It’s the 2016 GMC Terrain we’re driving this week, arriving with AWD underpinnings in top line Denali trim. As a sibling to Chevy’s Equinox, these compact to mid-size SUVs are not just selling like hot cakes, they’re also receiving some excellent consumer ownership reviews which no doubt makes pleases to no end the folks at General Motor.
New for 2016 is an upgraded exterior design that is much to my liking. Terrain now features a new hood, redesigned front and rear fascia, chrome accents and new three-bar front grille design with the distinctive GMC red badge.
In my opinion, Terrain is better looking than the sibling Chevy Equinox, especially the hood and rear of the B-pillar window design. The Equinox also receives a style enhancement, but the GMC is more muscular than the Equinox motif. (Note: mechanically and safety wise, these two vehicles are identical twins so it’s a matter of aesthetics. Many may like the Chevy better).
Our Terrain Denali came with just about every option available, pushing the final price to $41,215 with $925 delivery included. However, there’s always a lesser priced model to choose from, as the entry level front Terrain SL starts at just $23,975 well-equipped. This allows most all potential GMC Terrain consumers a wide price range to work with. The entry AWD model is the SLE-1, which starts at $29,475 while the Denali AWD starts at $35,725 and is the top model available.
Notable is that all GMC Terrains deliver four and five star safety features and identical mechanicals be it an SL or the SLT Denali. Included are 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, hill start assist, Stabilitrak with traction control and much more. Our Denali includes forward collision alert, side blind alert, rear cross traffic in addition to the standard safety features of advanced air bag systems and rear safety camera.
Our tester featured the $1,500 option 301-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, which delivers way more go-power yet still generates acceptable EPA ratings at 16 city and 23 highway for an AWD model. Combined with a $365 trailer tow package, the V6 Terrain allows for a 3,500 lb. tow capacity, which is 2,000 pounds more than the four-cylinder Terrain.
All GMC Terrains, even the Denali, come standard with a 182-horse 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder that produces 22 city and 32 highway in front drive mode and 20 city and 29 highway in AWD design. This is excellent fuel mileage and results from GMC’s variable valve train enhancements and the proven six-speed automatic transmission with fuel saving ECO mode. Therefore, if you don’t need 301 horses and the added towing capacity, test drive the four cylinder Terrain first to insure you’re making the correct decision.
Our Denali’s cabin features heated seats and lots of head and legroom considering it’s a small SUV. Notable standard items include a Pioneer Premium eight-speaker stereo with subwoofer, power front seats, a sliding 60/40 rear seat with three position recline, illuminated Denali sill plates, 4G Wi-Fi ready abilities, automatic climate control, power lift gate, cruise, Color Touch seven-inch touch screen radio with Sirius/XM, USB, Bluetooth, and much more. As for storage Terrain features from 31.4 cu. ft. of cargo space with second row up to 63.7 cubic feet with seats down. Additionally, the second row seats now fold flat, unlike earlier models.
Terrain features an automatic AWD system that’s ready for any and all road conditions and/or inclement weather. On the highway GMC Terrain is nimble and plants well in the turns thanks to standard 18-inch tires on Denali specific aluminum wheels. Our Denali, however, came with 19-inch Hankook tires and special aluminum Denali wheels. The final options were a $995 power sunroof, $280 cargo package, $135 cargo closeout panel, $495 navigation and $395 Iridium silver metallic paint.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 112.5 inches, 20.9-gallon fuel tank, 40 ft. turn radius, and 6.9-inch ground clearance and a 4,248 pound curb weight.
Built in Ontario, Canada, GMC Terrain is a good looking and well built small SUV. I recommend testing the front drive models first if you live in a warm climate, and then move up to the higher priced SLE or SLT models based on your economic situation. This suggestion all reverts back to return on investment and depreciation, as the lower priced Terrain front-drive can find a home in your driveway for $23,975 retail and may be your best buy overall.
Entry Price: $23,975
Price as Tested: $41,215
Likes: New design, V6 power, nice interior.
Dislikes: Higher end models expensive,
Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist.