a starship, the red in the Terrain feels like you're at the helm of a nuclear attack sub.

My minor complaint about the green indicators in the speedometer are obviously still there.

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Some things I failed to mention on the Equinox review were the great cruise control, were you set the speed through a digital readout on the dash

and, important for parents, a rear door child power lockout control on the center stack. This button allows you to be a parent during the day, preventing your kids from opening doors without you, and in the evening take your friends out on the town without having to open the door for them or fumbling for a small switch in the door. I had my partner's nieces with me on my final night with the Terrain and with the touch of a button, I was able to prevent them from opening the rear door even if it was unlocked.

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I was disappoint to find a couple of fit issues in the seams of the dash panels where it meets the center stack. Tellingly, it was only in places where the part was a different shape than that on the Equinox.

The seats...well, I simply cannot do them justice in this text. The outer border of the seat is in a robust, but pleasant to the touch solid color fabric. The inlay is a type of sports mesh that is at once very comfortable while providing great lateral support...and in the SLE-2 package, they are heated. Even if you aren't in the market for a compact crossover but find yourself at a Chevrolet or GMC dealer, do yourself a favor and sample the seats available in these two vehicles.

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Overall, both the GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox are setting new standards for comfort and convenience in the compact CUV segment. My personal inclination is to go with the slightly more upscale Terrain but either way you choose, you'll get yourself a winning vehicle.

Cheers

Peppy I4 around town

32 EPA highway mpg

Great front bucket seats

Jeers

same flimsy fuel door as the Equinox

off color and too bright indicators in the dash

some minor interior panel alignment issues

Test Vehicle info

2010 GMC Terrain SLE-2 FWD I4 6-speed automatic

EPA Fuel Economy 22/32 city/highway

Horsepower: 182 @ 6700 rpm

Lbs. - Ft. Torque: 172 @ 4900 rpm

As Tested MSRP: $27,285

2010 GMC Terrain photo gallery

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I do like the interior of this a lot. Still prefer the Equinox though.

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Yeah, fit and finish looks bad from the interior pictures. This needs fixing, GM.

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How did you find the overall layout of the controls? Did you find yourself looking to the owners's manual or was everything typical GM stuff? Overall good review and great job incorporating the request/etc from the first review.

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Yeah, fit and finish looks bad from the interior pictures. This needs fixing, GM.

no way you can say that from these pics. it looks fine.

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no way you can say that from these pics. it looks fine.

This coming from the guy who thinks he can make interior material judgments based on a couple press photos.

Panel misalignment is something you can actually deduce from photos. At least the color shades match. I Terrain at the auto show had a different shade of lower dash plastic than the center stack plastic it met with.

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no way you can say that from these pics. it looks fine.

Um, panel gaps? Yeah those are pretty visually-apparent. Try again, reg.

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If Drew was trying to show a fit and finish issue in his center stack photo, I can't see it. Can someone point out the problem?

Nice review. Beautiful vehicle.

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The panel seams are of inconsistent widths, and as Drew mentioned, when the Terrain part is a different shape than the Equinox part, the fit is a bit awkward. Things just aren't as flush or precise as they need to be.

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If Drew was trying to show a fit and finish issue in his center stack photo, I can't see it. Can someone point out the problem?

Nice review. Beautiful vehicle.

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Look at the vertical seam in the lower right corner of this photo by the HVAC vent. The gap appears to be wider on the top than it is on the bottom. There's also an issue with that same center stack panel where it meets the top part of the dash directly underneath the vent. The gap there is narrower than the gap between the lower dash and the upper dash. I see what he's saying, but I also see what he's saying in that it's minor. I've seen worse in more expensive vehicles. If he were an average driver and not a keen-eyed reviewer, that would probably go unnoticed.

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Z28, you are indeed right. It was difficult to capture on photo. I had actually contemplated buying a micrometer to demonstrate but I felt that might be a little overboard.

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How did you find the overall layout of the controls? Did you find yourself looking to the owners's manual or was everything typical GM stuff? Overall good review and great job incorporating the request/etc from the first review.

Wasn't a problem. The only thing I didn't find right away on the Equinox was the power door locks which are on the center stack rather than the doors. The Lacrosse I just got has the same thing, albeit better marked. So I'm guessing this will be a new GM thing.

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Not so sure about that seat fabric design either.

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Not so sure about that seat fabric design either.

try it before you knock it.

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I can't see such microscopic changes in a panel gap being a selling issue. I think this is a majorly important vehicle for the "New GM". I love the Terrain. And those panel gaps are no worse than ANY japanese competitor.

Edited by Squashtowner
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I can't see such microscopic changes in a panel gap being a selling issue. I think this is a majorly important vehicle for the "New GM". I love the Terrain. And those panel gaps are no worse than ANY japanese competitor.

Yeah, that's why I described it as minor. Compared to the Equinox however, it really stood out.

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I think you guys are taking this panel-gap issue to a new extreme.

I mean, BFD... getting out the micrometer? LOL... getting out the microscope... Nobody is going to be satisfied until GM starts using nanobots and the car is manufactured in one piece, as an atom-by-atom perfect copy.

I wish everyone attacked the styling shortcomings on modern cars and trucks as vigorously.

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I think you guys are taking this panel-gap issue to a new extreme.

I mean, BFD... getting out the micrometer? LOL... getting out the microscope... Nobody is going to be satisfied until GM starts using nanobots and the car is manufactured in one piece, as an atom-by-atom perfect copy.

I wish everyone attacked the styling shortcomings on modern cars and trucks as vigorously.

Well, GM thought it was no big deal for the last 3 decades, and they got knocked in the press for it. Consumers notice stuff like that, especially when they spend so much money on a new car, and it leads to a perception of low quality. When the superficial details are wrong, people assume the mechanicals aren't well-built either. GM is NOT on top, which is why Toyota gets more of a free pass in the press. GM is the underdog with something to prove. It has to change public perception, and to change minds one has to be as close to perfect as possible. That's why the Lacrosse is so good--it has blown the ES350, the standard-bearer of its class, completely out of the water. So has the Malibu, and so has the Equinox.

THAT'S why, albeit minor, this stuff actually does matter. You're on a GM fan website, so we pretty much can assume you like the company, and have for a while, so these things don't bother you. But when you have Toyota fanbois running around at auto shows taking photos and video of themselves pulling off pieces of interior trim because of poor fit-and-finish, it reflects badly on GM, even if the same can be done for said Toyotas. Do a forum search for auto show coverage posts by Polish_Kris if you don't know what I'm talking about.

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Sounds like a great vehicle, and I prefer the styling over that of the Equinox by a mile.

Also, thanks for the vid of the light cluster operation! I know it seems like an odd request, but Volvo used to (and still might) put a lighting feature on their website so you could see what the interior and exterior lighting of all their vehicles looked like. I wish more companies would do this.

And about that panel gap, I didn't even notice it until z28 pointed out exactly what was wrong...

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Well, GM thought it was no big deal for the last 3 decades, and they got knocked in the press for it. Consumers notice stuff like that, especially when they spend so much money on a new car, and it leads to a perception of low quality. When the superficial details are wrong, people assume the mechanicals aren't well-built either. GM is NOT on top, which is why Toyota gets more of a free pass in the press. GM is the underdog with something to prove. It has to change public perception, and to change minds one has to be as close to perfect as possible. That's why the Lacrosse is so good--it has blown the ES350, the standard-bearer of its class, completely out of the water. So has the Malibu, and so has the Equinox.

THAT'S why, albeit minor, this stuff actually does matter. You're on a GM fan website, so we pretty much can assume you like the company, and have for a while, so these things don't bother you. But when you have Toyota fanbois running around at auto shows taking photos and video of themselves pulling off pieces of interior trim because of poor fit-and-finish, it reflects badly on GM, even if the same can be done for said Toyotas. Do a forum search for auto show coverage posts by Polish_Kris if you don't know what I'm talking about.

If you look inside and outside any new Toyota, and even my 2005, the panel gaps aren't even. My car interior isn't any better put together inside than my previous car, an 02 Sunfire GT.

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Guys... again this issue was more pointing out the difference between the Equinox and Terrain.

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If you look inside and outside any new Toyota, and even my 2005, the panel gaps aren't even. My car interior isn't any better put together inside than my previous car, an 02 Sunfire GT.

I can't tell if you're agreeing or disagreeing with me, though your post seems to support my point on Toyota to an extent. That said, I definitely think that in 2010 GM should aspire to more than matching the build quality of a 2002 J-body.

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This tangent needs to be nipped in the bud.

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Well I just called that chick Flo @ Progressive, and she said a 2010 Equinox AWD 1LT 4 cylinder would cost $39 more over a six-month term to insure than my Cobalt, while a 2010 Colorado 1LT regular cab 4X4 5 cylinder would cost $75 more than my Cobalt over the same period. I gave her VINs of vehicles I located online, just as examples, for checking the relative cost to insure a compact pickup and crossover, if anyone's interested.

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try it before you knock it.

I actually really like the seat fabric in the GMC...

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