The 2015 GMC Terrain is bigger than a compact SUV, but smaller than a midsize SUV. Its rugged exterior styling looks the part of the GMC family, even if its styling isn't everyone's idea of exterior beauty. The roomy interior offers luxury touches and room for five, as there's even a Denali model available. The available all-wheel drive (AWD) is perfect for inclement weather, and a choice of 4-cylinder and V6 engines offers good fuel economy or very good power, respectively. On the other hand, while the same size as the Kia Sorento, it doesn't offer a third row like the Kia. Additionally, it's not meant for off-road duty, despite the tough face. It also lags many of its competitors in cargo space.
You'll Like This Car If...
The GMC Terrain's 'tweener size and unique styling definitely appeal to those who want something styled like a truck, but without truck-like handling. The available V6 engine also gives the Terrain surprisingly good towing capacity for its class – 3,500 pounds.
You May Not Like This Car If...
The GMC Terrain will quickly dispel the notion that everything from GMC is off-road ready. It's fine for snow-covered roads or rainy weather, but for serious off-roading, check out a Jeep Wrangler or even a Subaru Outback.
Like many GM vehicles this year, the 2015 GMC Terrain gets 4G LTE-equipped OnStar, plus the ability to use the connection as a Wi-Fi hotspot. There are also a couple of new colors.
Driving the Terrain
Passenger and driver alike will appreciate the quiet interior of the GMC Terrain. The laminated glass, active noise cancellation technology, and triple-seal doors give this SUV the interior quiet of...
... a luxury car, even at highway speeds. The base engine is a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that offers up good fuel economy, but at the cost of anything resembling snappy acceleration. On the other hand, there's a 301-horsepower V6 that's smooth and quiet, and offers much better punch even if fuel economy is only so-so. The Terrain's comfortable ride and predictable steering feel are backed up by a roomy interior, with a notably spacious rear seat. Unfortunately, the tradeoff is in cargo space, which lags many of its competitors, including the much smaller Ford Escape.
DISTINCTIVE EXTERIOR The GMC Terrain's squared-off styling goes against the SUV trend of swooping, sleek lines. Maybe that's why we like it. While it's not for everybody – and really, what is – even detractors have to admit the Terrain's going to be easy to find in a parking lot.
MOVABLE 2ND-ROW SEATS The 2015 Terrain has very roomy rear seats, which can be made even roomier thanks to eight inches of front-to-rear travel. The generous headroom means that even tall passengers can enjoy a backseat ride.
2015 GMC Terrain Details
Think of the 2015 GMC Terrain as the upscale cousin to the similar Chevrolet Equinox SUV. It boasts higher-quality materials and a snazzier, more luxurious interior design that includes satin metal trim and 2-tone leather. The Terrain Denali pumps up the luxury even further, adding an 8-way power passenger seat, smoked mahogany trim and French-stitched seams on the upholstery. It's easy to use, too. The USB port is easy to find at night thanks to a lighted surround, and the IntelliLink touch-screen system's familiar icons are similar to those on smartphones.
If you think an SUV should look tough, then the GMC Terrain is where you should stop shopping. The wheel openings and enormous chrome grille capped with big GMC letters are so angular, you'd think the SUV was made of Legos. There are optional 19-inch wheels to fill out those big wheel openings, and on top is a sturdy roof rack for whatever you want to tie down. However, don't let the looks fool you: Although it looks substantial, the Terrain isn't high off the ground, meaning all but the tamest back-road trails are off limits.
The basic 2015 GMC Terrain SLE comes with front-wheel drive, a 2.4-liter 182-horsepower 4-cylinder engine connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission and 17-inch wheels. It also has a rearview camera, color touch-screen radio, USB port with iPod support, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, XM Satellite Radio, and OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity that can be shared (for a fee) as a Wi-Fi connection. We like the additional quiet thanks to the active noise cancellation system, and the rear seat features sliders that move back and forth eight inches to help with legroom.
The two most noteworthy options for the 2015 GMC Terrain are the 3.6-liter V6 engine and all-wheel drive. But there's more. Upper trim levels add leather seating, a navigation system, and active safety features like forward collision alert, blind-spot detection, and lane-departure warning. A 2nd-row entertainment system with two independent screens will keep the kids occupied on long trips. Other options include a 10-gigabyte music-storage hard drive, Pioneer audio and a programmable rear liftgate that can be set to open at a desired height.
Under the Hood
For 2015, GMC Terrain shoppers can choose between two engines. The base engine, available in all models including the Denali, is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 182 horsepower. While it's fuel efficient on paper, it sometimes struggles to overcome the surprising bulk of the GMC Terrain. It's no match for the 3.6-liter V6 and its 301 horsepower. Both engines come with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and both can be equipped with all-wheel drive. The 4-cylinder is probably acceptable for most drivers during in-town driving, but we'd suggest the V6 engine if you plan on hitting the highways, or loading up your Terrain for weekend excursions.
The 2015 GMC Terrain SLE1's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at about $27,500, including destination. Mid-level SLE2 and leather-clad SLT1 SUV models start at about $29,000 and $30,500, respectively. Then there's the $34,000 SLT2 and $36,000 Terrain Denali. All-wheel drive adds about $1,750 on all models. While the Denali certainly has flash, you can get most of the same equipment on the mid-level SLE2 and SLT1 models, and save quite a bit of cash in the process. Notable competitors include the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Subaru Outback, all of which cost less than the Terrain, but come with less standard equipment. Be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com to see what others are paying in your area, and note that the Terrain should hold its value well over the years, better than the Dodge Journey, but still behind the segment residual leader, the Honda CR-V.
"Been a Ford girl all my life until I started shopping for an SUV under $35,000. No other make has the comfort, quality, head and legroom, and styling of the GMC Terrain. I've owned it 2-1/2 years and still love everything about it. MPG in the 4-cylinder is fantastic and has plenty of power for the highway driving I do. 2 kids in car seats and the 65# dog all fit comfortably in the back."
"Overall I'm pretty happy with the Terrain. It handles very well, is quiet on the road, has a very comfortable ride, offers spacious room for four (even for my long-legged adult family members), and has comfortable, supportive seats and a good sound system (Pioneer 8-speaker premium system on my SLE-2).
Previously I owned a 2003 Pontiac Aztec, which was more fun to drive. Not sure why, but I just felt more in control of the car. I loved the Aztec--I merely like the Terrain. It feels like a competent family car, and that is its mission in life I'm sure.
Minor quibbles with the Terrain: Although the seats are reasonably supportive, with lumbar support, the front-seat headrests are tipped too far forward, hitting the back of my head and forcing me to tip my head forward which causes an aching neck. The only way to avoid this is to tilt the back rest one notch farther back than my back prefers. (The rear seats, however, are more comfortable and supportive than most cars', and because they are chair height, adults don't have to sit with their knees in the air.) The automatic ventilation system is hard to get right: it blows either hot or cold, never comfortable air; and the blower is weak and noisy. The sound system is too complicated to deal with while driving. A person should be able to switch from CD to radio with just a glance, but a bank of 15 or 20 buttons (for audio, phone, navigation, guage menus, etc.) requires too much study. But at least there's a knob for volume control! The other quibble is a matter of taste. Because of its blocky shape, I think the Terrain looks and feels bigger than it is. It drives like a big car rather than a compact.
Gas mileage in the 4-cylinder is good but not great. The car is rated 22/32, but the best I have ever gotten on the highway is 31. My combined driving (about 1/2 city, half country) usually yields around 25 or 26 mpg. I'm not a lead-foot, but I do drive 70 on the highway. By the way, the 4-cylinder is surprisingly quiet , smooth, and responsive. It definitely has enough power for ordinary driving. I can't speak to its performance under heavy loads or towing.
Overall a good, reliable car. I have had no mechanical issues at all (at 37,000 miles). Recommend it for small families, retired people, anyone needing easy entry-exit and comfort."
"Selected for styling and ride, but with over-arching intent to improve my mileage significantly. Was willing to forego responsiveness for economy, but this car is under-powered and not economical. At typical highway speeds it gets to 23-24 mpg. Far from the 30 claimed. The styling and comfort remain pros, and it is nicely appointed for the $."