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2019 GMC Terrain Expert Reviews

Expert Reviews

2019 GMC Terrain

New Car Test Drive
© 2019 NewCarTestDrive.com

The 2019 GMC Terrain offers car shoppers a time-honored truck badge applied to a mid-size crossover SUV.

The second-generation Terrain emerged for the 2018 model year. For 2019, GMC offers black- and chrome-trimmed special editions. The new Black Edition option package for SLE and SLT trim levels includes 18-inch black aluminum wheels, a darkened grille, and black mirror caps and roof rails. A new Chrome package for SLT includes 18-inch machined aluminum wheels with gray accents, a unique grille, and bright side rails.

A surround-view camera system is available for Denali versions. Adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking have been added to the optional Driver Alert Package II.

SL, SLE, SLT, and posh Denali trim levels are available. GMC offers a trio of turbocharged engines (except in base and Denali models).

Specifically, the Terrain may hold either a 1.5-liter or a 2.0-liter gasoline turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, or a 1.6-liter turbodiesel. Gasoline engines mate with a 9-speed automatic transmission, but the turbodiesel gets a 6-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available.

The base engine is a 1.5-liter turbo-4 that makes 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque. The 2.0-liter turbo-4 develops 252 horsepower, while the more expensive 1.6-liter turbodiesel is rated at 137 horsepower and 240 pound-feet.

Most active-safety features still cost extra, even on top trim levels, trailing competitors that make such items standard. Parking sensors and blind-spot monitors, for instance, are required in order to get forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and upgraded headlights.

All Terrains are equipped with a rearview camera. A teen-driver feature lets parents set limits for youngsters behind the wheel.

Crash-test ratings are largely admirable. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2019 Terrain a five-star overall rating, including five stars for both frontal and side impacts. The four-star score for rollover prevention, a calculated figure, is common among SUVs.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2019 Terrain top “Good” scores in all tests, including the passenger-side small overlap test. Frontal crash prevention ranked “Superior” (with optional equipment). Headlights were rated “Poor.”

Model Lineup

Prices do not include the $1,195 destination charge.

SL ($25,000), the base model, comes only with front-drive and the 1.5-liter engine. Included are 17-inch wheels, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and active noise cancellation. Cloth upholstery, keyless entry, and pushbutton start also are standard.

SLE ($28,100 with front-wheel drive, $29,800 with all-wheel drive) adds a 4.2-inch driver information screen and cargo-area seat-release levers.

SLE Diesel ($31,800 with FWD, $33,600 with AWD) substitutes the 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine, with 6-speed automatic, plus heated front seats, a power passenger seat, and power liftgate.

SLT ($30,900 with FWD, $32,600 with AWD) gets the 1.5-liter gas engine and such luxury features as leather-appointed seating, dual-zone automatic climate control, 18-inch wheels, 8.0-inch touchscreen, and heated front seats.

SLT Diesel ($33,700 with FWD, $35,500 with AWD) substitutes the 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine.

Denali ($37,800 with FWD, $39,500 with AWD) upgrades to the 2.0-liter engine, with distinct exterior accents, leather upholstery, 19-inch wheels, a hands-free power liftgate, LED headlights, blind-spot monitors, heated steering wheel, and navigation. Forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking are optional.

Walk Around

Handsome on the outside, the current Terrain exhibits a smooth, sleeker shape than the angular previous-generation model. Compared to the closely-related Chevrolet Equinox, GMC’s Terrain has a more distinctive appearance. A sculpted tail helps scale down the overall look.

Up front, the squared-off grille sits above a panel that dentists might liken to an underbite. Blacked-out rear pillars support a crossover-trendy “floating” roof. Denali models flaunt abundant chrome.

Interior

Slightly smaller than the first-generation Terrain, the current version comfortably seats four adults. Upper-notch Terrains are fitted with heavily-bolstered, power front seats. They slide and recline, but fail to provide abundant support for riders with especially long legs.

Rear-seat passengers get nearly as much legroom as the rider up front. Hip space is substantial, too. However, flat-bottomed rear cushions make it likely that passengers will race for that tempting front seat. An available panoramic sunroof cuts into usable head space.

Each Terrain features more wood trim and posh appointments than its Chevrolet cousin. Like the less-costly Equinox, GMC’s Terrain retains hard plastic elements in doors. GMC installs sound-deadening materials and active noise cancellation.

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility supplements the basic infotainment layout. Both feature large icons and easy-to-read menus.

Cargo volume totals 29.6 cubic feet with rear seatbacks upright, growing to 63.3 cubic feet when seatbacks are down.

Driving Impressions

Behind the wheel, the Terrain feels somewhat small, but yields a calm, composed ride – even through imperfect road surfaces. Because GMC tuned the luxury-level suspension for a composed ride, even the Denali’s bigger tires don’t impair comfort.

Like most crossover SUVs, the Terrain is short on steering feedback, but it behaves with tranquility and tracks well on straightaways. On washed-out, rutted roads, the vehicle’s small-car ancestry becomes more evident.

All three powertrains have strong points, but the diesel isn’t quiet and lacks low-speed refinement. Torque output from the base 1.5-liter engine arrives at low speeds, which helps in urban driving.

As expected, the 2.0-liter turbo-four provides much stronger, more impressive pull. While capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds, it quaffs premium-grade gasoline when doing so.

With either gasoline engine, the smooth 9-speed automatic is a welcome companion. Unlike some 9-speeds, it’s well-behaved in urban driving and willing to downshift readily when extra oomph is needed.

All-wheel drive is a mechanically simple part-time system, but it isn’t automatic: It requires a turn of a console-mounted selector knob.

The fuel-efficiency champ is the turbodiesel Terrain, EPA-rated at 28/38 mpg City/Highway, or 32 mpg Combined, with all-wheel drive. Front-drive raises the estimate to 28/39/32 mpg.

The standard 1.5-liter engine with all-wheel drive is EPA-rated at 24/28 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined. Front-wheel drive manages 26/30/28 mpg.

With all-wheel drive, the 2.0-liter turbo-four is EPA-rated at 21/26 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined. Front-drive is estimated at 22/28/24 mpg.

Every 2019 GMC Terrain is nicely equipped, but all lack the active-safety features rivals have made free. The Denali edition reaches luxury heights, but a less-expensive SLT promises greater value. The turbodiesel is more frugal with fuel, but at its premium price, it’s not as compelling a choice as a mid-level Terrain powered by gas.

 

Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.

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