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2018 GMC Terrain: Solid. Improvement.

Car Reviews

2018 GMC Terrain: Solid. Improvement.

If – like me – you’re missing both the NFL and the GMC Professional Grade! ad stream that goes along with it, drive over to your GMC dealer, have a seat in the all-new GMC Terrain, and dial up (using whatever tech you prefer – except, of course, cassettes or CDs) Carrie Underwood. Or Al Michaels. For Katy Trail Weekly readers the Sewell GMC showroom is as close as Love Field; many of you could walk.

And GMC’s new Terrain might just be worth the walk. Overdue for a reflash (the General had a bankruptcy to deal with…), the newest Terrain represents a solid choice in a growing inventory of compact and midsize crossovers. GMC’s Terrain is notably upsized relative to its predecessor, but then, we’re larger than we were a decade ago. And in its sheetmetal, the GMC design team seems to have struck the right balance between civilized society and a get-out-of-jail card. Your NRA bumper sticker might work, combined with a Greenpeace license plate frame.

We’ll start at the grill, and in either the standard spec or Denali trim you’ll find a unique combo of relatively bold and slightly innocuous. GMC suggests all of the Terrain shapes are ‘bold and mighty’, but we find the Terrain’s face kinda’ bold and maybe mighty. Regardless, it’s attractive to this set of eyes – with 2.0 magnifiers. And as you’ll guess, both grill choices are framed by the new age headlamps and turn signals.

2018 GMC Terrain

2018 GMC Terrain

In profile, there’s less of the slab-sided surfacing presented by the earlier Terrain; instead, there’s more – if you will – of a contoured landscape. We wish designers would forget what is now the obligatory kick-up between the ‘C’ and ‘D’ pillars, but apparently outward visibility isn’t the priority it once was – we’re all looking at our phones.

Getting in and out is relatively easy, as step-in (at least within the context of a crossover) is relatively easy. Once inside, the sculpted seating – both front and rear – is almost European. I don’t think you’ll confuse the actual interior (or our descriptive) with something emanating from Audi, but there’s more ‘Deutschland’ in the design language than Des Moines. For a crossover in this competitive set is doesn’t feel notably spacious, but within an overall length of 182 inches and on a wheelbase of 107 inches, it certainly delivers the room for four (and an occasional fifth) you might expect. If the rear seats and front passenger seat are folded, you have 81 cubic feet – which is plenty of room for plenty of prone bodies. With only the rear seats folded (a more typical measuring stick), there’s 63 cubic feet, and almost thirty cubic feet behind the second row seats. In short, you have what you need if a compact crossover is on your short list.

The Terrain Denali gets underway via a turbocharged 2.0 liter four, delivering 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Power is delivered to the front or all wheels via a 9-speed automatic. In both power delivery and refinement we saw no issues, but then, neither were we surprised or delighted. In short, it is what it is – but ‘is’ is less impressive when you consider the EPA estimate: 21 City and 26 Highway. This is significantly better than our Hemi-equipped Grand Cherokee, but in my own head compact crossovers should be achieving mid-20s in town and 30 on the highway.

If efficiency is on your radar and a Kia Niro won’t yet do it for you (don’t worry, you’ll eventually get there – we all will), the suits at GM have a 1.6 liter turbo diesel for your consideration. And we’d consider it. While significantly down on power (137 vs. the 2.0 liter’s 252), it is fully competitive on torque. And the oil burner gets 28 in the city and 38 on the highway. With a 15 gallon fuel tank that’s a (conservative) 500-mile range on the highway, which is way more than your bladder will do. And the addition of the optional diesel bumps towing capability from 1500 pounds to 3500; in short, you could tow more than a couple of dirt bikes with the diesel; you could almost tow another Terrain!

At a base price of under $27,000, the Terrain is an upscale fit for a bargain shopper. Our Denali, however, was over $40K, and at that figure there’s any number of compelling alternatives. The Terrain that stands out for me is the diesel, with the SLT Diesel AWD offered at around $37,000. With attractive sheetmetal, a reasonably spacious interior and almost 40 miles per gallon on the highway, that Terrain would be one I could stick in my garage. Long term loan, you ask? We should talk.

  • 2018 GMC Terrain
  • 2018 GMC Terrain
David Boldt

Boldt, a long-time contributor to outlets such as, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild, and serves as a board member for the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA). David is the Managing Editor at txGarage.

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