$10,293 - $13,105

2012 GMC Terrain Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 GMC Terrain was new.


Performance: 7.4

The 2012 GMC Terrain's claim to fame is its fuel economy, which is excellent for an SUV and bests nearly every vehicle in its class, especially on the highway. It may not be the most fun vehicle to drive or have outstanding handling, but according to reviewers, the Terrain is an ideal family hauler.

  • "With AWD, the 4-cylinder engine provides adequate power from a stop. It struggles a bit in highway merging and passing. The V6 is stronger, but it still doesn't feel as powerful as its 264-horsepower rating would suggest. The transmission is smooth and responsive with the 4-cylinder, but it sometimes downshifts slowly with the V6." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 GMC Terrain has two engine options: a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder and a 3.6-liter V6. Reviewers say that their performance isn’t the most refined or powerful in the class. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2.4-liter engine’s 182 horsepower should appease most drivers, reviewers say, but it struggles in highway passing and merging. This engine’s greatest strength is its high EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 22/32 mpg city/highway that are some of the best in the class.

The V6 engine makes 264 horsepower, but some reviewers find it less powerful than that number suggests, while others like it. If you do want a V6 engine, compare both to see if you’re willing to take the hit with the V6 engine’s higher price tag and lower fuel economy ratings of 17/24 mpg.

All-wheel drive is available on all trims, and causes fuel economy to drop to 20/29 mpg city/highway with the four-cylinder engine. On V6 models, fuel economy is 16/23 mpg with AWD.

  • "Power for the Terrain is supplied by a robust in-line four cylinder engine that is more about fuel efficiency than power and speed; if the latter is important, the 3.0-liter V6 has power to spare yet still returns fuel economy figures in the mid-20s." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Terrain's base four-cylinder engine should provide enough acceleration for most buyers, as compact SUVs are hardly known for thrilling performance." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

The 2012 Terrain doesn't offer the liveliest driving experience, but it has a smooth, comfortable and quiet ride that reviewers think will be just fine for most drivers. As a crossover, the Terrain handles better than truck-based SUVs, but it does have a larger turning radius than other compact SUVs, which means you may have a difficult time parking or navigating garages and city streets.

  • "The Terrain's capabilities when it comes to handing won't have you thinking sports car but certainly will make you think of a car, and despite the numb steering, the vehicle's overall competence will please most drivers." -- Edmunds
  • "Terrain is hampered by a wide turning circle that complicates parking-lot maneuvers. Otherwise, this crossover is competent and car-like. Like the Chevy Equinox upon which it is based, the 4-cylinder Terrain has electric power steering that is designed to improve fuel economy, but lacks road feel. V6 models include traditional hydraulic steering, but they don't fare much better." -- Consumer Guide

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