2012 GMC

17 city / 24 hwy
3.0L, V6, 264 hp

After spending a week with the GMC Terrain, I’m changing my mind about SUVs and crossovers. This one is comfy – dare I say luxurious – and carries its weight like a beautiful, plus-size model.

By Jeanne McDowell

The Big Picture

I have a bias against SUVs, even crossovers, and always have. Too big, too truck-like and most important to this admittedly anxiety-ridden mother, not as safe as vehicles that are lower to the ground. Then I spent a week with the GMC Terrain, a rather smallish crossover SUV, and I can happily (and humbly) report that I’m changing my opinion. I can’t speak for every SUV on the market but the GMC Terrain SLT-2 offers a cushy, luxurious interior, an excellent drive and enough gizmos to be impressive to my teenage daughter.

High-tech features such as the rearview camera display, programmable trunk and OnStar (your new BFF in case you get into trouble and need some help while on the road) will please the techies among you and give others a sense of security. And get this: coming in later 2012 Terrain models is a new Bluetooth system called IntelliLink that lets drivers control smart phones with voice commands and stream audio content from online sources such as Pandora and Stitcher radio. How cool is that?

With its V-6 engine, the GMC Terrain has plenty of power, a good assortment of both standard and optional features, rates well in safety and boasts good fuel economy. I loved the quietness of the interior. Overall, a lovely ride in town or on the freeway.

That said, my only two quibbles (look, this is a car review, I can’t say ALL good things can I?): 1) although this is billed as a five-passenger vehicle and the seats are very comfortable, beware – the option for a deep storage bolster between the driver’s and passenger seats takes away from the legroom and makes it very uncomfortable for a third backseat passenger, and 2) the dashboard radio and gps buttons are hard to maneuver and somewhat unresponsive.

There’s no truckiness in this SUV, which is because technically it’s a crossover and built on a car base. So have a nice drive, and don’t forget to turn on the seat warmers.


All 2012 GMC Terrain models are equipped with OnStar technology, which includes the Advanced Crash Response System, hands-free calling, vehicle diagnostics, emergency service support, and six months of the Directions and Connections plan for hands-free route guidance. That’s about as good as it gets.

There are six airbags, and testing showed great stop times for both the four-cylinder and V6 models. In government crash tests, the Terrain earned an overall score of four stars (out of five), along with four stars in frontal impacts and five stars in side impacts. The vehicle was also given the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s rating of “Good” in its frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Family Friendliness

The GMC Terrain has a solidness and offers a sense of security, like you’d feel in a larger SUV, yet it handles surprisingly well for its size. With a number of interior storage options you can add space for long car trips, including an oversized glove compartment, a covered bin on top of the instrument panel for small things and a large compartment The under the center armrest, which is big enough for a laptap (but strongly suggest against it if you typically have three people in the back).

Driving Impressions

GMC has done a first-rate job incorporating high-end luxury into the GMC Terrain SLT-2. The passenger cabin is very comfortable and the seats slide and recline, which sleepy passengers will love. The Terrain comes with a standard four-cylinder engine, but drivers who haul trailers or lots of people all the time may want to go up to a V6.

Final Thoughts

The Terrain looks masculine and brawny, so the men in your family will like it. But as a mom, I like its utility, comfort and luxury. It's big, but not too big. Seems like the perfect match for a family that wants it all.

A quiet and luxurious ride, like being on an A-list cruise ship.

Rearview camera when backing up and programmable trunk lift make everyday life a bit easier.

GPS buttons are a tad unresponsive and frustrating, as are the radio controls. After awhile I found myself enjoying the interior silence instead.

Tech Savvy

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