2018 GMC Terrain

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2018 GMC Terrain Expert Review

By Keith Buglewicz

The 2018 GMC Terrain is about as all-new as a vehicle can be. Sharing virtually nothing but its name with its predecessor, the new Terrain is leaner, lighter, a little smaller, and far more competitive against the likes of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue and other class leaders. Under the hood you'll find one of three turbocharged engines, including a diesel, front- or all-wheel drive and of course a more luxurious Denali model with a Lots-O-Chrome grille and other upscale touches. It's also available with all the modern extras, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic braking and collision alert, lane-keep assist, and an around-view camera. Strangely absent is active cruise control, but overall the 2018 GMC Terrain makes a solid case for itself against tough competition.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're looking for a sharply styled, comfortable, cleverly outfitted and surprisingly powerful compact SUV, the new GMC Terrain might be just the ticket. It's packed with cool features like a huge underfloor storage area and lots of storage space, all in a package that looks ruggedly cool, without being a caricature.

You May Not Like This Car If...

While the Denali is certainly nice inside, the GMC Terrain's refinement doesn't quite match its competition, with a plethora of hard plastics throughout the interior. It's also lacking active cruise control, something that's sure to make road-trippers reconsider.

How It Ranks


out of 27

Fuel Economy


out of 27

View all rankings
2018 GMC Terrain Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

The 2018 GMC Terrain is all-new this year, sharing its underpinnings with the similarly new Chevrolet Equinox. With three engine choices and front- or all-wheel drive, it's slightly smaller than its predecessor, but right on target with the rest of the class.

Driving the Terrain
2018 GMC Terrain Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

The 2018 GMC Terrain shares most of its underpinnings with the also-new Chevrolet Equinox. Like its Chevy brother, GMC Terrain buyers can choose among three different turbocharged 4-cylinder engines: a...

... 1.5-liter, a more powerful 2.0-liter, or a diesel-burning 1.6-liter. All three engines offer their charms, with the base being the least expensive, the diesel offering excellent fuel economy, and the 2.0-liter bringing surprisingly good acceleration to the party. All come standard with automatic transmissions -- the diesel comes with a 6-speed, the other two with a 9-speed -- and the transmissions use a button-type gear selector on the lower dash. It looks unusual and takes a while to get used to, but in practice we found it to be simple to operate and intuitive enough to use without looking. Around town the Terrain offers a similar driving experience to the Chevy Equinox: comfortable, quiet, and with enough agility in corners that driving it in the mountains isn't a chore.

The diesel available in the 2018 GMC Terrain results in a combined fuel-economy score of 32 mpg, whether you choose front- or all-wheel drive. That's solid fuel economy without any compromises in performance, cargo area, or anything else. Plus, the diesel is remarkably smooth.

Not only does the GMC Terrain offer excellent cargo capacity behind the second row of seats, there's an exceptionally generous storage area under the floor as well for storing items you want to keep out of sight. Additionally, the front-passenger seat folds forward, making it simple to carry long objects.

2018 GMC Terrain Details
2018 GMC Terrain Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

The 2018 GMC Terrain interior is functional and comfortable, but like most of its competition it's not what we'd call “luxurious.” Even in the upscale Denali trim, hard plastics dominate the lower portions of the dash and doors, and while we like the embroidered Denali headrests and stitched dash cover, the Denali doesn't feel as posh inside as the extra price and upscale badge would suggest. The front seats are plenty comfortable though, as are the rears, and we appreciate the excellent cargo space and flexibility. The Terrain was also plenty quiet around town and on the highway.

2018 GMC Terrain photo

There's no dispute that the 2018 Terrain is a good-looking crossover SUV. The sharp lines, LED accents in the headlights, and stylized headlights all keep the Terrain in the GMC-family-design aesthetic, but with a modern and fresh twist. We like the "floating" effect of the roof, with the rearmost pillar painted black. Standard Terrain models get a grille with three crossbars; step up to the Terrain Denali and the grille gets a giant cheese-grater-type chrome mesh that, in fairness, looks pretty good. Denali models also get additional chrome work on the outside mirrors and lower rocker panels.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The base 2018 GMC Terrain SL comes standard with the 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. There's also a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system, push-button start and keyless entry, a rearview camera, and four USB ports, two of which can be used for data. The audio system includes Bluetooth for audio and phone, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard as well. There's standard leather on the steering wheel, although the seats are covered in cloth, and manually adjustable. Safety equipment includes GMC's Rear Seat Reminder, a chime and dash message that reminds you not to forget whoever's sitting back there.

Optional Equipment

GMC’s new Terrain comes with a long list of options, most of which come at various trim levels. Most notable is the choice of diesel or more powerful gasoline engines, with the diesel available in SLE and SLT models, and the turbo optional in SLE and SLT, and standard on Denali models. All-wheel drive is also available across the board, except for base SL models. As you work your way up the trim ladder you'll find an 8-inch touch-screen navigation system with an upgraded Bose audio system, heated and cooled leather seats, heated rear seats, and upgraded safety systems that include collision avoidance, blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert, an around-view camera, and lane-departure warning. Not available at any price is active cruise control, an oversight in our opinion.

Under the Hood
2018 GMC Terrain Engine photo

GMC Terrain buyers have a choice of three different powerplants. Standard is a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 170 horsepower, a solidly competitive engine within its class that delivers good fuel economy and decent acceleration. The upgrade from that is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 252 horsepower that turns the Terrain into something just short of a hot rod. In between the two is a 1.6-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder with 137 horsepower but 240 lb-ft of torque, nearly as much as the 2.0-liter gasoline turbo. All three engines can be paired with front- or all-wheel drive (FWD, AWD). The two gasoline engines come with a 9-speed automatic, while the diesel comes with a 6-speed. Fuel economy ranges from adequate in the 2.0-liter, to good with the 1.5-liter, to excellent with the diesel.

1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4
170 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
203 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/30 mpg (FWD), 24/28 mpg (AWD)

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
252 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 mpg (FWD), 21/26 mpg (AWD)

1.6-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4
137 horsepower @ 3,750 rpm
240 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/39 mpg (FWD), 28/38 mpg (AWD)

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for the 2018 GMC Terrain SL starts at just under $26,400, including the $995 destination charge. But those are pretty stripped down; instead, we suggest starting at the SLE level, which for about $29,200 offers more equipment, plus the availability of AWD, a diesel engine, or a more powerful 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. The leather-clad SLT starts at about $33,300, while the more luxurious Denali comes in at roughly $39,500. That's for front-wheel drive; AWD adds about $1,750 to the price of the Terrain. If you want diesel power, you're limited to SLE ($33,310) or SLT ($36,150) models. Diesel prices notwithstanding -- the only other diesel in the class is the mechanically similar Chevrolet Equinox -- the prices are right in line with the rest of the Terrain's competition, such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, and so on. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see local transaction prices for the Terrain, and note that resale value tends to trail the Honda, Toyota and Nissan.

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