The compact crossover with midsize aspirations, the Terrain delivers enough passenger comfort to make you think twice about the need for a larger vehicle. Add the available V6 engine and posh trim, and you have a credible alternative to luxury vehicles costing thousands more.
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2016 GMC Terrain Overview
What's New for 2016
The Terrain receives new front-end styling, updated dash displays, and a host of smaller trim upgrades. A new SL trim level serves as the base model.
Choosing Your GMC Terrain
The Terrain offers a relaxing five-passenger interior with a rear seat that slides and reclines. Even the base model now comes standard with premium cloth upholstery. Ride quality is a definite strong suit, as is the hushed cabin environment. The standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is good for 182 horsepower. The optional 3.6-liter V6 provides a massive boost to 301 horsepower and allows the Terrain to tow up to 3,500 pounds. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive can be added to most models.
The Terrain is offered in four trim levels that cover a broad swath of the compact crossover market:
The popularly equipped SLE-2 remains our pick for overall value, and it gives you access to the fine V6 and other important options. While the Denali is expensive for this class, plenty of buyers want it, so you might find it well worth the price.
2016 GMC Terrain Review
GMC's strong-selling compact crossover continues to woo buyers with rugged good looks and strong family values. This year's updates ensure the Terrain stays fit to battle in this hotly contested slice of the market.
Pricing and Equipment
The Terrain comes in five trim levels (SL, SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT, Denali) ranging from $24,995 to $36,415, which differ mainly in interior appointments and convenience features. The popularly equipped SLE series ($27,485–$28,985) is designed to satisfy the broadest swath of buyers.
- Standard equipment includes a rearview camera, a power driver seat, and a color touchscreen sound system with satellite radio. Higher-end features like leather upholstery and navigation require an upgrade to the SLT ($33,990). The plush Denali, with its exclusive trim features and wheels, attracts plenty of attention from buyers despite its premium price.
- All models are eligible for a V6 engine ($1,900) and all-wheel drive ($1,750).
The standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces an acceptable 180 horsepower. All models with the 2.4-liter get a new electric power steering unit and active noise cancellation to filter engine sounds out of the cabin. The available 3.6-liter V6 serves up 301 horsepower for dramatically improved acceleration. Both engines run with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Performance highlights include:
- Handling/steering: The Terrain's suspension has been tweaked for more confident handling and a calmer ride. We found the changes to be especially evident on rough pavement, where minor impacts are easily dispatched.
- V6 Performance: With the 3.6-liter under its hood, the Terrain goes from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, which puts it even with luxury-sport crossovers costing thousands more.
- Efficiency While the standard four-cylinder needs about 9 seconds to hit 60 mph, it does deliver 32 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in combined driving. That's better than we expected given the Terrain's overall huskiness for this class.
- While the Terrain possesses solid road manners, you won't be tempted to hit the backroads for a thrill. We can think of several competitors with sportier bones that are more stimulating to drive.
- As powerful as it is, the V6 does no better than 20 mpg in combined driving, about what you would expect from a seven-passenger crossover, not a five-seater like the Terrain.
- The Terrain's plush and spacious interior just might be the main reason for its enduring popularity. The sliding rear seat has up to eight inches of travel, making it easy to get the right mix of cargo and passengers room.
- To us, the Denali interior looks and feels as upscale as you can get without stepping up to a luxury brand.
- Along with the muscular exterior styling comes smaller-than-average window area, so outward visibility can sometimes be a problem. We suspect that's why a rearview camera is standard.
- The Terrain rides higher than most crossovers, something that's not readily apparent until you load the cargo floor. Hoisting vacation gear over the rear bumper gets old in a hurry.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
The Terrain's smooth driveability and hushed cabin make for an outstanding long-distance vehicle. You won't tire of the road or the highway efficiency of the base engine.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
The four-cylinder's active noise cancellation does what it can to keep the peace, but V6 models are still noticeably quieter, even without the same technology.
The Bottom Line
GMC has kept the Terrain remarkably competitive against a flood of newer family crossovers.
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