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William Maley

Quick Review: 2012 GMC Terrain SLT-2

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William Maley

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.

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The Outside & Inside Story


Exterior

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.

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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.

Interior

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.

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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


Drivertrain

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.

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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.

Safety

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.

Verdict

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.

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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 william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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Great review, I do Disagree with you as the Chevy Twin is way to Female for me. The Terrain is awesome looking.

Still Wish GMC would make a Black Diamond edition.

Metallic black paint with lots of clear coat, Black Chrome rims, all body chrome is black chrome and then black out windows. I think that would be a perfect package.

I do agree after having driven one a couple months back at a dealership when my son was shopping around, I was disappointed in the V6 and would say the 4 is more than enough for now and people who want the power should wait for the 2013.

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Solid review.

The Terrain is extremely well sorted, and although I didn't first like the look, in person, on the road, and especially after one was added to the family, I think it looks great where the Equinox is well done but blands out for me.

My mother is up to about 23k+ on her 2011 SLT-1 AWD with the 3.0L, and having put more miles on it faster than any previous vehicle, zero issues and still pleased with the 3.0L smoothness, power and fuel economy. Continues to do well on fuel, especially versus the 3.6L in her Camaro before, and the 3.0L is a butter smooth revver. Doesn't initially seem torquey but likes to rev and moves smoothly. Now if only it had rear seat vents for the HVAC, their only complaint. Large inside and can get hot/cold in the back seat area.

Black & chrome. Sharp tester.

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I just bought a Carbon Black Metallic 2012 Terrain nearly identical to the one used for this review. Mine doesn't have the lane departure warning or the front-end collision alert. I've only had it for 2-3 weeks, but I'm very pleased. The 3.0 liter is smooth and the ride is decent even over rough roads.

I traded my '08 Equinox Sport with the DOHC 3.6 VVT V6. The 3.0 has the same 264 HP, but it does not have the torque available at lower rpm's that I'm used to (the Equinox had 250 lb ft available at 3200 rpm).

I would have gotten the 2013 Denali with the new 301 HP V6, but the deal on the SLT was too good to pass up. If mpg is not your chief concern and you want better than average performance with SUV functionality and a well appointed interior choose the 2012 SLT with the 3.0 liter. The 2013 gives you the optional 3.6 with sports car-like performance (standard on the Denali). The Denali gives you more Chrome trim, wood accents inside and a few more features including an 8-way power passenger seat.

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Guest RJ

I just bought a Carbon Black Metallic 2012 Terrain nearly identical to the one used for this review. Mine doesn't have the lane departure warning or the front-end collision alert. I've only had it for 2-3 weeks, but I'm very pleased. The 3.0 liter is smooth and the ride is decent even over rough roads.

I traded my '08 Equinox Sport with the DOHC 3.6 VVT V6. The 3.0 has the same 264 HP, but it does not have the torque available at lower rpm's that I'm used to (the Equinox had 250 lb ft available at 3200 rpm).

I would have gotten the 2013 Denali with the new 301 HP V6, but the deal on the SLT was too good to pass up. If mpg is not your chief concern and you want better than average performance with SUV functionality and a well appointed interior choose the 2012 SLT with the 3.0 liter. The 2013 gives you the optional 3.6 with sports car-like performance (standard on the Denali). The Denali gives you more Chrome trim, wood accents inside and a few more features including an 8-way power passenger seat.

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Guest RJ

I just bought a Carbon Black Metallic 2012 Terrain nearly identical to the one used for this review. Mine doesn't have the lane departure warning or the front-end collision alert. I've only had it for 2-3 weeks, but I'm very pleased. The 3.0 liter is smooth and the ride is decent even over rough roads.

I traded my '08 Equinox Sport with the DOHC 3.6 VVT V6. The 3.0 has the same 264 HP, but it does not have the torque available at lower rpm's that I'm used to (the Equinox had 250 lb ft available at 3200 rpm).

I would have gotten the 2013 Denali with the new 301 HP V6, but the deal on the SLT was too good to pass up. If mpg is not your chief concern and you want better than average performance with SUV functionality and a well appointed interior choose the 2012 SLT with the 3.0 liter. The 2013 gives you the optional 3.6 with sports car-like performance (standard on the Denali). The Denali gives you more Chrome trim, wood accents inside and a few more features including an 8-way power passenger seat.

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I missed this one before.

I agree with almost all that is stated.

The styling is subjective as you either love it or hate it. I at fiirst hated this thing but once I really started to compare the Nox andTerrain the Terrain grew on me. It is almost like you crossed a Torrent and a Hummer. Ther is no right or wrong you either like the Nox or the Terrain and that is just what both are supposed to do.

The tranny is fine and does not hunt once you learn to drive the vehicle and the engine in the sweet spots. The 3.0 and 3.6 need to be driven with RPM, The engine pulls from 3,000 to 6,000 RPM and if you keep the revs up it does not jump around. THe tranny will drop down in gear once you are moving but you need to apply the gas and it will kick down to 3rd gear and move back through them in a smooth undetected manor. This thing is just does not drive like a Small block with a Turbo 350.

The lane departure and collison detector is a pain in the ass. The lane detector likes to go off often on secondary roads that are not wide. It is ok on the interstate of state highways. We leave this off all the time anymore. It was the first thing the wife said to shut off.

The collision alert is a little better. It still has some false detections that can catch you when you are not ready. It does activate the brake system or trottle as the car seems to feel like it studders and loses power or the brakes start to apply. I am not sure what it is doing but the forward motion is lost just slightly. This is not a good thing under false alarm conditions. This is the poor mans system and is not as advanced as the Cadillac. We keep this system on but at the lowest setting. Knowing what I do now I would delete it if I could.

Mileage is good but not great,. But at over 4000 pound it is very acceptable. If you want more MPG buy something less than 2 tons.

I just checked out a Denali today and I am glad I did not wait for it. It is nice but not worth the extra cost. The is just little value int he Denali package vs what you get in the SLT2.

The 3.6 is nice and the extra power is always welcomed but the percentage of power increase is small and it is not enough power to make me regrett getting the 3.0. The 3.6 should have been there in the first place but The 3.0 is not a bad engine either.

The 8 way passenger seat is not really a factor with us as once the passenger seat is set we never change it power or not.

Over all we are very happy and the only thing that is sad is they deleted the Mocha Steel color that we have. It was one of the most popular colors too.

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