General Motors presented The Garage with a unique opportunity-to review their newest crossovers, the Chevy Equinox and the GMC Terrain back to back. I jumped at the chance, but I was skeptical of the Terrain. After a week with the Equinox, I couldn’t understand why there was even a need for the Terrain. When GM picked up the Equinox and handed me the keys to the top-spec Merlot Jewel Metallic SLT2 with all-wheel drive, I thought for certain the only thing the GMC would do was eat sales from the Chevy.
After a week with the Terrain, my first instincts proved false. A good Merlot needs time to breathe for the full flavor and characteristics to bear themselves out, and my Merlot-hued Terrain proved to be no exception.
I hate badge engineered cars, and I blame the practice of slapping different grilles and taillights on the same car as one of the chief reasons why GM wound up in bankruptcy court. I asked GMC point blank if they were after a different buyer than someone interested in an Equinox. GMC is seeking buyers who prefer a stronger styling statement, and more standard features than the Chevy. Mechanically, yes, the Equinox and Terrain are identical. This is not a bad thing, and a read of my Equinox review will show this is a very competent vehicle. All that is good about the Equinox is present and accounted for.
The break from the Equinox comes in appearance. The two cars share only the roof and windshield-each car has completely unique bodywork. While the Chevy favors soft curves and organic, swoopy contours, the GMC is more aggressive. GMC expects the Terrain to appeal to buyers wanting a bolder look, something closer to modern SUVs, rather than a softer CUV. Tasteful use of chrome mirrors, door handles and roof rails lent a premium feel to the Terrain that was lacking in the Equinox.
Inside, the differences are far more subtle. Though they share the same architecture, the Chevy/GMC have different instrument panels, but I actually had to look at pics from both cars side by side to note the differences. Ã‚Â The Terrain has ambient lighting on the center stack in a cool red amber, and the main gauges have a more upscale look to them. Otherwise, the interior is the same, which is good; the well-bolstered seats do a great job of holding you in place, not Ã‚Â something you would expect in a CUV.
In the span of a week, my attitude toward the Terrain did a 180. Having spent equal time with both the Equinox and Terrain, given a choice, I would opt for the GMC. For driving dynamics and packaging, you cannot go wrong with either car, but the bolder styling and more premium feel of the Terrain won me over.