The all-new 2018 GMC Terrain we recently tested brings the latest brand design DNA and all-new powertrains to the brand’s midsize crossover SUV.
The GMC which shares is underlying architecture with the Chevrolet Equinox has always had bold “hey look at me” styling. It’s as if the GM handed the design studio an Equinox and told the stylists to just make it look different.
With the 2018 Terrain we have less of the Hummer-lite chunkiness of its predecessor and more of a pseudo Japanese theme that takes cues from Japanese competitors in many of its details like the taillights which seem very Honda like and a floating roofline very much reminiscent of Nissans of late.
Its grille is in line with other GMC contemporary products, trying very hard to make a statement of some kind. In total though I find very little here that seems cohesive or consistent to any brand DNA that says GMC. In fact, I still ask the question what GMC even exists for other than to offer Chevrolet buyers something that just looks different.
Many say GMC is the premium choice over Chevrolet, but the cabin really doesn’t do a lot to bolster that. The same cheap plastics and switchgear you would find in the least expensive Chevrolets line the interior and dash.
There are upgraded trims like leather and aluminum, but they contrast incongruently to the rental grade surrounds. The often mentioned in press materials genuine aluminum trims are somewhat home made looking and have rough edges that catch your skin and clearly don’t fit well in their spots.
While comfortable, versatile and offering a lot of features, living behind the wheel isn’t much different than in the Chevrolet Equinox for the extra cost of real estate here. One big difference is the push button gear selector in lieu of a shifter lever. It sucks, lacking the ease of use and intuitiveness of a good old fashioned lever. Again, as if the GMC people were following their directive to just make it different.
To the driving, our AWD tester was optioned with the all-new for this year 252 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four mated to an all-new GM designed nine-speed automatic transmission. A bright spot here, the engine and transmission work well together to offer refinement, a kick in the back with good power and an overall enjoyable driving persona whether cruising quietly or pushing it hard.
What’s a huge downer here though is the mandatory engine auto start stop system. It sucks because its unrefined, crude and downright dangerous in city driving where the engine usually shuts off right about the time you need its power to negotiate holes in traffic. Worse, it doesn’t have an off switch. Shame on GM, this should be a deal killer for anyone.
The system is supposed to make the Terrain efficient. As tested, it’s rated at 26 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined. Our combined observed fuel economy for the week of testing was 24 mpg, a good deal less than promised.
Handling and chassis presented a class average experience with a quiet ride on smooth roads and reasonably sharp responses. When going over pot holes and speed humps about town it looses its polish much as a compact car or sedan would, after all this is not a heavy duty truck chassis as you might expect with an SUV. This is a crossover which means, car.
Priced at $36,970 for our reasonably well equipped test vehicle we have a hard time appreciating its value compared the the wide swath of great choices out there that offer more refinement, features, and quality for the same or less money.
Bottom line, if you want a really fancy Chevrolet that looks different just to be different and want to spend extra for it buy the GMC Acadia. If you want a Honda CRV, buy a Honda CRV.