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2010 GMC Terrain: What's It Like to Live With?

Read the latest updates in our long-term road test of the 2010 GMC Terrain as our editors live with this car for a year.

GMC Terrain 2010

What do you want to know about?


"It's not going to fit; it's too big." That's what she said.

Nuzzled between a Scion tC and a VW New Beetle Convertible, we walk away after the all-too-familiar chore of parking a utility vehicle in a compact space. Except this time we're smiling instead of cursing.

Not only did this 2010 GMC Terrain, our newest long-term test vehicle, fit into the diminutive space, but in an odd twist of luck, we managed to park our small crossover between two compact cars that manage worse fuel economy than the spacious Terrain.

And that's sort of the point. Not content with another soft, rounded CUV, GMC — the Professional Grade division of GM — has built a CUV with hulking fender flares and a chunky face to stare down the cute-utes from Japan and Korea.

What We Bought
Our 2010 GMC Terrain wears what GMC unromantically describes as the SLT-2 package (well, when you're Professional Grade, probably numerical codes are appropriate). This includes single-zone automatic climate control; Bluetooth cell-phone connection; chrome door handles; programmable powered rear liftgate; memory seats and side mirrors; rear parking assist with sonar and a camera; remote start and an eight-way power leather driver seat.

The only option we put on our Terrain is the Audio and Navigation package, which cost $2,145. Our thinking here is threefold: 1) vehicles with navigation were easy to find on the dealer's lot, which made it a snap to get a negotiated price; 2) vehicles in our fleet that are equipped with navigation systems get driven more miles than vehicles without; 3) getting the nav system allows us to review more features of the vehicle. And, really, a Terrain without navigation wouldn't be significantly different from this one.

This 2010 GMC Terrain sports a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-4 with direct injection and variable valve timing, and this front-wheel-drive example (all-wheel drive is a $1,500 option) carries a six-speed automatic transmission. The MSRP came to $32,440, but if you've read any other long-term introductions before, you're already aware that we didn't pay the MSRP (it's a point of professional pride).

Remember that 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 that we just bought for our long-term fleet? While it was sold before GM stuck a stamp-size GM badge on every car it builds, it still counts as a win for The General and such a purchase got us a $1,000 customer-loyalty discount. So that little coupon brought down the price of our Terrain SLT-2 to $31,133.52 before tax, title and license ($33,683.16 out the door and ready to drive).

We tried to get them to knock off another grand because we have a 2010 Chevy Camaro SS in our garage, but no luck.

Why We Bought It
GMC's newest crossover is built upon the Opel-engineered platform that also lies beneath the Cadillac SRX and Chevrolet Equinox, so underneath the burly bodywork is the technology of GM's latest thinking for utility vehicles. It's the modern crossover, not just compact but also reasonably fuel-efficient. With a four-cylinder engine under the hood, this vehicle practically screams fuel economy, and its EPA-rated 32 mpg on the highway will make it a choice for people seeking utility-style spaciousness and practicality matched with compact-car thriftiness.

In addition, the 2010 GMC Terrain is a substantial leap forward in design, build quality and feature content for GM. At first blush, it is a serious offering that will compete with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the standard-bearers of the compact crossover segment.

Once we tested a fully optioned example of a 2010 GMC Terrain SLT AWD, we felt this vehicle's $36,885 price tag (a consequence of its V6 engine and all-wheel-drive system) pushed it far outside of the market segment in which it was supposed to compete, yet we were prepared to acknowledge that the Terrain represents "a solid pick in the five-passenger SUV mix due to its long features list and stylishly functional cabin."

But apart from what we think, you apparently think it's pretty fantastic. The 2010 GMC Terrain was one of Edmunds' most researched vehicles at the tail end of 2009.

The Fuel Economy Future
Here's the deal: 32 mpg from a crossover that looks like a Tonka truck. There's something we like about that and yet also something that rubs us the wrong way. Certainly compromises have been made in the power and transmission calibration for our front-wheel-drive Terrain with its four-cylinder engine, but over the course of 20,000 miles while hauling kids, going on road trips and commuting to work, we wonder if the mpg, cruising range and overall refinement will make us forget the weighty burden for the engine and the uncommunicative electric steering.

We'll find out soon enough. Follow along with the long-term road test blog as a year with the 2010 GMC Terrain begins now.

Current Odometer: 719
Best Fuel Economy: 22.1 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 17.2 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 19.7 mpg

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Good Stuff, but What's With the Cargo Area?

February 08, 2010

Let's start this off on the right foot: I like our 2010 GMC Terrain. I like its easy-to-use navigation/audio interface. I like its overall interior styling. I like its suspension tuning, and despite the fact that this four-cylinder model isn't all that powerful, I find the power it does have to be adequate. And I like that and the efficiency that comes with it.

So I was surprised to see that its rear seats don't fold flat.

Fold-flat rear seats have become an axiom among many of the Terrain's competitors as they greatly increase the utility of the cargo area. Not a huge deal, but a feature you'll miss when you don't have it.

On the up side, this is what a small-items tray looks like when it's done right. Even I can't find a way to dump my small items on the floor from this massive bin.

Go, home team.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor @ about 1,100 miles.

Yea or Nay?

February 10, 2010

Brushed aluminum and chrome-ish trim pieces highlight the black interior of our 2010 GMC Terrain. The outline of the center console mimics the lines of the steering wheel.

Do you like the design? Yea or Nay?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Buying Experience

February 12, 2010

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

Also Consider
Build Your 2024 Terrain SLE
At a Glance:
  • 6 Colors
  • 4 Trims
  • 6 Packages
  • $29,900starting MSRP
Build & Price
*The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees, and optional equipment. Dealer sets final price. Click here to see all GMC vehicles’ destination freight charges.

What's Happening, Hot Stuff?

February 19, 2010

You know how important seat heaters are in my life.

When I saw this button in the 2010 GMC Terrain, I thought "Wow, those look like they're going to get really hot." Just look at all those wavy lines representing heat.

But they were just normal. Adequate, nothing to boast about, but not too timid either. I like when seat heaters work all the way up the back. Don't you? Very soothing.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Getting To Know You

February 21, 2010

We're looking forward to spending time with our 2010 GMC Terrain.

Our particular model includes lots of nice features: heated leather seats, navigation, XM radio, a rear backup camera, bluetooth, etc.

Let's get to know our brand new GMC Terrain as car of the week.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Get the V6

February 22, 2010

I just spent the weekend in our new long-term 2010 GMC Terrain. And I have just one thing to say: If you're going to buy one of these things GET THE V6!!!!!!!!! This SUV is sssssllllllllllooooooooooooowwwwwwwwww.

Yeah, I know it costs more. And I know you won't get that 32 mpg on the highway that GM is so proud of. But at least you'll have a vehicle that can get the heck out of its own way.

We haven't track tested our Terrain yet (probably next week), but we have tested a Chevy Equinox with the same 182 hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder we have in our GMC. It ran from 0-60 mph in 9.3 seconds and covered the quarter mile in a dismal 16.9 seconds at just 82 mph.

In the real world this means (at least for me) that the Terrain's gas pedal is laying on the carpet much of the time. It also means that real world obstacles like hills and slow pokes in the left lane force you to wring the Ecotec's neck in order to make the climb or the pass. See that hole in traffic? Forget it. By the time you wind this thing up it is closed.

We've also tested a Terrain with the optional 3.0-liter V6 rated at 264 hp. It's still no rocket ship, but it's quick enough to keep you from pulling your hair out. Zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds and it covers the quarter mile in 16.3 seconds at 86.5 mph.

For some, the Terrain's little four-banger might be enough, but those folks are members of the A to B Club. If you like to drive, trust me, you'll wish you got the V6.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 1,777 miles

Leave the Kid, Take the Ladder

February 22, 2010

I thought it was going to fit. That's my six-foot ladder in the back of our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain. I thought I'd be able to fold down the 40 of the truck's 60/40 split fold-down rear seat and take it and my kid (who would be seated in the 60) to grandpa's house.

Nope. Tailgate wouldn't close.

Oh, eventually I got the ladder to fit. I just had to leave the kid at home. Check the photo on the next page to see what I mean.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Very Comfortable Little Truck

February 23, 2010

This one is for 1487.

Yesterday I was a little hard on our Terrain, first calling it underpowered and then the whole ladder incident. But now I have something nice to say about the GMC: It is very comfortable.

On Sunday it hauled my family (wife, kids and dog) out to La Quinta and back for a little time with the grandparents. That's a 300 mile round trip.

Sure, I had the Terrain by the scruff of the neck the entire time trying to keep up with traffic and climb some of the steeper grades, but I was comfortable. And so was my family. And my dog.

The Terrain's seats are very well shaped and its people space is abundant. It's also quiet on the inside, it feels solid, rides well and it handled the Couchella Valley's 50 mph crosswinds easily. No drama at all.

In fact, its high speed stability might be its best dynamic feature. I like vehicles that feel locked down and the Terrain takes a nice set on the road.

Good familymobile.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Open Thread

February 23, 2010

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

Steering Not So Good

February 24, 2010

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

Video Walkaround

February 24, 2010

I don't think it's ugly.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

The Old Two-Level Power Hatch Trick

February 25, 2010

If Maxwell Smart had driven a 2010 GMC Terrain instead of a Sunbeam Tiger, he might have appreciated this. An adjustable power hatch control sits just over my head where the sunroof controls reside. With it, I can pre-determine how far the hatch will open whenever and however it's triggered.

It may not be as cool as a shoe phone or the Cone of Silence, but this is a pretty nifty feature around the Edmunds household because I'm 6-foot 2-inches tall and my wife stands at 5-foot 4-inches.

Here's a video demo that shows what I mean.

The "Max" setting is tailor-made for someone like me. I can stand under the open hatch and root around with the luggage without scraping my scalp. But my wife needs to stand on tippy-toes to reach the closure button or the grab handle. In the video she's wearing heels and it's still a stretch.

No problemo. The "3/4" setting is tailor-made for someone like her because the hatch stops about 6 inches short of the "max" setting. That's more than enough to clear her cranium yet, at the same time, both the grab handle and power-closure button remain within easy reach.

In "max" mode, this button is about 6-foot 7-inches above the pavement. In "3/4" mode, that drops to around 6-foot 1-inch above the ground.

Incidentally, the power closing mechanism itself is built into the left-hand strut so there's no external linkage or motor assembly to eat into interior room or take a corner off rear window visibility. It's a very unobtrusive design.

My only gripe with the power hatch feature has to do with to noise. The clunk of the hatch's power unlock solenoid resonates so loudly within the hatch that at first I thought the kid across the street had kicked his soccer ball into the back of the Terrain. The recorded sound on the video doesn't really do it justice.

Dan Edmunds @ 1,939 miles

Suspension Walkaround

February 26, 2010

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.

The basic layout found up front is standard front-drive stuff. A coil-over MacPherson strut (yellow) is paired with a one-piece, L-shaped lower control arm (white).

Here's another view of the L-shaped lower control arm (white) and it's single, riveted-on ball joint (yellow). The main knuckle (aka hub carrier or upright) is a nice-looking piece of aluminum. If you're trying to keep the price down and you want to get the most bang for your unsprung weight buck, an aluminum knuckle is a good choice.

This close-up shows behind-the-axle mounting of the steering (yellow) that almost all front-drive layouts must use because of the position of the transverse-mounted engine and transmission. A slender aluminum stabilizer bar link (white) connects directly to the strut housing for a motion ratio that's more or less 1-to-1.

The rearmost lower control arm pivot bushing (yellow) is the one that takes up the brunt of the longitudinal tire impact forces. The L-shape of the arm redirects fore-aft shocks and turns them through 90 degrees to produce left-right motion in this bushing. The large-diameter aluminum housing seen here indicates that GM is serious about taking the bite out of potholes.

Here's a close-up of the steering rack (white) and the stabilizer bar (yellow) and their cross-car routing between the firewall and the engine.

Front braking duties are handled by single-piston floating calipers and ventilated rotors. The circled label indicates these were made by Mando, a South-Korean parts maker that works closely, but not exclusively, with Hyundai. They've had US plants staffed by US workers for a few years.

GM knows motorsports, of course, and I keep seeing these elongated racing-inspired wheel studs on their recent products. I like them because it's much easier to start the wheel nuts without fear of cross-threading.

As you can clearly see, the wheels that bolt up to those studs are 18x7-inch aluminum alloy castings with a 46 mm offset. The tires on our Terrain are P235/55R18 (99T) Michelin Latitude Tour all-season rubber. Mounted together, each assembly weighs about 51.5 pounds.

At the rear we find a multilink suspension with a trailing arm (green) and three lateral links. If this were a Ford, I'd be tempted to call it Control Blade rear suspension. But it's not, so I won't. Besides, the trailing arm is indented and has rolled edges, so it isn't really as flexible as Ford's control blade. It's also differs in that the trailing arm bolts to an aluminum knuckle (yellow) rather than having the whole thing be one piece.

The main lateral link (green) carries the spring and shock absorber, and the shorter toe-link (yellow) defines the amount of dynamic toe-in (or bump steer) that is generated as the tire moves up and down. The upper camber link (white) holds the wheel at the desired camber angle. And of course we get another look at the trailing arm (orange).

Once more, from below: main lateral link (green); toe-link (yellow); camber link (white); and trailing arm (orange). The camber link has an eccentric built into its inner pivot for camber adjustment.

Here's my standard motion ratio shot. The stabilizer bar looks to be about 0.35:1, the spring is a hare over 0.5:1 and the shock looks to be set at 0.85:1-ish. I reserve the right to make no comments at all about that, er, bump stop and its location within the coil spring.

Let's try to move on, shall we? The stabilizer bar's small motion ratio means the diameter of the bar itself (yellow) needs to be larger to generate the required amount of roll resistance. It bends down at the end in an unconventional (but effective) way in order to keep the length of the unique reinforced plastic link (white) to a workable minimum.

Although the pieces are smaller, the rear brakes are similar to those in front: single-piston sliding calipers (made by Mando) squeeze ventilated rotors. The deep rotor profile indicates that a drum parking brake resides within the rotor's "hat" section.

The gaping hole in the rear hubs (white) indicates that our Terrain is strictly a front-wheel drive machine. The splines within indicate that this part is nevertheless shared between FWD and AWD versions of this vehicle. Home DIY mechanics will like these rear rotors because the minimum thickness at which they become boat-anchors is cast right onto them. No need for a shop manual to look that one up. And in so doing GM reveals that they're in fact a metric company on the engineering side (no surprise, really). No inches are found here.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 1,993 miles

Yeah ... About That Power Hatch Thingy

February 26, 2010

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.

This oil track runs from here down to the step built into the rear bumper. Another emerges from the body opening at the lower edge of the left-hand taillight.


By the time you read this our Terrain will be in the service line at our local GMC dealer, awaiting a diagnosis. As new as the 2010 Terrain is, I highly doubt a replacement part will be sitting on the shelf. We'll soon see.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 1,993 miles

Would You Park in a Compact Space?

March 02, 2010

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

The Old Trip Odometer Reset Debate

March 08, 2010

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

I Like It

March 15, 2010

Our GMC Terrain is a pleasant little vehicle. It has a comfortable interior and nice entertainment features. The sturdy leather seats are supportive and not slippery. The driving position suits me just fine and the seat heater button is within easy reach.

Our 4-cylinder Terrain is not super speedy, but it has enough for running around town doing errands. It holds plenty of stuff and the two-level power hatch is convenient and easy to close for shorties like me.

I like it.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor


March 22, 2010

This is, from my eye-level give or take, the only thing you'll see if you're driving the 2010 GMC Terrain towards the sun, under the sun, or underneath a streetlamp. (And once from a full moon!) It's blinding and infuriating. Especially from a vehicle that I'm otherwise so impressed by.

Impressed by:
Excellent ride — soft and quiet but not so much so that you forget you're driving.

Great seats — I put about 1,000 miles on our Terrain over just a few days and I feel great. Heated, supportive and yet kinda squishy. I'm sold.

More than enough space for me and everything I need in a highly parkable package. Lots of cubbies and nooks, plus that automatic power tailgate. Win.

Good electric steering. If anyone tells you different, tell them to drive the Highlander Hybrid and then say the GMC Terrain's electric steering is bad. It's not GOOD steering, but it's good electric steering. Perfect for normal people.

Follow the jump to see why, despite how much I like driving this thing, I just couldn't buy one.

1) iPod interface: It's just not good enough. I'm glad they offer it, but it's not as seamless to use as some others (Honda, BMW, Sync).

2) Navigation:
a) The voice operation is spotty. Sometimes it will let me double-click the "listening" button to skip through the "how i work" prompts, sometimes it doesn't, but that wouldn't be a problem if...
b) Can't program the nav while moving. Sorry, but I'm not paying extra — EVER — for something that won't let me or my passenger enter in addresses while moving. A simple Garmin will. So will the nav systems from VW, Honda and Mercedes. (Toyota barely lets you change the radio station while moving...they don't exist in my mind.)

3) Buttons: People say that the new Hondas are over-buttoned. They haven't seen this thing. Small, red buttons which are all the same size and shape litter the dash. They're not organized well and they're not made for adult male hands. "The fingers you have used to dial are too fat..." And the ones on the wheel? Worse. Zero feel and too easy to depress instead of click forward. No idea when you've changed the song or when you've increased the cruise control. I don't know who GM has doing their buttonry lately — this and the Camaro — but it's nonsense and needs to stop.

4) The aforementioned chrome interior bits: I don't want to be blinded while driving. That's a pretty simple request.

I know these sound trivial, but the small CUV market is filled with very good offerings and I'm happy to say that the GMC Terrain is one of them — just not for me. Not everyone will have the same issues with the buttons and nav as I do and that's okay. Some will, however, and they'll look elsewhere.

Would I recommend it? Highly. But drive it first.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assitant @ 4,037 miles

Huge Center Console Not Really That Useful

March 23, 2010

I'm not sure if I really like the Terrain's gigantic center console or not.

I mean, on one hand, if I needed to stow away something large, like say, a side of beef, it would fit quite easily in this handy compartment.

On the other hand, if I had a bunch of small stuff to organize, putting it inside this console would feel like throwing it all down a manhole, it's that deep.

There is a small bin that snaps into the top of this compartment, but it sort of defeats the whole purpose of having so much space to work with. The engineers did a great job of carving out the space, but they didn't do so well when it came time to designing a console that would make the best use of it.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, @ 4,076 miles

Better as a Chevy

March 29, 2010

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.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 4,251 miles


April 01, 2010

I think my iPod and our 2010 GMC Terrain have formed an exclusive bond. I always thought my iPod was an open kind of guy, free-wheeling, fast-and-loose with the USB connections, never tied down, never settling. A confirmed bachelor. Though now I think I might have misjudged him.

Here's what happened: I'm in a BMW and I've got my iPod hooked up through the USB and everything's great. Then I hop into a Ford, SYNC it up and still, we're golden. Then I'm all up in a Honda and we're, again, good. Then I'm in the GMC Terrain and, again, listening just fine.

And then I go to a different BMW. the iPod's dead. I can't scroll through music, I can't access the main screen, the only option I have is random, and then there are only five (5) songs. I take it back home and try connecting to my computer, and two iPod docks — nothin'. I'm sure, at this point, I need a new one. I try it in two more BMWs, two Fords and a mystery vehicle! All for naught.

But then, last night, I heaved out the iPod again and plugged it into the Terrain expecting to hear my new five favorite songs only to see that EVERY SONG IS AVAILABLE! IT'S ALIVE! I unplugged it and plugged it back in with no ill-effects — all music all the time, baby!

So I scroll through the menu and eject the iPod — most systems don't have this — hoping I maybe rushed the extraction last time, and rushed over to another iPod compatible car.

5 songs.

I'm stumped. Thoughts? Suggestions beyond; "don't buy an iPod," "Buy a new iPod," "Drive to MA and get them married."

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

Fuel Tests

April 05, 2010

Our GMC Terrain long-termer took part in'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.


Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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

You Write the Caption

April 09, 2010

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

Our Favorite Caption

April 09, 2010

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

Interesting Interior Design

April 16, 2010

Yes, interesting. Not great, not terrible, just a little bit better than average.

Looking at this door panel on the Terrain it's clear that some actual thought went into its design. Seems pretty basic, but there have been countless GM-built cars over the years with generic interior details that gave the impression that there was simply no money left to do anything worthwhile.

It's really nothing more than red stitching, a matching bin insert and an illuminated door handle with silver trim, but again, it's something.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, @ 4,510 miles

Where sedans fear to tread?

April 20, 2010

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

Going Back in Time on the Radio

April 21, 2010

The radio in our long-term Terrain comes with a TiVo-like time-shift feature that you lets you rewind up to 20 minutes of a live broadcast and listen to it over again. So if you missed that traffic report, sports score or news item or just want to rock out to "Free Bird" again in its entirety, you can go back in time to listen to it again.

But with TV and TiVo, you know in advance what you want to watch and can set up to record it. With the time-shift feature in the Terrain you have to anticipate that you may miss something you want to record.

The feature works whether you're listening to AM, FM or XM. Hit the play/pause button to halt the live broadcast and begin buffering it to the Terrain's 40 GB hard drive. A status bar at the bottom of the radio display shows the amount of content stored in the buffer and the current pause point. To resume playback from the pause point, press the play/pause button again and you're listening to time-shifted content.

After enough content is buffered, you can use the seek up/down buttons to rewind or fast-forward through the time-shifted content. You can also press and hold the seek-up button at any point to go back to the live broadcast.

What's really cool is you can hit the seek up/down buttons to go to the next or previous song in the time-shift buffer. Another neat feature is that if you pause the radio before turning off the engine, content will continue to be buffered from the current radio station for up to 20 minutes. So if you jump back into the vehicle within 20 minutes, playback resumes from the paused point. No more waiting for that riveting NPR segment to end before running into Starbucks for your morning latte.

But if you change radio stations, the current content is dumped and the buffer automatically restarts from the new station. So if you switch to a different station and catch the last chords of your favorite tune, you can't go back and listen to it. Or, as happened to me this morning while switching from FM to XM, if you hear the DJ recite a long list of tracks after an extended set, you can't skip back to one you want to hear.

But maybe that will come later, along with larger automotive-grade hard drives like the 200 GB version Toshiba introduced last week.

Doug Newcomb, Senior Editor, Technology,

Push-Button Post-Surf Warmth

April 23, 2010

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,

Track Tested

April 23, 2010

Our 2010 GMC Terrain hit the track to bring it into the fold. How did a 3,800-lb crossover with 182 horsepower inline-4 do on our tests?

Jump, jump.

Vehicle: 2010 GMC Terrain

Odometer: 2,622

Date: 03/09/2010

Driver: Josh Jacquot

Price: $32,440


Drive Type: Front-wheel drive

Transmission Type: Six-speed automatic

Engine Type: Inline-4

Displacement (cc/cu-in): 2,393 / 146

Redline (rpm): 6,800

Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 182 @ 6,700

Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 172 @ 4,900

Brake Type (front): 12.6 x 1.18" ventilated disc

Brake Type (rear): 11.9 x 0.78" ventilated disc

Steering System: Electric speed-proportional power steering

Suspension Type (front): Independent, MacPherson strut, coil springs and stabilizer bar

Suspension Type (rear): Independent, multilink, coil springs and stabilizer bar

Tire Size (front): P235/55R18 99T M+S

Tire Size (rear): P235/55R18 99T M+S

Tire Brand: Michelin

Tire Model: Lattitude Tour

Tire Type: All season

Wheel Size: 18-by-7.5 inches front and rear

Wheel Material (front/rear): Cast Aluminum

As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,859

Test Results:

0 - 30 (sec): 3.4

0 - 45 (sec): 6.0

0 - 60 (sec): 9.4

0 - 75 (sec): 14.5

1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 17.0 @ 81.4

0 - 60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 9.1

30 - 0 (ft): 30

60 - 0 (ft): 121

Braking Rating: Good

Slalom (mph): 63.4

Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.74

Handling Rating: Average

Db @ Idle: 41.9

Db @ Full Throttle: 75.2

Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 70

Acceleration Comments: Uneventful acceleration w/barely enough power to spin the tires. Technique is almost irrelevant. Best run with traction control off and very, very little wheelspin.

Braking Comments: Good brake feel this platform has impressive brake tuning with a short idle stroke and good effectiveness.

Handling Comments:

Skidpad: Very effective integration of stability control. Doesn't punish unless car is genuinely in bad shape. Minimal and effective intervention otherwise. Slalom: Doesn't seem to grip as much as I remember. Steering lacks feel/build-up but overall grip should be better.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

Satellite Radio Song Preview

April 26, 2010

Our 2010 Terrain is one of the first cars I've come across that lists the current artist playing for each XM satellite radio station. In my experience, though, I haven't found it all that valuable as I'm unlikely to be searching through stations beyond what I've already made as favorite presets. Plus, it's distracting to stare at the screen while scrolling though the station list and not the road ahead. But on a long road trip it could be nice as the front passenger might enjoy quickly finding out what's on a wider variety of stations beyond the established presets.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 6,346 miles

Mostly Enjoyable Highway Cruiser

April 30, 2010

I used our Terrain a couple days ago for an approximate 4-hour highway drive. For the most part, it was a pleasant companion. It rides pretty smoothly, is fairly quiet and has plenty of interior storage for various bits like cell phones and snacks. The driver seat is comfortable for multi-hour stints, too.

When climbing Southern California's I-5 Tejon Pass (the "Grapevine") on my drive, however, the Terrain's six-speed automatic transmission became a little annoying. Its programming is pretty conservative, especially when set to the "Eco" mode. So this resulted in the Terrain feeling flat-footed at the start of each grade. Hello, Mr. Terrain, a downshift please? There is a manual-shift mode, and I ended up just selecting fifth or fourth gear on my own. Alas, at higher rpm, the 2.4-liter inline-4 doesn't exactly make the best sounds.

None of this is terrible. But if you frequently drive on hilly terrain, the GMC's optional V6 might be more appealing.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

The Feel Good Button

May 03, 2010

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

Not Too Cool For School

May 05, 2010

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

4 Things I Like and 2 Things I Don't

May 07, 2010

1) The driver's seat is very comfortable. I've been driving the Terrain all week with no seat or driving position complaints.

2) Transmission's manual mode allows you to hold gears around town, but it doesn't force you to upshift through the gears after you come to a stop. Manually put it in 3rd gear and it becomes a 3-speed automatic for instance. I like that.

3) The side mirrors are sized perfectly for the vehicle. They are large enough to be useful but not oversized like Dumbo ears which has become a disturbing trend.

4) It gets really good gas mileage. I've been banging it around town all week with a heavy foot and it's averaging over 22 mpg. That's right on its EPA city rating.

5) The A-pillars are massive and very difficult to see around.

6) There's no redline on the tachometer.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 7,106 miles

Added Some Oil

May 10, 2010

On Saturday morning I decided to check the oil level in the engine of our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain. It was low. Real low. Like it was hardly registering on the dipstick.

It took more than a quart before it was full.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 7,422 miles

Would You Park the Terrain Here?

May 12, 2010

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

A Little Crowded On the Dash

May 13, 2010

Just yesterday, I gave a pat on the back to Suzuki for the design of the head unit in the Kizashi. Today, I'll give GMC a mildly enthusiastic nod for the setup in the GMC Terrain.

As you can see, it's a bit more crowded that the setup in the Suzuki. It's not quite as obvious which buttons do what and the overall look isn't quite as aesthetically pleasing. That said, the GMC does manage to pack a whole bunch of functionality into a relatively small space. You've got a navigation system, audio controls and even a few phone switches all arranged in a relatively easy to use layout. I find myself searching around a little bit more than the Suzuki, but it's all accessible once you get used to it.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, @ 7,477 miles


May 17, 2010

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

Is that a mouse in your glovebox?

May 18, 2010

Yesterday I carpooled part of the way home, stopping to drop off a co-worker (we'll call him Michael Jordan) at his house.

Michael drove the 20 miles or so from the office to his house, and I rode in the front passenger's seat. Several times along the freeway, I heard a squeaking noise from between the driver's seat and the center console, and thought to myself, man, can't that guy sit still? Seat heater too hot? What's with all the wiggling around? Of course, I never said any of these things out loud.

I drove a half-mile at most from MJ's house before I heard the seat squeak under my 115 pounds.

Looking back quickly through the Terrain posts, I don't see anyone else complaining about the noise.

Maybe it's new. Definitely it's annoying.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 7,608 miles

Actuator Strut Replacement

May 20, 2010

Well, after a few mis-steps, Martin Cadillac finally got the correct part in to fix out 2010 GMC Terrain's leaky liftgate actuator strut. We dropped the car off this morning and they called around 1 saying it was ready to be picked up at any time.

Days out of service: 0

Total Cost: 0

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 7,823


May 20, 2010

I like this feature. When listening to a CD in the Terrain, the display shows the progression of the song. I like knowing the length of the song and how far along I am into it.

Just a side note: The only reason it says Track 1 up top is because this is a home-burned CD and I didn't have any track listings on it. Not the fault of the Terrain.

If case you care, I was listening to The Who Greatest Hits Live. A Man In A Purse Dress is an awesome track.

What were you listening to on your commute this morning?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Neighborhood Gossip

June 01, 2010

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

The Little Things Done Right

June 15, 2010

Like I said in my previous post, "I'm gonna keep an eye for for it's availability. I really like our Terrain." The keys became available to me again this past weekend. Would it be as good the second time around? I emphatically vote yes.

It was just as comfortable the second time around. My lady zonked out quick on our way to the movies Friday night. The guy I sold some craigslist stuff to on Saturday morning was impressed with the looks of it wanted to know more. A friend whom I gave a ride to a group dinner Saturday loved the Terrain. She took down some notes on her iPhone to look it up later on the internet.

There's a lot to like about the Terrain. It looks good, both inside and out. The ride is very comfortable. The fold flat seats made Sunday flea market finds easy to pack up. The easy to use navigation system found a business faster than my phone did.

I still feel it's a touch underpowered. I know some of you say you're getting tired of hearing it, but I think if you keep hearing it that says something. Honestly, I'm not expecting to be a high performance vehicle, it doesn't need to be, but it wheezes under it's own weight when pushed for highway passing. A few more horses and I'd feel a lot better about it.

The real kicker for me this time around was that as the warning light for the gas tank came on, the nav system offered to list the nearest gas stations. I thought that was really, really cool. For my own photographic work here at Edmunds, the mantra is "devil in the details." The Terrain gets it, and does it right.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

Time for an Oil Change?

July 01, 2010

Sharp marbles that we are, we picked up on the subtle hints our 2010 GMC Terrain was throwing our way in the instrument cluster about an impending oil change (though we've added some, oil life was still impressive at 9,615 miles). For the vital fluid swap, we headed down to our nearest dealer, Martin GMC, following the cops into the service bay.

With no appointment we were greeted promptly and spoke with service advisor Marlene Bobrowsky. Beyond the regular oil service Marlene recommended a tire rotation and balance, but because The Mikes hadn't signed off on that we just went with the lube job. We waited for the truck, and downtime including a scrubbin' in the carwash was about 90 minutes. Total charge: $40.67. Invoice after the jump so you can howl about us spending too much.

Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 9,615 miles

Li'l Movin Buddy

July 07, 2010

Swapped haciendas this weekend, and though we enslaved a U-haul truck for the heavy stuff, our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain ably served light-duty shuttle. Though plenty spacious on the inside, the daylight openings on mid-size SUVs such as the Terrain are often the limiters for cargo. This is not a bad thing, as the chassis is not designed for heavy-duty hauling, though you could easily outstrip the GVWR rating by hand-loading your gold bullion collection (holler if you need help relocating that). The rear hatch snubbed us on a love-seat run, but the smooth ride kept even the most fragile possessions intact.

The split-folding rear seats proved a boon for local runs, letting us quickly adapt the interior to handle seat-belt worthy perches (computer monitors, etc.), along with longer items such as lamps. Sliding the rear seat all the way up and the front seats all the way back created a great snug zone for fragile stuff, while also making max room in the cargo hold. The livable tradeoff for the flexibility is a tilted load floor from the non-flat-folding seats.

I still enjoy tooling around in the Terrain, even if the four-cylinder (and I can't believe I'm suggesting this) could use a more aggressive map for throttle tip-in. I'm sure it helps the EPA mpg figures, but these D.I. engines already feel soft down low, and it could use a bit more snap away from lights. This is also the first GM tranny (and we've seen similar behavior in the Equinox) that seems a miss from the General's generally excellent slushboxes. When driven even slightly aggressively, the Terrain's automatic seems easily confused, hangs on to gears when you think it should shift, can be slow to downshift, and then seems to grab too many gears once prodded to downshift. Thankfully, manual mode is an option.

Another tranny quirk was the delay in engaging reverse, which can make for some anxious moments when backing up on tilted surfaces. Each time you'd double check to see if you hadn't accidentally selected neutral, and a fair amount of throttle was required before motion began. GM's automatics have long been the class of the industry, so maybe it's a cost-cutting move. The other odd remark includes a hazard lights button that you have to push and hold to engage, not your first instinct during a quick reach to warn oncoming traffic.

Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 9,987 miles

Half-Time Report

July 08, 2010

We've passed the 10,000-mile mark on our 2010 GMC Terrain.

So far, we've found this to be a comfortable, handy vehicle to have in the fleet. We all like the supportive driver seat and have found that our passengers have no problem getting cozy enough to take a snooze.

The 182-hp inline-4 has adequate power. We like how the six-speed transmission's manual mode let's you hold gears without forcing you to upshift. Its braking numbers are good: 60-0 mph in 121 feet.

Its entertainment console is cluttered with a lot of buttons, but everything is easy to use and logical to figure out.

Our only problem has been a leaky liftgate actuator strut. There was some hassle with the dealer ordering the wrong part but we eventually had it repaired under warranty.

And although some of you do not like the style, you have to admit it is interesting. Not the same bland old thing.

What do you think about the GMC Terrain?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

The Big Box Store

July 09, 2010

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

The 24 Hours of Vegas, 2010 Edit.

July 12, 2010

One of the many benefits of living in Los Angeles is that you can make a last minute trip to Las Vegas.

So I took our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain this weekend and was pleasantly surprised. It was my first extended exposure to the Terrain and found it to be an excellent long-haul cruiser, with a comfortable but well-controlled ride.

And the steering is great too, with good weighting and feel build-up, and no dead spots. I was surprised to learn that it's electrically-assisted (EPS). It's that good.

The 2.4L I4 engine rated at 182 hp and 174 lb-ft torque is fine for everyday driving, but was wheezing when climbing the heavy mountain grades. I got 21.3 mpg over 600 mi round-trip; not bad, but I was hoping for more.

The HVAC worked OK with an ambient temperature of around 105F. (The pools are popular this time of the year.)

I think GMC skimped on the Terrain's interior, but my campaneros liked it. My buddy Joe even said he'd recommend it to his parents, and he's in the car business!

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 10,700 miles

What Do You Want To Know?

July 13, 2010

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

Thumb-wheel Cruise Control

July 15, 2010

Our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain has an interesting cruise control setup on the face of its steering wheel. There's a one-way rocker Master switch, but the speed setting switch is a momentary two-way quarter-turn thumbwheel. I haven't seen this setup before.

When the Master switch is turned on, a white telltale in the tach illuminates. The telltale turns green when the cruise speed is set.

The speed setting thumbwheel works just fine: no better or worse than a rocker switch, although I would think it costs more than a rocker.

I believe GMC chose this route for design symmetry with the thumbwheel voice/audio control on the other side of the wheel, which has become increasingly popular.

On a related note, myself and others I've spoken with no longer use cruise control as a driver workload-reducing convenience.

We instead use it to avoid traffic citations.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 10,800 miles


July 16, 2010

Thanks to those who wrote reviews of the Terrain and Equinox. Now, let me try to answer some of your questions.

Personally, I like driving the GMC Terrain better than the Mitsubishi Outlander. It feels more solid, the hp is lower but the tranny is quicker. I like the Honda Crosstour best of the three that were mentioned in the comments. It gets a lot of criticism for its looks but it's a very nice ride.

You asked about the Terrain's ride. I wouldn't call it soft but it's not a harsh ride. It's fairly quiet in the cabin and the seats are comfortable. It can take a bump. The Terrain doesn't sit up too high and it doesn't feel tall and floaty or overly large. It's firm without being stiff.

I don't mind the 4cyl but I haven't driven the V6 to compare. If you think you'll miss the power, then go for it. It's a 4cyl and it drives like one. But GMC makes the most of it. Test drive both and let us know what you think.

As for the interior, it doesn't feel cheap to me. It's not luxury but it's spiffier than average and functional.

I'm not a bluetooth user so I can't answer your questions about that. We don't have the satellite radio hooked up in it, so I've been listening to CDs. I know, old school, right?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Can't Argue With This Cargo Bay

July 19, 2010

Well, actually you can. Mr. Jacquot did a few months ago when he whined about the seatbacks that didn't fold flat. I didn't need the Terrain's maximum space this weekend, just a little extra room to throw some odd shaped tools, a few plants and various bags of all sorts.

As you can see, the Terrain's cargo area is wide, flat and easily accessible thanks to the power liftgate that now works just fine thank you. As much as I prefer sedans for general use, the utility of a vehicle like this is certainly appreciated for larger jobs. Cleans up easily too. And no, I didn't put all those scratches there.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, @ 10,855 miles

Nice Detail

July 20, 2010

You've probably noticed the red stitching in our GMC Terrain. I've never noticed the unexpected red interior of this door pocket.

GMC certainly doesn't have to make this area red. No one would notice if it wasn't there. But it's a nice touch that adds that extra attention to detail. It also has a small red courtesy light inside.


Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Butting Heads with the Buttons

July 30, 2010

Driving our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain the other day I realized something: I hate the memory preset button design.

As you'll note in this picture, the buttons are located at the top of the center stack, right below the display screen. Good location — easy to see and access, which is what you want for what may be the most commonly used buttons in the center stack (at least if you're like me, and like to avoid radio commercials).

So what's the problem?

The problem is the angle of the buttons' movement. When I look at these buttons, and their location, I assume you either push them down or push them in. Those are certainly the easiest directions to move these buttons given their placement, right?

But no, these buttons are hinged — at the top — so you're supposed to push on the bottom part of them to rotate the lower part of these botton in. I'm going to put this design right up there with our long-term Camaro's steering wheel shape — non-intuitive at its best, highly annoying at its worst.

Look at the picture again. These buttons are tightly packed into the center-stack, right up against other controls like the radio band button and circular/directional control. But there's all this open, empty space above the buttons, and of course there's plenty of space directly in front of them too. They should move down or in, not be hinged at the top and rotate at the bottom.

It requires much more precise finger placement/movement than commonly-used buttons should. In a world increasingly fixated on driver-distraction issues it's a bad design.

So for all these laws being written to ban texting and surfing the net on your smartphone, please call your local congressman and ask him to add a line about "changing your radio station presets in a GMC Terrain."

Karl Brauer, Editor at Large @ 11,270 miles

Running on Empty

July 30, 2010

I was running low in the GMC Terrain this morning. As I pulled into a gas station, the fuel warning light came on. And the Terrain also offered to find me the nearest station.


Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 11,313 miles

An Uphill Battle

August 02, 2010

I was looking for a store in Rolling Hills Estates this weekend. As you can guess, Rolling Hills is made up of rolling hills. I never thought they were particularly large hills until I tried to climb them in the GMC Terrain. It behaved like a reluctant child being dragged to the store.

Wheeze, wheeze, whine, ask for candy.

The Terrain downshifts quickly, only problem is that it doesn't help much. It still struggles even in a low gear.

We finally made it to level ground and it got happier.

Coming back down, I noticed there was a truck run-off lane, so I guess those rolling hills are steeper than I thought.

I remember driving the Mini E in these same hills and it seemed to enjoy it and it partially regenerated its battery on the way back down.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 11,366 miles

Cone of Silence

August 12, 2010

In the photo above, the Terrain strikes me as a powerful beast catching a moment of Zen-like serenity in the suburban shade. Well, its engine is a bit too breathless on inclines to be truly described as powerful, but you won't be disappointed if you slide behind the wheel looking for serenity.

What I'm saying is, the Terrain has a pretty quiet cabin. Road and wind noise are almost non-existent on surface streets, and negligible on the highway. It's definitely one of the more tranquil choices in the segment.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

Ratios, Not Cylinders

August 17, 2010

In the beginning the American car had a big engine with lots of cylinders. The wide, lazy powerband made it possible to drive around all day in one gear, which was a way better deal than shifting the agricultural-style transmissions of the day. Later the automatic transmission with its hydraulic torque convertor made it even more practical to drive round in one gear.

But then came the challenge of fuel economy. Now there were fewer cylinders and more gear ratios as the transmission was made to work harder to keep the engine working within a narrow band of peak fuel efficiency. And as the band of fuel efficiency became ever more narrow, the number of gear ratios ever increased.

This has not always been a good thing, especially with automatic transmissions.

Initially these automatics cycled so clumsily between their small number of ratios that the engine labored as if it were something adapted from a particularly bad washing machine. The continuously variable transmission promised to cut down on the cycling, but the racket from under the hood as the engine raced along hasn't made many friends for the CVT. Meanwhile the simple multiplication of ratios hasn't proved to be the magic answer, either, as the dynamic confusion caused within the six-speed automatic of the BMW 750i and the eight-speed automatic of the Lexus LS 460 has shown us.

So imagine my surprise to be reminded yet again on a trip to Northern California and back that the seemingly harmless six-speed Hydra-matic 6T70 in the GMC Terrain makes good on the promise of the automatic transmission.

You don't expect much from the Terrain's powertrain, just another too-small inline-4 matched with a six-speed automatic, a kind of default combination for every frugal crossover on the road. But thanks to the magic of direct fuel injection and variable valve timing, this engine pulls strongly across a wide range of rpm. And thanks to thoughtfully developed electronics, the Hydra-matic responds with extremely refined shift action.

Climb a grade with the GMC Terrain and the transmission drops a ratio (or two) without making you wince, and the engine picks up the slack without a struggle. It's not as if you feel as if you're at the wheel of something with 600 hp, and this vehicle still struggles if you stomp on the gas pedal at low speed since you still have a lot of weight and not so many horses to pull it with. Yet the Terrain's performance at cruising speed on the freeway is really refined for such an unpretentious vehicle.

Now that there are new federal fuel-efficiency mandates on the horizon, we'll be facing a lot more powertrains that try to make magic with gear ratios rather than cylinders. But the GMC Terrain and the Hydra-matic 6T70 make me think that there might not be a disaster of dynamic awfulness ahead.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 12,470 miles

What Day Is It?

August 17, 2010

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

iPhone Fail With iOS4 "Upgrade"

August 19, 2010

I upgraded the operating system software in my iPhone 3GS a few weeks ago. Today, the fully integrated iPod connection in our 2010 GMC Terrain doesn't recognize the iPod music player half of this device at all.

It all seemed so wonderful. Apple introduced the iPhone 4, but they also threw a bone to those of us with the lowly 3GS model: they gave us the iOS4 operating system for free. No one could resist. Cool features and multitasking ensued.

Soon after I started noticing odd Bluetooth pairing and phonebook synching glitches on a variety of cars. iPod menus didn't always work right. In a 2011 Kia Sorento, I couldn't access any phone numbers through hands-free means. Then, yesterday, our 2010 GMC Terrain gave me the silent treatment. It toally refusd to recognize the iPod half of the device it had worked so well with weeks earlier, when my device ran on iOS3. I had to resort to the standard Aux jack and cable and use the iPhone's own interface to play podcasts and music.

Dear Apple: I suppose you guys drive cars. You can't all be riding fixies, right? So why does you new iOS4 totally Bogart the in-car iPod interfaces that carmakers have been designing for the last several months and years? Did you have to go and re-program all of the pin-outs to screw things up this badly? How about settling on one standard "iPod" interface and stick with it? You know damn well that cars are designed on a 5-year cycle. Besides, haven't you heard about the hands-free movement? If you're not careful, hands-free incompatibility with cars might actually put your customers in a legal quandry. The legislative tide is rising. Worse yet, insurance companies may weigh in. None of us wants that.

Dear Carmakers (except for Ford): Look, new phones are coming out all the time. Weekly, I'd guess. And they're not just Apple devices. Consumer electronics nerds are all about the latest and greatest, and the development cycles of the newest must-have gadgets are tens times shorter than the glacial pace of new car development. And within this hardware framework, new firmware and software for existing products is released quite often, in a form consumers can access and upload into their devices by themselves, for free. You guys have to get you act together and get compatible with this reality.

Dear Ford: Sync isn't perfect, but it's pretty damn good and it's easily the best automobile interface out there for such user devices. Best of all is the ability to upgrade the software to recognize new phones with a user's own computer and USB stick, for free, without a dealer visit. I did it a few months back so our 2009 Ford Flex could recognize a 3Gs iPhone. Worked like a charm. You get it. Thanks.

What? Wait a minute. My iTunes just alearted me to a new update for iOS4. iOS4.0.2 is ready for download into my iPhone...

This is exactly what I was talking about. New software is freely available and can be downloaded in seconds. Let's hope iOS4.0.2 has the fix everyone is hoping for.

Dear Apple: If you're not going to take this seriously, can I have the downgrade-upgrade back to iOS3? I don't seem to be able to do that, but I need to. This and many other cars in the fleet can't be upgraded any way that I know of — there's no built-in provision for doing that. In this relationship, you're the only one that can change. What do you think this is, Ford Sync?

Dear Carmakers (except for Ford): What are folks with this and other as-yet unreleased new phones supposed to do if they won't work? What is your plan to keep up with the constant forward push of cell-phone and media player technology?

Dear Ford: I'll be taking a USB stick down to the Flex to install the latest upgrade that will support an iPhone 3GS upgraded to iOS4. I trust you've cracked that code or will soon.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 12,000-odd miles

Wash Day

August 30, 2010

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


September 01, 2010

I was temporarily blinded by all the fantastic plastichrome in the GMC Terrain. I found a couple more Interior Design 101 failures involving glare and reflectivity. This sort of thing should never make it to production.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 13,525 miles

Can You Trust Mr. Goodwrench?

September 03, 2010

This GM Goodwrench maintenance reminder sticker appears on the windshield of our 2010 GMC Terrain. As you can see, it's telling us that the next service is due at 12,615 miles or Sep. 30th, (whichever comes first, presumably), at which time we'll need to change-out the 5W30 motor oil.

I asked Mike to check our records, "When was the last oil change?"

"June 30th at 9,615 miles," said Mike.

You don't need a calculator to figure out that works out to EXACTLY 3 months or 3,000 miles.

I glanced at the odometer. It read 13,636 miles, just about 1,000 miles over. We've got just over 4,000 miles on this oil. Mr. Goodwrench will not be pleased.

Then I fiddled with the Terrain's multi-function display and found the Terrain's oil life screen.

As you can see, it indicates that 60% of the oil's life remains, which means only 40% has been used up over the 4,000 miles since Mr. Goodwrench last laid his wrench on it. You don't need a calculator (well, maybe you do, but I don't) to see that it will take 10,000 miles, 6,000 miles from now, for the oil to be 100% spent.

What's up with that, Mr.G?

Page 9-12 of the Terrain's owner's manual describes how this so-called "Engine Oil Life System" works.

"This vehicle has a computer system that indicates when to change the oil and filter. This is based on engine revolutions and engine temperature, not on mileage. Based on driving conditions, the mileage at which an oil change is indicated can vary considerably."

OK, that takes care of miles, but what about time?

"It is possible that, if driving under the best conditions, the oil life system might not indicate that an oil change is necessary for over a year. However, the engine oil and filter must be changed at least once a year."

So 3,000 miles is bogus, and 3 months is also bogus.

Who are you going to believe? Do you go along with the oil-change industry, represented by oil refiners, oil filter makers, quick-lube joints and, apparently, GM's own Mr. Goodwrench? Or do you trust the GM engineers who designed the GMC Terrain's engine and its Engine Oil Life System and then warranty said powertrain for 5 years or 100,000 miles?

I'm an engineer. You know what my answer is. I'm not changing the oil just yet, and I'm going to peel off that sticker. The Engine Oil Life System will toss out a warning when the oil has 600 miles left.

Maybe GM ought to have the HR department talk with this particular Mr. Goodwrench guy because, frankly, he can't be trusted and he's attempting to rip people off and/or he doesn't understand the workings of the very cars he's supposed to repair. Either way, his actions are negating the beneficial effects of one of our GMC Terrain's most useful built-in features.

PS: Perhaps this Mr. Goodwrench should read this...

GM's Corporate Goodwrench Stance on Oil Change Intervals

and these...

Oil Life Monitoring Systems

Stop Changing Your Oil - Breaking the 3,000-Mile Habit

When Should You Change Your Oil?

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 13,636 miles

A Trip to the Ex-Cabin

September 08, 2010

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.

Some of the nearby trees survived, but they bear scars that tell the tale. These used to constantly drop pine needles onto the porch.

The cabin stood here, right alongside Hook Creek. Funny how lots always look tiny without a house standing on them. It'll probably stay this way. The burned-out and exposed terrain means that no one has much interest in rebuilding. Newer building codes now in effect mean there isn't enough room between the creek and the road to do much.

As for the 2010 GMC Terrain, the kids had a pleasant ride in the spacious backseat. But the hot weekend weather (90-100 F) did alert them to one serious shortcoming back there: no rear seat AC vents. My wife and I had to freeze ourselves to cool the kids down, so we didn't like it much, either.

In fact, Carl, my neighbor, recently bought a 2011 Kia Sorento because it has this very feature, even on the lowest trim grade. He cross-shopped it against the Equinox/Terrain, but his slighty-older kids noticed the difference. It was actually a deciding factor for them, possibly the deciding factor.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 13,803 miles

Underwhelming MPG

September 09, 2010

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

Backing Up? Suspenders And a Belt. And Double-Sided Tape.

September 10, 2010

Of course our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain has a useful back-up camera with guidelines and proximity zones. But in addition to the camera, our Terrain also has back-up warning lights above the rear window.

The first LED is lit as you approach the object. Get closer and the 2nd LED also illuminates orange. The 3rd LED lights up red when you are in near contact distance with that other car. Or reinforced concrete load-bearing garage pillar.

Topping off this Trifecta is parking sonar with an auditory alert. Some may find all this too much, but it's fine for me: I hate backing up big vehicles in tight confines.

So if you back into something in the Terrain, perhaps you were simultaneously updating your Facebook or Twitter status.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 14,250 miles

Would I Recommend It to a Friend?

September 10, 2010

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, @ 14,211 miles

iPhone iPod iOS4 Fail Fix

September 14, 2010

About four weeks ago I complained about my iPhone 3GS and its sudden unwillingness to talk to our 2010 GMC Terrain. Other vehicles in our long-term fleet were similarly affected.

Specifically, the iPod side of the device was no longer recognized, to varying degrees, by most, if not all, of our long-term test cars with dedicated iPod connections. Overnight, all of the Terrain's clever iPod interface controls and display functions that had been painstakingly developed by GM engineers were worthless.

This sudden reversal of fortune sprang up after I "updated" my iPod 3GS to the all-new and much-ballyhooed iOS4 iPhone operating system. I was not pleased. Minor updates 4.0.1 and 4.0.2 were no help. I seriously considered downgrading back to iOS3.

Then, about a week ago, Apple introduced yet another update, a more significant step called version 4.1. If you can't "see" this update when you sync to iTunes and check for updates, you might have to upgrade iTunes itself to its own latest iteration, version 10. Do the iTunes 10 upgrade first, then you can get iOS4.1 — got it? It's less of a hassle than it sounds.

I don't know if OS4.1 was aimed specifically at the automobile incompatibility issue or not, but it's entirely possible because my rant was far from the only one. Apple took heat from many others. No matter. Whatever they changed, and for whatever reason, it worked. It's all better here in the 2010 GMC Terrain.

Well, mostly better. I'm still not certain if every single iPhone-iPod function works, and I haven't tried it in too many of the other cars in the fleet. But this is a good start.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 15,131 miles

Integrated Shoulder Belt

September 15, 2010

My daughter sometimes gets car sick if she can't see out the windshield, so we try to avoid the outboard seats as much as possible. The center seat is also safer in a potential collision. That's why we were both happy to discover the Terrain's rear seat featured an integrated shoulder belt (but no head restraint?) in the center position. At least that's why I think she's smiling. Either that or she's feeling like such a big girl transitioning from a 5-point child seat to the booster — and showing off her new shoes that she learned to tie just last weekend. If I had my way, she'd be strapped down tight until she could drive and I already miss the black Mary Janes.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 15,271 miles

32 MPG or Bust

September 16, 2010

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.)

Follow the jump for the actual results.

236.8 miles. Over three-and-a-half hours of my life. No air conditioning. I MUST'VE hit 32. Right?



Maybe if I'd gone 55 and unplugged my iPod and tapped off the front of the truck could I have beat the EPA rating, but really, who's going to do that?

Still, it was a PITA, but I did manage 29.265 mpg from a not-unsubstantially large CUV that was more than comfortable enough for the ride.

Would I be disappointed in 29 if that was the claim? Absolutely not, that's pretty darn good. But with the EPA saying 32 and the on-board computer reading high at 33 (how many people keep track of their fills outside of crazy car guys like us?), 29 is a HUGE disappointment, especially when I really thought I could beat the EPA figures with this driving style.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, @ 14,698 Miles

12:57:50 of Seat Time in 30 Hours

September 17, 2010

The Long Term GMC Terrain and I had a great getting-to-know each other session last weekend during a marathon spring to San Francisco.

The first, very slow, leg was occupied with fuel economy. This wasn't as bad as it seems thanks to the extremely comfortable seats (take that, Crosstour) and the could-be-better-but-I'm-glad-it's-here iPod interface.

What could be better? Glad you asked...

1) No quick scroll to the end of your artists. The Terrain doesn't jump from letter to letter when it senses you're scrolling quickly. You just scroll and scroll and scroll and give up by L where, on my iPod, you've already passed 300 other artists.

2) No audiobook chapters. Audiobooks sometimes come in big, single files with chapters that the iPod recognizes as separate tracks even though it's still, technically, on track 1. The GMC Terrain does not agree or understand that chapters are important. The book is either open or closed. This wouldn't be terrible as there's very little scanning to be done in audiobooks, but when you accidentally hit the track forward button because it's the exact shape and size as the cruise control button, well, then you're stuck in FF land for a long, long time.

As for the rest of the Terrain on the a word....excellent.

Nav is easy and, shockingly, fast enough at re-routing to not miss the streets in cramped SF.

Seats, as I said before, fantastic for long drives.

The much maligned steering which is miserable to actually DRIVE, is light and forgiving on long highway hauls.

Parking the Terrain — even without the beeps and camera — is a snap. Visibility and being able to predict the corners of the truck is very good. I parallel parked this all weekend without a second thought.

Power is underwhelming. It'll do 80, but not happily and getting up a grade, you're pulling 4K rpm to keep 65. More would help. More is not necessary.

All told, I put something like 765.5 miles on our Terrain in a very short period of time and couldn't come up with a single viable complaint. Even my disappointing 29 mpg is still 29 mpg from a big car.

I thought I was a fan of the Terrain going into this drive, and this sealed the deal. Sure, I think the Chevy looks better, but still, great little truck.

Oh, I guess I did find one, more, problem issue with the chrome on the Terrain. Not what you want when trying to see if you can or can not swap lanes.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor @ 15,164 miles

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.


September 18, 2010

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, @ 15,127.

Collecting an Oil Sample for Analysis

September 19, 2010

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.

The bottle on the right is the sample bottle. Well, not the sample bottle; it's the shipping bottle. The sample bottle is inside, like those Russian nesting dolls. This is what you get if you take Blackstone up on their offer for a Free Test Kit. We'll see more in a moment.

On the left is an oil extractor. You don't need this, but it sure helps. Blackstone will sell you one for $30, and with it you can withdraw the oil straight up the dipstick tube. The sample only amounts to 3 oz, so almost all of the oil remains in the engine. This is the way to go if you want to do TBN test mid-stream, like I'm doing here.

Without one of these, you instead take the oil out of your drain pan when you change your oil. That's messy, and the results won't have any bearing on how much longer the oil will last, because, well, you already drained it out. Classic moot point, that is. A TBN test will still help you decide how much longer to let your new oil stay in, though.

There's a lot of stuff inside the black mailing bottle: the 3 oz sample bottle, an absorbent pad in case it leaks, a zip-loc to further contain that, some paperwork for you to fill out about the oil, your engine and your car, the address where you want the results sent, and how you're going to pay for the test.

This is what you'll receive when you send in for the free test kit. Note that they'll send you the kit for free, but the analysis will still cost you $25 when you send the sample back.

Pull the dipstick out, slide the extractor's hose in all the way to the bottom, then pull it back up about a half-inch before you start.

The engine must be off, but it's best to begin within seconds of shutting it down. The oil needs to be warm and, more importantly, recently circulated so any particles are still in suspension. Don't wait any more than a few minutes. I did this at the gas station while the gas was going in. And I finished taking the oil sample before the gas tank was full, too.

With the sample bottle attached to the extractor, simply pull gently on the handle to vacuum out the oil. Go slow, don't overflow. The vacuum pump won't force oil back down the tube if you need to stroke the handle a second time.

It's best to fill it about this full. Blackstone needs a certain amount to run all of their tests. Also, a fuller bottle doesn't slosh about.

This matters because the post office might turn up their nose at the sound of sloshing liquid. Blackstone says it's legal to ship motor oil through the mail in small quantities for analysis. They say the black bottle with the secondary bottle inside meets the regulations. They provide downloadable documentation on their website to show your postal agent if they still refuse the package.

But the folks I've met ay my local post office don't seem to respond well to sloshing sounds, the black bottle or the letter. Near as I can tell, they seem to think the black bottle is the ONLY bottle, perhaps because they can't see the secondary packaging inside. I've found it easier to put the entire package (sample bottle wrapped in absorbent pad, stuffed into ziploc, stuffed into black bottle) into a small box or cardboard mailing tube to avoid misinterpretation.

Finally, the paperwork. This gets stuffed into the black bottle, too. Outside the ziploc is best, I think, to guard against the unlikely small leak.

Blackstone turned this around quickly when I did this to my minivan. I got the results in a couple of days.

I expect to know something about our GMC Terrain's oil later this week.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 15,346 miles

Double-paned Side Glass

September 20, 2010

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

Easter in September

September 20, 2010

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

Built for Export

September 21, 2010

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.

Pressing the Menu button and drilling in to the Vehicle Settings will bring you to a US/Metric screen.

Once Metric has been selected, various units are now displayed in Canada-friendly units: Average Fuel Economy (in Liters-per-100 kilometers), Speed and Average Speed (kilometers per-hour), Fuel Range (Kilometers), and even outside temperature (Degrees Celcius).

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 15,453 miles

Counter Intuitive Knob?

September 21, 2010

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

"Button Rich" Center Stack

September 22, 2010

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

Remote Range at Remote Parking

September 22, 2010

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

Is That Wire Important?

September 22, 2010

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

Seems like these wires could've been shrouded with something more robust than electrical tape, or retained with a clip or something.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 15,549 miles

Not My Cuppa Crossover

September 23, 2010

The 2009 GMC Terrain has been in our test fleet for nine months, and I can probably count the number of times I've driven it on one hand. Maybe even just one thumb and index finger.

Little seat time in a crossover, SUV or minivan is unusual for me, especially since family vehicles like these best suit my real life. Sure, would love to drive the Dodge Viper more often, but with regular school carpools, it's just not happenin'.

Somehow I've managed to mostly avoid the Terrain, and after driving it last night I remembered why.

I simply don't like it.

I can't find a comfortable seating position, the rear seat seems small, and there's so many flippin' buttons and shades of red discoing across the dash, it leaves me seeing, well, shades of red.

I'd prefer to spend more money and trade-up to the Acadia.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 15,812 miles

Lookin' Beat

September 28, 2010

Here's what the cargo area in the Terrain is starting to look like. I'm not so sure we can fault the car for this. But it isn't pretty.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

Oil Sample Analysis Results

September 30, 2010

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

The $1,500 V6 Upgrade Dilemma

September 30, 2010

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

The Squeaky Seatbelt Buckle

October 01, 2010

It's been a while since I've driven our GMC Terrain with any significant duration (last time was April). So I'm amused to find that the driver seat is still squeaky. Actually, the seat itself isn't squeaky, but the seatbelt buckle rubs against the seat's leather upholstery, and that causes the squeaking noises. This typically happens when you're moving around on the driver seat.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

The Suburban Workhorse

October 04, 2010

While a truck or large SUV will give you more maximum ability to do stuff, the humble small crossover SUV still gets the job done 95 percent of the time. Over the weekend I used our GMC Terrain for all the daily life stuff like grocery shopping, trips to the home improvement store and visiting friends. Though it all the Terrain was aces; comfortable for the family, easy to get in and out of, easy to load, and, around town anyway, perfectly adequate in terms of power. While I've always considered myself a sedan or hatchback buyer, the appeal of a small or midsize crossover for daily life is undeniable.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 16, 462 miles

Fakes, Both Vehicle Trim and Metropolitan

October 05, 2010

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

Audio Review

October 06, 2010

The GMC Terrain is a good CUV for hauling people and gear, and it has adequate interior room and power for its class, along with a bunch of cool electronic features: hard-drive nav system, iPod integration and a backup camera. Our long-term 2010 Terrain FWD SLT-2 also comes standard with what the sticker calls a "Pioneer Premium" audio system, but it's not one of the vehicle's strong suites.

The Setup
The Pioneer system in the 2010 GMC Terrain FWD SLT-2 consists of 8 speakers powered by 250 watts. The speakers include a 6.5-inch midrange in each front door, a 1-inch tweeter in each A pillar, a 3.5-inch midrange in the center of the dash, a 6.5-inch midrange in each rear door and an 8-inch subwoofer in the passenger-side wall of the rear cargo area.

The Sound
Like every sound system I evaluate, I subjected the Terrain's Pioneer setup to my standard musical test tracks to judge clarity/lack of distortion, tonal balance, timbre, tonal accuracy, soundstaging, imaging and dynamics. I also use several non-musical test tracks to check soundstaging and imaging, linearity and absence of noise. For more detail on the testing process and tracks used, check out the article Sound Advice.

In terms of sound quality, the Pioneer system in the Terrain is a perfect example of a middle-of-the-road branded OEM audio. While stock systems have dramatically improved over the last decade or so, most are still designed for a kind of lowest-common-denominator audio experience. It's like eating a really good frozen pizza when you can't get out for a fresh-baked pie: mildly satisfying, but far from the real thing.

Like most mediocre OEM systems, the Terrain's system booms on the bottom end and is harsh on the high end, with everything in between adequately inoffensive. While clarity and tonal balance are skewed by the over-emphasis of the extremes of the frequency spectrum, timbre, tonal accuracy and dynamics don't fare much better and the system mostly has a dull, lifeless sound.

On some tracks the system somewhat sussed out certain details in the music, like the strong up-front bass in the Joan Armatrading's "In Your Eyes" and sweet sax sound in Bluesiana Triangle's "Life's a One Way Ticket." But for every flash of brilliance there were two or more bummers, like the disembodied vocals on the Luka Bloom track "Cold Comfort" or the almost unlistenable mess the system made of Red House Painters' "Cabezon."

Even with center-channel and A-pillar speakers — usually an indication of decent soundstaging and imaging — the Terrain's Pioneer system handled both poorly. A drum roll at 7:40 in the Bluesiana Triangle song "Shoo Fly Don't Bother Me" that pans from far right to far left helps me determine the boundaries of the soundstage, and in the Terrain it was less than the width of the dash. (With the best system, it's actually wider than the car interior). And images within the soundstage were localized down near the door speakers and extremely side-biased.

This was easily corroborated by the non-musical staging/imaging tests, which the Terrain system failed. It scored "poor" and "fair" grades for linearity (a measure of how much detail is retained as the volume is lowered) at low- and mid-level volume settings, respectively. But it passed the absence of noise test; most systems usually do.

The Sources
The disc slot for the Terrain's an in-dash CD/DVD player is slickly integrate into the bottom of the center stack. The real "head unit" is at the top, fronted by a 7-inch touch screen that's part of our Terrain's $2,145 navigation system option. The system also includes tuners for AM, FM and Sirius satellite radio and 10GB of the nav system's 40GB hard drive is used to store digital music files.

Unlike some audio systems that only allow recording from CD (Hello, Ford!), the Terrain's system also lets you rip tracks from a USB drive. And the hard drive's "time shifting" feature allows rewinding up to 20 minutes of AM, FM or Sirius content, and even works if you turn off the engine and then fire it up again before 20 minutes is up.

An aux-in jack and a USB port in the center console can be used to plug in a portable media player, which chances are is an iPod. You can plug an iPod directly into the USB port using the USB computer cable that comes with the device, or jack in a USB drive loaded with tunes instead. Either way, the system organizes the tracks into the traditional playlists, artists, albums, songs and genres structure, and with an iPod you get the additional categories of podcasts, audiobooks and composers The Terrain has a jump feature that lets you quickly navigate a huge music library, but it's still very slow. We discovered that Apple's new iOS 4.0 software made iPhones with the upgraded OS fail in the Terrain. But with the release of iOS 4.1 the iPhone incompatibility issue has been solved.

What We Say
Depending on how discerning you are when it comes to sound quality — and whether you think the glass is half empty or half full — the Terrain's Pioneer system will rank either just above or just below average. And while it's a good example of how most stock sound systems — brand or no brand, optional or stock — have gotten much better, it's also a perfect candidate for an aftermarket upgrade.

The Scores
Sound: C
Source Selection: A
iPod Integration: B
Cost: A+

Doug Newcomb, Senior Editor, Technology

Quick Power Liftgate Action

October 06, 2010

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.

GMC Terrain

Ford Flex (about 8 and a half seconds)

In the grand scheme of things, a 2 second difference is pretty trivial. But I'd wager the quick time is indicative of the design effort GM put into its new small crossovers.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

"Top Kill" DIY Oil Change Video

October 08, 2010

In our last episode, Blackstone Laboratories suggested we change the oil now rather than wait until the oil life monitor told us to. Why? Our 2010 GMC Terrain is still new-ish, and Blackstone saw a few more residual break-in metals than they'd like to see in a sample of our current oil.

That gave me an excuse to try something I'd had in mind for a while: a stand-up or, as I like to call it, a "Top Kill" oil change. Instead of diving deep under the sea car, I'm going to do the whole job topside, from right under the hood.

This works because the GMC Terrain's 2.4-liter Ecotec engine has a cartridge-style oil filter. On top of that, Edmunds co-conspirator Phil Reed lent me his vacuum oil extractor.

Follow the jump to see a video of the process.

Here are a few "DVD extras" for our regular readers.

The vacuum pump in question is made by Moeller. I decided not to add the smallest of the three interconnecting hoses, even though it would have made it possible to set the unit on the ground instead of a stool, because I was going for maximum oil flow.

I'm pretty sure that I got all of the oil out, too, because the manual says it takes 5 quarts to fill the Ecotec after an oil change, and that's exactly what it took to reach the "full" mark on the dipstick. I had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago when I used my wife's minivan as a guinea pig.

After it starts sucking air, you may have to push and pull the tube in and out and move it around like a kid trying to get every last drop of a milkshake, but it's not difficult. It does take a bit more time than draining it out the bottom, but it's a thousand percent cleaner.

Finally, Blackstone says there's no reason to fear chunks or other solids sitting in the bottom of the pan. The detergent in the oil (represented by the TBN number we discussed last time) keeps such particles in suspension. The big ones get trapped in the filter and they say the smaller ones don't settle out for many hours — a day or more.

But a vacuum pump doesn't make sense if you have to jack up your car and crawl under to get the oil filter off — you may as well drain it out the bottom at that point.

The oil filter is a pretty simple device. The orange o-ring on the cartridge cap is a new one that came in the box with the new filter.

My local Pep Boys had this 32mm catridge filter socket in the same aisle as the oil filters and other kinds of filter wrenches for $9.99. There was at least one other size, so you might want to measure if you have this kind of filter on some other kind of car.

No "Top Kill" procedure would be complete without a little BP oil down below.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 16,903 miles

Trailhead Companion

October 12, 2010

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

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

Rear Seats are Sporty

October 15, 2010

Our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain has a composed chassis with great ride quality and steering, and decent handling for a mid-sized crossover.

It also has a Mommymobile image. But check out those rear seats. They're sculpted like some sporty sedan seats, and have that attractive (and sporty) red contrast stitching. Perhaps GM is trying to add some sporting flair to this SUV. The chassis is certainly there.

Maybe with more power — as with the 3.0L V6 version — the Terrain could be near the top rung of sporty SUVs.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 17,200 miles

Photo by Kurt Niebuhr


October 18, 2010

I encountered a strange electronic glitch in our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain over the weekend. Whenever I was away from a TV, I was listening to post-season baseball on ESPN radio via either AM 710 or AM 1090. Accordingly, I always left the radio on the AM band. However, whenever I shut the engine off, the Terrain would always switch over to the most recently used FM station. This happened regardless of whether I left the radio on or manually turned it off.

Later, after the games were over, I hooked up my iPod. Same thing happened. I'd leave my iPod playing, but whenever I got back into the Terrain and started up again, FM radio would be playing. I checked to make sure my iPod hadn't frozen up, prompting the system to switch to a working source. It hadn't.

Anybody else had this happen in a Terrain or Equinox?

Better Commuter Than I Expected

October 19, 2010

I've just spent the last 4 days in our long-term 2011 GMC Terrain. I really hadn't expected to form any kind of attachment to it, because small SUVs really aren't my thing. Yet, I found the Terrain surprisingly agreeable for driving around Los Angeles.

To start, the Terrain's ride quality is quite good. There's nothing floaty about it. The suspension feels buttoned down but never harsh over our rain-grooved freeways — not something I take for granted with 18-inch wheels. The P235/55R18 99T Michelin Latitude tires are quiet, too.

I also think the Terrain has a nice feel for the road going around corners. There's nothing overtly sporty about it, but it's balanced and secure, and body roll is well controlled in normal driving.

The one thing I still don't like is the electric-assist power steering. It's great in parking lots (light and precise enough) and fine around town, but the assist doesn't drop away enough as you reach highway speeds. If the steering had slightly more weight to it on the freeway, the Terrain would be just about ideal.

Finally, the 2.4-liter engine. Surprisingly, it didn't bother me. There are no uphill grades on my typical weekend routes, so that probably helped. But I had little difficulty getting up to speed or passing in spite of the modest torque (172 lb-ft at 4,900 rpm) and the eager-to-upshift automatic transmission. Mind you, the engine sounds like a blender under full throttle, but it sounds like a brand-new blender that isn't going to jam up or overheat when I make pesto.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 17,258 miles

Mediocre Manual Mode

October 21, 2010

It's easy to miss, but our longterm 2010 GMC Terrain does indeed have a manual mode for the transmission. You first slot the selector to M and then use the rocker button to shift up or down. I suppose having a mediocre manual mode is better than none at all.

Mainly, it's reeeeaaaaally sluggish. At times it can take a good couple of seconds for the transmission to finally downshift after you've pushed the button. Too late. And then the downshift itself is pretty slow, with a lot of torque converter slushiness. Also, having to select M first is an additional step in the process that steering wheel paddles neatly sidestep. This last bit is not a huge deal, just sayin'.

The implementation of the Terrain's manual mode smacks of an afterthought.

Too bad, because the Terrain has so little engine braking when in D (what with the relentlessly fuel economy-minded transmission calibration) that its manual mode becomes more of a necessity than a gimmick.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

Suburban Styling

October 22, 2010

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.

What I want is a wagon that's a little plainer, probably more like the 1949 Suburban, when it was still a visually a truck and not a wagon.

Of course, then I realize that GM already has a compact vehicle that combines truck cues with wagon function, which would be the Chevrolet HHR. Probably I'm the only guy in America that still finds this small wagon based on the Chevy Cobalt to be appealing. (Now that the Chevrolet Cruze is replacing the Cobalt, the HHR's future is limited to say the least.) But there's still something about the way the HHR looks that seems less egregious than the Terrain.

Ah well, the Terrain isn't the worst-looking interpretation of the Suburban theme I've ever seen. It's not like it's dressed in turquoise, like the 1965 Chevy Suburban below.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 17,285 miles

Why No Diesel?

October 25, 2010

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

Big and Better

October 26, 2010

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

What Does This Button Do?

October 27, 2010

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,

Wheel Wells

October 27, 2010

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...

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

Cargo Capacity — Who has the Edge?

October 28, 2010

I needed to pick up a large box from the store yesterday (shhh, Christmas gift), so I grabbed the keys to the 2010 GMC Terrain. Knew I didn't need a full-size SUV, but figured loading the heavy box in the back of the Terrain would be easier than trying to dump it into the trunk of a sedan.

Earlier in the day my sister called me from Michigan, asking for my opinion on the 2011 Ford Edge. Thinking about the Terrain and the Edge in the same day, I wondered which Motor City crossover offered the most cargo capacity?

The 2011 Edge has a slight edge when all the seats are in use, but widens the gap by a significant five cubes when the seats are folded down.

2010 GMC Terrain:

Cargo capacity, all seats in place: 31.6 cu. ft.

Maximum cargo capacity: 63.9 cu. ft.

2011 Ford Edge:

Cargo capacity, all seats in place: 32.2 cu. ft.

Maximum cargo capacity: 68.9 cu. ft.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 17,757 miles

Low Fuel Warning

October 29, 2010

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.

Since I don't usually venture off the freeway in that part of town, the list of local gas stations the nav system promptly provided was a total bonus.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

That Nutty Time of Year

November 01, 2010

Early Saturday morning I drove the long-term GMC Terrain to the Girl Scout warehouse to pick up the 20 cases of nuts our troop sold over the past few weeks. With the rear seats folded down, the cases fit effortlessly in the Terrain's cargo area.

It was a much easier morning than a few years ago when we loaded 49 cases into the Buick Enclave.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

Damned Sunflower Seeds

November 04, 2010

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

Radio Gaga

November 04, 2010

The Terrain doesn't like NPR. At least that's what I first thought when I got nothing but static on the Terrain's radio today. Checked the other presets, though, and it turned out there was no anti-Public Radio bias afoot — the problem existed across all radio stations.

Obviously, a really high-tech solution was called for. So I pulled over to the side of the road, turned the engine off and then turned it back on again. That fixed it.

The issue's been reported to our Keeper of the Keys, and we'll let you know what develops.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

You Write the Caption

November 05, 2010'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

Our Favorite Caption

November 05, 2010

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:

- Top Gear Season 13 DVD
- set of mini cones (for your own autocross)
- puffy Stig keychain

Send your choice and your address to dderosa (at)

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Needs Boost

November 12, 2010

Though other car companies have done it in recent years, with the introduction of the Sonata Turbo, Hyundai's shown us that you can have a two liter engine that delivers a good deal of power while still returning good fuel economy. And I can think of no other car in our fleet that needs a little kick in the pants more than our Terrain.

Adequate on a good day, going downhill, the 2.4 liter Ecotec is no match for the weight and barn door aerodynamics of the Terrain. And when coupled to a heroically stubborn transmission bent on upshifting at all costs, you have to really throttle the thing around town just to keep up with traffic. Care to guess what that does for fuel economy? Don't even get me started on what it's like to drive it up a long grade - we've got quite a few of them here in Southern California - it's miserable.

If GM could slap a turbocharger on this engine (maybe The General should hire away some of Hyundai's engine guys), not only would you probably add at least another 70 horsepower and 70 torques, but you'd be able to re-calibrate the transmission to respond better to real world driving situations. I'd gladly take an honest 28 mpg as opposed to almost theoretical and seemingly impossible 30 mpg.

They could even call it the EcoBoost - oh, that name appears to already be taken.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 17,967 miles

Radio Wigging Out

November 15, 2010

Our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain is really getting on my nerves. I can deal with the sluggish drivetrain, button-heavy center stack and generally non-intuitive user-interface. But the psychotic radio has got to go.

As reported first by Erin Riches and then by Warren Clarke, the Terrain's radio has developed a personality something akin to the HAL9000. It basically decides what you'll be listening to — whether you like it or not. In Erin's case it kept switching to FM no matter where it was set when shutting the car off. In Warren's case it wouldn't let him listen to NPR.

For me, it kept going to a specific FM station (98.7) no matter which band/frequency I was listening to when I shut it off. Doubly annoying because this station, while clear in the LA area, is pure static in my neck of the woods. I figured it had some kind of fixation with this frequency, but then it switched to FM 101.1 the last time I started it up (after leaving it on AM 640).

While both stations are in the morass of the Terrain's pre-set station pages (SIX pages of favorites with SIX presents each? really?), neither holds a special place. They aren't in the first slot on the first page of favorites. Or even the first slot on any of the pages. They are both randomly mixed into the middle slots of the middle pages.

BTW, it doesn't do this if you simply shut the car off and fire it right back up again (in that case it holds the last radio band/frequency like every other car on th planet). But as with every great electronic gremlin there's no clear indicator of how long it takes to awaken the beast. It did it every time the car sat overnight, and also once after sitting for a couple hours. But not after sitting for 10 minutes. Regardless, when we make our inevitable dealer visit don't let the service guy turn it off and on six times in a row and then turn accusingly on us with a, "What are you talking about? Seems fine to me."

Just for fun I checked the owner's manual. Nothing about randomly deciding which station to tune between shutting it off and starting it up. Don't try to rationalize people. It's clearly got a screw (or chip) loose.

Karl Brauer, Editor at Large at 18,102 miles

Macho In Styling Only

November 17, 2010

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

Clock Won't Stay Set, Either

November 19, 2010

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

Looking Forward To Driving It

November 22, 2010

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

Bonus Power Port

November 24, 2010

Our Terrain has four power ports: one for the center stack, one in the center console, one for the rear seating area and one for the cargo area. One can never have too many power ports, right? But having one for the rear seat is pretty rare. And I suppose it's actually fairly useful for families as it makes it a lot easier to power or charge electronics for kids seated in back. No rear air vents for the Terrain, though.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

Mostly Living Up To Expectations

November 29, 2010

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.

There were really just two disappointments to driving the Terrain for this trip. One was mediocre fuel economy. Shocker, I know. But I had really hoped that with almost all freeway driving and a conservative driving style, I'd post one of our better numbers to date. But my average was just 24.4 mpg. (As we've noted previously, we've found our Terrain comes nowhere near to matching the EPA's 32 mpg highway estimate.)

The other aspect I didn't particularly enjoy was the numb steering. For everyday driving, it's not a problem. But on the return trip, we were driving at night with frequent rain. The outside temperature was in the high 30s and dropping (the Terrain gives you a warning of possible ice conditions at 37 degrees). I was a little worried about black ice on a mountain pass we were driving on. With its numb steering and lack of all-wheel drive, the Terrain just didn't inspire much confidence for dealing with weather. The fact that I couldn't see much out of the rearview mirror because of all the stuff piled in the cargo area didn't help, either.

Overall, though, the Terrain worked out pretty well.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 19,128 miles

Extra Functionality of Remote Engine Start Is Nice

December 02, 2010

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

Selling Well

December 03, 2010

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

Blinded by the (Reverse) Light

December 06, 2010

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

The Things You Touch Everyday

December 07, 2010

Our GMC Terrain is not only nearing the end of its time in our fleet, but it's built up considerable mileage. At 19,678 miles, it's well past the point at which many vehicles begin to show wear on the interior bits a driver touches every day. Here, the driver's seat shows little wear. Yes, there's marginal stretching of the seat bottom material, but otherwise this seat is showing good wear life.

More everyday touchspots after the jump.

The steering wheel buttons show no wear nor does the stitching. The leather around the wheel is also clean and unmarred.

Both armrests look clean and show no signs of grunge. And these things always get gross in our long-term cars. GM made a good material choice here.

And the shifter? It looks new.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

Rear View Camera

December 08, 2010

Our Terrain has one of those rear view cameras with the guidance lines that bend in proportion to the amount the driver turns the steering wheel. I've always wondered if those line correspond to where the car actually goes so I did little non-scientific experimenting this morning.

Video after the jump.

Forgive the camera shake. It's difficult to hold the camera steady with one hand and turn the wheel with the other. All this video shows is what the guidance lines do as the wheel is cranked lock to lock.

Furthermore, I discovered after a few trials that with the wheel cranked to the lock the Terrain actually ends up far inside where the lines show it going. Not that it really matters. I use these tools only as additional insurance when reversing. It's good in my cul-de-sac to avoid the many children who like to sneak behind a reversing car.

The take away? Use the guidance lines as an indication of which direction the Terrain will turn, not where it will actually go. And if you didn't already know that, well, you shouldn't be driving anyway.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

A Nice Subtlety and A Bizarre Occurrence

December 09, 2010

See that little relief in the top of the center console? That's an easy detail to get right. It's there to allow the auxilliary or iPod cable to pass through without getting pinched. But I just spent a week in a $75,000 Cadillac which failed this test. And my aux cable is still upset.

Something weird after the jump...

This just in from the Bizzaro Department: Last night when I jumped in the Terrain to head home I noticed the clock was an hour ahead. Not a big deal. I corrected it before I parked in my driveway.

But this morning when I got in to leave for a pre-dawn bike ride it was an hour ahead again. So, again, I reset it to the correct time. Then I parked and rode my bike for two hours. Sure enough, when I got home, I noticed it was an hour ahead.

So I reset it a third time. And cycled the key. This time it stuck. But I don't have confidence it's solved.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

Always Nice to See These Buttons

December 10, 2010

I never used pay much attention to seat memory buttons. They seemed like an unnecessary gadget that automakers added so they could fatten up the features list. Now, however, I glad to see them.

Maybe I'm getting old, but it's nice to set your seating position once and then forget about it from then on. Someone borrows the car? No problem. Just get in and hit the button. I didn't really expect to find this feature in the Terrain. Glad it's there.

Ed Hellwig, Editor,

Busting 20,000 Miles

December 13, 2010

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

Gettin' The Tree

December 15, 2010

Sunday was Christmas Tree Day at the Oldhams. And that's our just plucked 10-footer atop our long-term 2010 GMC Terrain.

Now I know what you're thinking: How could you be so cruel and put that big tree on the roof of the Terrain without a protective blanket or something? And you're right, normally I wouldn't have done such a stupid thing but the Z06 was already signed out for the weekend.

Jokes aside, the Terrain was perfect for this kind of task. And it performed other family duties perfectly all weekend, which is of course job one of a vehicle like this.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Only One Real Problem

December 21, 2010

The GMC Terrain may not blow you away with its abilities, but at the same time there's also little that offends. You might think the 2.4-liter four-cylinder wouldn't be up to the task of pulling 3,859 lb. worth of SUV, but if you're not afraid to rev it near 6,700 rpm (where it produces its peak of 182 hp), it provides more than enough snap for most situations. And it's still smooth at those elevated engine speeds, if on the noisy side.

And yes, the electric steering is a bit numb, made all the more obvious when driving on the kind of water-logged highways southern California is currently experiencing; usually it's good to know if the steering feels so light because your tires are floating, or because the assist is simply that unfeeling.

But most owners of an SUV like this probably won't notice or care about the steering; it's not intended as a sportster, but as a family hauler with a modern, comfortable interior, a ride that won't offend anyone's tush and space aplenty for whatever one needs to haul. No issues there.

So there's only one big problem with the 2010 GMC Terrain: The fact that it stands as the ugliest vehicle in GM's current lineup. But that's just one man's opinion: What's yours?

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 20,250 miles

A-Pillar Tweeters

December 24, 2010

The first time I saw tweeters mounted in a car's A pillars was at a "sound-off" competition back in the early '90s. As with auto racing, a lot of car audio innovations came out of the sound-off scene (tweeters mounted in the A pillars or "sail" panels of the doors, center-channel speakers, subwoofers in the front of the car) since competitors would try anything to give them an edge.

Over the years, automakers have adopted several applications that were first used in the aftermarket, and that can be directly traced to sound-off competitions. Our 2010 GMC Terrain has a tweeter in each A pillar, for example, as does our 2010 Chevrolet Traverse, although the system in the Terrain is from Pioneer and the one in the Traverse is from Bose.

Not that positioning the tweeters as far forward as possible does much to improve the Terrain system's sound quality or enhance imaging and staging, as evidence by an audio review of the system. But it's usually better than burying them in the doors.

Doug Newcomb, Senior Editor, Technology

Saga Of The Dead Signal Lamp

January 06, 2011

Noticed last night on my way home that the Terrain's right turn signal was out. When activated it exhibited the classic "fast blink" symptom I remember from my bulb-slaying high school ride. The video tells the story and reveals the culprit. Left turn signal shown first as standard.

And because conventional screws are apparently banned on modern cars, the culprit taillight is held in place by two 10mm bolts hiding under under cosmetic covers, which in turn hide under the rear hatch. Good theft prevention, I suppose. Removal is still fairly simple. Two bulbs cost $5.49 at Pep Boys. The whole process took five minutes and the blinking is now back to its normal pace.

Strong Money for Popular SUV

January 24, 2011

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.

You Write the Caption

January 28, 2011

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

Our Favorite Caption

January 28, 2011

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:

- Lamborghini wall calender
- Crazy Heart Soundtrack
- Flat Stig key ring

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

You Could Buy Our Old Terrain at CarMax

February 10, 2011

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 connection in their ad.


First was the station wagon, a versatile hauler that drove like a car. Next came the SUV, a more image-conscious version of the station wagon with an extra helping of utility. When the cost of oil swelled, a new breed of SUV emerged, the crossover utility vehicle (CUV).

An SUV on a smaller scale, the CUV promises utility, drivability and maybe a little bit better efficiency. The 2010 GMC Terrain is pretty typical of the breed. It's smaller than a Tahoe or Acadia and features a standard four-cylinder engine that promises more than 30 mpg on the highway. What's not to like?

Why We Bought It
For 2010 the GMC Terrain was all-new and shared its underpinnings with the Chevrolet Equinox. GM had a lot resting on the success of this CUV foundation. Crossovers are the vehicles of the future. Our test of the Terrain would offer a glimpse into GM's approach for coming generations.

Fuel economy was the game here, so we stuck with the standard 2.4-liter, 182-horsepower four-cylinder engine. We ordered a front-wheel-drive Terrain to minimize weight in hopes of getting the 32 mpg on the highway promised by the EPA. The Terrain also featured a well-designed cabin and a vast array of interior amenities, so we were hardly roughing it.

There was another consideration. Back in late 2009 before we introduced the Terrain, it was among Edmunds' most researched vehicles on the site. When the readers spoke, we listened with checkbooks in hand. Our long-term test was under way.

We expected some weakness in the acceleration department and the 2010 GMC Terrain delivered. Editor in Chief Scott Oldham spoke for many of us when addressing the underpowered inline-4 with, "In the real world this means the Terrain's gas pedal is lying on the carpet much of the time. It also means real-world obstacles like hills and slowpokes in the left lane force you to wring the Ecotec's neck in order to make the climb or the pass. See that hole in traffic? Forget it. By the time you wind this thing up it is closed. For some, the Terrain's little four-banger might be enough, but those folks are members of the A-to-B Club. If you like to drive, trust me, you'll wish you got the V6."

Inside the cabin we found some escape from the engine. Here the compliments racked up. "The ride is very comfortable.... Fold-flat seats made Sunday flea market finds easy to pack up.... The easy-to-use navigation system found a business faster than my phone did.... When the warning light for the gas tank came on, the navigation system offered to list the nearest gas stations." Despite our attempts to destroy it, the interior retained very little evidence of our abuse. Some found the rear seats a bit small. And overly reflective chrome accents seared a retina or two. But overall the Terrain conjured more praise than malaise for its interior presentation.

We took more of a DIY approach to maintaining the 2010 GMC Terrain than other testers. Its first oil and filter change was performed by a dealer. From there we did things ourselves. We sent an oil sample to Blackstone Labs around the 15,000-mile mark for analysis because it was something we hadn't tried before. The results suggested a premature oil change to remove excess, but not dangerous levels of metal deposits. That gave us an excuse to use the Moeller vacuum pump oil extractor conveniently boxed up in the corner of our office. It offered the value of a topside oil change and kept our shirts clean. Call us old fashioned but we're still partial to pulling the drain plug from beneath the car. DIY service saved us cash and dealer trips, though they weren't avoidable altogether. Martin GMC eventually located the correct part and replaced the leaky rear hatch strut, which was completed under warranty. The Terrain remained mechanically intact aside from this minor hiccup.

To accept the 2.4-liter Terrain was to embrace its petroleum frugality. We understood its purpose even if we disagreed in principle. But a pleasant interior and mechanical durability didn't distract us from the 32-mpg elephant under the hood. Next step was to verify the claimed and seemingly unattainable milestone.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 20 months): $62.91
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: Rear hatch strut replaced
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 1 dealer visit and 2 DIY oil changes
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1 for rear hatch strut replacement
Days Out of Service: None
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None

Performance and Fuel Economy
We track tested the 2010 GMC Terrain when new and were unimpressed. The GMC felt particularly labored. Senior Editor Josh Jacquot commented following acceleration tests, "Uneventful acceleration with barely enough power to spin the tires. Technique is almost irrelevant. Best run was with traction control off and very, very little wheelspin."

A second test of the Terrain at test end showed improvement. Acceleration from zero to 60 mph improved three-tenths, to 8.8 seconds (with 1 foot of rollout), as did the quarter-mile of 16.8 seconds at 81.4 mph. The distance required to reach a stop from 60 mph shortened to 119 feet. We also measured more lateral force, 0.78g, around the skid pad during its final test. Slalom speed was the only area that didn't change for the better. Our quickest pass remained 63.4 mph.

But fuel economy was a major factor when ordering our Terrain. Associate Editor Mike Magrath challenged, "32 mpg highway. That's what the EPA says you can mange 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. I knew of a gas station less than 500 feet from the highway. I'd fill up, get on the highway as gently as possible, turn off the A/C (it was only 93 degrees), set the cruise to 65 (the speed limit was 75 mph) and do that for as long as I could stand and a distance that would net a reasonable reading.

"I made it 236.9 miles before I decided I was too hot and too tired to keep going 10 mph under the limit. The trip computer read 33 mpg. Average speed was 65.5 mph (I wasn't going to waste any momentum going downhill keeping it at only 65 if gravity was doing the work). Over three and a half hours of my life. No air-conditioning. I must've hit 32 mpg, right? Nope! 29.265. Would I be disappointed in 29 if that was the claim? Absolutely not; that's pretty darn good. But with the EPA saying 32 and the onboard computer reading 33, 29 is a huge disappointment." We never did better, averaging just 21 mpg over 21,000 miles with the GMC.

Best Fuel Economy: 29.3 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 15.2 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 21.3 mpg

Retained Value
We purchased our 2010 GMC Terrain SLT-2 for $31,133 just over a year and a half ago. When it was time to say good-bye, the Terrain had 21,458 miles and some minor wear and tear. At the time, Edmunds' TMV® Calculator estimated its private-party value to be $25,408. This value reflected a remarkably strong 20 percent depreciation.

Before advertising the car we visited Carmax for a price quote. Carmax offered us $25,000 for the Terrain, a value we didn't anticipate. The offer was so good that we sold the car to them on the spot. A couple of weeks afterward we found our Terrain for sale on the Carmax Web site for $27,998. We don't know if it ever resold at that price.

True Market Value at service end: $25,408
What it sold for: $25,000
Depreciation: $6,133 or 20% of original paid price
Final Odometer Reading: 21,458

Summing Up
We bought a four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive 2010 GMC Terrain for two reasons. One, it was a road test of GM's new crossover platform. And two, we were excited to test the CUV that ranked with the EPA among the most fuel-conscious in its class.

After an extended 21,000-mile long-term test the GMC satisfied our utility needs. It did so with a commendable level of comfort and convenience, a good sign of things to come from the brand. Maintenance was simple and with the exception of a warranty hatch-strut replacement, problem-free. Our hang-up with the Terrain was its estimated versus actual fuel economy.

Times are tough and consumers are prioritizing household needs just to keep gasoline in their tanks. The ever-increasing cost of oil weighs on consumers heavily. In times like these, 3 miles per gallon matters. If a CUV promises 32 mpg and delivers 29 mpg, it is especially disappointing. People want more. Would we still recommend the Terrain to family and friends? Yes. We would also advise them not to get caught up in the numbers game. Test-drive before buying and always do your homework.

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.