By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 6.8
GMC’s compact Terrain SUV for 2017 combines rugged good looks with a practical size and good fuel economy. Draped in GMC styling cues, the Terrain plays in the same league as the Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. However, unlike these worthy competitors, the Terrain offers the option of a V6 engine and a more upscale interior. Load up a Denali trim and the Terrain’s price tag quickly moves into Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and Ford Escape Titanium territory. The Terrain’s unit-body construction permits it a modern suspension that delivers a comfortable ride and sedan-like handling, and with available all-wheel drive (AWD), year-round driving confidence. Regrettably, the Terrain’s soft suspension and relatively low stance exclude it following the Subaru Forester or Jeep Cherokee off-road.
The 2017 GMC Terrain compact-crossover SUV might look rugged, but it’s not designed for serious off-road use. The interior is smaller than the Forester or Santa Fe Sport and it lacks some newer collision-avoidance technologies.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2017 GMC Terrain compact SUV gets a new Nightfall package featuring monochromatic treatment and unique wheels in four colors: Onyx Black, Summit White, Graphite Grey and Crimson Red.
If a comfortable cabin and quiet ride are high priorities, few compact-crossover SUVs compare to the 2017 GMC Terrain. A combination of laminated glass, triple-layer door seals and GMC’s active...
... noise-cancellation technology conspire to put the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 to shame. The Terrain’s 2.4-liter engine puts out 182 horsepower, pretty much in line with other 4-cylinder competitors, but it’s the available 301-horsepower V6 that sets this little compact-crossover SUV apart from all others. With the ability to tow up to 3,500 pounds, the V6-equipped Terrain is much more versatile than the base model, and it delivers impressive acceleration with decent fuel economy. On the road, the Terrain provides a comfortable ride, free of jarring responses to road imperfections and with a nicely weighted steering feel. The rear-seating accommodations are quite spacious, although the extra legroom comes at the expense of rear cargo space.
GMC’s distinctive exterior styling is applied in full force to the compact 2017 Terrain SUV, giving it a bold, boxy look quite the contrast to vehicles like the Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape and Honda CR-V. We particularly like the new Nightfall package in Onyx Black.
MOVABLE 2ND-ROW SEATS
GMC’s Terrain compact SUV for 2017 includes a sliding 2nd-row seat that can move fore or aft a full eight inches. When the rear seat isn’t occupied, moving it fully forward can help create much needed cargo space.
Think of the GMC’s 2017 Terrain crossover SUV as the upscale cousin to the similar Chevrolet Equinox. 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 for 2017 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 2017 GMC Terrain compact SUV has a bare-bones 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 2017 Terrain crossover SUV are the 3.6-liter V6 engine and all-wheel drive. But there's more. Upper trim levels add leather seating and 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 2017, 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: 21/31 mpg (FWD), 15/21 mpg (E85, FWD), 20/28 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 2017 GMC Terrain SL's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at about $25,000, including destination, while the SLE-1 starts just over $28,000. Mid-level SLE2 and leather-clad SLT SUV models start at about $29,700 and $32,000, respectively. The Terrain Denali starts around $35,200. 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 Forester, 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.