Nobody asked me, but . . .
What is a Terrain? It’s a compact crossover, the GMC version of the Chevrolet Equinox (Carmudgeon, July 8, 2009) and the new Cadillac SRX.
The following is a quote from General Motors regarding the new GMC Terrain.
“At the core of the reinvention of General Motors is a promise to deliver customers greater value with strong new products. For the new 2010 GMC Terrain, that means taking the brand’s 100 year-plus tradition of engineering and capability and presenting it in a smaller, more fuel-efficient package for today’s buyers.
“Yukon, Acadia and now Terrain – we’re continuing to build on the successful formula of taking the bold styling, premium features and functionality our customers have come to expect from our full-size truck products and creating smaller vehicles to appeal to a broader audience. Although it’s smaller on the outside, Terrain offers more on the inside. We believe it will attract customers by giving them totally new choices without compromising what it means to own a GMC.”
GM continues with this promise to its customers:
“The 2010 GMC Terrain is prepared to deliver for its owners in 10 notable ways:
- Design – the bold, strong look of a GMC
- Fuel economy – 32 mpg rating makes Terrain a segment leader
- MultiFlex sliding rear seat – best-in-class rear-seat legroom or cargo space, or both
- Interior – premium materials highlighted by the warm glow of red ambient lighting
- Smart, integrated features – practical, functional and fun
- Direct injection and six gears – the elements of efficiency
- Ride and handling – a solid feel behind the wheel
- Safety – six standard air bags, OnStar and more
- Quality – backed by GM’s five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty
- Value – Nicely equipped from under $25K, or load it up for under $30K”
Okay, GM is hanging it all out on the line. So let’s take each of these points, one-by-one, and determine if the Terrain delivers the mail or is a vehicle about which you want to rail.
Terrain . . . rail . . . get it?
Oh never mind.
- Design: GMC truck DNA is evident in the grille, the flared front fenders and the front-end’s squared off edges. The stance gives it a look of being well planted to the road and provides a bit of toughness. But cool it with the chrome. The optional Chrome Package with its chrome outside mirrors is a glaring mistake! Score 3/4s of a point for the General:
- Fuel economy: Terrain competitors take it in the shorts here. The GMC’s 2.4-liter direct injected 4-cylinder with 6-speed automatic is EPA-rated at 22 mpg city/322 mpg highway. A lot better than its rivals. The Terrain’s 3.0-liter V6 with 6-speed auto returns 25 mpg on the highway. That’s for front-wheel-drive models. Again, that’s higher than all of its V-6 powered main competitors. GM also adds a driving range of more than 500 mile with every engine/drivetrain combination. What about real world? I found both the 4-cylinder and the V6 to be stronger performers than the equivalent engines I drove in several Chevy Equinoxes two months earlier. “Revised engine calibrations” was the reply of the GMC engineers. I think you’ll be more than satisfied with the 4-cylinder unless you drive lots of hills or frequently tow heavy loads. Score one for the General.
- MultiFlex sliding rear seat: Gotta admit. This is a neat feature. This seat can be moved fore or aft nearly eight inches, greatly increasing the flexibility of the interior, allowing it to be optimized for five adult passengers or cargo. The rear seat is also split 60/40. Another point for the General.
- Interior: It is nicely styled . . . and comfortable. Car-like but also a rugged edge for that truck look. The red ambient lighting is a neat touch. And there’s storage everywhere, which is particularly handy in a sport utility. You can store a laptop computer in the compartment under the center armrest. There are also four power outlets for phone chargers, laptops and other portable devices. I’m a soft touch for these sorts of surprise and delight features. I only wish there was more of a soft touch to some of the more frequently touched interior surfaces. 3/4s of a point.
- Smart, integrated features: Standard rear vision camera (Trust me, you really need this feature these days because the rear view out of many vehicles is compromised by high rear decks and small backlites (Some people call them rear windows.). USB audio connectivity and MP3 playback, OnStar and XM satellite radio are also standard. A programmable power liftgate sounds like one of those wretched excess items sprinkled through every automakers’ option list. The Terrain’s liftgate can be set to open to a lower height clearing garage obstacles or making it easier to reach for short females (chauvenist!!!!) You can’t believe how often I wished for that feature on my 1996 Windstar van every time the rear wiper got wacked or the paint got scratched rubbing on a low-hanging garage door. Remote vehicle start can be used to automatically heat up or cool down the Terrain’s interior. This is a cool feature . . . also a hot one. A 7-in touch screen nav system and a 10-gigabyte hard drive. You wanna plot a course to the moon. This baby will get you there and back. Houston, we don’t have a problem. The optional DVD-based rear entertainment system features two independent screens and input. Two kids, no fighting! All this gets 1-1/2 points.
- Direct injection and six gears: Great for performance, fuel economy and reduced emissions. GM is late to this game so give ‘em an “atta boy” for recognizing the need to compete. No points
- Ride and handling: GM engineers tout a long wheelbase, wide tracks, and independent rear suspension as contributing to the Terrain’s car-like handling, smooth ride, lack of body roll and driver confidence. Enough about specifications, already. Give me results. Hey, it does . . . produce results . . . good ones. On Michigan’s moonscape-like highways and secondary roads the Terrain is a ride queen. Even when shod with 19-inch rubber with about a Lincoln head penny’s worth of sidewall rubber between the road and the rim, the Terrain doesn’t pound you into submission. The competition? Not so good. Okay, the Terrain is not the Corvette of compact crossovers in the handling department. The steering is a bit on the slow and heavy side. But I’m not looking for ultimate lap times when cornering in an SUV but rather a secure, confident feeling. That the Terrain provides. More of same with the optional all-wheel drive. Score one point.
- Safety: You can’t knock six airbags or 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, StabiliTrack electronic stability control and traction control. All standard as is OnStar with one year of Safe and Sound service. So what happens after one year? Are you unsafe and unsound? Another point.
- Quality: The Terrain does have a solid, rigid body. No squeaks or rattles. Build quality (fit and finish) was better than those Equinoxes I drove in July. Two months of tweaking in the assembly plant does make a difference. Let’s give some credit to those workers in the Ontario, Canada assembly facility, Aaa. GM is also providing a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. GM has to build world-class vehicles if it hopes to survive. And long-term quality is TBD. A half point.
- Value: Terrain is offered in SLE and SLT trim levels, with front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models. The entry price for the Terrain is an SLE1 FWD model that starts at $24,995 (including $745 destination charge). It includes the 2.4-liter engine and 6-speed automatic plus a long list of standard features uncommon for a base model, such as air conditioning, rear-vision camera, USB-equipped radio, ambient lighting and 17-inch aluminum wheels. At the top of the range is the SLT2 model that starts at $29,995 (including destination), which includes such standard equipment as 18-inch wheels, heated leather seats, rear park assist, a sunroof and the power liftgate. Adding options is simple regardless of which trim level is selected. The all-wheel drive system is available on all trim levels, and those opting for the fuel efficiency of the 4-cylinder engine can still equip a Terrain with premium features such as the navigation radio and rear-seat DVD systems, options normally reserved only for the most expensive models. One point.
Final tally: 8.5 points
The envelop, please.
On paper and on the road the 2010 GMC Terrain is a strong competitor in the compact crossover segment. But is that enough? GM’s issues with solvency, loss of management and the closing of hundreds of dealers all weigh heavily on the General.
If I yell, Test drive a Terrain in a forest, will anyone hear me? GM’s current marketing efforts have been scattered at best. And if they can’t get customers into the showrooms, who gives a damn how good the product is? And that could make this whole exercise we just went through . . . pointless!
Words by: Carmudgeon
Photos by: Joe Tori and GM Photographic