2011 GMC Terrain SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2011 GMC Terrain SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
GMC Terrain Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 182 hp @ 6700 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 22/32 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2011 GMC Terrain

  • Just like the similar Chevrolet Equinox, the 2011 GMC Terrain is a top choice for a compact crossover SUV

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Quiet and attractive cabin; sophisticated ride; top-notch safety scores; roomy backseat; plenty of standard and optional features; good fuel economy.

  • Cons

    Cargo space could be more generous; compromised visibility; numb steering.

  • What's New for 2011

    For 2011, the GMC Terrain is unchanged other than improved voice recognition technology for OnStar.

Full 2011 GMC Terrain Review

What's New for 2011

For 2011, the GMC Terrain is unchanged other than improved voice recognition technology for OnStar.


Compact crossovers have quickly become the go-to choice for a family-friendly sport-utility that's cheaper, more fuel-efficient and better suited to tighter urban confines than bigger SUVs. At the same time, these crossovers have also tended to be a little noisier, less refined and not as appealing for long-distance family road trips. The 2011 GMC Terrain, on the other hand, is a small crossover SUV that manages to feel grown up and refined at the same time.

Like the Chevy Equinox with which it shares everything except exterior styling, the GMC Terrain finds the middle ground between compact and midsize crossover SUVs. While it offers nearly as much interior space as a midsize Ford Edge, its lighter weight means it can make do with its standard four-cylinder engine. We've discovered the Terrain is not quite as fuel-efficient with this engine as its segment-leading EPA estimates would indicate, but compared to the 2011 Ford Explorer and 2011 GMC Yukon, the four-cylinder Terrain is bound to save you some money. There's also a moderately powered V6 option for those who need a bit more grunt for carrying around growing children and their gear.

The Terrain's grown-up feel isn't just literal, however. Its designers went out of their way to make the cabin visually interesting in a segment where stark utility has generally reigned supreme. An abundance of acoustic insulation and an innovative noise-canceling system (yep, like those fancy Bose headphones) make the cabin noticeably quieter than its competitors, while the Terrain's ride and seating is comfortable and more indicative of a bigger SUV.

Overall, we're quite fond of the 2011 GMC Terrain, though you'll want to take a look at other top models as well. The 2011 Honda CR-V and 2011 Toyota RAV4 are more agile and offer better cargo capacity, plus the small sport-utes afford better visibility from the driver seat than the somewhat claustrophobic Terrain. The 2011 Kia Sorento can't match the Terrain's roomy backseat, but it does offer better value and a sportier drive. Each one of these models is a great pick, but the GMC Terrain stands tall, especially if you're stepping down from a bigger, more grown-up SUV.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 GMC Terrain is a midsize crossover SUV available in SLE 1, SLE 2, SLT 1 and SLT 2 trim levels.

Standard equipment on the SLE 1 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, tinted windows, heated mirrors, cruise control, a backseat with sliding and reclining features, six-way adjustable driver seat, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera, OnStar and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack, iPod/USB interface and satellite radio.

The SLE 2 adds roof rails, automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded cloth upholstery, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker Pioneer sound system. The Convenience package adds heated front seats and remote engine start.

The SLT 1 adds the Convenience package items plus 18-inch wheels and leather upholstery. The SLT 2 gets rear parking sensors, a power tailgate (with adjustable maximum height), chrome exterior trim, driver memory functions and a sunroof.

Some of the upper trim's extra features are available as options on the lower trims. Depending on trim, you can also select 19-inch chrome-clad wheels, a voice-controlled navigation system (with digital music storage) and a dual-screen rear entertainment system.

Powertrains and Performance

Every GMC Terrain comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder producing 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. The Terrain also comes standard with front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is optional across the board.

In performance testing, a front-drive, four-cylinder Terrain went from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds -- on the slow end for the class. Estimated fuel economy stands at 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 20/29/23 mpg with all-wheel drive. These numbers are impressive, but after extensive testing, we have failed to see such thriftiness from the four-cylinder Terrain -- especially on the highway.

Optional for the GMC Terrain SLE 2 and SLT 1 is a 3.0-liter V6 that produces 264 hp and 222 lb-ft of torque. In performance testing, an all-wheel-drive Terrain with this engine went from a standstill to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, which is also on the slow side. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg city/25mpg highway and 20 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 17/24/20 with all-wheel drive.


Every 2011 GMC Terrain comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, a rearview camera and OnStar. Rear parking sensors are optional. In Edmunds brake testing, a four-cylinder Terrain came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet. A heavier V6 model did the same task in 127 feet. Both results are about average for the segment.

In government crash tests, the Terrain's Chevy Equinox twin received a perfect five stars in all front and side crash categories. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also gave the Equinox and Terrain the best possible rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The GMC Terrain's cabin is remarkably stylish, particularly by the standards of this typically utilitarian segment. The slick-looking dashboard design is quite modern and the Terrain's high-tech navigation and entertainment options only heighten its appeal. However, many of the buttons are flush-mounted and tightly grouped, meaning they can be difficult to decipher at a glance.

In terms of accommodations, the Terrain (and its Equinox sibling) boasts the most welcoming backseat in the class thanks to a rear bench that both reclines and slides. This makes it perfect for the legs of big kids and the car seats of little kids. Unfortunately, when the backseat is in its most rearward position, cargo capacity shrinks to among the least in the class. Rob the kids of some legroom, though, and you should be able to fit in all their stuff despite a rather narrow compartment. Maximum cargo capacity stands at 63.7 cubic feet, which is about 6 cubes shy of the more utilitarian Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

Driving Impressions

The Terrain's base four-cylinder engine should provide enough acceleration for most buyers, as compact SUVs are hardly known for thrilling performance. Its fuel economy isn't quite as stellar as its EPA numbers would suggest, but the Terrain remains one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs on the road. If you frequently haul around a lot of people or cargo, the optional V6 should provide the needed grunt.

On the move, the 2011 GMC Terrain is impressively quiet and boasts a comfortable ride indicative of a much bigger, more expensive SUV. However, we'd suggest sticking with the 17- or 18-inch wheels, as the larger 19s noticeably degrade the ride quality. The Terrain's capabilities when it comes to handing won't have you thinking sports car but certainly will make you think of a car, and despite the numb steering, the vehicle's overall competence will please most drivers.

Read our GMC Terrain Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Save a life and stay

by on
Vehicle: 2011 GMC Terrain SLT-2 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

Must be one of the most dangerous cars on the road. It WILL stall and leave you stranded on highway, intersection, or a parking lot. And you won't be able to get it restarted. It mysteriously loses oil and will require expensive repairs to get it started again with no guarantee the stalling will stop. You get no warning. GMC won't acknowledge the problem even though service departments have the replace parts packaged and ready as though they know the engine should be recalled. Will be donating the car to the local fire department to do car burning training rather than reselling. I couldn't sleep knowing I sold the car to someone who could die in it.

Great interior exterior not so

by on
Vehicle: 2011 GMC Terrain SLE-1 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

i have to say i love the design of the terrain inside and out and how it drives and rides but performance could be improved a bit the transmission is sluggish but is good just not geared very good for getting on the interstate the 2.4 is little small for the terrain being a bigger suv

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

Gm terrain-worst car in history

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Vehicle: 2011 GMC Terrain SLT-2 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

We are desperate not to die...Our 2011 GM Terrain is stalling again. After being stranded in a snow storm last winter when the time belt went on a relatively new car with only 50K miles on it, the car has been stalling and shutting down on us while driving, engine light going on. It's a LIFE RISK and no one is minding the shop. We have taken the car numerous times to Varney GMC in Bangor and there is no real help. We are fully aware of the conspiracy after the collapse and cutting corners but this is outrageous. We are told "nothing is wrong with the car"-REALLY? The engine light is always on, and yet no one takes it seriously!!! Please help us not to die!!! No one there bothered to us about

Fool me once, shame on

by on
Vehicle: 2011 GMC Terrain SLT-1 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

Just bought a pre-owed certified 2011 Terrain SLT-1 (AWD 4cyl) for teeanage son. He's big and tall and needs the room. I own a Lexus SUV 6 cyl. I decided to go American for him, because I didn't want to pay over 20K for a newer pre-owned foreign SUV that has less interior space. We shortlisted the Terrain, because of the fuel rating 20 city/ 29 Hwy, interior space, and youthful appearance inside and out. We got everything but not the gas mileage. We are getting 20 mpg city and hwy which is much less than my Lexus and Escalade! I attribute this to poor design e.g. 4 cyl trying to propel a boxy crossover with lots of drag. How long has GMC been making automobiles again?

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

Gmc terrain - problem child

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Vehicle: 2011 GMC Terrain SLE-1 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

I bought a gmc Terrain in 2011 and I thought it was going to be the best car I have ever purchased. Needless to says, I was wrong. This is the worst car I have ever purchased. I have had it for 3 years and it has done nothing but given me problems. I have taken this car to the shop at least 20 times in the last 3 years; and the dealers (Jim Hudson and Love Gmc) kept lying to me about the root cause of my problems. Honestly, they could not fix it. There is a major problem with the car randomly shutting off; and it only happens on the v4 model. Gmc needs to be taken to court; I will never buy another gmc again. I recommend you stay away!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

The v6 is the way

by on
Vehicle: 2011 GMC Terrain SLE-2 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

The Terrain I own has a V6, not the I-4. (Not sure why Edmunds doesn't list that as an option) I bought this car used with 60k miles on it because I got a good deal on it and wanted a car with AWD. I recently took my car from Indianapolis to Destine Florida and have realized some good and bad things. The engine is beautiful. Peddle down and the power comes out. Aceleration in 2nd gear while merging is lusty, and passing power is plentiful. That being said, the car still feels heavy and any less power would not be adequate. The steering wheel is comfortable, the audio system is plenty loud and the power seats hold my big American butt pretty well. All in all, I would buy it again.

Talk About The 2011 Terrain

2011 GMC Terrain Discussions See all Started By

I have NEVER been so frustrated with a vehicle. My 2011 has less than 7000 miles (all my own as I've had it over 3 years and purchased it new) and it continues to give me trouble. I just got it out ?...

I own a 2011 Chevy traverse and love it! Well some jack wagon hit me and it's in the shop so they gave me a brand new (21miles) 2014 gmc terrain from enterprise car rental. Well I was at work which is...

Looking for a new Terrain, I received the following update from GMC chat online about the differences between 2011 and 2012....

Read more about the 2011 GMC Terrain

Gas Mileage


  • 22
  • cty
  • 32
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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