Full 2014 GMC Terrain Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 GMC Terrain is unchanged, save for minor equipment updates. There are new wheel options, and the SLE-2 trim's available Chrome package now includes an all-weather cargo mat.
The 2014 GMC Terrain is a slightly-larger-than-compact crossover that shares its design with the Chevrolet Equinox. It seats five people in comfort and offers a relatively high level of luxury for this segment. With high-quality surfaces, flowing lines across the dashboard and a lengthy standard equipment list that includes a 7-inch touchscreen and a rearview camera across the board, the GMC's interior accommodations set it apart from competitors.
The availability of a V6 engine also sets the 2014 Terrain apart from many of its rivals in this price range, although you'll typically encounter the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that's standard on all trim levels. It has solid EPA fuel economy ratings, but in the real world we've been underwhelmed by both its performance and its mpg. If your budget allows, the optional 3.6-liter V6 provides much stronger acceleration and a more enjoyable driving experience, especially on the highway. Both engines are available with either front- or all-wheel drive, so you can tailor the Terrain to suit your specific needs and tastes. However you equip it, the GMC gets high marks for ride comfort, and extensive sound-deadening measures result in a remarkably serene cabin.
As good as the 2014 GMC Terrain is, it faces a wide range of capable competition. The highly regarded Honda CR-V has a lower base price than the Terrain, and it provides several additional cubic feet of cargo space even though its exterior dimensions are smaller. The 2014 Ford Escape has an equally high-end interior and a sportier feel around turns, while the 2014 Kia Sorento offers a bit more interior room and an available V6 of its own, along with an optional third-row seat.
If you shop around, one of the above choices could prove to be more desirable overall. But the 2014 GMC Terrain is definitely worth a look, particularly if you're interested in one with a truly upscale interior and a V6 engine option.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 GMC Terrain is available in SLE, SLT and Denali trim levels. The SLE and SLT trims are further subdivided into two levels: SLE-1 and -2 and SLT-1 and -2.
Standard equipment for the base SLE-1 trim includes 17-inch alloy wheels, heated sideview mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, cruise control, a power height-adjustable driver seat, a sliding and reclining backseat, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, OnStar, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a 7-inch touchscreen interface that includes satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface.
The SLE-2 trim adds to the SLE-1 by including roof rails, automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar adjustment, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded cloth upholstery, an upgraded eight-speaker Pioneer audio system and GM's IntelliLink user interface that allows voice command for some phone and audio functions. Optional on the SLE-2 is the Safety package, which includes lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert systems, along with rear parking sensors, while the Convenience package adds heated front seats and remote engine start. Also available for the SLE-2 is the Chrome package that includes chrome exterior trim, 18-inch chrome-finish wheels and an all-weather rear cargo mat. A sunroof is a stand-alone option.
The more feature-laden SLT-1 comes with all the SLE-2's standard equipment as well as the Convenience package contents and leather upholstery. The Safety package and sunroof remain optional, and you can also opt for a height-adjustable power liftgate.
The SLT-2 comes with all of the above equipment as standard (except the cargo mat) and also includes driver-seat memory functions.
The Denali trim incorporates everything that's standard for the SLT-2, but adds Denali-specific wheels (18-inch wheels on four-cylinder versions and 19s if you get the V6), rear cross-traffic and side blind-zone alert systems, an eight-way power passenger seat and special exterior/interior trim details.
A navigation system is optional for all GMC Terrains, except the SLE-1. A dual-screen DVD rear entertainment system is available for the SLT-2 and Denali.
Powertrains and Performance
The standard engine for every 2014 GMC Terrain is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. Optional for any Terrain except the SLE-1 is a 3.6-liter V6 that churns out a hefty 301 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are backed by a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional, regardless of engine choice or trim level.
The four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive Terrain returns an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. With all-wheel drive, those numbers drop to 20/29/23. The 3.6-liter V6 front-wheel-drive models are rated at 17/24/20, and all-wheel drive stands at 16/23/19.
In Edmunds testing, a front-wheel-drive four-cylinder Terrain went from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds, an average time for the class. A V6-equipped, all-wheel-drive Denali version sprinted from zero to 60 in 7.0 seconds, an impressive time among small and midsize crossovers with a six-cylinder or upgraded turbocharged engine.
With the four-cylinder engine, a properly equipped Terrain can tow 1,500 pounds; the V6 increases towing capacity to 3,500 pounds.
The 2014 GMC Terrain is fitted with standard antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. Also standard is GM's OnStar emergency communications system, which includes automatic crash notification, an emergency assistance button, remote door unlock and stolen vehicle assistance.
A lane departure warning system, forward collision warning system and rear parking sensors are optional on the SLE-2 and SLT-1 trim levels and standard on SLT-2 and Denali. Blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert systems are exclusive to the Terrain Denali.
The Terrain brakes confidently. In Edmunds testing, a four-cylinder Terrain came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet, a few feet shorter than average. The significantly heavier V6 AWD Terrain Denali stopped in 123 feet.
In government crash tests, the Terrain earned an overall score of four stars out of five, with four stars for overall frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Terrain the best possible rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
GMC might still be perceived as a "truck" brand, but the 2014 Terrain's nicely appointed interior is anything but rugged to the eye or the touch. The dashboard is styled in two graceful curves and the gauges and secondary controls are highlighted by soft blue back lighting, while soothing ambient light makes for a truly inviting nighttime environment.
The standard 7-inch color touchscreen display lends a high-tech feel to even the base model Terrain, but the IntelliLink interface (standard starting on the SLE-2 model) is a worthwhile enhancement, as it uses Bluetooth streaming audio to enable integration of smartphone apps such as Pandora and Stitcher. The on-screen menus are well organized, but the system's occasional slow or missed responses to touch inputs can be frustrating.
Particularly noticeable is the attention to sound-deadening in the Terrain. An acoustic windshield and other noise-killing measures -- including an active noise-cancellation system for four-cylinder models -- work wonders in muting tire and wind noise, even during high-speed cruising. The front bucket seats are comfortable, and the standard sliding rear seat allows you to optimize rear-seat legroom or cargo space, depending on your needs.
That said, even considering the Terrain's almost-midsize footprint, it's not entirely efficient with its interior space. With the rear seats folded, the Terrain's 63.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity is noticeably less than that of the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota RAV4. With the rear seats carrying passengers, the Terrain offers 31.6 cubic feet of cargo space.
Although the four-cylinder GMC Terrain matches the acceleration times of other compact crossovers in this price range, it doesn't feel as potent out in the real world. You'll have the gas pedal floored during routine merging and passing maneuvers, and this isn't very relaxing. During a year-long test of a four-cylinder Terrain, our observed fuel economy also came in well below the EPA combined rating. In our view, the fuel-efficiency advantage of the four-cylinder engine is smaller than the EPA ratings suggest.
Meanwhile, the 2014 GMC Terrain's available V6 is downright impressive. It provides strong performance in any situation and delivers its power in a smooth manner that complements the Terrain's high-end design.
Ride quality is excellent on all 2014 Terrains. GMC's compact crossover glides over road imperfections and boasts a hushed cabin at interstate cruising speeds. The Terrain Denali gets special rear shocks to further cushion the ride. Don't expect sporty handling, though, as comfort is the Terrain's primary mission. Likewise, the steering is exceptionally light and not especially precise, even for a crossover SUV.