Although Pontiac is due to lose the Torrent as it becomes a "niche brand," GMC will gain a small crossover in the form of the 2010 Terrain. It will become the smallest member of GMC family and is based on the Theta platform which underpins the Chevrolet Equinox and Cadillac SRX.
Despite its lightly altered cosmetic styling, there is no doubting the close relation to the Equinox. Nevertheless, the Terrain aims for a bolder styling scheme with its three-element grille and its pronounced fender flares. We're guessing its design was intended to appear tougher than its Chevy and Cadillac counterparts, but we'll withhold judgment until we see it in the metal.
Like the Equinox, the Terrain is available in FWD or AWD. It comes with your choice of two direct-injected powerplants mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. For starters, there is the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine capable of a best-in-segment 30 mpg highway fuel economy rating as well as 21 mpg in the city. Part of its efficiency is due to its electric power steering and "ECO" mode. When a driver enters this mode, by pressing a button on the dash, the torque converter is set to lockup at a lower speed, the transmission shifts earlier, and the throttle mapping changes. The four-cylinder makes 182-hp and 174 lb-ft, and has a towing capacity of 1500 lbs.
While the majority of buyers will find the 2.4-liter adequate, those wanting to tow more or needing just a little more gusto can opt for the 3.0-liter V-6 engine. It delivers a more robust 264-hp and can tow 3500 lbs. The six-cylinder is expected to get 25 mpg on the freeway and 18 mpg in the city.
Inside, the Terrain's interior is characterized by its red contrast stitching on the seats, doors, and center console and red ambient lighting that illuminates the door pulls and the "floating" center stack. The cabin also features plenty of storage in spaces such as the oversized glove box, a compartment under the center arm-rest, in the dash, and two-tier storage in the doors.
The rear can be configured for cargo or comfort with a 60/40-split rear bench that can slide fore or aft nearly eight inches to adjust for greater leg room or cargo carrying capability. No electronic device will go unpowered thanks to four auxiliary power outlets throughout the cabin. The Terrain provides its passengers with further comfort through GM's first application of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology the four-cylinder model. ANC quiets the ride by detecting booming noises in the vehicle and smoothing them out by sending out counteracting sound waves through the audio system's speakers.
Pricing for the Terrain is expected to fall between the Equinox and SRX, starting around $25,000. The base price includes standard features such as a rearview camera, electronic stability control, OnStar, XM satellite radio, and dual front, side, and side-curtain air bags. Options will range from a programmable power rear liftgate to a dual-screen rear DVD entertainment system. The price of a loaded AWD V-6 model is expected to reach the realm of $35,000. GM says the Terrain will go on sale in late summer.