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2017 GMC Terrain: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2017

While some classify the GMC Terrain as a compact crossover, others say it's a midsize. The truth is the 2017 GMC Terrain enjoys elements of both designations. It offers the smaller weight and more manageable dimensions of a compact SUV along with the more macho styling and added refinement of a midsize model.

That's a recipe that should work for many, but the Terrain is also in its eighth year since it was introduced. That age is starting to show in quite few areas -- fuel economy, feature content, interior design and controls -- and its competitors have also matched or surpassed those areas where this smallest of GMC's once thrived. There's also the matter of an all-new Terrain coming to GMC dealers in the coming months.

So although the Terrain looks good on paper, and with the right deal it could absolutely be a worthy addition to your family, we think some cross-shopping or a bit of patience will ultimately be worth it.

 What's New for 2017?

With a completely redesigned Terrain on its way next year, this year's lame duck model sees standard 18-in wheels as its only noteworthy upgrade.

 What We Like

Quiet and comfortable ride; sliding and reclining back seat offers bigger-SUV comfort; good storage space; powerful V6 option

 What We Don't

Underwhelming 4-cylinder power and fuel economy; outdated interior controls and tech; cumbersome handling; disappointing cargo space

 How Much?

$24,100-$36,000

 Fuel Economy

The Terrain offers two engine choices. A 2.4-liter 4-cylinder is standard, producing 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy with front-wheel drive is 21 miles per gallon city, 31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined, or 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined with optional all-wheel drive. This falls well short of class leaders and we've found it's even worse in the real world.

Drivers who want more power can step up to the optional 3.6-liter V6, which makes 301 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque. The V6 is rated at 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive knocks it down to 16/23/18.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 GMC Terrain is offered in five trim levels: SL, SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT and Denali.

The base-level SL ($24,100) includes 18-in alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, a backup camera, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split rear seat (sliding, reclining and folding), Bluetooth phone connectivity, a 7-in touchscreen, USB port, a 6-speaker sound system and GM's OnStar system with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot.

The midlevel SLE-1 ($27,300) really only adds satellite radio and heated mirrors, but it does offer far more options, including a trailering package, additional interior and exterior color choices, a sunroof, the 3.6-liter V6 engine and all-wheel drive.

Next up is the SLE-2 ($28,800), which adds LED running/accent lights, roof rails, a power driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, Bluetooth audio, additional touchscreen functions and an 8-speaker Pioneer stereo system. The SLE-2's Convenience package adds heated front seats and remote engine ignition.

The SLT ($30,900) includes the Convenience package plus extra chrome trim and interior ambient lighting. Driver memory settings and a power passenger seat can be added together in the Memory package. A Driver Alert package, available on the SLE-2 and SLT, adds blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems and parking sensors, plus a power liftgate on the SLT version. The Driver Alert II package enhances those items with forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems.

All of the above options are included on the Acadia Denali ($34,300), which also includes special exterior styling and interior trim, along with a more comfort-oriented suspension.

A navigation system is optional on the SLE-2, SLT and Denali.

 Safety

Standard safety comes from six airbags, OnStar emergency telematics, an anti-lock braking system, stability control, traction control and a backup camera. Safety options include lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors, all of which are standard on the Denali and optional on the midlevel SLE-2.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing, the Terrain earned a 4-star overall score, comprised of five stars in the side-impact test and four stars in frontal impact and rollover assessments. In testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Terrain earned top scores of Good in all crash tests.

 Behind the Wheel

First and foremost, the Terrain delivers a comfortable and quiet ride that's well-suited for daily commuting or long-distance road trips. GMC has gone to extra effort to make the Terrain's cabin as free from exterior noise as possible. A plush, well-shielded driving experience is what the majority of familycentric buyers want -- especially on the highway -- and the Terrain delivers.

On the other hand, the Terrain's competitors have caught up to it in this regard in recent years -- especially the new Honda CR-V -- while bettering it in terms of handling. With its numb and disconnected steering, the Terrain can be cumbersome to drive and it feels less agile and maneuverable in general.

As for power, the 4-cylinder Terrain is a fine choice for everyday driving. Power delivery is smooth and steady throughout the rev band. The only time it really comes up short is when the Terrain is loaded down with passengers and cargo. If that's going to be the norm, we'd recommend the 3.6-liter V6. Its fuel economy is even further off the pace of the class best, but at least it stands out with its stout power.

Inside, the Terrain provides a spacious back seat that feels more in keeping with a midsize SUV. It also slides and reclines for greater comfort and cargo versatility -- although it can never counter the fact the Terrain has less cargo space than its top rivals. Upfront, the quality of materials is average, but the look and controls are understandably dated. In particular, there are a lot of buttons and the standard touchscreen can be difficult to reach.

 Other Cars to Consider

2017 Honda CR-V -- The all-new CR-V is the SUV to beat in this segment. It takes every drop of functionality its predecessor possessed and adds a thick shellac of comfort and refinement. It crushes the Terrain's fuel economy.

2017 Mazda CX-5 -- The CX-5 is also all-new for 2017 and, like the CR-V, builds upon its successful predecessor. It's a more responsive vehicle to drive than the Terrain, arguably more visually appealing and betters the GMC's utility.

2017 Ford Escape-- The Escape's updates for 2017 weren't quite as substantial, but they nevertheless improved its technology and interior versatility. The Escape continues to be sharper to drive than the Terrain and, unlike most competitors, does offer an engine upgrade.

Used Jeep Grand Cherokee -- If you like the idea of a more grown-up and solid SUV with a hint of luxury and machismo, it's hard to think of something better than the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It's more expensive than the Terrain, so you may want to consider a used model.

 Autotrader's Advice

The best version of the 2017 GMC Terrain is the SLE-2 model matched with the crossover's V6 engine. That way, you get a wide range of standard features -- and access to an even wider range of options -- plus the sort of capable engine power not offered by most competitors. You'd also bypass the base 4-cylinder, which is no longer class-competitive on the fuel economy front.

Find a GMC Terrain for sale

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Used 2017 GMC Terrain AWD SLT
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New 2017 GMC Terrain AWD SLE
New 2017 GMC Terrain
MSRP $35,650
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Used 2017 GMC Terrain FWD SLE
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 GMC Terrain: New Car Review - Autotrader