2012 GMC Terrain SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2012 GMC Terrain SUV

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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 Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 GMC Terrain

  • Just like the similar Chevrolet Equinox, the 2012 GMC Terrain is a top choice for a compact crossover SUV.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Quiet and attractive cabin; sophisticated ride; strong crash test 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 2012

    For 2012, the GMC Terrain gets a standard touchscreen audio interface that can be paired through Bluetooth audio streaming to Internet-based services like Pandora and Stitcher (late availability). Lane departure warning and forward collision alert are also now available as options.

Full 2012 GMC Terrain Review

What's New for 2012

For 2012, the GMC Terrain gets a standard touchscreen audio interface that can be paired through Bluetooth audio streaming to Internet-based services like Pandora and Stitcher (late availability). Lane departure warning and forward collision alert are also now available as options.


While it's rare to hear words like "stylish" and "sophisticated" used to describe a compact crossover, they're a fitting characterization of the 2012 GMC Terrain. Underneath its squared-off bodywork, the Terrain is nearly identical to the Chevrolet Equinox right down to the four-cylinder and V6 engines under the hood. Size-wise, the pair splits the difference between the compact and midsize crossover categories, a fact that makes them more fuel-efficient choices without sacrificing much of the practicality of traditional SUVs.

For 2012 the Terrain gets a few small but significant changes, including E85 flex-fuel capability on its 2.4-liter four-cylinder. More important to most buyers are the high-tech standard feature upgrades in the passenger cabin, including a touchscreen audio interface that also integrates the standard rearview camera display. A new Bluetooth system called Intellilink, which arrives late in the model year, makes it possible to control smartphones with voice commands and stream audio content from online sources such as Pandora and Stitcher radio.

What don't change are things like a refined ride and handsomely styled interior that's also whisper-quiet thanks to the generous use of acoustic insulation and a high-tech noise-canceling system. The cabin also earns high marks for passenger comfort, with nearly as much room as some midsize crossover SUVs like the Ford Edge.

The 2012 GMC Terrain has a lot going for it, but the same can be said for a few of its competitors in the compact crossover segment. Specifically, we'd recommend driving it back-to-back with rivals like the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4, all of which offer more agile handling, better visibility and more cargo capacity. On the other hand, they feel a little less substantial and well-suited to a road trip than the Terrain. Add in its bold, trucklike looks and high level of refinement, and this "little" GMC is well worth considering, especially for those downsizing from a bigger SUV.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 GMC Terrain is a midsize crossover SUV available in SLE and SLT trim levels, each of which is subdivided into two different models.

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

The SLE-2 adds roof rails, automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar adjustment, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded cloth upholstery, Bluetooth and a premium eight-speaker Pioneer audio system. The available Convenience package adds heated front seats and remote ignition.

Move up to the SLT-1 and you get those Convenience package items plus perforated leather upholstery. The SLT-2 takes things a step further with 18-inch chrome-clad wheels, rear parking sensors, a power liftgate (with adjustable maximum height), chrome exterior trim, driver seat memory functions and a sunroof (optional separately on the SLE-2 and SLT-1).

Options vary by trim level and include a 3.0-liter V6, 19-inch chrome-clad wheels, a trailer towing package, a voice-controlled navigation system (with digital music storage) and a dual-screen rear video entertainment system. A lane departure warning and forward collision alert system is also available on SLT-2 models.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2012 GMC Terrain comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. Towing capacity with this powertrain is 1,500 pounds.

In performance testing, a front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder Terrain went from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds -- on the slow end for the class. EPA 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 failed to see such thriftiness from the four-cylinder Terrain -- especially on the highway.

Optional on SLE-2 and SLT models is a 3.0-liter V6 that produces 264 hp and 222 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel-drive and a six-speed automatic transmission are also standard, while all-wheel drive is an option. With this engine, towing capacity jumps to a respectable 3,500 pounds.

In performance testing, a V6-powered all-wheel-drive Terrain 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/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 17/24/20 with all-wheel drive.


The 2012 GMC Terrain comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, a rearview camera and OnStar. 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 good for the segment.

In government crash tests, the Terrain earned an overall score of four stars (out of five), along with four stars in frontal impacts and five stars in side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Terrain its best possible rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

For a brand that touts its hard-working truck roots, GMC designers have done a remarkable job of giving the Terrain a decidedly classy interior. The style is sleek and modern, and that look is complemented by a number of high-tech standard features including the now-standard 7-inch touchscreen audio interface and rearview camera display. Unfortunately the dash's abundance of tightly grouped buttons can be hard to sort out with a quick glance.

The passenger cabin gets high marks in the comfort category, especially in back where the rear seat both slides and reclines. Families with growing kids will appreciate the extra legroom and comfort it provides. There's a trade-off here, though, as cargo room shrinks dramatically when you slide the seat all the way back. Setting that seat in the middle of its track is a good compromise, with enough legroom for kids and a family vacation's worth of stuff. However, the Terrain can't quite match more utilitarian rivals like the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 for maximum space. Fold the GMC's rear seatbacks down and you get 63.7 cubic feet of cargo room, which is decent, but about 9 cubic feet less than you'll find in those rival crossovers.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 GMC Terrain's standard four-cylinder engine should suit most buyers' needs nicely. Even though the real-world fuel economy numbers don't measure up to the official EPA estimates, this is still one of the most fuel-efficient crossover SUVs out there. Just the same, the V6 is probably a wiser choice for drivers who regularly haul around a full load of people, cargo and/or a trailer.

One of the most noticeable qualities of the driving experience is how hushed the cabin is, giving the interior an upscale feel. The ride quality is also quite comfortable, with a substantial feel reminiscent of a bigger SUV, though be aware that bigger wheels make things rougher. Handling is unremarkable and the steering feels a bit numb. In other words, the Terrain is not the most responsive or agile compact crossover but it does manage to feel solid and competent on the road.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Will not buy american again

by on
Vehicle: 2012 GMC Terrain SLE-1 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

So I again trusted the american Manufacture to my demise. I have owned Ford, Chevy, GMC, Honda, Toyota, Nissan and BMW. The only vehicles I have not had problems with are the freaking Japanese vehicles, which really pisses me off. Why can we the American people not make a solid vehicle that can be reliable. Every American Vehicle I have owned did not last 30k miles without some type of issue. My latest Toyota has 112k miles with no issues to date owned for 8 years now. This piece of trash, unreliable Terrain I have had for 11 months been in for 3 Engine Lights. Its gets no where near the gas mileage stated, 23mpg on free way stated 31 ha!

Message board..engine light issues...no solution

by on
Vehicle: 2012 GMC Terrain SLT-1 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

I bought my Terrain in June 2012. The first year was good nothing out of the ordinary with regular maintenance. As the end of the second year approached I started having random engine light, Stabili Trak messages appearing. I am on my 4th service call with the dealership. The last time 2 months ago they kept my vehicle for one week and found nothing they could repair. The first time they diagnosed a carbon build-up which they cleaned for a fee, the second time nothing could be found, the 3rd time nothing and today I could not drive much above 55 mph on the highway. The car was sluggish and seemed to have no pick-up. I felt like it would stall any minute. I did stall eventually. Frustrated!!!

Awd 4 cyl 2014

by on
Vehicle: 2012 GMC Terrain SLE-1 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

When I saw the size of the vehicle with the 4cyl. plus AWD I was skepital about performance Of Couse! First Things, K & N Air Filter, next , Mobil One at 500 Miles, Interior is gorgeous, Performance, 23 City, 27. Hwy. Complaint...Wish it had more ground clearance for snow. Plus...Everything, Nice Mfg. Effort

Don't buy a 2012-2014 terrain

by on
Vehicle: 2012 GMC Terrain SLT-1 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

My 2012 Terrain has 38,000 miles on the odometer and uses 1 qt of oil every 2000 miles. The Dealer that falls within GM's specs????? No wonder they had to be bailed out. I get 21.5 mpg overall with the 4 cyl/auto and that is below the EPA city rating. The navigation had to be replaced plus the transmission needed replacement at 32,000 miles.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

Air bags failed to deploy

by on
Vehicle: 2012 GMC Terrain SLE-1 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

Ran off road, hit a tree... received a concussion as head "bounced" off steering wheel. If bags had deployed, would not have been knocked out via striking head and perhaps I could have avoided massive damage to vehicle and 2 days in hospital.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Terrain problems

by on
Vehicle: 2012 GMC Terrain SLE-1 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

I bought my new terrain in May 2012 after just having it a short time the navigation screen would go very dim and then bright. I took it to dealership more than once, they did not know why or how to fix it after trying several times. I contacted GMC corporate about the problem. It is still not fixed. I stopped taking it to dealership because if they can't fix it why take it in. Now I have another problem. My ck engine light coming on. Took it to dealership, it is a random misfire, they don't know why or how to fix it. It's in there for 2nd time in one wk I now have the gen mgr involved- I refuse to get stuck with a lemon. I have a loaner vehicle

Talk About The 2012 Terrain

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Gas Mileage


  • 22
  • cty
  • 32
  • highway
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Identifix Reliability Ratings

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