Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Introduced for 2009 as a companion for its bigger brother Acadia crossover, GMC’s Terrain moves into its second generation for 2018 with three new turbo-charged engines, two different 9-speed transmissions, and many design features that take this compact crossover to a new level for sophistication and performance.

Those refinements come in a package that is slightly smaller than its predecessor (at 182.5 inches it’s 3.2 inches shorter) and lighter (200 pounds or so depending on the model) and with available safety features like a surround vision camera, forward collision alert and low-speed automatic braking, lane keeping assist with lane departure warning, and rear cross traffic alert.

Yes, the 2018 Terrain steps up its game and makes it a more attractive option if you are shopping the compact crossover segment.

The Denali trim, which steps up the game in GMC models across the board, even makes it worth a look if you are shopping in the luxury segment.

The 2018 Terrain Denali gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that ups oomph to 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque from the 170/203 of the 1.5-liter turbo that is standard in SL, SLE, and SLT trims while still producing decent fuel economy figures of 21 miles-per-gallon in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway with all-wheel drive.

The 1.5-liter’s fuel economy numbers are 24/28 with AWD. The 1.6-liter turbo diesel is rated at 28/38 with all-wheel drive with power figures of 137 hp and 240 lb.-ft. of torque.

The 2.0-liter and 1.5-liter each get its own version of a 9-speed automatic transmission. The diesel gets a 6-speed automatic. One quirk: gear selection is via buttons at the bottom of the center stack with the “L” setting providing the opportunity for manual gear selection. I’ve seen buttons used for gear selection, of course, but not in this location.

The 2.0-liter turbo in the Denali I had certainly boasts enough power for everyday chores, and the torquey diesel probably is up snuff as well. I did not have the opportunity to drive it or the 1.5-liter, though.

As the top-of-the-line offering, the Denali’s interior comes with lots of features that add to the comfort and convenience of occupants. In addition to standard items like perforated leather appointed seats, dual zone automatic climate control, a Bose 7-speak premium sound system, and adjustable lumbar support for both the driver and front-seat passenger, a Comfort Package for $525 (ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, wireless device charging) and Driver Alert Package for $495 (low speed forward auto braking, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning) ups the luxury ante even further.

Standard technology includes an infotainment system that comes with an 8-inch touchscreen display with navigation, a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The OnStar system includes a 5-year basic plan plus a limited trial of guidance plan with automatic crash response.

Exterior standard features include 19-inch ultra-bright, machined aluminum wheels, LED headlamps and LED daytime running lamps, LED taillights, power handsfree liftgate, and dual exhaust with bright tips. They give the Terrain a bolder, more aggressive look.

Including the optional packages plus a panoramic Skyscape sunroof with power sunshade $1,495) did add to the final MSRP for my test vehicle but not overly so. Base MSRP was listed at $39,270 and the options plus destination and delivery ran the final tab to $44,470. 

You can get out for less, of course, and still have a Terranin. The base SL with front-wheel drive, however, starts at $25,970 including destination and delivery, and you can get a FWD SLE for $28,795. SLT models start in the low $30,000 range. Diesel versions of the SLE and SLT have MSRPs that are $3,770 (SLE) and $2,845 (SLT) more than gas models.

What I liked about the 2018 GMC Terrain Denali: This is a comfortable vehicle with lots of room in both rows of seating. It provides an overall satisfactory driving experience as well.

What I didn’t like about the 2018 GMC Terrain Denali: A couple of cubic feet of cargo space was lost on the redesign. The Terrain’s capacity of 29.3 cubic feet behind the second row lags behind some competitors, but the 63.3 with the back seats folded is not bad. The placement of the buttons to operate the transmission is odd.

Would I buy the 2018 GMS Terrain Denali? Certainly. The improvements made both in looks and functionality over the previous model make this a viable option for those who don’t want or need a three-row crossover.

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