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Croc

GMC Terrain: No bark, no bite, but plenty of fleas

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GMC Terrain: No bark, no bite, but plenty of fleas

2010 GMC Terrain SLT

A glitzed-up version of the AKC-registered Chevy Equinox, the GMC Terrain confronts all the bad old ways of GM. (General Motors / January 7, 2010)

The SUV, peculiar styling and all, is a disappointment, even by GM standards.

By Dan Neil

January 8, 2010

The word "terrain" comes from the Latin "terranum," meaning "of the Earth." It's the same root for the word "terrier," which is a kind of dog. And that brings us to the GMC Terrain.

A glitzed-up version of the AKC-registered Chevy Equinox, the GMC Terrain confronts all the bad old ways of GM -- the badge engineering where vehicle clones are sold under several brands, the redundant product planning, the weird fascination with shiny objects, the wheedling of customers -- and embraces them with open paws.

Honestly, after a week in this thing, I feel like I should be tested for parvo.

Let's begin with the fact that the Terrain sports a GMC badge. Last year, General Motors successfully argued to the fed's Auto Task Force that it needed to retain the GMC Division because per-vehicle profits on GMCs were higher -- a reasonable argument. Among a certain segment of the population, GMC is a powerful brand, associated with the upscale, managerial class of pickup/SUV buyer, and worth the price premium.

But don't mom-mobile products like the Terrain, the Acadia crossover and the now-defunct Envoy undermine the strength of the "Professional Grade" brand, the very root of per-vehicle profitability?

I get it: GMC dealers wanted to have a small to mid-sized SUV in the showroom. But at what cost? Doesn't this continuing strategy threaten to make GMC just another backwater of badge-engineered products (cf., Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick), distinguished only by their higher prices? Shouldn't the remaining GM divisions, you know, stand for something?

What if GM product planners had devoted the resources used for developing the Terrain's unique bodywork -- all that money for beer and chain saws -- toward improving the Chevy Equinox?

And why can't I stop writing in rhetorical sentences?

The styling is -- no other way to put it -- damn peculiar. In an effort to gene-splice some GMC pickup character on what is essentially a soft, fluffy dumpling of a crossover, the designers grafted on square-flare wheel surrounds and a wildly oversized, chrome-y trapezoidal grille. The effect is less than heroic. The Terrain looks like it has a window air-conditioning unit attached to the nose.

Actually, and surprisingly, the Terrain visually coheres better in person than it does in pictures. Still, the boxy wheel cutouts make even the 19-inch mirror-chrome wheels our tester came with look like elf skates. The whole thing looks like it wants to fall over in a heap.

The Terrain's interior comprises a perfectly sensible and attractive layout, with handsome geometry around the center-stack control panel and -- in our fully loaded test car -- an excellent audio/navigation touch-screen system.

But start looking around and you find so many -- too many -- small, unrefined elements: Too many seams where interior components get fitted together (generally, the fewer the seams in the interior, the quieter and better constructed the vehicle); panel gaps around the ignition key lock (one of those aluminum-faced key locks that get scratched up in the first week); a ghastly, cheap-looking clear plastic lens over the instrument panel, like a $2 swim mask; and a little nothing of a button on the gearshift that is supposed to be the manual-shift control.

The car seems screwed together well enough, but, of course, our test car had only a couple thousand miles on it. Meanwhile, encounters with things like door handles and shift levers leave you with an unsatisfied feeling, a longing for heft and substance.

In other words, a lot in this car feels kind of flimsy. You might not notice it if you haven't recently driven a Honda or a VW. But if you have, the lack of substance hits you like a micrometeoroid.

What the Terrain does have, in abundance, is amenities: remote start, automatic projector beam headlamps, power liftgate, heated outside mirrors, rearview camera, heated leather seats. Our test vehicle ($35,135) was equipped with optional 40-gig audio/navi with voice recognition ($2,145). Whether this higher level of equipment is worth the price premium over the Equinox, I'm not sure.

The Terrain's standard mill is a 2.4-liter, 183-hp inline four (which itself isn't very GMC-like, is it?). Our tester got the optional 3.0-liter, direct-injection, 264 V-6 with the six-speed automatic. This was yet another source of disappointment.

With peak torque of 222 pound-feet coming in at 5,100 rpm, the engine is pitifully slow to rouse, with good wishes where mid-range torque ought to be. The six-speed transmission's computer logic desperately wants the car to be in the tallest gear possible to save fuel. Most of the time, at part throttle, you spend your time wondering who tied the anchors to the back of your vehicle.

If you need to accelerate hard, you can -- the Terrain motors to 60 mph in about eight seconds -- but the engine moans and roars as you do, like a gout victim who has just stubbed his toe.

It's not all bad. The Terrain's ride is composed and comfortable. The seats are comfy. The sound system is excellent. The huge blind spot in the rear quarters allows you to forget other motorists are even there.

But the Terrain is just not competitive with other entries in the segment: Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Edge, Nissan Murano. The only vehicle it competes well with is, alas, the Equinox, which is not what GM had in mind. Woof.

dan.neil@latimes.com

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Edited by Croc
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Jesus. Off in so many ways. I don't have time to pick it apart right now.

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Neil has a long history of Just Not Undertanding.

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I don't care for the Terrain, but this guy is over the edge.

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I am by no means a Dan Fan but I kind of think in a odd way understand he is thinking and very poorly explained.

I think he feels the GMC really is not offering much over the Chevy for near the same price.

I myself would have liked to see the Terrain go a little more upscale and offer some things that the Nox just does not offer. Thinks like a 3.6 DI, or Turbo LNF even a Denali with the 2.8 Turbo from the Caddy. I think the terrain needs to be a little more in the middle of the SRX and the Nox by offering the best of both while not being the same.

In other words give me a reason other than styling to step up from a Nox and spend the extra money when I can't afford the SRX.

I have tried to love the Terrain and even the stying while not my favorite has grown on me. But to be honest I have checked this out and I can not find a good reason to pass over a Nox LTZ for this vehicle.

This is a case where it is like the G6 over the Malibu. Unless you wanted a 2 door there was little reason to buy the G6 other than styling. In other words offer me things in this I want but cant have in the Nox and you might get more money out of me.

Like I said I do not hate this thing but I just can't find a reason to pay more for the same thing other than styling.

Just my take on this after spending time with both. The wife wants a crossover with good mileage and if we had to buy today she would pick the Nox LTZ. Note she has been driving SSEI's and a GTP for the last 12 years. Even the GTP offered things that she could not get in a Chevy that kept her wanting Pontiac. The red dash in the Terrain was not enough.

To get to the point the Terrain makes a good value as a Chevy but I want more from a GMC and things I can't get from Chevy. A turbo 4 out of the Regal anyone? Something to justify me to spend more to get more. While it is not a rebadge looks wise it is a rebadge equipment wise for the most part. Give me a reason more than a chrome band on the nose and tail.

GMC needs to be more of a rugged Buick like Vehicle vs Chevy Value like. Give GMC a more rugged Hummer edge in a smaller package. I think GMC needs to be aimed more at men. Ypu know the kind who want a truck but also like the feel of a more upscale car in the Acura/Buick range.

At times the Terrain leaves me feeling they changed the emblems from the planned Pontiac to GMC.

Edited by hyperv6
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I personally find the styling of the Terrain rather distasteful.

-- -- -- -- --

>>"I have tried to love the Terrain and even the stying while not my favorite has grown on me. But to be honest I have checked this out and I can not find a good reason to pass over a Nox LTZ for this vehicle.

This is a case where it is like the G6 over the Malibu. Unless you wanted a 2 door there was little reason to buy the G6 other than styling. In other words offer me things in this I want but cant have in the Nox and you might get more money out of me."<<

I have the strong feeling that IF -say- a G6 (you forgot the convertible & the GXP) and Malibu were to offer different 'things', there would be a contingency that loudly cried 'Why can't I get Widgit 3.0 on the Malibu- it's on the G6 fer Pete's sake??'

In other words, there are ALWAYS going to be those who are dissatisfied and going to make themselves heard about it (thanks to the Godsend- the InterWeb).

In OTHER words, one could apply the same position to a Chevy mid-sized sedan with 4cyl/6-spd and options A, B, C and a nissan mid-sized sedan with 4cyl/6-spd and options A, B, C.

Don't we really only need ONE mid-sized sedan with 4cyl/6-spd and options A, B, C; aren't the rest just redundant regardless of the parent corporation ??

:wacko:;)

{^ Not directed at you, hyper}

Either we embrace the diversity that -in this case- the G6 & Malibu represent, or we slide ever forward toward homogenization and limited choice.

Edited by balthazar
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I personally find the styling of the Terrain rather distasteful.

-- -- -- -- --

>>"I have tried to love the Terrain and even the stying while not my favorite has grown on me. But to be honest I have checked this out and I can not find a good reason to pass over a Nox LTZ for this vehicle.

This is a case where it is like the G6 over the Malibu. Unless you wanted a 2 door there was little reason to buy the G6 other than styling. In other words offer me things in this I want but cant have in the Nox and you might get more money out of me."<<

I have the strong feeling that IF -say- a G6 (you forgot the convertible & the GXP) and Malibu were to offer different 'things', there would be a contingency that loudly cried 'Why can't I get Widgit 3.0 on the Malibu- it's on the G6 fer Pete's sake??'

In other words, there are ALWAYS going to be those who are dissatisfied and going to make themselves heard about it (thanks to the Godsend- the InterWeb).

In OTHER words, one could apply the same position to a Chevy mid-sized sedan with 4cyl/6-spd and options A, B, C and a nissan mid-sized sedan with 4cyl/6-spd and options A, B, C.

Don't we really only need ONE mid-sized sedan with 4cyl/6-spd and options A, B, C; aren't the rest just redundant regardless of the parent corporation ??

:wacko:;)

{^ Not directed at you, hyper}

Either we embrace the diversity that -in this case- the G6 & Malibu represent, or we slide ever forward toward homogenization and limited choice.

My whole point is the fact GM is doing a good job to make the Buick stand out from the Chevys. Buick is giving me a reason to shop them ove the present Chevys with Turbo engines and AWD etc. In this case I just think they should have done more to make the Terrain different enough to make me not car about paying more to get what I can't in a Chevy. If GMC is to be more than a Chevy than give me cause to consider it outside of just styling.

GMC could still step up with engine options and some new things inside in the future. But I think they missed the boat on making the content different enough to bridge the gap between Chevy and Cadillac.

I would pay more for a GMC if they would give me more.

Just my view after driving and looking at these as a possible buyer in the next year.

To be fair on the G6 it was the first car on that platform and the Malibu and Aura improved on it since they were newer and Lutz had more time. The only thing that the G6 had on the malibu was the options of 2 door, convert and stick. other than that it had nothing. If it did they would not have had to fire sale them as much as they did. I know too many people who bought them not because they had to have one but because they were very cheap. In many cases Cheaper than the Chevy. The G6 in my view was just not up to thew standard it could have should have been.

Just my view nothing more. I guess I just epected more of the G6 than what I was offered. It just did not make the impact needed.

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On the G6, the concept pointed the way but GM didn't follow.

Flubbed opportunity.

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Dan Neil is overdoing it here.

You know, nobody takes the time to lambast Audi for selling an A3 that maybe moved a couple thou units a year. But why does Audi do it? The A4 gets half the business or something like that. They need the paltry volume from the rest of the lineup to make the whole operation viable. Corporate offices, dealers, service department etc.

BPG dealers needed a crossover this size to help fill the volume role. I am so tired of the 'there shouldn't be a chevy clone' BS. SOME PEOPLE DO NOT WANT THE CHEVY.

In fact, isn't GMC most profitable?

GMC's top priority is pickups. GMC and now Buick need a few other GMC models to round out the line.

People who don't like Chevy's want something different. Most people do not obsess about the Terrain vs. Nox to the level of detail these guys do. Average people have serious work to do for a living. Dan Neil of course is going to make a bigger deal about it than he should because this is what he does. He writes a couple articles about cars, that is his job. So of course he is going to overdramatize it.

Lots of folks like the Terrain's styling. It's unique. It's tough. If you don't like it, then you have two options. three actually. one, buy an equinox. two, buy a losermobile (i.e. CRV, RAV4, Forester). three, f-k off.

The terrain weighs a lot. that is a strike but some folks they actually like that it is built more robust.

To me the biggest flaw is the 3.0 as top powertrain. The 3.6 is needed if for no other reason than to have in a press fleet.

Loaded versions of this vehicle are too high MSRP but i have that complaint will all cars. You'd be a fool to drop 30k on a RAV4 or crV.

I do think GM is still using some cheap plastic in the terrain and nox and i can't say the leather is the best, but here is the deal. when i compare it to the other losermobiles, the overall interior is better. cooler design, more space and function.

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On the G6, the concept pointed the way but GM didn't follow.

Flubbed opportunity.

G6 concept styling was awesome but you know the market changed abruptly when the chrysler 300 came out, no one wanted aero anymore. G6 styling was DOA when the production model came out.

G6 was too high priced compared to the grand am it replaced also. Plus the new name was confusing. Grand Am had such a bad rap at the time they had to change the name but now it almost looks like they should have kept it.

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The point of the GMC is for guys who wanted an H3 but couldn't justify the gasmilage to their wives. It's for guys that drive a 4-Runner, but realize they don't need a BOF 4x4 SUV for their 30 mile each way commute to work, still want an SUV but would never be caught dead in a RAV-4 or CRV.

There is no other crossover in this segment that fits that profile other than the Terrain.

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G6 concept styling was awesome but you know the market changed abruptly when the chrysler 300 came out, no one wanted aero anymore. G6 styling was DOA when the production model came out.

G6 was too high priced compared to the grand am it replaced also. Plus the new name was confusing. Grand Am had such a bad rap at the time they had to change the name but now it almost looks like they should have kept it.

The problem with the G6 concept was it looked good with the low roof but it was too low for the average joe public. Imagine how many would have passed on it just because they did not have any head room. The 04 GP got enough compaints on that already.

The worst thing on the G6 is it was too expensive when it first came out. I first saw the stickers on the first ones with the big sun roof we were at $30K for a car that was worth $23K. Also the First G6 marketing was a bust.

I think if Lutz was involved with this car from the start the out come would have been much different. When he got there a lot was already done and he had little money to fix it.

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To me the biggest flaw is the 3.0 as top powertrain. The 3.6 is needed if for no other reason than to have in a press fleet.

Na, the 3.0's torque is great down low.

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The problem with the G6 concept was it looked good with the low roof but it was too low for the average joe public. Imagine how many would have passed on it just because they did not have any head room. The 04 GP got enough compaints on that already.

The worst thing on the G6 is it was too expensive when it first came out. I first saw the stickers on the first ones with the big sun roof we were at $30K for a car that was worth $23K. Also the First G6 marketing was a bust.

I think if Lutz was involved with this car from the start the out come would have been much different. When he got there a lot was already done and he had little money to fix it.

Nah.

The production car looked nothing like the concept, and lacked the hardware as well.

The production car was a vast letdown.

Edited by Camino LS6
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WOW, Neil truly is an Asian loving nimrod. He not only misses the mark with this auto but truly does not get it and must not have driven a rav4 or CRV lately either. Idiots like this should not even be allowed to write for papers. He should find a job at Consumer reports, another nimrod company that is like a horse with blinders on.

:stupid:

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Another thing too, when it comes time to sell the GMC Terrain used, chances are it will have a higher resale compared to a Nox.

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Gee GM builds a great DOHC V6 just like the Asians (no torque) and it's time to bash GM again. Oh wait GM should ditch this engine - vehicle combo if its too heavy & needs more torque. Those push rods are lookin' awful good now don't cha think :smilewide:

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Na, the 3.0's torque is great down low.

the nox and terrain have gotten blasted for the 3.0 and its acceleration numbers arent great. the 3.6 was already done (Vue, which by the way is a cooker), takes the same space, costs the same to make, and gets the same mpg.

the 3.6 should be optional. there is no legitimate argument to suggest it should not be on the option sheet, especially if its 'professional grade'.

the 3.0 has been panned for poor tranny programming. that really is the root issue as is the torque band. it should be retuned for less hp and more torque in this application if the vehicle is heavier. they obviously didn't get vastly more mpg vs. the 3.6.

Edited by regfootball
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I take it back as I was in a rush and didn't fully read your post. The 3.0 isn't a flaw as a top engine, but the 3.6 would be better.

Remember, it's an SUV, not a sports car. I drove one for a weak and never felt wanting for power in terms of the vehicle it is. The 3.6 would be good for an MCE to make a Equinox SS or Terrain Denali. To harp on and on about the lack of the 3.6 in these vehicle ignores the fact that most of them will be sold with the I-4.

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but if the press rakes it constantly, it should have the 3.6. you gotta do it for no other reason than to eliminate the PR impediment to people buying it.

just like on the SRX.

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GM could produce a fully working model of Christ and the press would complain that the water to wine function only dispenses Merlot.

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GM could produce a fully working model of Christ and the press would complain that the water to wine function only dispenses Merlot.

true, but rav4 won the comparo and partially due to the 268hp + big torque v6 that out accelerated the terrain by over a second and likely got better mpg to boot.

simply replace the 3.6 over the 3.0 and you have removed the impediment.

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The RAV-4 is rubbish, you and I both know that.

yes, but the people who get info to shop and buy see 'terrain underpowered' and 'rav4 wins again'. the typical buyer who simply looks at a cpl mags or web sites has just been given enough info to exclude the terrain from their shopping list. that problem is mostly avoided by building the 3.6 as an option. gm should have thought this through.

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OK now c'mon guys. I think Neil was a little over-the-top, but his underlying point is very true, and was even noted in Olds' review: it offers nothing objectively over the Equinox, its fit-and-finish are lacking compared to the Equinox, and it could use a little more power. Subjectively, he hates the styling.

I can't argue with any of that: fit-and-finish are subpar, especially considering the Equinox has great assembly quality. Neil also is of the OPINION that GM shouldn't compete against itself on styling alone...AND I AND MANY POSTERS ON HERE AGREE WITH THIS.

Let me put it another way: GM makes a lot of profit on GMC because it is the only case where the public has bought into the brand management strategy. Consumers really think that GMC is better, or premium, or more desirable when compared to the equivalent Chevrolet. It's all smoke and mirrors, and we know it. What's gonna happen when the public catches on, if they do? GM is lucky that they have not, but dipping on quality COMPARED TO the Chevrolet iteration is NOT the way to go, and GM cannot keep rebranding its SUVs in perpetuity successfully. They're lucky it's still working, but they should be using this time to differentiate between the two before the bottom drops out.

Edited by Croc
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