Review: 2012 GMC Terrain

The Garage is no stranger to the GMC Terrain, having reviewed one when it debuted in the fall of 2009. So what puts us back in the saddle of GMC’s crossover? Two years ago our Terrain was a four cylinder, and we were won over. Our question was how we would feel about the Terrain with the optional V-6? Read on to find out.

After two years being on the market, I am still won over by the Terrain’s brawny appearance. There is a toughness to the Terrain’s exterior design that is missing in other crossovers. The Terrain is distinctly American and proud of it (yes I know it is built in Canada). The bold styling and almost Tonka-truck like fender bulges may not be for everyone, but I will say this: show up at Johnny’s soccer game in a Terrain, and no one will think for a moment you’re driving a crossover your wife made you buy. Yet for its toughness, the Terrain does possess quite a bit of polish, with liberal use of chrome that would be declared garish on some cars, but on the GMC it actually works. Our test car’s 18″ chrome clad wheels were a little too bling for my tastes, and GMC does not give you the option of painted alloys on the trim level we had. The optional Carbon Black Metallic paint looked very slick, and drew many positive comments.

Inside, the Terrain is a pleasant place to rack on the miles. The amber displays and ambient lighting offered a premium and serious feel to the cabin. The all-black interior was a little somber, but the red stitching helped some. Though well-designed, I was put off slightly by the amount of hard plastics. That said, the Terrain was the Williams’ family ride for Christmas, which is about as busy and hectic a time of year as it gets, and the Terrain moved us and a full load of presents in perfect comfort.

As we mentioned, the first Terrain The Garage sampled was the standard four cylinder. Displacing 2.4L and pumping out 182hp, the four cylinder Terrain got around just fine, and would likely suit most buyers. Our mission was to see what a Terrain with the optional V-6 was like. For an extra $1,500 you can upgrade yourself to a 3.0L V-6 rated at 264hp paired to a six-speed automatic. Buyers can choose between front or all-wheel drive. A V-6 powered Terrain can tow up to 3,500 lbs, which is 2,000 more than the four banger. No surprise you do take a hit at the gas pump, with EPA figures of 16/23 MPG city/highway versus 20/29 MPG on the four cylinder we tested. The engine complimented the Terrain well, but did not stand out in any way. On a clear Christmas day the Terrain whisked us to the northeast corner of Connecticut to spend the day with family, and the car always had decent passing power on tap, and cruised effortlessly and quietly all along the way.

GMC provided The Garage with the top-spec SLT-2 trim package with all-wheel drive for a base price of $32,930USD. Standard features include rear park assist, remote start, sunroof, power rear liftgate, 7″ color touchscreen, 8 speaker audio with XM Radio, Bluetooth, rear vision camera, leather seats that are heated up front and a power driver’s seat. Our test car added the optional V-6 engine, Navigation, Trailer Package, Cargo Package, Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning, and Carbon Black paint which came to a grand total of $37,110, including destination.

The Garage has appreciated the Terrain since its debut. For the family who finds the RAV4/CR-V/Rogue a tad too small but has no use for an SUV or three-row CUV, the Terrain is sized just right. Our focus was on the optional V-6 engine, and here is my verdict. If you do the bulk of your driving in and around town, the standard four cylinder is really all you need. And it does just fine on the highway. But if you have a need for a crossover that can actually tow something, desire the refinement of six cylinders or just want the extra oomph provided, then the V-6 is for you.

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