By Marty Padgett, thecarconnection.com •
Modified: July 13, 2012 at 11:35 am •
Published: July 13, 2012
You probably know the GMC brand more for its big pickup trucks, but its crossovers are more popular than ever. Today, the compact, almost mid-size Terrain ute is the best seller of all its SUVs, and this year, GMC is freshening it with a new Denali edition, and an upgrade for its optional V-6--making it a much stronger choice in a field that includes the Ford Edge, the Honda CR-V and the Toyota Venza.The smallest GMC sport-ute, the five-passenger Terrain shares the stable with the bigger seven-seat Acadia.
Though it's mechanically similar to the Chevy Equinox, and shares a lot of the Chevy's goodness--great fuel economy in some versions, a spacious interior, and thoughtful touches and features--it doesn't look a bit like its companion piece. The Terrain looks more like a successor to the HUMMER brand than even its own brand's trucks and other sport-utes. It's an aggressive look, and could probably be toned down without losing any real fans. It's striking from some angles, more a Tonka novelty from others, especially at its overly boxy fenders.The cockpit is styled much more in the contemporary GM vein. There's a shield-shaped set of controls to the right of the driver, a grouping that looks like the same unit in the Chevy Cruze sedan. It's framed in low-gloss metallic trim, and capped by a hood that protects the standard 7-inch touchscreen from direct sunlight. With just the right amount of blocky detailing, the Terrain's cabin is more in tune with the tasteful looks of the larger Acadia, especially in Denali trim, which wears some woodgrain on the steering wheel, red stitching and soft padding on the dash, and standard leather on the seats.The Terrain has more in common with the Equinox under its sheetmetal--namely, its drivetrains and most of its other driving hardware. The base Terrain sports a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine outfitted with direct injection. It turns in 180 horsepower and EPA fuel economy of 22/32 mpg in front-drive models, a mile per gallon less on each side when all-wheel drive is fitted. Any Terrain can be upgraded to a new 301-hp, 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6 that replaces the old 3.0-liter six, but earns the same 17/24-mpg gas mileage (or 16/23 mpg iwth AWD).Both engines are teamed to a six-speed automatic, which is refined most of the time, with only an occasional judder under quick power changes. Dig deeply into the four-cylinder's powerband, and you'll probably find it has plenty of urge for almost every need; the V-6 is necessary only if you're always filling all the Terrain's seats, or maxing out the six-cylinder's 3500-pound towing capacity.