$16,647 - $27,254

2017 GMC Terrain Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 GMC Terrain was new.


Performance: 7.2

The 2017 GMC Terrain comes standard with a four-cylinder engine, but you’ll probably want to upgrade to the available V6. The four-cylinder lacks the power for authoritative driving maneuvers, though it may serve adequately as a daily driver. On the other hand, the V6 delivers plenty of power, though it comes at the price of subpar fuel efficiency.

The Terrain's ride is smooth in every trim, and it's especially cushioned in the top-of-the-line Denali trim. But don’t expect the Terrain to be a thrilling ride, no matter which model you choose. It leans heavily around corners and doesn’t have the athleticism to compete with sportier rivals.

  • "The Terrain's 2.4-liter engine puts out 182 horsepower, pretty much in line with other 4-cylinder competitors, but it's the available 301-horsepower V6 that sets this little compact-crossover SUV apart from all others. With the ability to tow up to 3,500 pounds, the V6-equipped Terrain is much more versatile than the base model, and it delivers impressive acceleration with decent fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 2017 Terrain comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 182 horsepower. Most test drivers think the standard engine is underpowered, but you may find that it is fine for your daily commute. Just don’t expect to casually fly by other drivers, because it takes just about everything this engine’s got to merge or pass at speed. With the four-cylinder engine, the Terrain gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. That’s comparable to class rivals like the Kia Sportage, but it still trails the most fuel-efficient compact SUVs, like the Honda CR-V.

Don’t worry if you think the four-cylinder feels weak; a 301-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 is available, though it will cost you $1,500-$1,905 to upgrade, depending on the trim. The V6 delivers great acceleration from a stop and has enough juice to execute highway passing maneuvers without breaking a sweat. The V6 earns an estimated 17 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway, which are worse ratings than those for V6-powered rivals like the Jeep Cherokee.

A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with either engine. It works well with both, and the shifts are generally smooth. The transmission willingly downshifts when you need extra power as well.

  • The four-cylinder GMC Terrain doesn't feel very potent in most situations. You'll have the gas pedal floored during routine merging and passing maneuvers, which can get on your nerves over time. 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
  • 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 (2016)
  • "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

The Terrain, which comes standard with front-wheel drive, delivers a smooth ride that’s as good as any in the class. The Denali trim – which features a softer suspension – delivers a ride that’s even more comfortable.

The downside of such a cushioned ride is felt the moment you encounter a winding stretch of road. The Terrain isn’t especially agile, and there is pronounced body lean when cornering. The vague steering doesn’t help. Though all-wheel drive is available to help provide a more sure-footed road grip, the bottom line is that the Terrain is just not as fun to drive as rivals like the Mazda CX-5.

  • "On the road, the Terrain provides a comfortable ride, free of jarring responses to road imperfections and with a nicely weighted steering feel." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • Ride quality is excellent in the 2017 GMC Terrain. The comfort-tuned suspension soaks up road imperfections, and extensive sound-deadening measures make this affordable crossover unusually quiet on the highway. The cushier 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 Mazda CX-5 would certainly suit you better." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2016)

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