Crossover SUV shoppers just can't quit the strong-selling 2017 GMC Terrain. But the current-generation Terrain is now in its eighth year on the market, and every major rival has received an overhaul during that stretch. How does the Terrain stay in the game? The roomy backseat certainly helps, as does the powerful optional V6 engine. We'll also mention the quiet, comfortable ride as a relative strength in this class.
The Denali version of the 2017 Terrain receives special styling details. The model's overall look is getting pretty familiar, though.
But as you might imagine, time hasn't been kind to the Terrain in some other respects. The base four-cylinder engine provides both underwhelming acceleration and disappointing real-world fuel economy, while the dashboard is showing its age thanks to a hard-to-reach touchscreen and some ergonomic faux pas. Furthermore, smartphone users -- i.e., just about every car shopper these days -- should note that Bluetooth audio connectivity isn't even available on the two lowest trim levels (SL and SLE-1).
The 2017 Terrain remains a versatile and generally competent crossover, but we'd recommend taking a close look at a number of its rivals before making a final decision. Segment leaders include the enduringly well-rounded Honda CR-V, the significantly refreshed Toyota RAV4 and the sporty yet practical Mazda CX-5. We also like the redesigned Kia Sportage, which has a big backseat like the Terrain, along with contemporary cabin technology. Faced with distinguished competitors like these, the 2017 GMC Terrain has its work cut out if it wants to win your heart.
The 2017 GMC Terrain is fitted with standard antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. Also standard is GM's OnStar emergency communications system, which includes automatic crash notification, an emergency assistance button, remote door unlock and stolen vehicle assistance.
Lane-departure warning, forward-collision alert, rear parking sensors and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert are optional on the SLE-2 and SLT trim levels and standard on Denali.
In Edmunds testing, a Terrain Denali V6 AWD stopped from 60 mph in a satisfactory 122 feet.
In government crash tests, the Terrain earned an overall score of four stars out of five, with four stars for overall frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Terrain the best possible rating of "Good" in its small-overlap frontal-offset, moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. The seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
trim levels & features
The 2017 GMC Terrain is available in five trim levels: SL, SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT and Denali.
Standard equipment for the base SL trim includes 18-inch alloy wheels, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, cruise control, a power height-adjustable driver seat with power lumbar, a 60/40-split folding rear seat with sliding and reclining functions, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, rear privacy glass, OnStar (with an onboard WiFi hotspot), Bluetooth phone (but not audio) connectivity, a 7-inch touchscreen interface and a six-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port.
Move up to the SLE-1 and you get heated mirrors and satellite radio. More importantly, all-wheel drive becomes available.
The SLE-2 builds upon the SLE-1, adding LED daytime running lights, automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a Pioneer eight-speaker audio system and GM's IntelliLink system, which includes Bluetooth audio, voice controls and compatibility with Pandora and Stitcher smartphone apps. The available Convenience package adds heated front seats and remote engine start.
LED daytime running lights come standard on the SLE-2 trim level and above.
The SLT comes standard with the Convenience package and adds chrome exterior accents, ambient interior lighting and perforated leather upholstery.
Two Driver Alert package levels are available for the SLE-2 and SLT. The first level includes a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors and (on the SLT only) an adjustable power liftgate. The second level adds forward-collision and lane-departure alerts. The SLT-only Memory package includes driver memory settings and an eight-way power passenger seat (with power lumbar).
Also optional on SLE-2 and SLT is the Nightfall package, which includes special 18-inch wheels and various gloss-black exterior accents.
The range-topping Denali has the SLT features as well as 19-inch wheels, an exclusive comfort-oriented suspension and Denali-specific exterior and interior trim. It also includes the Memory and Driver Alert I and II packages.
A navigation system is optional on Terrains in the SLE-2 trim and above.
The 2017 GMC Terrain comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. Optional on SLE-2, SLT and Denali is a 3.6-liter V6 that churns out a hefty 301 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard, and all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional on all trims except the base SL model.
In Edmunds testing, a mechanically comparable four-cylinder Chevrolet Equinox LT with FWD accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds, which is notably slower than average for a small crossover. A Terrain Denali V6 AWD went from zero to 60 in a quick 7.1 seconds.
According to EPA fuel economy estimates, the four-cylinder engine should return 25 mpg combined (21 city/31 highway) with FWD, although we've been unable to match those numbers in our test vehicles. With AWD, the four-cylinder drops to 23 mpg combined (20/28). The V6 is rated at 20 mpg combined (17/24) with FWD and 18 mpg combined (16/23) with AWD.
With the four-cylinder engine, a properly equipped Terrain can tow 1,500 pounds; the V6 increases towing capacity to 3,500 pounds.
Ride quality is excellent in the 2017 GMC Terrain. The comfort-tuned suspension soaks up road imperfections, and extensive sound-deadening measures make this affordable crossover unusually quiet on the highway. The cushier suspension in the Denali version makes the ride even more agreeable. There's a price to be paid for the soft ride, however, as the Terrain is out of its element when the road starts to bend. If you want a more engaging driving experience, the Mazda CX-5 would certainly suit you better.
The 2017 Terrain's imposing grille is backed up by potent acceleration with the optional V6 engine.
The four-cylinder GMC Terrain doesn't feel very potent in most situations. You'll have the gas pedal floored during routine merging and passing maneuvers, which can get on your nerves over time. If you're looking for a more enjoyable driving experience, the V6 is definitely the way to go. With 301 horses on tap, it's one of the most capable engines in any crossover in this price range.
Although GMC is primarily known as a truck brand, the tastefully appointed interior of the GMC Terrain shows a softer side. The dashboard is styled in two graceful curves, with gauges and secondary controls treated to bright red back lighting. The center stack has survived nearly untouched since the Terrain's debut in 2010, however, so it unsurprisingly looks dated when compared to most other vehicles in this segment. In particular, many of the buttons are small and hard to differentiate at a glance.
We like that this 7-inch touchscreen comes standard on every 2017 Terrain, but its ergonomics and responsiveness leave something to be desired.
The standard 7-inch color touchscreen display lends a high-tech feel to even the base model Terrain, and the IntelliLink interface (standard starting on the SLE-2 model) is a worthwhile enhancement, as it thankfully includes Bluetooth audio as well as Pandora and Stitcher integration. On the downside, the slanted screen is more than an arm's length away from the driver, and the small, fiddly virtual buttons make it difficult to navigate the on-screen menus. In addition, the system's occasional slow or missed responses to touch inputs can be frustrating.
The front bucket seats are comfortable, and the standard sliding rear seat allows you to optimize rear-seat legroom or cargo capacity, depending on your needs. But even when primed for cargo, the Terrain can't carry as much stuff as some other crossovers. With the rear seats folded, the Terrain's 63.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity is noticeably less than that of the Honda CR-V, among other rivals. With the rear seats carrying passengers, the Terrain offers a so-so 31.6 cubic feet of cargo space.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.