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2020 GMC Terrain Review

The 2020 GMC Terrain features an impressive set of standard safety features and a handsome cabin, but neither area is best in class. Add in moderate performance and a small cargo area, and the Terrain's spot in the bottom half of our compact SUV rankings is understandable.

Pros & Cons

  • Lots of standard advanced safety features
  • Considerable rear-seat legroom
  • Upscale, comfortable cabin
  • Good city mpg rating with base engine
  • Small cargo area behind back seat
  • Sleepy base engine
  • Above-average price for the class

New for 2020

  •  Many additional standard safety features
  •  Diesel engine no longer available

Rankings & Research

The 2020 GMC Terrain's #11 ranking is based on its score within the Compact SUVs category. Currently the GMC Terrain has a score of 7.5 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 31 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 7.2
Performance: 7.0
Interior: 7.3
Safety: 9.1
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a GMC Terrain?

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Is the GMC Terrain a Good SUV?

The Terrain is an OK compact SUV, but its positives tend to be matched by a negative. For example, models equipped with the base engine are fuel-efficient, but they accelerate at a snail's pace. The upgraded engine gets this SUV moving much quicker, though it will cost you quite a bit more at the gas pump. The back seat is spacious, while the cargo hold behind it is not.

Should I Buy the GMC Terrain?

The main appeal of the Terrain is that it combines high-quality materials, a quiet, comfortable ride, and an abundance of standard features. But this GMC is up against some stiff competition. For about the same amount of money, you can pick up a midlevel trim of a higher-ranking compact SUV. We recommend taking a look at the well-rounded Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V. Shoppers may also appreciate the Toyota RAV4's lengthy set of standard safety features and above-average predicted reliability rating.

Compare the Terrain, CX-5, and CR-V»

Should I Buy a New or Used GMC Terrain?

For 2020, all Terrain trims come standard with GMC Pro Safety. This package includes forward automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, a following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking, and automatic high-beam headlights. Only a few of these features were previously available, and they were only offered as options in the top trims.

If these high-tech safety features are important to you, we recommend picking a 2020 Terrain, as you can likely save money by opting for a lower trim instead of shopping for a fully equipped 2019 Terrain. If owning a diesel-powered Terrain is important, you'll have to buy used. This engine is not available for 2020.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Terrain and 2019 Terrain reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Terrain »

We Did the Research for You: 22 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about the GMC Terrain in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions) with 22 professional GMC Terrain reviews.

This 2020 GMC Terrain review incorporates applicable research for all vehicles in this generation, which includes the 2018 to 2020 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Jobs, Best Hospitals, and Best Colleges to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. We've been ranking and reviewing the Best Cars since 2007, backed by a team with more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. To keep favoritism out of the picture, we maintain a separate advertising team and decline expensive gifts and trips from car companies.

How Much Does the GMC Terrain Cost?

The MSRP of a new GMC Terrain starts at $25,000, which is the same as the 2019 model. Prices for the remaining trims range from $28,400 to $38,300. These prices are above average for the class.

For full details on pricing and standard features, see our Which GMC Terrain Model Is Right for Me? section below.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local GMC dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our GMC deals page.

GMC Terrain Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: GMC Terrain or Buick Envision?

The Buick Envision and GMC Terrain are both compact SUVs from General Motors, but these vehicles aren't twins. The GMC has a larger back seat, more cargo space, and a longer list of standard safety features than the Buick. Plus, its prices start around $7,000 less than the Envision's. With the Envision offering no significant advantages, go with the Terrain.

Which Is Better: GMC Terrain or Honda CR-V?

The Honda CR-V finds itself near the top of our compact SUV rankings, and it recently won our 2019 Best Compact SUV for the Money award. It earns this honor in part because it has roomy rear seats, a cavernous cargo hold, and polished performance. The CR-V doesn't come with as many standard features as the Terrain – one of its few weaknesses – but this can be remedied by stepping up just one level beyond the base model. Hands down, the CR-V is the better SUV.

Compare the Terrain, Envision, and CR-V »

Terrain Interior

How Many People Does the Terrain Seat?

The Terrain is a two-row SUV with five seats. The front seats match the class standard when it comes to cushioning and space. You can boost the comfort of this zone with optional power adjustments and heated seats that let you choose between warming only the bottom cushion or the bottom and seatback together. The back seat has an abundance of legroom, though the seats don't slide or recline. Two adults can easily relax in the back, but shoulder room isn't quite liberal enough for three large passengers. Heated rear seats are optional.

Terrain and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors for the Terrain’s rear outboard seats, as well as an upper tether for the rear middle seat.

Terrain Interior Quality

The Terrain has an upscale air inside, especially when it comes to the upper-level SLT and Denali trims. Build quality is good, and most materials are of a premium quality, though you'll also find a few hard plastic pieces.

Terrain Cargo Space

The Terrain isn't as generous as some crossover SUVs when it comes to cargo space. It has 29.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat (one of the smallest in the compact SUV class) and 63.3 cubic feet with the rear seat folded (also below average). It does have one unusual trick: The front passenger seat can fold flat, which is helpful for hauling long items. A hands-free liftgate is available.

Terrain Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

This GMC infotainment system is quite user-friendly. The interface is straightforward, and it comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, making it easy to sync your smartphone. Lots of charging options are on hand, with up to six USB ports, including Type-C. Reviewers aren't jumping for joy over the standard Wi-Fi hot spot – which they say is about as fast as regular cellphone service – but they do give a thumbs up to the available seven-speaker Bose sound system.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Terrain Performance

Terrain Engine: Upgrade if You Can

Two engines are available for the 2020 Terrain: a 170-horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder and a 252-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Both are turbocharged and paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. The 1.6-liter diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission combo offered in previous models is no longer available.

While the base engine is passable for around-town driving, reviewers universally endorse the 2.0-liter as the engine of choice. It provides quicker acceleration and is required if you want to tow more than 1,500 pounds.

Terrain Gas Mileage: Mediocre With the Larger Engine

Models equipped with the leisurely 1.5-liter engine get good gas mileage, especially in the city. With this engine, the Terrain has a fuel economy rating of 26 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Budget an extra $600 a year if you want the 2.0-liter engine. That's how much extra, on average, drivers will spend on fuel, as Terrains equipped with the larger engine get 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

Terrain Ride and Handling: Competent

On the highway, the Terrain is composed and comfortable. Its brakes and steering respond in a reasonable manner, and the ride is relatively smooth. Nothing stands out – good or bad – when it comes to this compact SUV's handling. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

Terrain Towing Capacity

A properly equipped Terrain can tow up to 3,500 pounds, which is competitive for a small crossover SUV.

Read more about performance »

Terrain Reliability

Is the GMC Terrain Reliable?

The 2020 GMC Terrain has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

GMC Terrain Warranty

GMC covers this SUV with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Terrain Safety

Terrain Crash Test Results

The 2020 Terrain gets an overall safety rating of five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earned five stars in the frontal and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover evaluation.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the new GMC Terrain, but the nearly identical 2019 model received the highest-rating of Good in all six crash tests.

Terrain Safety Features

The Terrain receives significant safety upgrades for 2020. Newly added features include forward automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, a following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking, and automatic high-beam headlights. Also standard are a rearview camera and the Teen Driver system, which lets you do things like set speed and audio volume limits for secondary drivers, as well as monitor their driving performance.

GMC offers many more safety upgrades, though some of these are only available as options in the Denali trim. The options include the GM-exclusive safety alert seat, which vibrates to notify you of safety alerts. Also available are blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane change alert, adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights, a surround-view parking camera system, and an automated parking system.

Read more about safety »

Terrain Dimensions and Weight

The Terrain is about 15.2 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,449 to 3,801 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 GMC Terrain Built?

GMC builds the 2020 Terrain in Mexico.

Which GMC Terrain Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Terrain comes in four trims: SL, SLE, SLT, and Denali. The first three trims come standard with a 170-horsepower engine and front-wheel drive. A 252-horsepower engine is available in the SLT and comes standard in the Denali. All-wheel drive is available in every trim but the base.

GMC treats the Terrain Denali almost as if it were a stand-alone model. This range-topping trim comes with a bevy of niceties, including a Bose sound system, power-seat adjustments for the front passenger, a hands-free liftgate, and more standard safety features. It's also the only trim available with premium options such as ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. The Denali costs more than the base price of some luxury compact SUVs though, so it's worth cross-shopping before taking the plunge with this model.

Feature choices are limited for the entry-level SL, while GMC offers a wide range of options in the SLE. For the best value, we recommend starting with the Terrain SLE and adding on upgrades that are important to you.

GMC Terrain SL

Prices start at $25,000 for the SL trim. This base model comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, four USB ports, an in-car Wi-Fi hot spot, and a six-speaker stereo.

Newly added standard safety features for 2020 include forward automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and front pedestrian braking. Other standard driver assistance features include lane keep assist, lane departure warning, a following distance indicator, the Teen Driver system, a rearview camera and automatic high-beam headlights.

Few options are available for the SL, and exterior paint is limited to a choice of three colors.

GMC Terrain SLE

The GMC Terrain SLE doesn't come with any notable features compared to the base model, but it does gain a lengthy set of options, and most of these are grouped in packages. These include seating upgrades, an enhanced infotainment system, styling elements, and advanced safety features.

The MSRP for the SLE starts at $28,400.

GMC Terrain SLT

Leather-appointed upholstery is standard in the SLT. Additionally, the driver's seat gains power adjustments, both front seats come with heat, and each person can rule the thermostat, thanks to dual-zone automatic climate control. An upgraded infotainment system – which includes a larger touch screen and adds satellite radio – comes standard.

This $31,200 trim also gets remote start.

GMC Terrain Denali

In addition to a more powerful engine, the GMC Terrain Denali gets navigation, HD Radio, and a seven-speaker Bose audio system. A heated steering wheel, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, and a hands-free power liftgate are standard. Additional standard driver assistance features include front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane change alert, and a safety alert seat.

The Denali comes with an upgraded suspension system, and for 2020, GMC upgrades some of these components to further refine the SUV's ride. A new Premium package is available that bundles treats such as adaptive cruise control, ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats.

Denali prices start at $38,300.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local GMC dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our GMC deals page.

See 2020 GMC Terrain specs and trims »

The Final Call

On its own, the 2020 GMC Terrain has many likeable qualities, from its handsome, comfortable cabin to its extensive list of standard features. But the argument to buy this compact SUV falls apart when you compare it to many of its classmates. Rivals such as the Honda CR-V have livelier engines and larger cargo areas, and the higher-ranked Toyota RAV4 comes with a comparable set of standard tech features. It's best to try out some other options before buying this SUV.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • " … the 2020 GMC Terrain still gets a comfortable and attractive interior, a lengthy list of upscale optional features and an intuitive cabin layout. Unfortunately, the Terrain also has some significant drawbacks worth noting. Those optional features we mentioned? They bring the price up pretty quickly. So if you want all the extras, you may be out-pricing top-notch rivals such as the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5, not to mention the Terrain's very similar sibling, the Chevy Equinox. Those same rivals (and a few others) also outdo the Terrain when it comes to interior space, both behind the rear seats and for small-item consideration. And, under the hood, there's a base 1.5-liter engine that is disappointingly slow, with poor throttle response." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2020 GMC Terrain has a challenge to face. Although it's an arguably handsome compact-crossover SUV offering strong turbocharged engines, a chassis that favors ride comfort over cornering precision (as it should be in this kind of vehicle) and comes with a decent level of standard equipment, it's in direct competition with such giants of the class as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Both Japanese rivals have more interior space for passengers and cargo alike." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "While peeling away the Terrain's skin will reveal the same bones, dash layout, and drivetrains as the frugal and family-oriented Chevy Equinox, the second-generation GMC seems to have transcended those economical roots. It's better looking, both inside and out, and far plusher than its skeleton implies. The Equinox is already a damn fine people hauler, but by giving it a slightly more luxurious appeal, GM made a crossover that's attractive to premium SUV buyers and mass-market consumers alike.” -- Automobile Magazine (2018)


Expert Advice

Last Updated: July 16, 2020

Weakening Demand: Sales of the GMC Terrain place in the lower half of the compact SUV class. The Terrain’s sales have dropped by 22.1 percent this year relative to sales in the same period in 2019. Its corporate cousin, the Chevrolet Equinox, is outselling the Terrain by more than 3 to 1 this year.

Research more buying advice »
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2020 GMC Terrain

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