$12,023 - $17,469

2013 GMC Terrain Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 GMC Terrain was new.


Performance: 7.2

The 2013 GMC Terrain has excellent fuel economy for the class, and reviewers say it offers a comfortable, quiet ride, making it an ideal family hauler. As with most compact SUVs, auto writers note that the Terrain isn’t close to being fun to drive or sporty. Critics also note that the Terrain lacks steering feel, but they do like the new powerful V6 engine option.

  • "During our lengthy jaunt through the windy roads of Northern Michigan, the Terrain Denali's powertrain improvements coupled with a modified front suspension eliminated the majority of our grievances with the 2012 model's lackluster driving characteristics." -- Kelley Blue Book (Denali)
  • "Though not nearly as lively, the standard 4-cylinder engine is the one to get. It's smoother, quieter, and should use less fuel." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Whether you pick the four- or the six-cylinder engine, you'll get a competent power plant, but not one that will stand out." -- Cars.com (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 GMC Terrain has two engine choices: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and an all-new 3.6-liter V6. The four-cylinder generates 182 horsepower, while the new V6 engine option produces 301 horsepower. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic. Fuel economy is excellent for the class at 22/32 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive.

Opting for a V6 or all-wheel drive will decrease fuel economy somewhat, but reviewers generally find the new V6 much improved over the 3.0-liter V6 on the 2012 model, plus they get the same gas mileage. While some critics recommend the V6 for its added power, others acknowledge that the four-cylinder should be fine for most drivers, who will also appreciate its greater fuel economy.

  • "The 4-cylinder engine provides adequate power from a stop but struggles a bit in highway merging and passing. The new V6 engine is a vast improvement over the old one. The extra horsepower and torque are welcome in any driving situation." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Compared with that 3.0-liter, the extra 37 hp and 50 lb-ft of torque the 3.6 brings to the formerly unswift Terrain are a welcome addition." -- Car and Driver (Denali)
  • "While the engine's power is satisfying, so too is the transmission. The six-speed automatic seems tuned for drivability more than fuel economy - a refreshing change from many vehicles we test these days." -- Autoblog (Denali)

Handling and Braking

Critics are somewhat divided on the Terrain’s driving dynamics. Some say it handles with agility despite its hefty weight and others find it has a rougher, more truck-like ride than other compact SUVs. Still, most reviewers agree that the hydraulic power steering, standard with V6 models, gives little feedback. Electric power steering is standard with all four-cylinder models, but there is no reviewer opinion on the system. The Terrain has a wide turning radius, which means it is hard to maneuver on city streets and in parking lots. Overall, test drivers think the Terrain will meet most drivers’ need for a comfortable and quiet ride.

  • "Terrain is far from sporty, even taking into account the Denali's revised suspension. This crossover exhibits moderate body lean in fast turns. Steering feel is unexceptional." -- Consumer Guide
  • "We drove V-6-powered AWD Terrain Denalis on challenging two-lane roads in northern Michigan and found that the more powerful engine and the upgraded suspension gave us a surprisingly nimble and responsive drive, especially considering the vehicle's 2-ton weight." -- Popular Mechanics (Denali)
  • "We found the V-6's hydraulic power steering (the four-cylinder gets electric steering) to be ambiguous in nature, numb on-center and about as communicative as a forlorn teenager. One wonders if it were simply cheaper for GM to fit all Denalis with standard lane-departure warning and forward collision alert than deal with the hassle of properly sorting out the dodgy steering." -- Car and Driver (Denali)
  • "In spite of its heft, the Terrain is relatively agile and sporty." -- Motor Trend (2012)
  • "Long cruises were where I really appreciated the Terrain's quiet, comfortable ride." -- Cars.com (2012)

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