By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 6.8
The 2016 GMC Terrain compact SUV has a ruggedly elegant exterior that falls perfectly in line with its GMC kin. Once behind the wheel, however, the Terrain is anything but truck-like, delivering a smooth ride and sedan-inspired handling, while the optional all-wheel drive bolsters year-round driving confidence. The standard 4-cylinder engine is in line with most competitors, but the available V6 puts the Terrain in a league of its own. With room for five, the Terrain stacks up well against the Subaru Forester, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and Ford Escape, although its lengthy list of standard and available features, especially on the Denali trim, pushes the Terrain’s price to the higher end of the compact-SUV market. It lags many of its competitors in cargo space.
Bigger than most compact SUVs but not quite midsize, the 2016 Terrain from GMC appeals to those seeking a bit more room and a rugged look without the crude ride or boring interior. When equipped with the optional V6, the Terrain can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
GMC’s new Terrain isn’t really off-road-ready. If you plan on venturing far from paved roads, a Subaru Forester offers more ground clearance and a superior all-wheel-drive setup, as do the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Escape.
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For 2016, the GMC Terrain compact- crossover SUV gains revised styling and LED Daytime Running Lights on upper trims. Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are now optional on SLE and SLT models, as are new wheel designs and interior color choices.
One of the 2016 GMC Terrain’s biggest selling points is its quiet and comfortable interior. GMC adds laminated glass, active noise-cancellation technology and triple-seal doors to create an environment different...
... from anything you’ll experience in Ford Escape or Toyota RAV4. While the standard 182-horsepower 2.4-liter engine isn’t fast, it can accelerate with sufficient urgency, and its fuel economy is respectable. Swap in the 301-horsepower V6 and the Terrain becomes a different animal altogether. Smooth, powerful and able to tow up to 3,500 pounds, the V6 may not be the most fuel-frugal choice, but it fulfills the Terrain’s image as just another hard-working GMC. The Terrain delivers a confident ride, firm steering and a roomy interior including a spacious rear seat. That generous passenger space is had at the expense of cargo room, however, which lags behind even the smaller Ford Escape.
For many, an SUV should look rugged and truckish. Compared to the sweeping lines and narrow windows of many competitors, the 2016 Terrain from GMC stands apart, with square edges, a massive grille and lots of glass all around.
MOVABLE 2ND-ROW SEATS
The 2016 GMC Terrain features a rear seat that can slide fore and aft a full eight inches. Plenty of headroom means even when relegated to the rear seat, tall passengers are ensured a comfortable seating position.
Think of the new 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. Instrumentation is 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 2016 GMC Terrain has a new base SL trim, but we prefer the SLE models that add 17-inch wheels, a rearview camera, color touch-screen radio, heated outside mirrors, 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 GMC’s 2016 Terrain crossover SUV 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 on SLE-2, SLT and Denali trims, 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.
For 2016, GMC Terrain shoppers can choose between two engines and front- or all-wheel drive (FWD, AWD). 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 can at times struggle 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 AWD. The 4-cylinder is probably acceptable for most drivers during in-town driving, but we'd suggest the V6 engine if you plan on loading up the Terrain for weekend excursions.
2.4-liter inline-4 (SL, SLE-1, SLT, Denali)
182 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm
172 lb-ft of torque @ 4,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 mpg (FWD), 15/22 mpg (E85, FWD), 20/29 mpg (AWD), 14/20 mpg (E85, AWD)
3.6-liter V6 (SLE-2, SLT, Denali)
301 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
272 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 mpg (FWD, gasoline), 13/22 mpg (FWD, E85), 16/23 mpg (AWD, gasoline)
The 2016 GMC Terrain SL's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at about $25,000, including destination, while the SLE-1 starts just under $28,000. Mid-level SLE2 and leather-clad SLT SUV models start at about $29,200 and $31,500, respectively. The Terrain Denali starts around $35,000. AWD 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 SLT models, and save quite a bit of cash. 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.