The compact 2019 GMC Terrain operates in a highly competitive segment with models from Toyota, Nissan, and Honda leading the game. In the Terrain, GMC brings premium elements to the market, especially with the Denali trim. You’ll also find a segment rarity: a diesel engine, but only if you’re willing to pay the price.

Best Value

The 2019 GMC Terrain is a compact crossover utility vehicle with room for five. It comes with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. You have a choice of three engines, including a turbodiesel. Each engine works with an automatic transmission.

Standard features include a turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. GMC also includes keyless entry, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a seven-inch diagonal infotainment system screen, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility.

  • Model: 2019 GMC Terrain SLT
  • Engine: 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Output: 170 hp / 203 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 26 City / 30 Hwy
  • Options: Infotainment Package II ($1,180, navigation, HD Radio, a seven-speaker Bose audio system), Preferred Package ($1,250, hands-free liftgate, a heated steering wheel, a six-way power front passenger seat with lumbar control, memory driver seat and outside mirrors), Driver Alert Package I ($445, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, lane change alert, safety alert seat)
  • Base Price: $31,895 (including a $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $34,770

Performance

GMC Terrain

The turbodiesel would be our pick here, except that it’ll cost you nearly $3,000 more for the upgrade. That’s too bitter of a cost pill to swallow, so we went with the standard 1.5-liter turbocharged gas engine with 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque. GMC pairs this engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

This engine’s torque kicks in early, so you'll enjoy an extra bit of grunt as you make your way around town. Perhaps its only disadvantage is when the engine is tasked with hauling four people and all their gear on high terrain. In this case, expect to feel some breathlessness – for the engine, that is.

We’re happy with the nine-speed automatic transmission, which never seems to struggle to find the right gear for the moment. Sadly, GMC doesn’t include paddle shifters, which would hold gears in place longer, especially when plunging down steep grades or rounding corners.

We didn’t opt for all-wheel drive, as most people probably can do without it. That said, if you live in a snowy climate, the all-wheel-drive system is an important feature, but it's only part time in this model. This means you have to activate it with a dial and that’s a curiosity to us. Kudos, however, to GMC for delivering superior steering feedback.

Style

The first-generation GMC Terrain had an almost utilitarian look with its squared edges. Its earlier designers may have had the Yukon and Yukon XL brethren in mind, the two real body-on-frame SUVs offered by GMC. But that look on the Terrain grew wearisome after a while.

The new model, which rolled out last year, cleaned things up, aligning this vehicle closer to the larger Acadia crossover. The grille still dominates the front fascia, but this SUV’s underbite is now restrained and the headlights bring in a sporty, even upscale flair. The look is cleaner and more elegant front to back.

Inside, the 2019 GMC Terrain seats four with ease and five in a pinch. We like that the front passenger seat folds flat as that makes it possible to carry a ladder or other large object inside. The standard cargo space is 29.6 cubic feet, expandable to 63.3 cubic feet with the rear seat folded. Oddly, the second-row seat no longer slides forward as it once did.

The cabin is quiet and comfortable. The look is a slight cut above the similar Chevrolet Equinox. In Denali guise, this crossover adds soft-touch materials for an overall refined feel.

The Best and Worst Things

The GMC Terrain is the right size for people who want a comfortable, two-row SUV. It isn’t quite as large as the previous model, but it's an entirely suitable layout nevertheless.

What disappoints us is the lack of standard active safety features. Yes, they’re available across the model line, but they’ll cost you extra. That’s surprising for a premium brand such as GMC.

Right For? Wrong For?

GMC Terrain

The Terrain gets our nod for its upscale styling and range of available engines. We think these are attributes that'll attract buyers.

But if you’re looking for advanced safety features and you don’t want to pay a bundle for the package, the Terrain isn’t right for you.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 GMC Terrain offers a handsome exterior and a composed ride. The cost can jump in a hurry, especially if you add the diesel engine, all-wheel drive, and opt for the advanced driver assist safety package. Fortunately, there's a middle ground that should satisfy most buyers.