GMC Terrain test drive.

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The Terrains’s blocky design is not for everyone.
I really didn’t like it when I saw the first pictures of it, back when it was introduced.
Although I am still not crazy about it, I’ve grown to recognize a certain personality to it.
It does stand out more than its Chevrolet .
And it looks larger than it is. Which is only 7 inches more than a CRV.

The interior is quite another story.
It doesn’t really match the squared off exterior.
It is really appealing and quite modern. Almost futuristic in some details.
Most plastics are of good quality, and many are soft to the touch.
Everything has a solid feel to it.
My test car was equipped with the optional Navigation/Audio system. Everything sounded very good and was easy to use.
The seats are comfortable, as well as good looking. And the rear passengers have plenty of leg room.


The ride is a bit firm. In a good way. Never harsh and always comfortable. At least for my taste.

The steering in my V6 test car felt very good and surprisingly firm. Which is getting rare in a world of over boosted units.
But at the same time, I could feel some very small vibrations. Like in the Lexus RX and ES.
I am icky and most people might not feel it. But it’s there and a bit annoying once I noticed it…

These two are the worst part of the GMC Terrain.
The 3.0 Liter produces 260hp. But they all seem either very shy, or absent.
Either way, it just doesn’t feel like 260hp. At all…
You have to push it a lot to go anywhere, and when you do, the transmission revs up the engine pretty high, above 5000rpm, but not much is going on.

And that transmission isn’t very smooth either.
One of the rare time where I actually noticed shifting. Quite a bit.
I actually thought my test unit had the 2.4 Liter. But it didn’t.

The V6 Terrain is rated at 16/22.
I did get 16 in the City. Driving like a grandmother. But did get 24 on the highway.
Not good numbers by any mean. Especially for a car that doesn’t feel quick at all.


The GMC Terrain could be a much better car with a different engine/transmission combo.
Maybe the smaller 2.4 Liter is better. If you expect less.
And the gas mileage on the V6 is pretty bad. But I didn’t really expect any car with such a blunt front en would get amazing numbers on the freeway either…

My loaded test car was $38 000. (The SLT2 model starts at $31 400).
Which seems very expensive to me.
Sure, it had AWD, Navigation. Plus things I would never get, like a $1300 DVD player for the back seats. Or $900 chrome wheels.

It is roomy, comfortable and solid, with a very nice interior.
But I also think it is overpriced.

There are many choices around these days. Including the Ford Edge. Which is priced similarly.
But if you don’t mind something a bit smaller, a loaded Kia Sportage is a great choice. For almost $8000 less.

Conversation 13 comments

  1. Vince, you can get one very nicely equiped for 8k less also. GM just supplied you with a loaded version. This vehicle is very competitive on price as long as you don't load the kitchen sink in one!

  2. Not a knock on the Kia Sportage (a pretty decent vehicle) but is a loaded Sportage as well equipped as the GMC?

    My 2010 Equinox LTZ is loaded with everything but NAV, the video entertainment system, and the V6 but cost a hair under $32K.

    BTW, I recommend the I4 over the V6. The V6 has all its torque at higher RPM. Lots of reviewers have been critical of it. However the I4 and 6speed have gotten lots of great reviews. It won't win a drag race but there is plenty of power there. We're getting 24mpg in mixed driving and I've been able to get it up to 30mpg on long highway drives. It is definitely the superior engine.

  3. I'm starting to see a lot of these in the Boston area as well as the Equinox. We were recently searching for a ute this size for my wife's mom and she bought the Equinox after trying everything else. She can't stop bragging about how much she enjoys driving it. Have to admit they did a real nice job on the redesign.

  4. I'm starting to see a lot these as well as the Equinox here in Boston. My wife's mom was searching for a ute this size and ended up buying the new Equinox. She loves everything about it and can't stop bragging about it. Have to admit they did a great job on the redesign. Light years better than what they had before.

  5. you get what you pay for ti if you want the bes t amarican idon you pay more than the horriv ble asian crap

  6. Why do you baby every car you test drive to get the best mileage? It would be more fair to just drive normally and report the actual mileage that the average driver would get.

  7. "Check out this comparison test where the nearly SIX year old CR-V beat out a loaded, new Equinox. It didn't even come close to its mileage prediction."

    What the hell is Vehix? Never heard of it. Anyway, the CRV might have won, but the Equinox beat out the Rav4 and the Hyundai and "very nearly" beat the CRV. In my opinion, the CRV looks a little crude, and the Equinox looks better inside-and-out. And I can't believe I'm saying that about a Chevy.

    As for the platform-mate Terrain, all I can say is that the grille is just plasti-tragic. But overall, it is much better looking in person than I would have thought.

  8. Hey Vince, I've actually got a AWD '11 Terrain with the 2.4 as a rental for business.

    I like the interior, aside from some GLARING fit and finish issues. Some panels in the interior, namely how the dash lines up with the A pillar, and the panel on the door lines up with the door pull. There is a solid 2mm gap.

    Also, whoever designed the gauges is an absolute idiot. The curved cover over the gauges acts as a mirror to the top of the steering column making it 100% unreadable when sunlight enters in from the front of the vehicle. Dumbest design in vehicle history.

    The controls are also some of the most non-intuitive I've ever come across for the HVAC (buttons FAR too small) and the radio is overly complicated. I can say that the Bluetooth feature works VERY well and is crystal clear.

    I can confirm that the 2.4 powertrain is worse than the V6 option, as I had an Equinox with the V6. The transmission clunks and bangs HARD into gear sometimes, and often gets confused as to what gear it should be in and when it does decide if the engine is revved up it will BAAANG into gear. This isn't the first time I've encountered this, as the two other 'Noxs I had did the same thing.

    The powertrain in the vehicle (and other Equinoxs I've driven) is the worst I've ever encountered in 25 years of driving. The engine is sluggish and sounds terrible. The Terrain I am driving feels even slower than the other two Equinoxes I've had as rentals. I also haven't really ever gotten close to the highway mileage rating even with 60MPH cruising and 100% highway driving. Closest I've ever come is in a 2WD Equinox with the 2.4 and I got 26.4 calculated by myself and not the stupid computer which was 1.5MPG optimistic.

    So, the one I'm driving is $34,000 and I can honestly say that there is nothing about it that is "Professional Grade", nor does it feel like it should cost $34,000. I've driven my sister's '10 CR-V from Maryland to Florida and back and I can honestly say it is a MUCH better vehicle and it is cheaper as well. I used to not like the CR-V at all, and then I drove it versus all of the competition and there really is no comparison.

  9. "Anonymous said…
    yea and thats why rated it number one among 8 other cuvs

    May 14, 2011 9:43 PM"

    Who cares about

    That's why the CR-V has still beaten it in nearly every single comparison test its ever been in, ever even if the model is almost SIX years old. The Equinox and Terrain are almost brand new in comparison.

    That's why the CR-V still outsells it by a WIDE margin and less than 1% of CR-Vs sold go to fleet sales while 20% of Equinoxes and Terrains go to fleet sales. Ouch.

    That's why the CR-V has been America's best selling SUV for going on six years and no one else has come close.

    That's why the CR-V has the HIGHEST owner satisfaction rating out of all the vehicles in its class. Check JD Power and Consumer Reports.

    That's why the CR-V has the highest residuals BY FAR out of all the vehicles in its class.

    That's why the CR-V is still the most reliable vehicle in its class.

    Starting to see a pattern here?

  10. To: May 9, 2011 7:32 PM

    Actually, the GM LAF 2.4 is criticized in the Equinox/Terrain as well. It isn't a smooth or refined mill, and it never hits its target MPG. The transmission is reluctant to downshift and when it does it gears down two or three gears.

    $38,000 is insane for this vehicle, even $30,000 is pushing it. Like Vince said, the Edge is a FAR superior vehicle especially at $30,000+ range.

    Check out this comparison test where the nearly SIX year old CR-V beat out a loaded, new Equinox. It didn't even come close to its mileage prediction.

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