– Interesting styling
– Cabin space and features
– Good ride and handling
– Pricey with options
– Some hard cabin plastics
– Off-road ability
There was a time, just a few years ago, when the GMC Terrain was just a rebadged Korean-built GM-Daewoo crossover, made available only in the Middle East with that name. It lasted for less than two years before disappearing. The nameplate has now reappeared on a U.S. product, still based on the same platform, but now completely revamped from the ground up, with new engines, new cabin tech and a butch new exterior that only the Americans could come up with.
We weren’t fans of the styling when the new-for-2011 Terrain first appeared in pictures. But when we saw our loaded cherry-red test with chrome accents, we found it attractive. With 19-inch chrome wheels, huge chrome grille and various other chrome trim, it has enough reflective bits to rival the Burj Khalifa.
Once you find yourself in the cabin without being blinded, you are greeted with a rather futuristic dashboard. It looks much better than its platform-mate, the Chevy Captiva’s interior, although the materials used in the Captiva are decidedly more premium. The Terrain gets some firm “soft-touch” materials on the dash, mostly hard-plastic door panels, lots more chrome trim, and nicely-padded leatherette door inserts and armrests. Build quality is fine for the most part, although we found some ill-fitting plastic panels.
Cabin space in this 5-seater is very generous, with moderately-bolstered front seats and a sliding rear bench. Cargo volume is also good in the back, and the rear seats can be slid forward or folded down to increase space a bit more, though the 60/40-split seatbacks do not fold completely flat. There are also lots of useful storage spaces and pockets all over the interior, including several cup-holders, lots of pockets and a central cubby big enough to hold a laptop. Looking at the specs, the Terrain is considerably larger than the largest “compact” crossovers, edging into midsize territory.
The Terrain is quite loaded with gadgets for its class, although the price climbs quickly as the options add up. Our tester came with all the usual power accessories, driver’s power seat, cruise control, sunroof, fog lamps, parking sensors, good single-zone auto a/c, remote start, basic keyless entry, power tailgate and six airbags. The real tech comes in the form of a touchscreen incorporating navigation, working Bluetooth phone, hard drive, rear camera and a good CD/MP3 stereo with USB/AUX ports. The rear passengers even get optional dual flip-up seatback DVD screens with wireless headphones. The only issues we came across were the lack of rear a/c vents and the powered driver’s seat that moves back to ease access, but does not move back to its original position unless the memory button is pressed every time.
Our tester had the optional direct-injection 3.0-litre V6, capable of an impressive 264 hp at 6950 rpm and 301 Nm of torque at a high 5100 rpm for moving its 1840-kilo weight. Mated to a 6-speed automatic with basic manual-shifting capability and all-wheel-drive, it managed a 0-100 kph time of 8.9 seconds during our April test, more than adequate for the daily slog. We managed a fuel consumption figure of 13.3 litres/100 km, not bad but not remarkable either.
The Terrain is a nice car to drive around town, with an elevated driving position, car-like handling, good size and decent all-round visibility. On the highway, it is a pretty quiet cruise. The suspension tuning is slightly on the firm side, so the ride is smooth on some roads and a bit jittery on others.
The Terrain’s suspension does keep the drive interesting. Around quick corners, there is some body roll, but it is quickly quashed as soon as the road becomes straight, unlike the old GMC Envoy which used to bounce around for a few seconds after completing a turn. There is good grip from the wide 235/55 tyres wrapping the 19-inch alloys, the disc brakes are fairly adequate, and while the steering offers little feedback, it is nicely weighted. But leave it in automatic, because slipping the tranny into manual mode will reward you with delayed responses to inputs using thumb-buttons on the shifter.
Despite all-wheel-drive, there isn’t really much scope for offroading at any level beyond the beach. The aerodynamic front lip and the lack of low-range gearing should clear any doubt.
The Terrain is yet another take on the crossover wagon concept, this one taking the tough-look approach, yet completely road-biased. It is good at what it is supposed to do, and an interesting choice in a market flooded with soft-roaders that look soft too.
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