For a more detailed analysis of the powertrain's shortcomings, we refer you to our assessment of same in the Saturn Relay, elsewhere on this Web site. Or just accept our word that it's grossly insufficient. And incidentally, fuel economy of 17/23 mpg is at the bottom of the class. At this price point, another problem the Terraza faces is lack of feature content. Whether we're talking molded plastic hooks in the cargo area for plastic grocery bags, or a tri-zone automatic climate control system, the Terraza keeps coming up a bit short. (The rear cargo and convenience area, which is an array of molded plastic compartments on the floor, didn't impress us very much.) The unavailability of a power-operated liftgate is inexcusable.
Finally, we arrive at the critical issue of the chassis and body, which are architecturally outdated: too narrow, too long, too tall. The sliding side doors operate on guides that intrude into the passenger compartment. Even though a male driver of less than average height scooted the seat as far back as it could go, his left knee was always touching the door; elbow and head room were awfully precious, and cargo volume (136.5 cubic feet) is less than expected. Sitting in the second row meant our knees always clunked against the first-row seatbacks--and there's no fore-and-aft adjustability for the second-row seats. (It's actually more comfortable in the 50/50-split third row.) Finally, add to this equation the outmoded second-row captain's chairs that are beastly to remove and obstruct entry and exit for third-row passengers.
Despite a good effort by planners and engineers, the Terraza is handicapped by the inherent disadvantages of GM's minivans, and it never quite manages to overcome them. It offers only one class-leading feature: the mobile digital-storage module, PhatNoise, which interfaces with computers and other devices, giving you lots of say-so as to the infotainment content. There's also a Sit-N-Lift second-row seat for the person who needs help entering the vehicle. These reasons might be good enough to buy the Terraza. Or maybe you've just been desperately awaiting the first minivan from Buick. For the rest of us, better alternatives exist at the Honda, Toyota, and Chrysler dealers, and they aren't any more expensive.