TodayApril 15, 2022

2018 GMC Terrain – the biggest loser wins

We’ve all seen the inspirational Television shows The Biggest Loser or Extreme Makeover. The most amazing part of the show is make-over week; how different the person looks once they’ve lost all the weight and gotten a make-over. It’s not just that they look different, they walk differently.

The GMC Terrain went to the Biggest Loser Ranch as a mid-sized Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), stopped into Extreme Makeover for an interior pick me up and came home twirling in her tiny turbo’d skirt as a compact SUV all while wearing a Tiara. The girl even has a brand new sparkly shifter. In the debutante world of SUVs, the 2018 GMC Terrain will be noticed for losing inches and weight.

2018 GMC Terrain will be noticed for losing inches and weight.

2018 GMC Terrain will be noticed for losing inches and weight.

Three new engines on an all-new architecture

The gasoline and diesel engines were benchmarked on some serious competitors; the gasoline engine was benchmarked against the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CRV, while the diesel engine was benchmarked against the Jaguar F-Pace diesel engine.

The Terrain will be shown in three all-new turbocharged engines; 1.5-liter turbo gasoline engine paired with a new nine-speed automatic transmission, a 1.6-liter turbo-diesel paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and what will probably be the sales leader, a 2.0-liter turbo gasoline engine paired with a new nine-speed automatic transmission.

To meet EPA requirements to have Stop/start technology count as part of the fuel efficiency the technology does not have a button to turn it on and off. You need to know this before you buy any vehicle.


The amount of room in the vehicle is a lot more functional than it looks like from the outside. There are plenty of places to put water, charge smartphones, and hide jewelry. A new fold-flat front passenger seat and flat-folding rear seat allows you to haul eight foot long 2 two by fours. Each door has a built-in area to hold change and water bottles. Behind the second seat is a hidden cargo area that looks like it could hold a couple of cases of wine, laying side by side. The compartment is made of plastic for quick clean-up.

2018_gmc_terrain_cargo I love the hidden compartment in the trunk.

2018_gmc_terrain_cargo I love the hidden compartment in the trunk.

The biggest test for functionality was in the 1.5-liter turbo gasoline engine. There were four people and all their luggage driving for two hours. There was plenty of room for another individual in the back seat; there was more room in the back seat than you would have in the coach seats in an airplane. The room equated more to the exit row, with extra legroom, in an A319 airplane.

When you have that many people in a car you get to see how the car works, and what doesn’t work. Apple Carplay is still a pain in the bumper; it has to be plugged into the car with the actual Apple lighting bolt cord. If you display the map on the NAV system, you can’t use your phone for anything else. This is not unique to the terrain, it is a Carplay issue. And of course, Apple Carplay doesn’t want to play nice with WAZE, my go-to mapping traffic system on my iPhone.

The Electronic Precision Shift (EPS) is new for General Motors. Instead of having a key in the steering column, or a rotary wheel that feels like a safe when you are turning it, catching on Park, Reverse, or drive, GMC has a wall on the center console. Park, Neutral, and Manual are solid buttons that you push, reverse and drive are half that size with a chrome tip that you pull. I will have to drive the car longer than I did, but I would imagine that you can get used to putting your fingers on the display, as you would on a piano, and pull the R button, or the D button, or push the P or N button. My colleague and I agreed that the D button should feel different than the R button.

Exterior Styling

stronger yet feminine lines that flow

stronger yet feminine lines that flow

The styling of the Terrain has taken a dramatic shift since its inception in 2009. The old Terrain didn’t have the Feng Sui that the new Terrain has with its stronger yet feminine lines that flow, jeweled LED daytime running lamps and tail lamps. The floating roof gives it a sophisticated design. The front fascia is almost placid compared to some of today’s designs.

Interior Styling

The Sun is bright in the sunshine states; California, Florida, Texas. If you put chrome on the dash, the sun bounces off the chrome right into your eyes. GMC has ditched the chrome and replaced it with a handsome brushed aluminum trim. There is plenty of headroom and a big panoramic sunroof.

We mentioned to the engineers that the engine was pleasantly quiet and was told that there was active noise cancellation seamlessly integrated into the interior. Lots of little leather-wrapped steering wheel; flat-folding front passenger seat; and keyless open and start. Upgrade to the Denali and get the Bose premium seven-speaker audio system. I love the hidden compartment in the trunk.

brushed aluminum and Bose premium seven-speaker audio system

brushed aluminum and Bose premium seven-speaker audio system

The Terrain struts its stuff compliments of a MacPherson strut with coil springs, direct-acting stabilizer bar in the front and a four-link independent rear suspension. All women know that, depending on the height of the stiletto, the easier it is to turn. The same pertains to the size of the wheel; the turning radius on 17-inch wheels is a twirling 37.4 feet, on 18-inch wheels, the turn is a little larger at 38.4 feet, and on 19-inch wheels, the radius grows to 41.6 feet.


There are over 3,600 safety requirements in a vehicle by NHTSA before it can go to market. Those safety requirements are standard, but the Terrain has more standard safety features;

* Six standard airbags, including frontal driver and passenger, roof rail-mounted head curtain and thorax side-impact airbags
* Collapsible pedal assembly
* Standard rear-vision camera
* Rear Seat Reminder alerts when the second-row doors are opened before the vehicle is started
* Driver Alert Package I is available on SLE and SLT and standard on Denali. Content includes Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, Rear Park Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Safety Alert Driver Seat
* Driver Alert Package II is available on SLT and Denali. Content includes Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Following Distance Indicator and IntelliBeam headlamp.

Competitors: Acura RDX, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Ford Explorer, Honda CR-V, Lexus NX, Lincoln MKC, Mazda CX-5, Mercedes GLC 300, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Touareg, Volkswagen Atlas.

I drove the 2018 GMC Terrain FWD SLT 1.6 turbo diesl 6-speed automatic that priced out at $39,545. We drove mainly highway and I got on the high side of 39 mpg. The second half of the trip I switched to the 2018 GMC Terrain AWD Denali; the ultra plush Terrain. Out the door the SUV was $43,955 and I got 24.5 mpg. I was completely satisfied with both vehicles, but loved the torque of the diesel.

The 2018 GMC Terrain is the biggest loser, and just like in the television reality show, the biggest loser is the winner.

Pricing 2018 GMC Terrain

2018 GMC Terrain SL and SLE SLT and Denali models starting MSRP

2018 GMC Terrain SL FWD — $25,970
2018 GMC Terrain SLE FWD — $28,795
2018 GMC Terrain SLE Diesel FWD — $32,565
2018 GMC Terrain SLE AWD — $30,545
2018 GMC Terrain SLE Diesel AWD — $34,315

2018 GMC Terrain SLT Starting MSRPs

2018 GMC Terrain SLT FWD — $32,295
2018 GMC Terrain SLT Diesel FWD — $35,140
2018 GMC Terrain SLT AWD — $34,045
2018 GMC Terrain SLT Diesel AWD — $36,890

2018 GMC Terrain Denali Starting MSRPs

2018 GMC Terrain Denali FWD — $38,495
2018 GMC Terrain Denali AWD — $40,245

Fuel economy for the 2018 GMC Terrain

1.5-liter turbo
front-wheel drive
26 city/ 30 highway/ 28 combined
all-wheel drive
24 city /28 highway /26 combined

2.0-liter turbo
front-wheel drive
22 city/28 highway/24 combined
all-wheel drive
21 city/26 highway /23 combined

front-wheel drive
28 city/39 highway/32 combined
all-wheel drive
28 city/38 highway/32 combined

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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