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2020 GMC Terrain Review

There’s much to like about the 2020 GMC Terrain. The quality materials in the cabin, quiet, sophisticated ride and loads of technology (connectivity and safety and driver-assist technologies) make the Terrain a solid choice within the segment. On the other hand, it’s neither the roomiest nor the most engaging to drive among its rivals. We also have issues with the silly shifter design that GMC installed.

All in all, however, we think the Terrain is generally a well-rounded CUV. There are some other competitors out there worth a look-see, such as the segment sales-leading Honda CR-V.

What’s New for 2020?

Standard on all trim levels is the Pro Safety suite with automatic forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, following distance indicator and automatic high beam assistance. The Driver Alert Package includes camera-based adaptive cruise control, lane-change alert, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear-parking assist and a Safety Alert Seat and is available on all grades. The Denali trim gets an upgraded suspension and offers the new Premium Package as an option. See the 2020 GMC Terrain models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Ample standard tech features
  • Easy-to-use touchscreen
  • Nicely balanced ride and handling
  • Multiple engine choices

What We Don’t

  • Ridiculous shifter design
  • Less cargo capacity than rival CUVs
  • Excessive diesel engine vibration

How Much?


Fuel Economy

The 2020 GMC Terrain uniquely comes with three powertrain choices, including a diesel engine. Each is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

The standard 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine produces 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque. Both gasoline-fueled engines come with a 9-speed automatic. Fuel economy is estimated to be 26 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in combined driving with FWD. AWD knocks those figures down to 24 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined.

The performance upgrade is a 2.0-liter turbo four good for 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. It’s standard on the Denali trim and optional on the others. Fuel economy estimates stand at 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined with FWD and 21 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined with AWD.

The fuel economy upgrade is a diesel-fueled 1.6-liter turbo four that produces 137 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. It has a 6-speed automatic. It returns 28 mpg city/39 mpg hwy/32 mpg combined with FWD, and those numbers are basically the same with AWD. Despite this improvement over the base engine, the price of diesel could result in the Terrain diesel being no cheaper to fuel over the course of a year. On the upside, we have noted that the diesel-powered Terrain tends to get something close to its estimates, whereas the smaller gas turbo might fall short.

Standard Features & Options

The 2020 Terrain is available in SL, SLE, SLT and Denali trim levels. Prices include a $1,195 factory destination charge. Unavailable on the SL, AWD adds $1,700 to all other grades.

The base SL trim ($26,195) comes only with FWD and the base 1.5-liter engine along with 17-in wheels, automatic HID headlights, LED running lights, privacy glass, heated mirrors, passive entry and push-button start, active noise cancellation, a rearview camera, height-adjustable front seats, a 60/40 split folding and reclining back seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth upholstery, OnStar emergency communications and remote services, a 7-in touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, four USB ports (including one Type-C port), a 6-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack and the Pro Safety suite of safety and driver-assist technologies.

The SLE trim ($29,595) is available with any engine and AWD. It adds as standard equipment a spare tire, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and levers in the cargo area that fold the back seat. That’s not a lot for an extra $2,900, but it does open the door to options. The Driver Convenience package, included on the SLE Diesel, adds remote ignition, a power lift gate, roof rails, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats and an 8-way power driver seat with lumbar adjustment. To that package you can add the Infotainment Package I, which includes an enhanced gauge cluster, an additional standard-type USB port, a 110-volt house-style outlet, an 8-in touchscreen, an SD card reader and satellite radio.

The SLT trim ($32,395) includes the Driver Convenience and Infotainment Package I items plus 18-in wheels, fog lamps, auto-dimming exterior mirrors and leather upholstery. Its Infotainment Package II adds integrated navigation, HD Radio and a 7-speaker Bose sound system. Its Preferred package, included on the SLT Diesel, adds a hands-free power lift gate, driver-memory functions, a 6-way power passenger seat and a heated steering wheel.

Optional on the SLE and SLT trims is Driver Alert Package I, which adds blind spot monitoring, a rear cross-traffic alert system, rear parking sensors and the Safety Alert Seat.

The Denali ($39,495) comes only with the 2.0-liter engine and includes all of the SLT’s optional equipment. It also adds ritzier styling details, 19-in wheels, upgraded interior materials and LED headlights. Optional on the Denali only is the Advanced Safety package, which adds a surround-view parking camera and an automatic parking system. The Comfort package adds ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and wireless smartphone charging.

The Driver Alert Package includes camera-based adaptive cruise control, lane-change alert, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear-parking assist and a Safety Alert Seat. Optional on all but the base trim is a panoramic sunroof. Denali-only options include surround-vision cameras.


Standard on every Terrain are the usual passive safety systems such as anti-lock brakes and stability control. It provides six airbags and OnStar emergency communications, including automatic crash notification, an emergency response button and a stolen vehicle locator. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning are optional on the SLE and SLT and standard on the Denali. Forward-collision warning, low-speed automatic braking and lane-keeping assist are optional on the SLT and Denali.

The government gave the 2020 Terrain a 4-star overall crash rating, plus 5-star front and 4-star side ratings. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Terrain its highest score of Good on all crash and strength tests.

Behind the Wheel

The 2020 Terrain is a far better SUV to drive than its predecessor. In particular, its steering is far more precise and confidence-inspiring, and body motions have been reduced. It’s not as engaging as some of its competitors, but the Terrain still strikes a pleasing balance between ride and handling.

The base turbo 4-cylinder should be strong enough for most compact SUV customers. Its low-end torque makes it feel especially stout around town. Opting for the 2.0-liter turbo brings extra power and torque, providing performance not offered by top rivals. A tricky choice is the diesel with its enhanced mileage, but higher diesel fuel prices could wipe out its gains. Its excessive vibration is annoying, too.

The cabin offers quality equal to most rivals, and the Terrain’s technology surpasses them — in terms of the number of standard features and the touchscreens controlling them. Beyond that, though, it’s a mixed bag. The cargo area is on the small side compared to Honda‘s CR-V, and its back seat space is just average. Headroom can be tight with the optional panoramic sunroof.

Then there’s the electronic shifter. Sure, it frees up space in the center console, but its push-button and pull-toggle design is different simply for the sake of being different.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Honda CR-V — Arguably the benchmark in the segment. It provides unmatched interior space and versatility, ample features for the money, strong performance and fuel economy and a nicely balanced driving experience.

2020 Mazda CX-5 — The CX-5 stands out with its sporty handling, sophisticated ride, luxurious interior and snazzy styling. It’s definitely worth a long look.

2020 Chevrolet Equinox — If you like what you’re reading about the Terrain but prefer a different look, the Equinox is mechanically related to the Terrain. It has many of the same pros and cons, minus the Terrain’s electronic shifter.

Used Jeep Grand Cherokee — If you’re looking for an SUV with more rugged capabilities and a fancier interior (and especially if you’re seeking a diesel engine), the Grand Cherokee is a superb choice. It costs considerably more, though, so seeking a used model is recommended.

Autotrader’s Advice

We recommend the SLT, which is the SLE trim with options, leather upholstery and bigger wheels. We’d also opt for the Driver Alert Package. We’d skip the diesel engine. Either of the gas engines would be fine, given your performance and fuel economy preferences. Find a GMC Terrain for sale

Our editors are here to make car buying easier. We’ve driven, reviewed and compared thousands of cars. We’ve bought and sold more than our fair share, too. And as part of the sprawling Cox Automotive group of companies, we have exclusive access to a range of valuable data and insights. Whether you’re looking for the best car, the best deal or the best buying advice, you can trust... Read More about Autotrader

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