The Terrain is ready for the demands of young Canadian families.
The new for 2018 GMC Terrain has quickly become one of my favorite small crossovers, and since that seems to be a very popular segment to shop amongst my peers, I’ve found myself recommending the Terrain at least a few times since I tested a top-line Denali a couple of months ago. It’s a right-sized platform offering tons of usable interior space, all-wheel-drive capability, and a refined and comfortable interior. The platform itself handles competently, rides great for a small crossover and generally feels solid and well put together.
GM has done a good job offering the Terrain right out of the gate with three very different engine options; the first being the base 1.5L turbo with its 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft. of torque. The 1.5L feels underpowered and out of place in this platform. Next up is the 2.0L turbo-four, which feels like a polar opposite to the 1.5L. The 2.0L puts out a healthy 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque. The 2.0L is smooth, responsive, powerful and delivers on the capabilities that one might expect from a CUV like this, including its ability to tow up to 3500lbs; its downside is that it does recommend premium fuel.
That leaves the intriguing diesel, the motor equipped in this particular test vehicle. It is a 1.6L turbocharged diesel four cylinder the delivers only 137 horsepower, but an impressive 240 lb-ft. of torque at 2,000RPM. There are not many small crossovers on the market available with a diesel, but in the Terrain, the merits of a small-displacement diesel engine really start to become apparent. The lower-end torque of the diesel means it’s peppy around town, and has adequate power to easily merge onto the highway. High speed passing is more of a chore due to the lower peak power, but even then the diesel still feels responsive and more appropriate than the 1.5L gas engine.
Diesels do have their downsides and while this example is one of the better out there, it does have some quirks that take some getting used to, especially if you’re considering a diesel for the first time. Firstly, diesels take some time to heat up in the cold, meaning that there’s about a 2-5 second wait for the glow plugs in the engine to build up some heat before the engine will turn over on a cold morning. It also takes a bit longer for the cabin to heat up, but using the remote starter, standard on the Terrain SLT, easily solves that issue.
By nature, diesels tend to idle a bit rough, and with the 1.6L that holds true, but it’s only noticeable until the engine is warmed up to operating temperature, and while the engine does sound a bit like an old diesel tractor from the outside, it’s absolutely silent on the inside. Lastly, when it is time to fill up you’ll need to find a station with diesel, and you’ll likely want to keep an old pair of gloves in the car as most diesel fuel pump handles are greasy and dirty from the oily nature of the fuel.
In exchange for those minor inconveniences you’ll get plenty of torque and response and absolutely outstanding fuel economy. My time with the Terrain Diesel happened to land on an extremely busy week, so I racked up the miles, and after a week of rush hour commuting, lots of errands around town and a short trip out of town, my average consumption sat right at 7.1L/100km. That’s better than the vehicle’s combined rating of 7.4L/100km and makes the Terrain Diesel the most efficient non-hybrid we’ve tested in this segment.
The efficient diesel option alone is enough to make the Terrain a worthy contender in the hyper-competitive compact CUV category, but the best news at GMC is that the Terrain really does offer a lot more than an interesting powertrain. Our earlier take on the Terrain (reviewed here) goes into more details; but it really is a heavy hitter. Its aggressive new styling is enough to set it apart from the crowd, without being over the top, and it tends to borrow some styling ques from its larger siblings the GMC Acadia (reviewed here). The interior has been totally updated for 2018 and is, in my opinion, the best in its class for extremely well designed storage, simple design and controls, and upscale materials. The whole package rides well and feels solid and confident from behind the wheel.
The Terrain comes in three trim levels; the entry level SLE, the SLT and the top-tier Denali trim. The Diesel is unfortunately not available on the Denali model, but can be had on both the SLE and SLT trims for a premium. A SLE with front-drive and the diesel starts at $34,195, but since buying a crossover with FWD is rather pointless you’ll want to step up to the SLE AWD Diesel at $36,595.
The SLE comes reasonably well equipped but step up to the SLT $38,195 and you get into some of the finer luxuries that are available on the Terrain including hands-free power liftgate, LED lighting all around and powerful HID headlamps, heated leather seats with memory function, heated steering wheel, dual zone auto climate control, keyless ignition and more. Our SLT trim tester was also equipped with the GMC Pro Grade Package for $3500, which adds almost everything you would find on the Denali including a full length glass sunroof, navigation, Bose sound and the full suite of the latest electronic driving aids. The as tested price of our SLT AWD Diesel came to $42,290.
The 2018 GMC Terrain SLT Diesel is just one of those rare vehicles that does everything well, and in my time with it, it effortlessly handled everything that I asked it to. From a highway road trip, to the city commute grind, to hauling building supplies thanks to its flat loading floor, it just never skipped a beat. The Terrain is ready for the demands of young Canadian families, and GMC is ready for their fair share of the hot compact CUV market.