I still don’t subscribe to the logic of selling two mechanically identical compact crossovers for the same price under two different brands, but I will admit that I like the Terrain a bit better than I did the Equinox. The beefy, blocky sheetmetal certainly has a more masculine image, which might appeal to people downsizing from something bigger and more truckish.
The Terrain, like its Chevrolet Equinox twin, feels considerably larger than other compact crossovers, attributable both to its actual size – six inches longer and roughly 300 pounds heavier than a Honda CR-V – and to its high beltline and thick A-pillars. The interior appears largely identical to the Chevy’s, save for a darker color scheme, but is in any event more stylish and interesting than what you’ll find in most non-GM competitors. I was a bit put off at first by the lack of a navigation screen for $33,840, but I soon remembered that with OnStar, one can get turn-by-turn directions beamed right to the radio without having to fuss with entering a destination while driving. Still an underrated feature, I think.
One feature I don’t appreciate, unfortunately, is this 3.0-liter V-6. For the extra cost and whopping 5-mpg penalty in highway fuel economy versus the base four-cylinder, this light-on-torque V-6 doesn’t provide all that much improvement in drivability and is thrashy to boot. The last-generation Equinox/Pontiac Torrent was available with the 3.6-liter V-6, which seems to make much more sense.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
The V-6 provides some appreciable thrust in town and moving around in traffic. I do agree with Zenlea, though, that it’s not quite worth the price. Additionally, there’s not much grunt for highway passing, and the transmission seems just as busy as in the four-cylinder when you make throttle adjustments at those higher speeds. As in the four-cylinder Equinoxes I’ve driven, the brake pedal starts with a progressive feel and then stiffens up partway through the travel. You adapt to it quickly, but it seems like something GM could also easily fix.
This was my first time in an Equinox or Terrain without a navigation system. Just as the new General Motors navigation interface is one of the best, the smaller LCD neatly and intuitively displays song information and allows you to browse through satellite radio channels easily. There are still a lot of buttons to control the navigation, Bluetooth, audio, and vehicle settings, but I’ve quickly adapted to where the most-used functions are.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
I like the Terrain’s boxier looks better than those of its underlying twin, the Chevy Equinox. I’m also quite sure that this GMC is better-polished than the two Equinoxes that I’ve driven in the past couple months. Those vehicles weren’t bad, but this GMC’s interior was nicer finished. Hopefully for GM, this difference is attributable to prototype-versus-production status.
Like the Equinox, the Terrain is decently quick and has nice steering feel for a large mini-ute. I must concur with David and Eric when they opine that the V-6 isn’t strong enough to warrant its price and economy penalties. I was also underwhelmed by the Terrain’s utility, as the cargo compartment is only average in size with the rear seats raised; worse yet, the load floor created by the folded rear seats isn’t flat.
On a smaller utility scale, however, the Terrain is exceptional. The center console is superdeep, and there are lots of random storage bins elsewhere. (I’m not sure why they’re lined in maroon trim in this blue-painted example, though.) I was a bit disappointed to find that the Terrain didn’t have an automatic-up driver’s window, which is a small, subtle luxury feature that I think goes a long way as far as perception is concerned.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Although the Terrain and the Equinox may differ outwardly (to my eye, the Equinox is more attractive than the boxy Terrain), the cockpits are pretty much identical, with the same instrumentation and switchgear. As in the Equinox, the Terrain’s controls are well placed and easy to decipher, and the entire layout seems to be pretty well put together. And, like pretty much every crossover, there are plenty of bins and cubbyholes that are within easy reach of the driver for stashing you various and sundry.
I find it amusing that Rusty referred to the Terrain as a “large mini-ute”? That’s a contradiction in terms if I ever heard one! The Terrain is, in fact, quite roomy, especially with the rear seats folded down to take advantage or its 64-cubic-foot cargo-carrying capacity. The V-6 in the Terrain isn’t terribly refined, but its 264 hp is useful when it comes to moving this two-ton vehicle around town.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2010 GMC Terrain AWD SLT-2
Base price (with destination): $31,745
Price as tested: $33,840
Tire pressure monitoring system
Side curtain airbags
1-year OnStar subscription
Power programmable liftgate
18-in. aluminum wheels
Projector beam headlights
Leather seating surfaces
Heated front seats
Leather steering wheel
8-way power driver seat with memory
Auxiliary audio input
XM satellite radio with 3-month subscription
8-speaker Pioneer sound system
Options on this vehicle:
Cargo management system – $245
Rear cargo security cover
Cargo convenience net
Roof rack crossbars
3.0L DI V-6 – $1500
Trailer towing equipment – $350
Key options not on vehicle:
19-in. chrome clad aluminum wheels – $900
Premium audio system with navigation – $2145
Rear seat entertainment system – $1295
17 / 24 / 20 mpg
Size: 3.0L DOHC DI V-6
Horsepower: 264 hp @6950 rpm
Torque: 222 lb-ft @ 5100 rpm
Weight: 4204 lb
18 in aluminum wheels
235/60 all-season tires