2018 GMC Terrain

2018 GMC Terrain Review

GMC's new generation of Terrain is one of the nicest compact crossovers on the market.
6.5 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
by Will Kaufman
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Although popular, the previous-generation Terrain was falling short of the class standards for drivability, technology and interior quality by the end of its run. Happily, the fully redesigned 2018 GMC Terrain addresses the problems the aging generation had and now represents a more compelling choice for a small, five-passenger crossover SUV.

The new Terrain pulls off the impressive trick of shrinking by just over 3 inches in length and 400 pounds in weight from the previous generation without sacrificing more than an inch of head- or legroom. Maximum cargo volume is nearly the same, too. That weight loss, combined with new engines and transmissions, promises better performance and fuel economy. However, the base engine struggles to deliver on its performance or fuel economy in the real world. We highly recommend the optional engine upgrades: The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder improves performance, while the turbocharged 1.6-liter turbodiesel is pleasant to drive and is a fuel economy champ — GMC estimates it will return 40 mpg on the highway.

The Terrain (and its sibling, the Chevy Equinox, which is nearly identical under the skin) is one of the nicest vehicles in the segment to spend time in. It's comfortable and easy to drive and comes standard with one of the best infotainment interfaces in the class. There's plenty of headroom all around, and the back seats fold flat with the pull of a lever. Aside from the disappointing base powertrain, downsides include a slightly smaller cargo area than some rival crossovers and pricing that's noticeably higher than other vehicles you might be cross-shopping. We also had to ding the Terrain for its overly firm ride quality.

If what you're looking for is efficiency, practicality and ease of use, the Honda CR-V with its 1.5-liter turbo engine is an obvious choice. The Mazda CX-5 provides a better driving experience and an interior that, in higher trims, feels even more upscale than the GMC's for less money. If you're looking for off-road prowess, the Jeep Cherokee and the Subaru Forester offer more capability.

What's new for 2018

The GMC Terrain has been redesigned from the ground up for 2018.

We recommend

We think the SLE with the Driver Alert I package gets you all the basic safety and technology features you need, plus quite a few you'll want. However, buyers who want a full suite of active safety features, including forward collision mitigation with automatic braking and lane departure intervention, will need to upgrade to the SLT and the Driver Alert II package. In either case, we also recommend upgrading from the base engine, as the 2.0-liter dramatically improves the driving experience without a serious mileage penalty.

Trim levels & features

Even the base SL trim of the 2018 Terrain comes with some desirable features, but it has a very limited options menu. Moving up to the SLE gets you access to more options. The SLT adds more luxury features and access to a few higher-end options. Finally, the top-trim Denali has features and options that put it in the near-luxury class, but it comes with a near-luxury price.

The base SL trim can only be had with the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine (170 hp, 203 lb-ft of torque) and a nine-speed automatic transmission, driving the front wheels. Trailering equipment is the only major optional upgrade available for the SL; beyond that it can't be upgraded. In fact, only three paint colors are available, and only white doesn't come with an added cost.

That said, the SL comes with a decent set of standard features, including keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rearview camera, two USB ports for the front seats, two charging-only USB ports for the rear, front and rear 110-volt power outlets, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio. GM's Teen Driver system and OnStar are also standard.

The SLE trim comes with largely the same standard equipment as the SL, adding an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a compact spare tire and a handful of interior trim-piece upgrades. However, the SLE also gets access to a host of options and packages.

Packages include the Driver Convenience package, which adds a power-adjustable driver seat, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, roof rails and remote engine start. The Infotainment I package adds an 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, a color information display in the gauge cluster, an SD card reader, two extra USB ports in the center console box, and a 110-volt outlet for the rear seat. The Driver Alert I package adds heated mirrors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors. Some of these add-ons can be had individually, along with a panoramic sunroof and trailering equipment.

Stepping up to the SLT trim gets you leather upholstery and the Driver Convenience and Infotainment I package (except for navigation). Upgrades for the SLT include the Driver Alert I package and the Driver Alert II package, which adds low-speed forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, and automatic high beams. The Infotainment II package adds navigation and a seven-speaker Bose stereo system. Also available is the Preferred package, which includes a power liftgate, driver-seat memory settings, a power passenger seat and a heated steering wheel.

Two gas engines are available for the Terrain. The 1.5-liter engine with front-wheel drive comes standard on both the SLE and SLT trims, but both can be optioned with either a more powerful gasoline engine or a more efficient diesel. The more powerful gas engine, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (252 hp, 260 lb-ft of torque), is available and comes with dual exhaust tips and larger wheels. Also available is a turbocharged 1.6-liter diesel-powered four-cylinder engine (137 hp, 240 lb-ft of torque), paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. GMC estimates the diesel will return 40 mpg highway. Equipping the diesel engine also adds the Driver Convenience package for the SLE and the Preferred package for the SLT.

All three engines come standard with front-wheel drive, but they can be optioned with all-wheel drive. A knob in AWD-equipped Terrains allows drivers to switch between all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive on the fly.

At the top of the Terrain range is the Denali, which can only be had with the 2.0-liter engine. The Denali receives unique styling cues and interior trim, as well as Denali-specific 19-inch wheels and LED headlights. It bundles in the Preferred package and Driver Alert I package, along with several other options such as the panoramic sunroof.

Optional extras for the Terrain Denali include the Driver Alert II package, along with the Advanced Safety package, which adds a surround-view parking camera system and an automated parking system. The Denali's Comfort package adds ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, as well as a wireless phone charging pad.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the GMC Terrain SLT (turbo 1.5L inline-4 | 9-speed automatic | FWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall6.5 / 10


6.0 / 10

Acceleration5.5 / 10
Braking7.0 / 10
Steering6.5 / 10
Handling7.0 / 10
Drivability5.5 / 10


6.5 / 10

Seat comfort6.5 / 10
Ride comfort5.0 / 10
Noise & vibration7.0 / 10
Climate control6.5 / 10


6.0 / 10

Ease of use5.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.0 / 10
Driving position6.5 / 10
Roominess7.5 / 10
Visibility6.0 / 10
Quality7.0 / 10


7.0 / 10

Small-item storage8.0 / 10
Cargo space7.0 / 10


7.5 / 10

Audio & navigation7.5 / 10
Smartphone integration8.5 / 10
Driver aids7.5 / 10
Voice control7.0 / 10


The base engine lacks power, the transmission is slow-witted, and the powertrain's focus on fuel economy all but eliminates snappy acceleration and quick pedal response. Elsewhere it's better. The brakes feel good, and though it's no sport SUV, the Terrain handles curves and corners with composure.


The small turbocharged engine delivers decent zip at low speeds, but acceleration falls off as the transmission runs for its highest gears to save fuel. Good in theory, but awful when trying to merge or pass. Our as-tested 0-60 mph time was 9.3 seconds, highlighting the Terrain's leaden pace.


The brakes bite smoothly and evenly, with a good relationship between pedal pressure and actual stopping power. Initially the pedal feels a little soft but firms up after a few millimeters of travel. The Terrain stopped from 60 mph in 126 feet in our testing, a decent result for a compact SUV.


The steering is slow, making for a lot of mush to steer through before the Terrain starts to change direction in earnest. The steering effort weights up nicely at highway speeds, imparting more confidence and a sense of stability.


Capable and balanced on twisty roads, the Terrain keeps body roll in check. You won't mistake it for a Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape or other sportier rival; it lacks the necessary suspension tuning or tire grip. But through turns at reasonably high speeds, the Terrain remains stable and composed.


Good braking and competent handling can't make up for a weak engine and languid transmission. When you need immediate speed, the accelerator often feels mushy and lifeless, while engine speed and downshifts exhibit noticeable lag and delay. Doesn't inspire confidence when highway merging or passing.


Poorly placed central air vents and stifling leather upholstery aside, the Terrain is quite comfortable, at least at rest. On the road, it's prone to regular low-impact shock, vibration and jostling on even moderately rough road. The seats are good, though, and the cabin keeps outside noise at bay.

Seat comfort6.5

The firm but not rigid seats are comfortable overall and hold up well over long miles. But they're somewhat compact; bigger and broader passengers might find them constricting. Bolsters are relatively flat and low, seatbacks a bit narrow. Rear seats are comfortable, but cushions are somewhat flat.

Ride comfort5.0

This Terrain rides surprisingly poorly on regular pavement. Even mildly bumpy streets sends shock waves into the cabin, resulting in a steady hum of shakes and vibrations. Your mother would probably notice and ask if something's wrong. Not up to par for the segment.

Noise & vibration7.0

Road and tire noise is limited to a muted, dull hum on most road surfaces. Some wind noise leaks in at the front pillars, but it ts muted and acceptable. But the relative serenity is broken by a suspension that transmits too much road shake and shudder into the cabin — more mail truck than GMC.

Climate control6.5

The control layout is simple other than the four buttons for vent mode, which is excessive. Central vertical vents distribute air poorly, but steering wheel heats up nicely. Seats offer cushion-only or cushion-and-seatback heating, a nice feature. Ventilated seats aren't available in any trim level.


The interior is attractive and well-configured, but some controls are awkwardly placed. Taller drivers will want the steering wheel to extend farther. The panoramic sunroof cuts into rear headroom for taller folks, but overall this is a roomy cabin with good space for shoulders, legs and elbows.

Ease of use5.0

Control placement is a mixed bag — the headlight switch is by your knee, Snow mode in center console. Least impressive is the Terrain's unnecessarily clumsy transmission interface — pull switches placed below the climate controls. There's no way to avoid using those on every drive.

Getting in/getting out7.0

The low seat bolsters make it easy to slide into front and rear seats. The doors open between 60 and 75 degrees, making for a wide opening. The step-in height is low enough for most passengers to get in and out with minimal effort.

Driving position6.5

Plenty of seat adjustment up and down, as well as fore and aft seat travel. Wide range of adjustment should suit most drivers, although taller drivers might wish for more steering wheel extension so they won't need to sit too close or upright to the steering wheel.


There's good headroom up front, although the sloping roofline and panoramic sunroof lower the ceiling and may infringe on the headroom of taller drivers and passengers. Also good space between arms, elbows and door panels, which helps this small SUV feel larger


Truck-ish forward view — the deep, angled dash makes it hard to know where the front really is. The front side windows offer a good view, less so out the rear side windows. The rear-most side windows are more decorative than useful, and the rear window is too narrow.


The Terrain shares the same solid feeling as most GMC trucks and SUVs. There's a solidity to the sheet metal, upholstery and interior materials that imparts confidence and a sense of safety. Cabin materials aren't particularly special, but they look and feel high-quality.


The Terrain doesn't offer an abundance of cargo space compared to some rivals, but can handle most routine hauling and cargo needs. Some of its more thoughtful features — such as small trays and cubbies and especially a fold-flat front passenger seat — offer an edge.

Small-item storage8.0

Plenty of bins, trays and pockets available to hold personal items. The cutout above the glovebox for a front passenger's mobile device is a nice touch, as are the trays in the rear door panels. Thoughtful touches designed with family and passengers of all ages in mind.

Cargo space7.0

With rear seats folded, the Terrain's 63 cubic feet of cargo space lags behind benchmarks (Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV-4). But a fold-flat front passenger seat is a nice touch. The power liftgate and low liftover height make cargo loading easy, too.

Child safety seat accommodation7.0

LATCH anchors are easy to find and connect to, and there's plenty of space for forward-facing seats. Rear-facing seats fit well as long as driver and front passenger can keep their seats reasonably forward. There's no top-tether for middle seat, but there's one in the rear seatback.


Our test car, with its 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, is rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds, about the same as most other four-cylinder-powered SUVs in the class. Equipped with the optional 2.0-liter turbo-four, the Terrain can tow up to 3,500 pounds.


The Terrain deserves high marks for its tech, improving on the mediocre offerings of past models. Plenty of features are standard throughout the lineup, multiple driver aids are available, and six USB ports help ensure that all devices get charged. Navigation comes with strings attached, though.

Audio & navigation7.5

The optional Bose sound system offers surprising power and clarity, but leave your discs at home; there's no CD player. Navigation is easy to use and looks sharp, but you'll also need to buy a power liftgate to get it.

Smartphone integration8.5

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. Apple CarPlay beats GMC's native software for ease of use, but the standard system works fine for those outside the Apple/Android ecosystem. Six (!) USB ports for device charging; one is even the new USB-C standard.

Driver aids7.5

Forward collision warning system has adjustable sensitivity (pick your preferred threshold of panic). Lane keeping assist is insistent, almost intrusive, to keep you within the lines. Might motivate more turn signal use. Safety alert seat remains an innovation that we prefer to beeps and flashes.

Voice control7.0

The GMC native software and Apple CarPlay both decipher speech commands fairly well. CarPlay understands natural speech slightly better, but it relies on an internet connection. Native software requires staying within well-defined prompts and parameters.

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.