Writing and editing for txGarage has its perks. I had a very special trip planned to one of my favorite destinations on the Texas coast, Port Aransas, and needed something that could haul me and my friends down there in comfort, plus handle the terrain when we got there. We considered a few different options for this trip, but when GM offered to us the GMC Terrain, we thought it sounded like the perfect choice.
We actually test drove the Terrain at it’s launch in Las Colines back in 2009. Adam had the opportunity to swing it around the urban roads of the area and said he really liked the looks and the way this SUV handles around town. That’s great to hear, but we are taking it on a long cruise to the coast and then looking for some “on the sand” abilities. So how did it fair?
First of all, lets take a look at this car. The exterior design is pretty unique compared to most of the smaller crossover SUVs out today. Knowing that this GMC is built on the Equinox platform makes it’s design stand out even more. Unlike GM of old where they’d just slap a GMC badge where the Chevrolet one used to be, this is radically different than its Chevrolet cousin.
I like the design. I’ve read some complaining about the Tonka-truck-like looks with its bulging wheel arches and boxy style, but it definitely stands out and has a more masculine appeal. We happen to be rolling in the SLT-2 which afforded us features like 18” aluminum wheels, fog lamps, extra chrome bits, and dual exhaust. I could have done with less chrome, but America as a whole seems to enjoy it.
Look more inside the Terrain and you’ll start to notice a little more carryover from the Equinox. The center-stack and gauge cluster are basically the same in the two, although you get red interior lighting in the GMC rather than the ice-blue in the Equinox. The navigation system was on par with other Chevrolet products we’ve tested. It’s pretty easy to figure out and everything seems to be laid out well and easy to read. The seats were wrapped in two-tone black and gray leather with semi-supportive bolsters
for the driver and passenger. They definitely keep you pretty comfortable on a 7 hour trip.
This is GMC’s smallest vehicle and as such only seats 5 passengers. They don’t make it in a 3-row, for that you’ll have to step up to an Acadia. Nevertheless, we all fit comfortably and had adequate room for all our party gear…ummm luggage.
Powering us down the long, straight, Texas highway system was GM’s 3.0 liter V6 engine matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Terrain can also be had with a 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine also matted to a 6-speed transmission, but it doesn’t pack the same punch as the V6 we tested. With the 3.0 V6, you get 264 horses and 222 pound-feet of torque to help move you along. We were happy with the V6 and it’s extra power. As you know, driving from north to south Texas can be an exercises in altitude. The Terrain never seemed to let us down, always powering over the next hill in the horizon.
The overall ride quality was pleasant. There is nothing real exciting about driving a Terrain, but it’s comfortable and smooth with car-like dynamics. Our tester was a simple front-wheel-drive setup; even so it also handled the little bit of beach driving we threw at it. We happened to be down the same time a tropical storm was rolling into town, and the last thing we wanted to see was our press car heading out into the Gulf of Mexico, so we stayed on fairly dry land for the most part.
The fuel economy ratings are a little less than those of an equally equipped Equinox thanks to it’s more boxy design. It’s not bad though. In the city, you should expect to see somewhere around 17 mpg, and on the highway, a little closer to 24mpg. During our highway driving with the cruise control set, we averaged pretty close to the 24 mpg range.
So, if it’s basically the same as an Equinox, yet a little worse on fuel economy and more expensive, why get the Terrain? Simple. The Terrain is more about style and class. The interior has just the right touche of extra class to make it a nicer place to be. The outside is drastically different and if you like the styling, that could be a major factor. Our tester tipped the scales at $36,335 (without destination), and compared to it’s non-GM competition, that’s not too bad. If you are looking at the Terrain, you probably won’t be interested in the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. You’re most likely more of a Land Rover or Yucon kind of guy. The Terrain offers that kind of class and style in a smaller package at a decent price.