One downside is that the Terrain’s cargo space doesn’t quite match up with the best in this class, though on the positive side the back seats fold flat so you can maximize that space.
Among the exterior touches on the Denali model are: Satin-chrome grille, LED headlamps with signature lighting and 19-inch ultra-bright machined aluminum wheels with dark-painted pockets. The Denali also features upgraded leather-trimmed seating and heated front seats.
The only issue I had in terms of setup inside the Terrain is the odd placement/setup of the P/R/N/D controls -- which were placed as levers and buttons built into the center console (aka, no shifter). I’ve seen some unique setups for car controls, but this one seems particularly odd and difficult to use, and seems like an unnecessary move that will be hard for drivers to get used to.
The Terrain I tested featured a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine, paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. It boasted an impressive 252 horsepower, and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. My test vehicle was AWD, but FWD comes standard on the Terrain. Maximum towing capacity with the 2.0-liter engine is 3,500 pounds.
Other engines offered on lower trim levels include: A 1.5-liter turbo 4 (170 hp) and a 1.6-liter 4 turbo diesel (137 hp).
The new Terrain is much improved in terms of performance, an area where I found the previous model lacking. I would recommend opting for the 2.0-liter engine over the 1.5-liter option for best ride quality, as the lesser option may still disappoint to some degree.
The 2018 Terrain I tested got me around with authority and handled well overall, though perhaps not best in class. The AWD model handled very well in the snow, so it’s good for those who often drive in rough weather.
The GMC infotainment system is impressive and very user-friendly for everything from navigation to music controls, and features a fresh new look in the Terrain. It’s displayed on an 8-inch touchscreen. The Terrain also comes equipped with compatibility for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for phone mirroring in the vehicle.
A variety of safety features are offered, from blind spot warning and lane-keep assist, to forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, though not all of them are offered at all trim levels. Rear-vision camera is standard (as it should be).
Every Terrain comes with a five-year OnStar basic plan, which includes RemoteLink app controls (remote start/unlock), plus vehicle diagnostics (you’ll get a monthly email on your vehicle’s health). A six-month trial of Directions and Connections is included, offering navigation services and automatic crash notifications, among other features.
You also have the ability to turn the vehicle into a 4G LTE hotspot, and all Terrain vehicles come with a three-month (or 3 gigabyte) data trial, after which data must be purchased.
Teen Driver, which lets you track how your younger drivers are using the vehicle and set limits, is another feature standard on the Terrain. I also liked the Rear Seat Reminder, which reminds you to check the back seat before you get out of the vehicle.
The official fuel mileage numbers on my AWD tester were 21 city/26 highway/23 combined, and were accurate in my real-world testing. Unfortunately, these numbers lag behind most of the competition in the segment -- including the Ford Escape, Chevy Equinox, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
The good news is you can leapfrog all the competition in fuel mileage if you choose the Terrain diesel option, a rarity in today’s auto world. The only downside with the diesel is you’ll lose pep in your drive as you gain fuel mileage.
PRICE, BOTTOM LINE
My test vehicle was at the top end of the Terrain pricing, as it was a Denali model. It came in at $44,370. The base price (SL model) starts at $24,995. Between the SL and Denali are SLE and SLT models, along with diesel versions of both the SLE and SLT models. So you have many options if you don’t want to go for the luxurious Denali, which does get a bit high in price for most people’s pocketbooks.
A change was definitely necessary here, as the Terrain was being forgotten in this busy segment due to its lack of an upgrade and shortcomings. But the updated 2018 model shines bright in many ways, and should give GMC a boost for 2018 and beyond.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.