2018 GMC Terrain Denali is an AWD compact crossover powered by
a 2-liter turbo four-cylinder engine with a nine-speed
transmission. The second-generation model shrinks by 3 inches
and over 200 pounds.
The 2018 GMC
Terrain reminds me of mass-produced beer. Itís more similar than
different from compact crossovers such as the Chevy Equinox, Ford
Escape, Nissan Rogue Honda CR-V and other contenders in Americaís
But fans of
Miller High Life, the champagne of beers, know itís different (and
better) than PBR, Budweiser or MGD. Itís all about the nuances,
the flavor notes. Denali trim is the Sam Adams of the big beers,
richer, fuller, pricier. But dollar for dollar, that doesnít mean
$40,000, the Terrain Denali competes for more refined palates in a
tasting flight shared by the Buick Envision, Acura RDX, Infiniti
QX50, and even the trimmed-out Kia Sportage.
Denali is a broad and bold chrome mesh grille, which gives it a
tall, wide fascia like a truck. Standard on Denali are 19-inch
wheels and chrome surround on the grille, LED headlights, lower
fascia and fog lights. That chrome band extends top and bottom over
the doors and rocker panels into the narrow rear quarter window. It
rounds the boxy edges yet maintains the truckish profile for the
workhorse in GMís portfolio.
family DNA carries over to the inside. Thereís gear stick, but
there is a panel of toggle gear switches on the bottom of the center
stack that are easy to operate with gloves or big fingers. This
unconventional layout is better than other newfangled electric gear
controls ranging from dials to panels to Jeepís thing; it opens up
the center console for side-by-side cup holders and storage areas
for phones. Elsewhere, the hard plastic and fake wood trim undermine
Denaliís premium price.
New for 2018
is a fold-flat passenger seat that along with the fold-flat rear
seats creates an extended cargo area for longer items such as
two-by-fours or hockey sticks that wouldnít fit as easily in
similarly sized vehicles. Itís a little thing that could provide a
important because the second-generation Terrain is actually smaller
than the outgoing model, which is not very trucklike. Like the
Acadia midsize, as part of GMCís new design language, the new
Terrain has shrunk by 3 inches in length and an inch in height. Itís
also over 200 pounds lighter.
Equinox platform mate, Terrain no longer comes with a six-cylinder
engine. GMC offers three turbocharged four-cylinders, including a
diesel, all with a nine-speed transmission. Denali comes with the
252-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, which is much greater
than the 182-horsepower in the 8-year-old model but of course trails
the 301-horsepower V-6. Fuel economy straddles them both; we
averaged 25 mpg in combined driving in 2WD, and about 23 mpg in AWD.
The diesel is the most efficient choice for highway drivers.
is smooth, with virtually no turbo lag from a stop or hiccups from
the nine-speed transmission. Like most modern crossovers, Terrain
provides comfort over any driving fun, but it doesnít lack for
aggressive moves when needed.
some glitches with the controls in our tester, such as
nonfunctioning radio buttons during one evening ride. Restarting the
car did the trick, so weíll just blame the electro-gremlins
proliferating in our electro-world.
Terrain Denali is smoother, more efficient and smarter. But adaptive
cruise should come at this price point. Itís nice overall, yet not
enough to reach into the specialty cooler by paying $5,000 to $8,000
over premium trims from the mainstream competition.
Terrain AWD Denali
$40,685 (excluding $975 destination)
Mpg: 21 city,
2-liter turbo 4-cylinder
Nice for a price.