$15,413 - $24,869

2016 GMC Terrain Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 GMC Terrain was new.


Performance: 7.2

The base four-cylinder 2016 GMC Terrain feels underpowered to most auto writers, while the V6-powered model has strong, smooth acceleration. However, it gets poor fuel economy with the larger engine. Critics feel the Terrain offers a very comfortable ride but handles poorly, with significant body lean in turns.

  • "The available all-wheel drive (AWD) is perfect for inclement weather, and a choice of 4-cylinder and V6 engines offers good fuel economy or very good power, respectively." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "A plush, well-shielded driving experience is what the majority of family-centric buyers want, and the Terrain delivers." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • The availability of a V6 engine also sets the 2014 Terrain apart from many of its rivals in this price range, although you'll typically encounter the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that's standard on all trim levels. … If your budget allows, the optional 3.6-liter V6 provides much stronger acceleration and a more enjoyable driving experience, especially on the highway." -- Edmunds (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The GMC Terrain is powered by a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 182 horsepower, and a 301-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 is optional. A six-speed automatic transmission comes with either engine. According to the EPA, the base Terrain gets 22/32 mpg city/highway, which is adequate for an affordable compact SUV, while the V6-powered Terrain gets 17/24 mpg, which is low for the class.

According to most critics, the Terrain equipped with the four-cylinder engine struggles when on the highway or when filled with people and cargo. They say for better power and acceleration, the V6-powered Terrain offers good burst from a stop and at speed. Reviewers think the automatic transmission has well-timed and smooth shifts.

  • As for power, the 4-cylinder Terrain is a fine choice for everyday driving. Power delivery is smooth and steady throughout the rev band. The only time it may come up short is when the Terrain is loaded down with passengers and cargo. Equipped with the 3.6-liter V6, the Terrain is noticeably more powerful. Off-the-line acceleration feels strong, and the V6 Terrain pulls highway passing maneuvers without struggling. But compared with the base 4-cylinder, this engine takes a beating on fuel economy." -- AutoTrader
  • Although the four-cylinder GMC Terrain matches the acceleration times of other compact crossovers in this price range, it doesn't feel as potent out in the real world. You'll have the gas pedal floored during routine merging and passing maneuvers, and this isn't very relaxing. During Edmunds testing, fuel economy came in well below the EPA combined ratings. If you're looking for a more enjoyable driving experience, the V6 is definitely the way to go. With 301 horses on tap, it's one of the most capable engines in any crossover in this price range." -- Edmunds
  • The base engine is a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that offers up good fuel economy, but at the cost of anything resembling snappy acceleration. On the other hand, there's a 301-horsepower V6 that's smooth and quiet, and offers much better punch even if fuel economy is only so-so." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "The automatic transmission is very well behaved with both engines. Shifts are smooth, and downshifts occur promptly when needed." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Handling and Braking

Although the ride is comfortable, most auto journalists complain that the 2016 Terrain doesn't handle very well, with significant lean when cornering that makes it not very pleasing to drive. Reviewers also note that the steering feels numb, offering the driver little feedback from the road. Front-wheel drive comes standard and all-wheel drive is optional.

  • "The Terrain really isn't fun to drive, though. Its handling is lackluster, and its steering feels numb and disconnected. Furthermore, the Terrain exhibits noticeable body roll in corners." -- AutoTrader
  • Ride quality is excellent on the 2016 GMC Terrain. The comfort-tuned suspension soaks up road imperfections, and sound-deadening measures make the crossover extremely quiet on the highway. It is an excellent cruising vehicle, and the cushy suspension in the Denali version makes the ride even more agreeable. There's a price to be paid for the soft ride, however, as the Terrain is out of its element when the road starts to bend. If you want a more engaging driving experience, the Escape or Mazda CX-5 would suit you better." -- Edmunds
  • "Going down the road, the Terrain has a comfortable ride, with predictable steering feel and reassuring directional stability. It might have the looks of a rugged truck, but it has the easy driving manners of a medium-size car." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)
  • "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 (2013)

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