Used Car Review

2011 GMC Terrain: Used Car Review

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author photo by Ron Sessions October 2015

Replacing the truck-based Envoy as the brand's midsize SUV offering is the 2011 GMC Terrain. It's a car-based compact crossover SUV sharing much of its chassis and running gear with the Chevrolet Equinox. With room for five passengers, Terrain slots in under the larger, almost full-size 7-passenger GMC Acadia. The Terrain comes equipped with an impressive list of standard equipment for the price. It offers a full complement of safety gear, including dual front, overhead and front-seat side airbags, OnStar crash notification, anti-lock brakes and traction and stability control. The Terrain features a rugged, squared-off appearance with aggressive wheel flares and a stylish interior with a floating instrument panel, ambient lighting and upgraded materials. A segment-unique feature is its sliding rear seat, which can be moved nearly 8 inches fore and aft to apportion rear-passenger and cargo space as desired.

The Terrain is roomy for the compact class, offering up to 31.6 cu ft. of cargo space behind the rear seat and 63.9 cu ft. with the rear seat folded. The base 4-cylinder is rated to tow 1,000 pounds, but the optional 3.0-liter V6 increases trailering to 3,500 pounds. It comes equipped with OnStar 9.0 for enhanced voice recognition capability and the optional 3.0-liter V6 gains E85.

The GMC Terrain is a stylish, roomy and efficient compact crossover SUV, and a good choice for young families on the go.

What We Like

Roomy back seat; standard backup camera; good 4-cylinder fuel economy; attractive cabin design and materials; programmable power liftgate

What We Don't

Slow-shifting transmission; hard seat cushions; harsh ride impacts; thick roof pillars create blind spots; poor V6 fuel economy

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The Terrain's base engine is a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with a class-leading fuel economy rating from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of 22 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway on front-wheel-drive models and 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy on all-wheel-drive (AWD) versions.

Optional is a 264-hp 3.0-liter V6 that EPA rates at a less impressive 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy for front-wheel-drive versions and 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy for AWD models. Both engines run on unleaded regular fuel. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard with both engines.

Notable Features & Options

The 2011 Terrain is available in SLE and SLT trims.

SLE standard equipment consists of SiriusXM radio, air conditioning, a backup camera, cruise control, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, the OnStar communication system, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with USB connectivity, a trip computer, automatic headlamps, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, foglamps, a rear wiper/washer, a power driver's seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, a split-folding rear seat, an outside-temperature display, a compass, power doors, power windows and heated power mirrors.

Moving up to SLT adds standard heated leather seats with memory, steering-wheel audio controls, auto air conditioning, an 8-speaker premium audio system and 18-in alloy wheels. Popular options include the V6 engine, remote vehicle start, a programmable power liftgate, a power moonroof, 2-screen rear-seat DVD entertainment, a navigation system with a 7-in touchscreen, 19-in chrome-clad wheels and a rear park-assist system.


Professional Grade GMC models are considered more upscale than the Chevrolet counterparts, so expect to pay a bit more. Compact and midsize crossovers like the Terrain are huge hits with families because they'll swallow child safety seats, pets, sports gear and all the related trappings, yet retain car-like drive qualities and return decent fuel economy in daily use. The spate of safety recalls for many GMC models hasn't hurt sales or resale values of the Terrain. For a good idea of the GMC Terrain's price range, we suggest checking out the used-car values at You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the following safety recalls for the 2011 Terrain:

The front seat safety belt buckle anchors may fracture in a crash, failing to restrain occupants and increasing the risk of injury.

A bolt for the power driver's seat height-adjusting mechanism may fall out, dropping the seat to the lowest position and affecting the driver's ability to control the SUV.

Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA rated the 2011 Terrain four stars overall, with four stars for front-impact protection and rollover performance and five stars for side-impact protection.

The 2011 GMC Terrain is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick. IIHS gave the 2011 Terrain Good scores for moderate-overlap frontal and side impacts as well as roof strength, head-restraint and seat crash performance.

GMC covered the 2011 Terrain with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty with roadside assistance, a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 6-year/100,000-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.

GMC certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles can't have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be five years old or less. Every CPO GMC Terrain undergoes a 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, plus whatever remains on the transferable, original 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage. Also included is a 2-year/24,000-mile maintenance plan with roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2011 Ford Edge -- Ford's stylish 5-passenger crossover is restyled inside and out, and adds the glitchy MyFordTouch infotainment system. Powertrain choices include a 285-hp 3.5-liter V6 and and new 305-hp 3.7-liter V6 for Edge Sport models. The 6-speed automatic shifts crisply, but braking and handling aren't as crisp as the Terrain's, and the Edge's rear seat doesn't adjust fore and aft as with the Terrain.

2011 Dodge Journey -- Think of the Journey as a wagon version of the Dodge Avenger/Chrysler 200. For 2011, the Journey gets a new interior design and can carry up to seven passengers provided the rearmost pair is junior size. The Journey offers an excellent 8.4-in Uconnect infotainment system and premium trims have a hidden storage compartment under the front passenger seat cushion and two under the rear floor. Engine choices are a 173-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and a new flex-fuel 283-hp 3.6-liter V6.

Autotrader's Advice

The GMC Terrain is bigger and heavier than most of its compact-crossover competition, yet it's one of the better handling examples out there. It's stable on the highway, and the precise steering and lack of body lean in corners help it perform admirably on curvy roads. However, the ride may be stiffer than some prefer, with bumps and ruts in the road intruding into the otherwise quiet cabin. Most buyers will be satisfied with the performance and pleased with the fuel economy of the 182-hp 4-cylinder. The optional 264-hp 3.0-liter V6 doesn't offer much of a performance boost, but suffers a big dip in fuel economy unless driven gently. Unless you live in the mountains, front-wheel drive offers sufficient winter-weather traction. Go for a GMC CPO when available, and check with the dealer to make sure all applicable safety recalls have been performed.

Find a GMC Terrain for sale

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.
2011 GMC Terrain: Used Car Review - Autotrader