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2018 GMC Terrain

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Overview (Final Score: A-)

The GMC Terrain is all-new for 2018, having received a ground-up redesign to bring it into a new generation. The Terrain has improved in almost every way, despite being smaller and lighter in weight than its predecessor. The main improvements are to driveability, comfort and efficiency, without loss in passenger or cargo room.

The 2018 Terrain sits in a place with few rivals, where shoppers will be required to look differently. Base model versus base model, the Terrain will look expensive compared to some lower-end rivals. But in equipment-to-equipment comparisons, it will often come out ahead in terms of what's included for the price. Its nearest competitor is either a more expensive top-end model from another manufacturer or a more luxurious option from its sister company Buick.

For those reasons, the GMC Terrain should be on more shopping lists than it likely is.

The new 2018 Terrain is offered with three engine choices, four trim levels, front-wheel or all-wheel drive, and seating for up to five.

What We Love About the 2018 GMC Terrain:

  • Excellent amount of technology and upscale refinement for the price

  • Good engine choices that suit the Terrain well

  • Lots of curb appeal and versatility


What We Don't Love About the 2018 GMC Terrain:

  • Console shifting takes some getting used to

  • Cargo space not quite as good as some rivals

  • Diesel engine option is spendy



Exterior View (9/10)

The 2018 GMC Terrain sees a lot of changes with its new design. The fundamental look of the Terrain remains, with its flat-nosed front grille, square-ish front fascia and hood design, and near-square wheel wells. Changes are to the bodywork, rear pillar and overall sportiness in size for the Terrain.

The grille is a bit smaller and less pronounced than it was before, removing the very truck-like look of the previous generation. The windscreen is a bit more raked and the roofline more tapered to give a sportier overall shape to the 2018 Terrain. The rear pillar is blacked for a delete effect, giving a floating-roof design that follows a more upscale appeal for the crossover. The greenhouse is only lightly tapered in an upward direction, while the roofline pinches downward more dramatically for a faster-paced, forward-moving feel to the Terrain.

The Terrain's general look is a mixture of solidity and sportiness, with the look promising plenty of interior space, upscale curb appeal and some fun to the ride.


Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (8/10)

The 2018 Terrain has a more upscale feel to its interior than it did in previous generations, which were more SUV-like and borrowed much from the less expensive Equinox. With spacious, comfortable seating and lots of leg- and headroom throughout the cabin, though, the Terrain offers a nicely-done interior experience. Seating for five is accommodated, though the center position in the back seat is a bit cramped for adults.

Cargo space is not as maximized as might be found in rivals, with less room for gear as a result. The fold-flat seating, including the front passenger's seat, is a nice touch that makes cargo hauling easier than in many competitors. Total cargo space is 29.6 cubic feet behind the second row and 63.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. A total of 81 cubes are available with the front passenger's seat folded.

Where the interior drops in our scoring is ergonomics. The push-button shifting on the console can be a bit of a reach for the driver and leads to some confusion when looking for it in the dark. Physically shifting gears manually for control down long grades or in other situations means taking your eyes off the road and leaning forward to get the buttons.

The odd step of putting in the push-button shifting does not seem to result in added storage space in the console, which still has just two cup holders and a useful but awkward little tray for a phone or MP3 player. We like the extra shelf on the passenger's side for a phone or stuff stash and the sizable center bin.

Technology (10/10)

We've become big fans of General Motors' IntelliLink infotainment and the 2018 GMC Terrain showcases the latest generation of it well. Standard in the Terrain are a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Onstar 4G LTE with built-in WiFi, and four (count 'em!) USB ports. Teen Driver settings and a rearview camera are also standard equipment.

Upgrades to this system are to an 8-inch touchscreen, which adds two more USB ports, HD and satellite radio, and navigation. Wireless device charging is also available, as is an upgraded Bose sound system.

We found IntelliLink to be easier to use than ever before and the use of WiFi in the vehicle is a high point. Navigating menus on the touchscreen is quick and straightforward, with only a small learning curve. Voice controls are equally improved.


Fuel Economy (10/10)

There are three engine options for the 2018 Terrain. The base engine offers 26 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, which are above average for the segment. The upgraded gasoline engine lowers fuel economy slightly to 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

Unusually, a turbodiesel engine is also offered with an excellent 28 mpg city and 39 mpg highway EPA rating, rivaling or besting most hybrid options in the segment.

Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (9/10)

Although the 2018 GMC Terrain is completely new this year, the initial expectations for its reliability are high. The J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study ranks the 2018 Terrain as "Better Than Most" for expected reliability. There have been no safety recalls associated with the 2018 Terrain, as of this writing.


Safety (9/10)

The 2018 Terrain receives top scores for safety, though not all crash testing has been reported as of this writing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ranks the Terrain with a 4-Star overall rating, giving the crossover five stars for frontal and four stars each for side and rollover tests.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the 2018 Terrain with crash test results of "Good" (its highest rating) across the board. Further results for other advanced equipment (crash mitigation and the like) have not yet been published.

Performance (9/10)

The 2018 GMC Terrain has three engine choices, starting with the base model's 1.5-liter four-cylinder that outputs 170 horsepower to a nine-speed automatic transmission in front-wheel drive. This engine is standard in the SL, SLE and SLT trim levels.

The upgraded engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that outputs 252 horsepower into the same nine-speed automatic. This is still front-wheel drive standard, but can be upgraded to an all-wheel drive drivetrain with on-the-fly switching between FWD and AWD. This engine can be opted for in the SLE and SLT trims and is standard in the Denali trim.

Finally, a 1.6-liter turbocharged diesel-powered four-cylinder engine can be had in the 2018 Terrain, offering 137 hp to a six-speed automatic transmission. The diesel is an option in both the SLE and SLT trims.

The 1.5L engine has just barely enough power response to feel comfortable in the Terrain, but lacks power at highway speeds and may feel sluggish in the pass. The upgrade to the 2.0L engine is well worth it, adding a lot more umph to the Terrain's get-up. We drove this model in the Denali trim for a week and were impressed with its confidence and predictable fuel economy returns that were similar to the EPA's estimates.

We briefly drove the diesel model and were equally impressed with its responsiveness, especially on the highway, thanks to the high torque (240 lb-ft) it delivers to the lower-geared transmission. The high fuel economy returns are also a boon there.

In any configuration, the 2018 GMC Terrain handles itself well in most everyday driving situations. It's comfortable on the road, with minimal road noise on the highway and good maneuverability around town.

Pricing and Value (9/10)

Considering its upscale placement and premium packaging, the 2018 GMC Terrain is a good choice in the small crossover market. There are cheaper alternatives, but none will come with the amount of basic equipment included in the Terrain.

We think that the SLE and SLT models offer the best bang for the buck for most buyers, with more than enough technology and safety features to appease. Adding on one of the Driver Alert packages is a nice bonus that will be worth it to many. We'd reserve the spendy Denali package for those who demand only high-end equipment or GMC buyers who insist on having all their Jimmys with "Denali" written on them. The Denali packaging is really for luxury buyers with the budget to accommodate.


Total Score and Competitive Comparison (73/80, 91%)

Chief rivals for the 2018 GMC Terrain include the Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Escape and Buick Envision.

The RAV4 is offered in a premium-level trim that could rival the Terrain, but at a much higher price than the Terrain's base-level offering and only just equaling its equipment. Similarly, the Tucson has the same conundrum with only its highest-priced trims equaling the Terrain's equipment. The same goes with the Ford Escape. Sister company Buick has a strong rival with the similarly-platformed (and more expensive) Envision, which may be worth cross-shopping.

The 2018 GMC Terrain is fairly unique in the small crossover category, without many rivals that can lay claim to its domain. Its size, upscale appeal and strong curb presence are just starters on its list of reasons to buy.

People shopping the lower-end offerings in the non-premium segments should consider the Terrain as an option despite its slightly higher price point. Comparing like-to-like across amenities may lead buyers into a GMC here.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
SLE AWD SLE 4 Cylinder AWD 29600
SLE Diesel AWD SLE Diesel 4 Cylinder AWD 33400
SLT AWD SLT 4 Cylinder AWD 33100
SLT Diesel AWD SLT Diesel 4 Cylinder AWD 36000
Denali AWD Denali 4 Cylinder AWD 39300
SL FWD SL 4 Cylinder FWD 24995
SLE FWD SLE 4 Cylinder FWD 27900
SLE Diesel FWD SLE Diesel 4 Cylinder FWD 31600
SLT FWD SLT 4 Cylinder FWD 31400
SLT Diesel FWD SLT Diesel 4 Cylinder FWD 34200
Denali FWD Denali 4 Cylinder FWD 37600

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