First Drive: 2018 GMC Terrain

gmc terrain denali new for 2018

Words: Calvin Chan

Photography: Calvin Chan

Published: September 14, 2017


LAC BEAUPORT, Quebec - The GMC Terrain competes in what is probably the most contested and jam packed automotive segment of them all: the compact crossover. Names like the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, and Subaru Forester are all but household names at this point, but we often forget about the Terrain. And that’s not because it’s a bad crossover. No, far from it. The GMC Terrain is just marketed more as a premium crossover, leaving some wiggle room for the familial Chevrolet Equinox that costs a few grand less. So this new 2018 GMC Terrain is a refresh long overdue.


GMC says everything is 100% new - no panels or bodywork is shared with the outgoing Terrain. Furthermore, it is 10% lighter and 34% stiffer thanks to new architecture that also underpins the Equinox. The turning radius has also been marginally reduced. Joining the fray are three new turbocharged engines, one of them being a diesel, a rarity in this segment joining the CX-5 Diesel and Equinox Diesel.



We flew out to beautiful Lac Beauport on the outskirts of Quebec City to get some first hand impressions on the Terrain and to see how it handles on some scenic and twisty backroads. First off, the Terrain looks just as good in person as it does in photographs. No longer is it bland and boxy, the new Terrain is rather handsome sporting its new front grill, C-shaped taillights that look like the ones on the Buick LaCrosse, and a floating roofline that every automaker seems to be doing these days (ie. BMW i8, Nissan Murano).



The interior has been given a significant refresh, most notably with the redesign of the gear shifter. Instead of a traditional lever, the Terrain has resorted to a push-pull-switch gear selector located underneath the fan controls. The “pull” buttons are for Reverse and Drive, and the “push” buttons are for Park, Neutral, and Low Range. The clever positioning of these buttons allow your index and middle finger to always fall into place of the “pull” buttons, so you’ll never get mixed up on which gear you’re choosing and lets you keep your eyes on the road. This also frees up a ton of real estate for bigger storage areas and a center pass through to the cubby underneath.



Dimensionally, the new GMC Terrain is smaller than the outgoing model but it actually has more usable interior space. Headroom and legroom is more than sufficient and my six-foot stature has no problem sitting in any of the five seats. The optional panoramic sunroof further aides in the appearance of spaciousness as well.


I haven’t seen this in any other crossovers, but the front passenger seat can be folded flat along with the second row seats. This means the Terrain can swallow long pieces of cargo like skis or mattresses, and while the seat releases aren’t electrically powered like it is on some luxury SUVs, the latches are easy to find and don’t require a great deal of strength to pull. The new underfloor compartment underneath the trunk cover is also quite expansive and handy for groceries and light items that might fly around during driving.



New technology has creeped into the Terrain from the General’s parts bin, like Apple CarPlay, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, myGMC mobile app, Teen Driver, and Rear Seat Reminder. It was the latter that GMC really focused on during their product presentation. Rear Seat Reminder is a feature that senses when the rear door is opened prior to departure, and when parked at your destination, a reminder will pop up on the instrument cluster reminding you that there is something left back there, whether it's a laptop, child, or pet. While it may not sound useful, it’s one of those features that you will be glad to have when the unexpected does occur.


The infotainment system has also been redone. The interface is simpler, easy to learn, and there are larger buttons for all the high traffic prompts. The use of a shortcut bar also lends a hand to quicker inputs. Luckily enough, volume and tuning have been left to actual dials and buttons.



While the GMC Terrain is marketed as a premium crossover, the “premium” bells and whistles really only come when you opt for the SLT ($37,695) and Denali ($41,695) trims, both of which sit above the base SLE trim ($30,195 FWD). The SLT gets the larger 2.0-litre engine as standard with leather-appointed seats, 19-inch wheels, a larger infotainment screen, heated steering wheel, and hands-free liftgate.



The Denali on the other hand gets the aesthetics treatment with chrome on the grille, roof rails, door handles, side mirror caps, and body-side moulding, LED headlamps, 19-inch ultra-bright wheels, Denali badging, wireless phone charging, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a Bose audio system. It also adds in standard features that are normally optional on lower trims as part of the infotainment and safety packages. The Denali’s suspension gets a special tune as well for a more dynamic ride and better road feel.



There are three engines to choose from: a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder which produces 170 hp and 203 lb-ft, and is only available on the base SLE trim, a 1.6-litre turbodiesel which produces 137 hp and 240 lb-ft and is optional on the SLE and SLT trims, as well as a 2.0-litre turbocharged four that delivers 252 hp and 260 lb-ft and is standard on the SLT and Denali trims while optional on the SLE. The gasoline engines are paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission while the diesel gets a 6-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is standard on SLT and Denali trims.


We had a chance to try each of the engines, and while the base 1.5-litre is sufficient for everyday driving and a relaxed commute, it’s the 2.0-litre that you really want. Not only is it surprisingly potent and capable but it’s incredibly smooth as well. Power is bountiful wherever you are in the rev range and the 9-speed shifts gears without you even noticing. The engineers did a fantastic job with the shift mapping and power delivery, and really takes advantage of the turbocharger to make you forget about needing any V6.



I’d stay away from the optional diesel engine, though. While it is undeniably fuel efficient, power is sorely lacking. Any sort of acceleration needs a complete depression of the gas pedal, and even then it’s barely enough to get the Terrain moving with vigour. Maybe it’s because we got into the diesel right after the more potent 2.0-litre gasoline engine, but it still feels underwhelming despite saving you a few bucks at the pump.


On the bright side, the diesel engine is quiet by diesel standards. You can still hear the typical chatter from the outside but from the driver’s seat, you can barely hear anything. That’s also because of the superior insulation of the cabin, which results in a quiet interior without much wind or tire noise seeping through. It’s not a Buick, but it’s getting pretty close.



Handling is quite good, especially on the Denali trim which sports a retuned suspension. The steering is not quite as sharp as the CX-5 or as lively as the CR-V, but it’s a smooth operator, turning corners without fuss. Body control is decent with some roll mid-corners but the suspension settles gently and is never taxing over bumps or potholes.


Overall, the GMC Terrain is a versatile crossover that marginally feels more premium than its rivals unless you opt for the full blown Denali trim, which adds all the chrome bells and whistles. While GMC does offer a diesel option to the engine lineup and is a godsend for fuel penny pinchers, it’s lack of low-end power and short lung capacity make it hard for us to recommend. The 2.0-litre engine is the one you want, and makes the Terrain truly feel like a do-it-all SUV with enough tech and cargo capacity to warrant a spot on the short list.


Photo Gallery:


2018 GMC Terrain line up of colours 2018 GMC Terrain Denali front grill chrome 2018 GMC Terrain Denali blue steel metallic


2018 GMC Terrain denali rear quarter view 2018 GMC Terrain SLT silver white 2018 GMC Terrain SLT grill front


2018 GMC Terrain 2018 GMC Terrain Canada 2018 GMC Terrain review new for 2018


2018 GMC Terrain quebec lac beauport 2018 GMC Terrain floating roofline 2018 GMC Terrain slt badge


2018 GMC Terrain denali wheels 2018 GMC Terrain ecotec 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo 2018 GMC Terrain exclusive beige interior denali


2018 GMC Terrain gauges 2018 GMC Terrain steering wheel denali 2018 GMC Terrain new infotainment screen


2018 GMC Terrain gear shifter push buttons 2018 GMC Terrain awd drive selector 2018 GMC Terrain fold flat front passenger seat


2018 GMC Terrain trunk space cargo room 2018 GMC Terrain underfloor compartment load storage



型号 Model: 2018 GMC Terrain Denali AWD
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $41,695

試車售價 Price as Tested: $45,005
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,725
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,652 / 1,843 / 1,661

車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,724
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 252 hp @ 5,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 2,500 - 4,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD

油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 11.2 / 9.0 / 10.2





search for cars:






    2016 Nissan Rogue


    2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid


    2016 Jeep Cherokee