2012 GMC Terrain Review

Pros & Cons

  • Quiet and attractive cabin
  • sophisticated ride
  • strong crash test scores
  • roomy backseat
  • plenty of standard and optional features
  • good fuel economy.
  • Cargo space could be more generous
  • compromised visibility
  • numb steering.
List Price Range
$7,000 - $13,744

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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

Vehicle overview

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

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

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

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

2012 GMC Terrain models

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

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

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

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

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

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2012 Highlights

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

Performance & mpg

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

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

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

In performance testing, a V6-powered all-wheel-drive Terrain went from a standstill to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, which is also on the slow side. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 17/24/20 with all-wheel drive.


The 2012 GMC Terrain comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, a rearview camera and OnStar. In Edmunds brake testing, a four-cylinder Terrain came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet. A heavier V6 model did the same task in 127 feet. Both results are good for the segment.

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


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

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


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

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

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 GMC Terrain.

50 reviews
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Most helpful consumer reviews

Terrain Problems
SLE-1 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
I bought my new terrain in May 2012 after just having it a short time the navigation screen would go very dim and then bright. I took it to dealership more than once, they did not know why or how to fix it after trying several times. I contacted GMC corporate about the problem. It is still not fixed. I stopped taking it to dealership because if they can't fix it why take it in. Now I have another problem. My ck engine light coming on. Took it to dealership, it is a random misfire, they don't know why or how to fix it. It's in there for 2nd time in one wk I now have the gen mgr involved- I refuse to get stuck with a lemon. I have a loaner vehicle I just trade the terrain in for new chevy. I had nothing but problems with the terrain almost since day one. It would constantly jerk when it shifted gears, was very loud when running- manifold problems and gas fumes were coming into vehicle so bad that windows had to be opened. I do not recommend anyone buy this vehicle. It's looks nice but that's about it.
LOVE IT except for the transmission jerks.
SLE-2 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
We've had our Terrain for 6 months. Always have been a loyal GM customer. The Terrain stole our hearts when we decided to purchase a new vehicle. Its sharp. Inside and out. LOVE the interior and all the cool features. There is one problem......transmission slips/jerks. I have 9,000 miles on it. When I took it into the dealership they had a "transmission" specialist come out to talk to me. I explained the jerking/slipping and he urged me to take him for a drive. The entire time instead of observing the ride he explained to me that it was just the "engine recharging" because of the eco motor. I call BS. It seems to be getting worse. Anyone else had this issue??
Transmission Jerks when putting it in reverse
SLT-1 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
I have the 2012 GMC Terrain and for the last few years it sporadically jerks/kicks/slips when I first put it in reverse to drive out of the garage. It's not consistent so the dealer can't diagnose it and it never does it when I try to show it to someone. I've been told that this isn't a problem, but it still makes me nervous. Other than that, I love the Terrain!
Engine Powered down 3 times
John Silvani,03/13/2016
SLE-2 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
Dangerous when engine powers down on highway for no apparent reason.....69 miles an hour to 40 in seconds with truck baring down on you...Three times in 37000 miles on a 2012 GMC Terrain. Just fixed on Wdnesday picked up on friday 3-11-15 andf powered down again on 3-13-16 with family members in car ioncluding a 3 year old grandson.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat4 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover19.1%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2012 GMC Terrain

Used 2012 GMC Terrain Overview

The Used 2012 GMC Terrain is offered in the following submodels: Terrain SUV. Available styles include SLE-1 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A), SLE-2 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A), SLE-2 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A), SLT-1 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A), SLT-1 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A), SLT-2 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A), SLE-1 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A), and SLT-2 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A). Pre-owned GMC Terrain models are available with a 2.4 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 182 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2012 GMC Terrain comes with front wheel drive, and all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2012 GMC Terrain comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2012 GMC Terrain?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 GMC Terrain trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 GMC Terrain SLT-1 is priced between $7,000 and$9,495 with odometer readings between 116362 and123632 miles.
  • The Used 2012 GMC Terrain SLE-1 is priced between $13,744 and$13,744 with odometer readings between 44439 and44439 miles.
  • The Used 2012 GMC Terrain SLE-2 is priced between $10,295 and$10,295 with odometer readings between 89222 and89222 miles.
  • The Used 2012 GMC Terrain SLT-2 is priced between $7,500 and$7,500 with odometer readings between 140167 and140167 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2012 GMC Terrains are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 GMC Terrain for sale near. There are currently 5 used and CPO 2012 Terrains listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $7,000 and mileage as low as 44439 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 GMC Terrain.

Can't find a used 2012 GMC Terrains you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used GMC Terrain for sale - 6 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $7,574.

Find a used GMC for sale - 9 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $9,361.

Find a used certified pre-owned GMC Terrain for sale - 10 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $24,228.

Find a used certified pre-owned GMC for sale - 5 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $18,784.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 GMC Terrain?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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