2010 GMC Terrain Long-Term Road Test

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2010 GMC Terrain: You Could Buy Our Old Terrain at CarMax

February 10, 2011

GMC Terrain at CarMax.jpg

We sold it to CarMax for $25,000. Now they are selling the 2010 GMC Terrain we tested for $27,998, almost $3,000 more than they gave us. This ad was spotted by Sodaguy, a reader of the Long Term Blog and, sure enough, the VINs matched. I'm just wondering if the new buyer will read our blog entries. For some reason, they don't promote the Edmunds.com connection in their ad.

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2010 GMC Terrain: Our Favorite Caption

January 28, 2011

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Thanks to hugene for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the others that made us laugh.

One of these rides like it's on rails, the other is a Terrain. (ergsum)
Terrain Crossing (snipenet)
Long Terrain running. (technetium99)
One of these is on the right track (85se)
Terrain kept a rollin' all night long. (blackngold1000)
The Terrain's claimed mpg is loco! (technetium99)
Separated at Birth (dougtheeng)
Santa Fe? Must be the "Seoul Train"! (ergsum)
The General (ergsum)
Terrain Tracks (saturn95)
What Engineer is responsible for this? (snipenet)
Box Car? (snipenet)
Shut down ALL the garbage mashers on the detention level! (wshuff)
GMC Terrain: Track Tested (ergsum)
Terrainspotting (ergsum)
A crazy idea is a loco motive. (vt8919)
Terrain in vain stays mainly next to train (dkgsx)

What was your favorite?

To the winner:
You can select one of these three prizes:

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2010 GMC Terrain: You Write the Caption

January 28, 2011

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Vehicle Testing Director Dan Edmunds sent me this photo of our GMC Terrain near a trash heap. He suggested Planes, Trains, and Terrians.

What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Strong Money for Popular SUV

January 24, 2011

Terrain at CarMax.jpg

The used car super-store CarMax seems unpredictable in its pricing. Often, after an appraisal for one of our long term cars, we leave scratching our heads or muttering angrily. This time, we hit the CarMax jackpot. Maybe they were just in a good mood because they offered us $25,000 for the 2010 GMC Terrain. It was so good we just had to take it.

Here are a few numbers to put things into perspective. The MSRP for the Terrain was $32,140 when we bought it a little more than a year and 21,608 miles ago. We actually paid $31,133 for it since it was relatively new then and still commanding a high price. Turns out that the price we got from CarMax was almost the same as the clean TMV private party price: $25,408. So it dropped $5,725 or 18 percent over the first year of ownership.

When CarMax offers strong money for used cars, it sure makes the resale process easy. They give you a quote which is good for one week. If you want to try for more, you can throw it up on Craigslist for a few days and a few thousand over the CarMax price. If it doesn't sell, cash out at CarMax.

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2010 GMC Terrain: Busting 20,000 Miles

December 13, 2010

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This weekend our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain blew through the 20,000 mile mark. That's 20,000 miles in less than 11 months, as we bought the crossover in late January.

Usually this is where I would sign off, but Donna DeRosa made me promise to make these Milestone posts more of an update on the Terrain's last 5,000 miles. So here goes.

And in the last 5,000 miles the Terrain has needed nothing but 87 octane. No repairs. No problems to report. The GMC continues to be good, solid, reliable transportation. Comfortable too.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2010 GMC Terrain: Blinded by the (Reverse) Light

December 06, 2010

GMC Terrain reverse lights.jpg

How do those lyrics go? "Blinded by the light. Revved up like a d***** another runner in the night." Wait, Mannfred Mann: What? (He actually said deuce.)

Anyway, when you unlock the doors on our long-term 2010 GMC, the reverse lights are activated. And they are very bright. I think the intention was to illuminate the rear area as you approach the vehicle, for both safety and convenience. But it's quite annoying as you get close to the rear tailgate to load your gear.

I wonder if the deuce who designed it actually evaluated it prior to production line-off.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 19,600 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Selling Well

December 03, 2010

GMC Terrain at Penske Wynn Las Vegas.JPG

The GMC Terrain has been selling well. November was its best sales month since its introduction in September 2009, rising 56 percent over the previous November. And the Terrain is sitting on dealer lots an average of 17 days. For comparison, GM says Terrain competitors are on lots around 31 days.

GM is getting more women into the GMC brand with the Terrain (duh) as 46% of its buyers are women. And GM claims that 54% of all Terrain buyers are trading in non-GM vehicles.

This all makes sense to me as I would recommend the Terrain to someone looking in its segment. But I won't send you to Penske Las Vegas for it, as the only new cars they sell are Ferraris and Maseratis.

Perhaps they have a Terrain that was traded in...

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 19,500 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Extra Functionality of Remote Engine Start Is Nice

December 02, 2010

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A couple nights ago the temperature dropped below freezing where I live (central California) and gave our long-term Terrain a covering of frost in the morning. Extreme weather it wasn't, but it still gave me a chance to test our our Terrain's remote engine start feature.

Remote start works as you'd expect -- push the button (after first pushing the fob's door lock button) and the Terrain fires up. Doing so in cold weather means you can stay inside your house while your vehicle warms up.

And since our Terrain has automatic climate control, remote start will also, as the owner's manual says, "...default to a heating or cooling mode depending on the outside temperature during a remote start." This is probably more useful in hot weather than cold since air-conditioning is instantaneous and heated air isn't. But I did notice that remote start clicked on the rear defroster automatically.

Also, on some GM vehicles, remote start will also activate the heated or ventilated seats. The Terrain's owners manual didn't make any mention of this, and its heated seats didn't turn on for me. But I suppose it's possible that functionality is buried within the vehicle's configuration menus somewhere.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Mostly Living Up To Expectations

November 29, 2010

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I wrote last week that I was looking forward to driving our 2010 GMC Terrain for a Thanksgiving road trip to my in-laws' house. For the most part, the Terrain met my expectations.

For about 600 miles of round-trip driving, it was impressively quiet and comfortable. The extra space provided by its SUV body style also came in handy, as we ended up carrying a lot more stuff back home due to some Black Friday shopping -- if I had one of our long-term sedans, there's no way it would have all fit.

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2010 GMC Terrain: Looking Forward To Driving It

November 22, 2010

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On Wednesday I'm packing up the family to visit the in-laws for Thanksgiving. It will likely be a pretty long trip as greater Los Angeles traffic the day before turkey day is always extra-terrible. But I'm finding myself fairly thankful that I'll be driving the GMC Terrain for the trip.

It's not like the Terrain is particularly powerful or overly luxurious, but it is great at just being what it is: a small crossover.

My only real complaints about the Terrain are its styling and underachieving fuel economy, but those won't impact this trip. Meanwhile, it's got a smooth ride, an easy-to-drive demeanor, comfortable and roomy seating, a long fuel range, plenty of storage bins, a nice-sounding sound system (with an iPod interface), a navigation system and plenty of cargo room for our luggage and gear.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 18,534 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Clock Won't Stay Set, Either

November 19, 2010

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Adding fuel to the fire of our glitchy audio head unit, I've noticed that the clock won't stay set if I change it. It's stuck on the time used for pre-daylight savings. I set the clock back an hour, and it's fine until I shut the Terrain off. Next time I get back in, it's moved ahead one hour to that original time.

Every time I get in I have a momentary panic that I'm very, very late.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Macho In Styling Only

November 17, 2010

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On Monday I took the keys to the Terrain after spending about a week and a half in the Raptor. It was a mildly amusing switch. The Terrain tries to convince you that it's rugged and "professional grade" through its industrial styling. But coming from the Raptor, which is certifiably big, burly and macho, the Terrain, with its easy entry height, cushy seat and milquetoast four-cylinder, seemed no more macho than Michael Cera in Juno.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Our Favorite Caption

November 05, 2010

TerrainCaptionContest_01.jpg

Thanks to ergsum for this week's favorite caption. So many good ones.

Here are the others that pushed our buttons:

ovulation warning sensor (snipenet)
GMC phone home! (technetium99)
"Baby Vader on Board" sensor (ergsum)
"Probe in 60 Seconds" warning. (ergsum)
"Danger Will Robinson! Aliens approaching!" (toye)
"The Force" on/off. Use it Luke. (ergsum)
"Ludicrous Speed!" button. (ergsum)
Deploy tin foil hat warning! Your thoughts are currently being read by others. (philaburb)
Fart detected! Engage auxiliary air supply! (technetium99)
Automatic headlocks standard. (thegraduate)
Puny Mazda 2 detected Sir. Engage the salivatron. Fire. (ms3omglol)
Children of the Warn (rayray633)
32 miles per gallon? I'm sorry but I can't let you achieve that, Dave. (robert4380)
Activate your "Inner Child" mode. (ergsum)
Press here to freeze your passengers in carbonite. (fsunole)
Pedestrian Lock-On. (hybris)
Press to engage "Babe Magnet" system. (ergsum)

What was your favorite?

To the winner:
You can select one of these three prizes:

See full article and comment.


2010 GMC Terrain: You Write the Caption

November 05, 2010

gmc-terrain-childlock.jpg

Edmunds.com's Editor Ed Hellwig posted this photo about the GMC Terrain's alien defense shield/child lock button.

I thought you'd have fun making up your own uses for this button.

What's your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon along with our exciting prizes.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Damned Sunflower Seeds

November 04, 2010

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So I'm driving our long-term Terrain this morning after dropping off a portable hard-drive at a friend's house. I had to park in this really tight alley filled with garbage cans, parked cars and a pair of orange cats. It can be hair raising, especially in a bigger car like the GMC Terrain. Sure, it's smaller than the Traverse, but visibility's not that great and it feels like a bigger car.

Any way, I have a nasty habit of eating sunflower seeds in the morning. Stems from my baseball days. Well, I started choking on one and it becomes a little difficult to drive through a narrow alley as you suffer the same inglorious fate as George Bush avec pretzel. I was coughing, my eyes were watering, and I couldn't tell if the little white car ahead was parked or not (maybe a Mazda 3?).

I finally managed to dislodge the seed from my throat and ungracefully jettison it out the window. Hopefully it didn't land on anyone's car, that would be quite uncouth.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Low Fuel Warning

October 29, 2010

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I was already running late this morning when I hit the freeway for the last 25 miles of my drive to work. Not more than two miles into it, the GMC Terrain's low fuel light blinked on.

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2010 GMC Terrain: Wheel Wells

October 27, 2010

gmc terrain wheel well.jpg

I love the look of the Terrain, but its whole wheel-well situation looks like it would be more at home on a truck or a full-size SUV than a compact crossover. Does it work for you? Something about that awkward, gaping expanse between fender and wheel reminds me of this...

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2010 GMC Terrain: What Does This Button Do?

October 27, 2010

gmc-terrain-childlock-1600.jpg

Alien defense shield? On-board bonnet hair dryers?

I wasn't really sure at first glance. Then it dawned on me.

Child proof door locks, of course. Never seen a dash button like that, usually it's a latch on the rear doors or at least a button on the driver's door panel. Probably a good place for it though, no reason to let the driver have all the fun.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2010 GMC Terrain: Big and Better

October 26, 2010

gmc terrain profile.jpg

Spending time with the Terrain yesterday brought to mind three things:

1: Compact crossovers are now squarely in midsize territory. The Terrain is big on the outside, and spacious enough on the inside to meet most family-hauling needs.

2: I really like the way this thing looks. It's distinctive; its angular lines and boxy silhouette set it apart from most other vehicles on the road.

3: Ride quality is pretty pleasant. Comfortable without being too soft, the suspension setting is tailor-made for buyers in this segment.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Why No Diesel?

October 25, 2010

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As I was gassing up our little GMC this morning I thought, "wouldn't it be cool if you could get a diesel version of the Terrain?"

As far as we know, GM has no plans to build a diesel version.

What do you think? Would you like to see a diesel GMC Terrain?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Suburban Styling

October 22, 2010

chevrolet_suburban_set_gm.jpg

It's hard to style a truck, so you can sympathize with the guys who did the 2010 GMC Terrain. They did their best to overlay a crossover wagon with all the GMC themes, but the result is kind of like a plastic model of a GMC Suburban that has melted in the sun.

We're observing the 75th anniversary of the original Chevy Suburban this year and it makes me think of all the great GM truck-based wagons that have come before, clear back to the original 1935 Chevrolet Suburban Carryall. Sure, we're talking Chevrolet styling cues here, not GMC styling licks, and yet all these Suburbans look so appealing in comparison to the Terrain -- functional and yet with a unique style.

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2010 GMC Terrain: It's Got Some Nice Features

October 14, 2010

I found a video that shows some of the nice feature available on the GMC Terrain, a few of which we didn't order on our long-termer, including independent dual rear seat monitors and available heated cloth seats.

Also, the power lift gate is adjustable for height, and you can fit a laptop in the center console. Nice.

And I think the Terrain looks great in black with tan interior, much better than our long-termer's silver.
I'll let the Terrain's Program Manager Whitney Krause break it down.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ ~17,200 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Trailhead Companion

October 12, 2010

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This weekend, I spent a lot of time alternately hiking the local trails and zipping from trailhead to trailhead in our 2010 GMC Terrain. October 10, 2010, otherwise known as 10-10-10, is more or less the 10th anniversary of the geocaching hobby. As such, the geocaching community set aside the date for something different. The idea was to break the record for the most active cachers out and about on a single day, which currently stands at 56,654.

OK. Why not? I've never been a "joiner" but, I do enjoy geocaching, even though I've only been at it 3 months. I first tried caching with the wife and kids in July when we all ventured to Mammoth Lakes, Ca in a 2011 Infiniti QX-56 for a family getaway. Later, my daughter and I enjoyed looking for more hidden stashes during our late-summer Oregon trip in the 2010 F-150 SVT Raptor.

It's a great pasttime for me because it adds a destination, a goal and a vague competitve element to what might otherwise be a routine hike of the sort I used to talk myself out of. Geocaching is getting me back out on the trails, burning calories and enjoying the sights. It's getting my daughters outdoors a bit, too. And I never knew how many good trails and interesting spots were to be found so close to home.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 17,000 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Quick Power Liftgate Action

October 06, 2010

terrain_liftgate.JPG

As power liftgates go, our GMC Terrain's is pretty quick. Just press the fob's button or the liftgte's touchpad and up it goes. No beeping, no hesitation, just action. I timed it to be about 6-and-a-half seconds going up. Lowering it is similarly quick, and this is done again by the fob or by by pressing the button on the bottom of the liftgate. A video of the Terrain in action follows after the jump, as does an older video of the Flex's (slightly slower) liftgate that I took a couple years ago.

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2010 GMC Terrain: Fakes, Both Vehicle Trim and Metropolitan

October 05, 2010

GMC Terrain Chrome.jpg

I like our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain. It has good steering and chassis, great ride quality, but needs more power.

I even drove it to Vegas once and was pleasantly surprised.

And speaking of fakes, there's too much fake chrome trim on the interior. Don't you think?

But with regard to the Terrain's interior and Vegas, some fakes are OK.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 16,500 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: The $1,500 V6 Upgrade Dilemma

September 30, 2010

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I don't mind driving modestly powered, fuel efficient cars. But that's assuming I'm actually getting good fuel economy. As both Dan and Mike noted recently, we have yet to actually meet our Terrain's EPA-estimated 32-mpg highway rating, even when we're really trying. And so far after about 10 months of driving we're averaging just 20.5 mpg. EPA combined for the Terrain V6 (FWD) is 20 mpg. Our long-term Outlander V6 is getting 20.2 mpg. So the question is: if you're buying a Terrain (or Chevy Equinox), would you just go ahead and get the V6?

The V6 is a $1,500 option. Hmm. On one hand, our Terrain generally drives fine, and I can think of other neat things I could spend $1,500 on. But on the other hand, the extra power would certainly enhance the driving experience. In the end, I think I'd spring for the V6.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Oil Sample Analysis Results

September 30, 2010

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Just over a week ago, I took an oil sample from our 2010 GMC Terrain and sent it to Blackstone Labs in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for analysis. Our GMC's built-in oil life monitor was telling us that the oil could last something like 10,000 or 11,000 miles, so I pulled 3 ounces from the crankcase when the oil had 5,731 miles under its belt (and the engine had 15,000-odd miles) to see what the oil had to say for itself.

In short, Blackstone told us we should change the oil sooner rather than later -- within the next thousand miles. Not every time, mind you, but this time, at least.

I talked to Ryan Stark of Blackstone Labs to understand why they're telling us this. Those are my scribbled notes, not his.

First, a recap of the basics:

The last change was done by a dealer at 9,615 miles, 5,731 miles ago. This was also the first oil change, as we had followed the owners manual's advice and keyed off the Terrain's on-board oil life monitor for the interval.

We have no way of knowing exactly what sort of oil the dealer put in, but the oil filler cap says that 5w30 is the right stuff. They did affix a tag to the windshield reminding us to come in 3 months or 3,000 miles. This little upselling gem set me off and got me digging into the subject.

Here are the highlights of Blackstone's results:

The average oil change interval for this engine family is 5,195 miles. But that's not the suggested oil change interval, by Blackstone or by GMC. This is nothing more than the average oil mileage at which all other Ecotech 2.4 samples were sent in to Blackstone for analysis. It's a measure of owner behavior. We can breeze right past this and look at the results themselves.

Our Terrain's oil viscosity measures 5w20. It's impossible to tell if the dealer installed 5w20 or 5w30 initially, because Ryan said "it could have sheared down". He went on to say this doesn't matter too much, because the ideal viscosity range has more to do with the local outdoor start-up temperature. They don't see a strong correlation between engine wear rates and oil viscosity in their historical database.

Certain wear metals (they measure 20 different ones) were detected at higher levels than would be expected for the typical "broken-in" engine. Iron is as 47 ppm instead of 12; Molybdenum is at 178 ppm instead of 64; Silicon is at 18 ppm instead of 11; Copper is at 7 ppm instead of 3 ppm. Most of the others are close to the norm. But Ryan says this does not mean the engine is still breaking in -- he says that wear-in is over and done with in the first 100 to 1,000 miles of operation.

What Blackstone is instead saying is these break-in "residuals" float around in there and hide in nooks and crannies within the block and head, something the oil life monitor may not account for in all cases. Oil and filter changes are the best way to get the stuff out, and you want it out because it's potentially abrasive stuff. While every engine design behaves differently with regard to this tendency, Blackstone thinks it would have been better in this case if we had gone with 4,000 to 5,000-mile intervals for the first three oil changes before we started to follow the oil life monitor's recommendation.

TBN is the Total Base Number of the oil. Jim, Ryan's dad, reminded me you can't run a pH test on a non-aqueous solution such as hydrocarbons, so the TBN test is run instead to measure how "basic" the oil is. The Total Base Number is a rough measure of the active level of detergent dispersants in the oil, additives that are there to keep dirt and solids in suspension so they can be captured by the oil filter.

Our oil's TBN is 1.8, and the recommended minimum is 1.0. But Ryan wasn't too concerned about this because he likes to focus on the number right below it on the report, the Insolubles Percentage. Our IP is still quite good at 0.2 compared to a target of 0.6 or less. He says that this tells him the detergent and filter are still doing a good job, whatever the TBN happens to be. From an insolubles and filtration standpoint, 10,000 miles still isn't out of the question.

He says the TBN test is more applicable to diesels, and it's more of a legacy test that some customers want to see. Oil (and detergent) sales and marketing efforts of the past used to tout their product's TBN as a measure of superiority versus the competition. (Remember Grandma's "Basic H" all-purpose cleaner? - I didn't until just now). They still run the TBN test for those that request it, but it's not part of the standard Blackstone test protocol. The Insolubles Percentage test, however, is standard.

The bottom line:

Ryan says the level of wear-in residuals is not alarming for an Ecotec engine of this relatively young age, but they are higher than he'd like to see. Blackstone suggests that we change the oil to get the levels down sooner rather than later. That said, the oil life monitor has not led us down the garden path into serious trouble. Oil life monitors are fine, he says, but the break-in residual issue leads him to recommend a more traditional timetable of 4,000 to 5,000 miles for the first two or three oil changes.

It's likely that Blackstone's conservative position on this comes from their typical customer -- fleet managers and trucking companies. These folks don't just want 100,000 miles of engine life, they want 300,000 miles and up, if they can get it. But they also don't want to spend any more money on maintenance and downtime then they need to. Strategic maintenance with an eye toward ultra-long engine life is their goal.

What's GM's take on these results? We'll see what we can find out and let you know.

In the meantime, can you guess what comes next? That's right, a GMC Terrain DIY oil-change post. But this one is going to be a bit different from the others I've done in the long-term fleet. That's as much of a hint as you're going to get.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

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2010 GMC Terrain: "Button Rich" Center Stack

September 22, 2010

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Getting into the 2010 GMC Terrain this morning, I caught a glimpse of the center stack before I started it up. Is it me or is the term "button rich" a bit of an understatement. Sorry for the slighly fuzzy photo, but seriously. About 5 years ago, a center stack with this many buttons would've been found on an aircraft. Are we just getting used to this array of buttons, or is this really too many?

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 15,599 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Remote Range at Remote Parking

September 22, 2010

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Our 2010 GMC Terrain spent one night at the Los Angeles airport while I flew to Dallas for a quick trip.

As the Wally Park shuttle driver trundled his way down the aisle to drop me off, I decided to see if I could unlock the Terrain's doors from 100 yards away with the remote control. No problem. Got the power hatch open well before we got there, too. It made it much easier for him to understand which car was mine.

We were farther away than it appears above. The picture is zoomed in a bit.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

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2010 GMC Terrian: Is That Wire Important?

September 22, 2010

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What? You don't see it? Here, click on this one:

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2010 GMC Terrain: Counter Intuitive Knob?

September 21, 2010

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Is it me or is the HVAC temperature knob counter intuitive? Don't you think hot should be up, and cool down or is this a clockwise/counter-clockwise orientation?

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 15,534 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Built for Export

September 21, 2010

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Notice anything different about the speedometer? The 2010 GMC Terrain has the ability to switch several of its gauges and displays to metric units at the touch of a button. Jump with me to see more examples of "ferin'er" readouts and how to enable this feature.

One section of the GMC Terrain's array of buttons on the center stack controls the Vehicle Info.

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2010 GMC Terrain: Double-paned Side Glass

September 20, 2010

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Here's one reason our 2010 GMC Terrain is rather quiet (70 dB at a 70 mph cruise): Laminated double-pane side glass on the two front doors' windows. This used to be a luxury car-only feature (like in Mercedes-Benz S Classes), but we're happy to see it trickling down to common-man vehicles like this one. Click the photo below for a detail shot.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 15,410 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Easter in September

September 20, 2010

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Do you see it? There's an Easter Egg hidden in the 2010 GMC Terrain's tail lamp. Click on the photo below for a detail.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 15,378 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Collecting an Oil Sample for Analysis

September 19, 2010

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The last time a dealer laid hands on our 2010 GMC Terrain, they put a sticker on the windshield reminding us to come in for our next change at 3,000 miles or 3 months. Wrong!

Modern cars and the modern oils they run don't need such frequent changes. And this very GMC Terrain has a built-in oil life monitor that tells the driver exactly when the next change is due, right on the dash. And the calculation it makes is based on driving style and conditions, not straight time or mileage. Our dealer's scare tactics are nothing more than attempt to get into our wallet.

At the same moment our Terrain's oil was 4,000 miles old -- 1,000 miles past the dealer's "recommendation" -- the Terrain's own on-board oil life monitor was telling us the oil still had 60% of its life left. In other words, a 10,000 mile oil-change interval was going to be cool.

Since then, the Terrain has been on some easygoing road trips. With 5,731 miles on the oil, the oil life monitor now says the oil has 48% of its life left. The projected oil life is up over 11,000 miles because of our recent light-duty use.

But does the oil life monitor really have things all figured out? Will this oil still have what it takes 5,000 miles from now?

I decided to pull a sample and send it to a laboratory for analysis. Blackstone Labs in Fort Wayne, Indiana will do it for between $25 and $35.

The standard $25 test tells you how your engine is doing, based on an analysis of the metal and "insolubles" in the sample. A worthwhile option is the $10 TBN or Total Base Number test. This is the test that measures properties related to oil life.

It's clear that we have time on our side. Before we change our Terrain's oil, we're going to send a sample in for a TBN test. Here's how we pulled the sample you see above.

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2010 GMC Terrain: CHALLENGE!

September 18, 2010

2010 GMC Terrain Max Trip.jpg

Yep, that's a blurry 428.9 miles on one tank of juice. And yes, the needle is below the E. Our 2010 GMC Terrain has an 18.8 gallon tank and this trip barely took 18 gallons. Unfortunately, I wasn't going for MPG and going +- the 75 mph speed limit with A/C crankin', barely cracked 24 mpg on this mostly highway trek.

Still 428.9 is almost 60 miles further than anyone else has gone in our Terrain. So, to any staffers (or IL readers who are Terrain owners)...beat that!

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 15,127.

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2010 GMC Terrain: 15,000 Mile Milestone!

September 17, 2010

Wait for it....

....Wait for it!

There ya go. 15,000 miles in our 2010 GMC Terrain which we've only had in the fleet since the beginning of February.

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2010 GMC Terrain: 32 MPG or Bust

September 16, 2010

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32 MPG Highway. That's what the EPA says you can manage with the 2010 GMC Terrain. We've never gotten close. Not in our normal tours of duty. Not in the Fuel Sipper Smackdown. Not ever.

I had to drive to San Francisco anyway, and I was out earlier than expected, so why not. I knew of a gas station less than 500 feet from the freeway. I'd fill up, get on the highway as gently as possible, turn off the A/C (it was only 93), set the cruise to 65 (the speed limit was 75) and do that for as long as I could stand and a distance that would net a reasonable reading.

I made it 236.8 miles before I decided I was to hot and too tired to keep going 10 under.

The trip computer, as you can see, read 33.0 mpg. Average speed was 65.5 mph (I wasn't going to waste any momentum I got going downhill keeping it at only 65 if gravity was doing the work.)

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2010 GMC Terrain: Would I Recommend It to a Friend?

September 10, 2010

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So a friend of mine called yesterday looking for some car buying advice. The GMC Terrain was on her list, so I decided to drive our long-termer home and reacquaint myself with its various up and downs.

Can't say there's much in the interior that's objectionable. Seats are comfortable, gauges are fine and most of the controls are within easy reach. The center stack is on the busy side, but it doesn't take long to figure out the basic functions.

After a short freeway run, I remembered what I don't like about the Terrain. It's the drivetrain, specifically the four cylinder engine which is not very impressive. Sure, most four-cylinders rarely are, but the Terrain's feels particularly labored when pushed hard. Maybe it needs to be coupled with some shorter gears or better transmission programming. Either way, it's not all that refined as it is and it detracts from the overall experience.

So, did I still recommend it? Yeah, I told her to take a drive and see what she thinks anyway. I'll be interested to see if she mentions anything about how the engine feels. Something tell me she'll say it felt just fine.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com @ 14,211 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Underwhelming MPG

September 09, 2010

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Our GMC Terrain has the most economical powertrain combination offered. It's got front-wheel drive and the 2.4-liter Ecotec direct-injected 4-cylinder engine. GM often celebrates its 32-mpg EPA Highway fuel economy rating in ads, but the Terrain's much more relevant EPA Combined rating is 26 mpg.

You've seen our monthly fuel economy logs, and recently we've starting comparing our test vehicle's observed average mpg to their EPA Combined rating.

Most of the time we come within 1 mpg of this figure. Our driver rotation and the varied nature of everyone's commute and weekend activities means that, after several thousand miles, things get nicely randomized. No single commute or driving style dominates the average. The exception here is the high-horsepower machines where the temptation to "leg it" is simply too great.

But the GMC Terrain does not fit the pattern. It's a glaring exception and its observed MPG is way off. In our most recent tally, the Terrain's average fuel consumption over 13,000 miles was 20.5 mpg, a full 5.5 mpg (21%) below its EPA Combined rating. It's best-ever tank of 28.7 mpg trails 3.3 mpg (10%) behind the EPA Highway figure.

This weekend, I decided to see if I could explain this. Surely I could do better. I resolved to drive the Terrain on the highway as much as possible -- we'd use our minivan for in-town errands instead. Furthermore, I'd stay in ECO mode, keep to the right traffic lanes, accelerate as if an egg were under my foot, and, whenever possible, use cruise control once we got up to our target speed of 65 mph.

The result? 24.7 mpg over 380.7 miles. The first 150 miles included our trip to Lake Arrowhead, a 24.6 mpg run. The next 230 miles of level freeway worked out to a nearly-identical 24.8 mpg.

Was this pure freeway cruising? Almost. We did go from point-to-point, but the points are at least 50 freeway miles apart. Home to Grandma's. Home to track-day. Home to work. All of it freeway, except for a mile or two at either end.

This was an 85% highway cycle, if not more. EPA Combined assumes only 55% highway. Based on this and my intentionally timid driving routine, I should have had no trouble eclipsing EPA Combined. I should have gotten closer to EPA Highway. I expected high 20's, at least.

Instead, I'm left with the impression that our 20.5 mpg lifetime average really is a reflection of what owners of the 2010 Terrain 2WD 4-cylinder can expect. That's just what it does in real-world mixed driving.

What's the deal? Maybe it's aerodynamics. The Terrain has a blunt nose, and EPA figures come from indoor dyno testing. Maybe it's small-engine syndrome. In the real world, one sometimes needs to overcome a small engine with deeper throttle inputs. Even when you're driving conservatively you have to stay out of the way and match the speed of traffic when you merge. On a fuel economy dyno, traffic is not sweeping around and crawling up your backside.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 14,142 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: A Trip to the Ex-Cabin

September 08, 2010

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My youngest daughter Sarah (11) doesn't really remember her Nana and Poppa's cabin in Lake Arrowhead because it and 90% of the other vacation cottages and homes along Hook Creek burned in a huge conflagration that swept through in 2003.

Our 2010 GMC Terrain is parked where, previously, it would have been in danger of falling pine cones and sap from a 100-foot tall tree, the ruined trunk of which I'm standing on as I shoot this photo. Many others like it used to stand across the street and all around.

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2010 GMC Terrain: Wash Day

August 30, 2010

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We wash our long-term fleet cars every Monday, weather permitting. The GMC Terrain wasn't terribly dirty. I don't have kids so the interior wasn't covered in animal crackers or anything like that but the outside was a little grimy.

If it were my car, I would have let it go longer. But it's not, so I followed our rules.

How often do you wash your car?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @13,333 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: What Day Is It?

August 17, 2010

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Don't rush me. My life is flying by fast enough. I don't need the Terrain telling me it's tomorrow when it's only today. Well, it was last night, anyway.

Somehow, our GMC Terrain got ahead of itself. I fixed the date in about two seconds. Very easy. Get into clock mode and it asked me if I wanted to jump ahead or back a day. Hmm. GMC was prepared for this event?

Well, when the earth's magnetic field reverses itself in 2012 like the Mayans predicted and we all get wiped out with a solar flare, none of this will matter.

Have a nice day,

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: What Do You Want To Know?

July 13, 2010

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We don't feature a car of the week anymore, so I never get the opportunity to ask you what you want to know. So here goes: What do you want to know about the 2010 GMC Terrain?

Have any of you driven one? Let us know what you think. And ask your questions in the comments section.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: The Big Box Store

July 09, 2010

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There's just no sense defending the way the GMC Terrain looks. Or any other crossover utility for that matter. You'll just never get it unless you shop at big box stores.

You know about the big box store. It's the now-common generic name for all the places we shop on the weekends, our 21st century equivalent of the department store. Costco, Kohl's, Home Depot, Lowe's, Meijer, Target. Just as America is all about owning your own home (the thing that has always set us apart from other countries), so the big box store is dedicated to providing the stuff we need for our homes, from grass sod to children's socks.

There's not a lot of romance to the way the Terrain looks. It's just a kind of big box itself, meant for hauling stuff. It is the utility that matters -- the way the seats flip and fold, the size of the hatch opening, the liftover height of the loading floor.

The GMC Terrarin looks about as romantic as a grocery cart. But a grocery cart sure comes in handy when you've got your hands full of a garden hose, a bag of fertilizer, a kitchen mop and a one pound bag of M&M's.

Really there should be big racks all around every city where we could park utility vehicles like grocery carts and just pick one up whenever we need one. Because we all need a grocery cart sooner or later.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 10,128 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Neighborhood Gossip

June 01, 2010

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I took the long holiday weekend to heart. I didn't do much of anything and I loved every minute of it. It wasn't all sunshine and naps, I did have a couple of minor errands to do in between the bbq's and much needed gardening. Our GMC Terrain turned out to be the perfect vehicle for my weekend.

Like any recent home owner, there are few weekends without a Home Depot run. The fold down seats made it handy to pack in the bags of compost. The super comfortable seats and ride of our Terrain made the drive over to Santa Monica for brunch very enjoyable. My lady fell asleep on the way over to the point of snoring. It's only a 15-minute drive, it's that comfortable!

As the new guy on the block, I haven't gotten to know all of my neighbors. A couple down the street was having a glass of wine on their front porch when they noticed my out in the front yard. I saw them make a b-line to me from the corner of my eye. The greetings and "welcome to the neighborhood" conversation was pretty short as they want to know more about the GMC than they did about us. I was more than happy to talk about the Terrain as I was becoming a big fan of it myself. In fact, by the end of the weekend, I met a few neighbors who wanted to more about the Terrain. It turned out the be a great icebreaker!

I have only two real complaints about the Terrain: I feel it's underpowered and I dislike the power lift gate. I can't fault the tail gate on the Terrain specifically, I have a dislike of most powered lift gates. As for the underpowered engine, it just seemed when I hit the gas, it didn't really want to get up and go. It wasn't the gearing, it just didn't have strong acceleration for highway passing or the 'round town driving.

Maybe the next weekend I can get this beauty I can put it through some more paces. Maybe pack it up for some camping? Hmmmm, I'm gonna keep an eye for for it's availability. I really like our Terrain.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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2010 GMC Terrain: Muddy

May 17, 2010

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Every Monday, weather permitting, we wash and gas all of the cars in our long-term fleet.

Well, today it is raining so a fill up was all that was sensible. I noticed yesterday when I went to the market that a lot of muddy dirt collects inside the hatch frame. It seems to get caught under the taillight then drip down on the inside. It's not far enough in to leak into the cargo area, but it looks gross.

Now, I can't wait until the weather clears up so I can give this car a good bath.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 7,566 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Would You Park the Terrain Here?

May 12, 2010

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Before you answer the question in the title of this post, consider that the 2010 GMC Terrain is rated at 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. It also qualifies as a Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) by the EPA's current ratings system.

Please also consider the fact that this sign was installed by egotistical fools that figure that their personal definitions of the relative words "low" and "efficient" are a standard recognized the world over.

Long story short, I went for it. Would you have? By the way, is it bad that I ran into the store and left my father and kids in the truck with the motor running?

Next time I'm going shopping in the Viper.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2010 GMC Terrain: Not Too Cool For School

May 05, 2010

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This morning our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain did the school drop off thing. Not surprisingly it served this purpose well. After all, taking the kids to school is exactly the kind of real-life, day-in and day-out family duty the Terrain is meant for, so please don't ever let it be said that we don't test these long-term vehicles properly. This is valuable stuff.

But what struck me was that I had the only GMC Terrain in the SUV and minivan filled parking lot. And it stood out. Two mom's even asked me about it. Both liked the way it looked. Neither had ever heard of the Terrain before. And one thought GMC was bought by the Chinese recently when GM declared bankruptcy. I corrected that.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2010 GMC Terrain: The Feel Good Button

May 03, 2010

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According the Terrain's owner's manual, pushing the ECO button does the following:

  • Makes the transmission upshift sooner.
  • Makes the throttle less sensitive.
  • Locks the torque converter sooner and unlocks it later.
  • Reduces fuel to the engine during deceleration.
  • Lowers the engine's idle speed.
  • Reduces performance.

But isn't it really there just to make you feel better?

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor @ 6,973 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Push-Button Post-Surf Warmth

April 23, 2010

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It's been an unseasonably cold and wet week in normally sunny and warm So Cal, especially by late-April standards. But surfers know that spring is when the ocean water is coldest due to strong seasonal winds that create upwelling and stir the most frigid water to the surface. So with this week's weather, wave riders like myself dealt with a double triple whammy of cold weather, winds and water.

That's why I was stoked to find that the GMC Terrain has a remote start feature. When I got out of the water, I could press the lock button on the key fob, then the little circular arrow below it and the engine would crank and the heater would kick in where I set it at 80 degrees. So by the time I peeled off my wetsuit -- and was really freezing -- I could hop into a nice and toasty interior.

As a bonus, I could hit the adjacent button on the remote for the power liftgate to more quickly stash my board and get changed. And not to be too picky, but there was one feature that the Terrain lacked that would make it a cold-water surfer's dream.

While you can set the climate control to any temperature before turning off the engine and it defaults to it when you crank it up with the remote start, the seat heaters don't turn back on. Fortunately, the Terrain's seats heat up quickly.

But it would be a bonus when you get out of the water and are freezing your buns off.

Doug "Moon Dog" Newcomb, Senior Editor, Technology, Edmunds.com

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2010 GMC Terrain: Where sedans fear to tread?

April 20, 2010

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Spend some time in our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain and it's unlikely you'll accuse it of putting BMW on notice in the athletic-handling department. Sporty it is not. But for the intended audience the ride is just about right, easily soaking up the rigors of daily errand running, while remaining reasonably plush and not embarrassing itself when the road goes left or right.

On the utility front however, these now more frugal versions of the much loved SUVs are a compelling choice over their sedan cousins. Our four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive (FWD) Terrain may not have the grunt of the V6 or traction adding all-wheel drive, but it still makes a strong argument as the do-everything family truckster.

Like Toepke, the Terrain pulled weekend duty shuttling some Taylor Swift fans downtown, and the sliding rear seat offered plenty of adult/child distance to keep the conversations (where to park/Taylor Swift) distinct. When not in need of extra luggage space, the sliding rear seat heads far enough aft to provide limo-like space. The nav also proved effective, and its crystalline graphics helped us skirt post-concert traffic via a crafty alternate route back to the 10.

Later in the weekend, on a two-man expedition to find some killer mountain bike trailheads, the Terrain crawled its way up some rutted and dusty roads in the Santa Monica mountains. With the rear seats pulled forward and folded flat, two bikes easily slid into the rear cabin. None of the roads we snaked up slowly might have completely skunked a sedan, but with the Terrain's elevated ride height, the small erosional ruts and gigantic potholes were a non-issue. The traction control kept front-wheel spin in check on some tight uphill hairpins, and the hill-hold feature helped lower stress on the sight-seeing stops.

Even without all-wheel-drive or a lusty V6, the Terrain makes a great argument as a functional alternative to solid sedans such as the Malibu. The ride and handling may not be as adept, but the trade-off for utility is pretty compelling. With the Terrain/Equinox, GM is getting quite close to that one-car-does-it-all family-car recipe, and sales have seemed to bear this out. Also, public style opinion on the Terrain seems to be growing. Several random folk took the time to mention what a cool looking truck it was...

Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 5873 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Our Favorite Caption

April 09, 2010

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Thanks to ergsum for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the others that had us rolling:

What happens in Vegas...Gets posted here for the world to see! (technetium99)
Uh oh! Riswick shouldn't have taken that short cut through Weed! (technetium99)
Smokey and the Busted (ergsum)
Sir, what do you know about a missing longterm Ford Edge? (ergsum)
Law & Order: SUV (ergsum)
Yes, I would like to file a missing MPG report (sniperruff)
Looks like we'll need another bailout! (ergsum)
What Meow? (ska10)
Busted by the Venn diagram police (jasond52)
Terrainosaurus wrecks (stpawyfrmdonut)
Horatio: "Looks like someone got beat to death." puts on sunglasses "with the ugly stick." (sherief)
What's black & white and read all of your rights? (ergsum)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: You Write the Caption

April 09, 2010

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Automotive Editor James Riswick sent me this photo of our GMC Terrain getting some grief during the Fuel Sipper Smackdown.

We suggest: Busted by the Ugly Police

What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Day 2 Fuel-Sipper Smackdown Video

April 06, 2010

OK, so the Terrain came in last. But it's important to note than the normal, gasoline-powered vehicle has come in last in the previous fuel-sipper smackdowns: the Ford Focus and the Mini Cooper.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 3,784 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Fuel Tests

April 05, 2010

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Our GMC Terrain long-termer took part in Edmunds.com's third annual Fuel Sipper Smackdown, the SUV Edition.

Other vehicles involved were the Ford Escape Hybrid, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, BMW X5 xDrive35d, and just for yuks, the Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI.

How did our Terrain perform?

Watch Video #1 of the Edmunds crew in action over at the CarPool blog. There will be more video coming later.

Enjoy!

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Better as a Chevy

March 29, 2010

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It's the whole 'Professional Grade' thing that does the Terrain in.

Look at it. GMC tried so hard to make it look like a rugged truck they wound up just making it look like a cartoon car. It's not rugged. It's a cute-ute with an economical four-cylinder engine and a lot of plastic body cladding.

Having recommended the Equinox to a number of people, I can't help but hope GMC ditches the Terrain as sticks to being 'Professional Grade'. The Equinox just looks better inside and out as well as making more sense with regards to its brand. Oh, and don't get me started on the SRX.

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2010 GMC Terrain: The Old Trip Odometer Reset Debate

March 08, 2010

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We've been down this road with GM vehicles before and I still find it troubling every time I have to deal with it. Have a look at the four buttons labeled "vehicle info" in the above photo.

Now tell me how to reset the trip odometer.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Would You Park in a Compact Space?

March 02, 2010

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I dunno. What do you folks think? Does our 2010 GMC Terrain count as a compact car?

One of our editors seemed to think so as evident by this parking job. Personally I wouldn't park it in a compact spot, especially THAT close to a concrete pillar. Eek. But it does have plenty of space on its other side there. Hm.

Yeah, even though the Terrain is a crossover utility vehicle and Mike Magrath, vehicle testing assistant, extolled its compact parking prowess in its long-term intro, it feels huge. But of course, maybe that's simply a matter of getting used to it. Last night was my first time behind its wheel and I just played it safe by parking in spots with no cars on either sides.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Suspension Walkaround

February 26, 2010

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No, our 2010 GMC Terrain does not have a flat tire. The rear wheel is off to facilitate yet another episode of everyone's favorite semi-regular tech feature (work with me, here), the Suspension Walkaround.

*cricket noises interspersed with a smattering of polite golf applause*

Anyway, our new 2010 GMC Terrain is an all-new crossover SUV, which is more or less code for a unibody chassis with front-wheel drive architecture and car-like suspension bits. This exercise is a two-for-one deal because pretty much everything we'll see in the coming photos applies equally to its stablemate, the Chevrolet Equinox.

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2010 GMC Terrain: Yeah ... About That Power Hatch Thingy

February 26, 2010

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Ever get done telling a story about how great something is, only to have it fail horribly at the precise moment you're singing its praises?

Well, the mechanism behind the 2010 GMC Terrain's two-level power hatch feature, the one I went on about only yesterday, has just joined that club.

Above is a close-up of the left-hand strut, the one that does the heavy lifting. Note the oil running down the side and the cocked seal. Add-in the pungent aroma of mineral oil (shock absorber oil to the suspension tuning engineers in the room) and you get the complete picture.

I noticed this when I discovered a trail of something with dirt stuck to it running down from the rear taillight and rear bumper. The amount of the stuff suggests it's been dribbling out for a couple of days, at least.

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2010 GMC Terrain: Video Walkaround

February 24, 2010

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I don't think it's ugly.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Steering Not So Good

February 24, 2010

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Last night was my first drive in our 2010 GMC Terrain. And hate to say it, but my first thought was, "Oh...GM has forgotten how to tune electric-assist power steering again."

Effort just doesn't build up in a natural way as you turn the steering wheel off center... at any speed. And, the whole setup is so isolated from what's happening at the ground, I initially had trouble parking this not-very-big crossover SUV. It's that vague. This, coupled with the delayed response, makes it tricky to be precise with your inputs. I'll get used to the Terrain's steering with time, but that doesn't mean it's a good setup.

Thing is, it had seemed like GM was doing better on this front. Four-cylinder Malibus still have electric steering and it isn't half bad. And the EPS in the turbocharged Chevrolet Cobalt SS is so well tuned, you can't even tell it's electric.

Not sure what happened in the small crossovers, but I'll stick with the normal hydraulic-assist power steering in the V6 models.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 1,862 miles

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2010 GMC Terrain: Open Thread

February 23, 2010

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What do you want to know about the 2010 GMC Terrain?

Have you seen any on the road? Driven one? Been a passenger in one? Want one? Any details you want pictures or video of?

Put your questions and reviews in the comments section.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2010 GMC Terrain: Buying Experience

February 12, 2010

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Edmunds own car buying expert Phil Reed details the steps he took to purchase our new 2010 GMC Terrain. He completed his research in three hours.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2010 GMC Terrain in VA is:

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