Used Car Review

2012 GMC Terrain: Used Car Review

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Used 2012 GMC Terrain FWD SLE
Used 2012 GMC Terrain
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author photo by Ron Sessions October 2015

The 2012 GMC Terrain is a car-based compact crossover SUV that shares much of its chassis and running gear with the Chevrolet Equinox. With room for five passengers, the 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 front and back 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. New for 2012 models is a standard 7-inch full-color touchscreen audio system. The standard backup camera now displays in the touchscreen instead of the rearview mirror, as on previous models. The base 2.4-liter 4-cylinder gains E85 flex-fuel capability for 2012.

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 7-in touchscreen and backup camera; good 4-cylinder fuel economy; attractive cabin design and materials; programmable power lift gate

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. A 6-speed automatic is standard. The 2.4-liter is a flex-fuel engine that can run on regular unleaded or E85.

Optional is a 264-hp 3.0-liter V6 that the EPA rates at a less-impressive 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy for front-wheel-drive versions and 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy for AWD models. The V6 is also a flex-fuel engine and comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Notable Features & Options

The 2012 GMC Terrain is available in SLE and SLT trims.

The SLE's standard equipment consists of a 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 a 7-in color touchscreen and USB connectivity, a trip computer, automatic headlamps, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, fog lamps, a rear wiper/washer, a power driver's seat, 17-in 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 the SLT trim 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, the IntelliLink infotainment system, remote vehicle starting, a programmable power lift gate, a power moonroof, 2-screen rear-seat DVD entertainment, a navigation system, 19-in chrome-clad wheels, lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert and a rear park-assist system.


Professional Grade GMC models are considered more upscale than their Chevrolet counterparts, so expect to pay a bit more. Compact and midsize crossovers such as the Terrain are huge hits with families because they'll swallow child safety seats, pets, sports gear and all the related trappings yet will still retain carlike 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 2012 Terrain:

On some models, the tire-pressure monitoring system may not activate a warning lamp until cold tire pressure has dropped more than 25 percent below the recommended specification. Low tire pressure can result in poor vehicle handling, and overloading can cause a blowout, creating a crash risk.

A bolt for the power driver's seat's 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 2012 Terrain at four stars overall, with four stars for front-impact protection and rollover performance and five stars for side-impact protection.

The 2012 GMC Terrain continues as an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick. IIHS gave the 2012 Terrain Good scores for moderate-overlap frontal and side impacts, as well as roof strength and head-restraint and seat crash performance.

GMC covered the 2012 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 5 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

2012 Ford Edge -- Ford's stylish 5-passenger crossover is restyled inside and out and is available with the glitchy MyFord Touch infotainment system. Powertrain choices include a 285-hp 3.5-liter V6 and a 305-hp 3.7-liter V6 for Edge Sport models, plus a new 240-hp EcoBoost 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo. 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 front and back as with the Terrain.

2012 Dodge Journey -- Think of the Journey as a wagon version of the Dodge Avenger/Chrysler 200, capable of carrying up to seven passengers (provided the rearmost pair is junior-sized). 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 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 if not 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.

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Used 2012 GMC Terrain FWD SLE
Used 2012 GMC Terrain
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2012 GMC Terrain: Used Car Review - Autotrader