We would have to consider one of the most competitive markets in the automobile world right now, would be that of the compact or small SUV. GMC has had a competitive vehicle in this market since the 2010 model year, with their Terrain model. Over the 6-year run there have not been many changes for the model as the 2016 version has received a few upgrades to help bolster its competitiveness in this fiercely completive segment of the market.
A group that contains the likes of the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Cherokee and Toyota Rav4. just to name a few. Most of these have received a complete redesign, or very significant changes in the past couple of years to capture a market that grows daily as millennials start to have families, and need a larger vehicle that will carry more stuff and get to more places, but still keeps better gas mileage as part of the package.
Since its introduction the Terrain has been the second best-selling car in the GMC line, hovering just below the ever-popular Sierra pickup, most likely the designers have not made many changes, ‘hey if it’s working, why fix it?’
The design of the Terrain is definitely the manliest looking in the segment with very chiseled corners and sheet metal bends that make up the look of this compact SUV, unless of course we include the Jeep Wrangler in the discussion, which is hard since it is a smaller SUV, but really serves a completely different purpose than being a small family hauler that can tackle snow and other weather related street conditions, but is not really meant for a sandstone Moab adventure.
A testament to the design appealing to even a millennial would have to be our son Landon, who fits the segment perfectly, with a wife and one child and currently owns a Hyundai Santa Fe. He loved the look of Terrain, and the fact that he would look better driving around with the family, which would be the biggest part of his decision process when purchasing a vehicle like this. He did have to make sure that the stroller fit in the back and that the car seat was easy to install, after that as long as it would hook up to his ever present phone easy decision.
Deanne did have a chance during the week while tending London’s son Jensen, to use the car seat and get the 22-month-old child in an out with ease on a trip to story time at the library. She was even able to get the car seat out of the Terrain on her own, a feat that can sometimes takes an engineer to accomplish according to our son, depending on how the seats are designed and how far down in the seat hooks are located to attach the seat.
New this year to the Terrain are LED accents lights, a new hood and the signature three line grill that is present on other models in the line. Other than that the outside is pretty much the same as it has been since its inception 6 years ago.
Inside there are some minor changes to some of the buttons and an added shelf to store things on, just below the touchscreen infotainment system. Since this was the first time we have had an opportunity to have an entire week with the smallest in the GMC line, we were impressed with the trim of the Denali.
The Denali is of course equipped with all the great new General Motors technical advantages, OnStar and 4G Wifi hotspot hub. Over the years we have had a couple of different vehicles that have included OnStar and have used the feature extensively. It has come in handy a couple of times when the vehicle was involved in an accident and with recent advances has come in handy using the new application on our iPhones.
We were able to locate the Denali, lock and unlock doors, start the engine on cold mornings and also monitor other vehicle statistics on our phone such as tire pressure, mileage, oil life remaining and amount of fuel in the tank. The Wifi is a great feature with kids in the back allowing them to use there iPads and other devices on a long drive or vacation.
The new IntelliLink system has also allowed us to send a destination to the Denali’s navigation system from our phone before we started on a trip, a great time saving feature. It also included complete smart phone integration with the SUV that made using Pandora and other apps a snap. This system also allows hands free text messaging and Siri eye free use of iPhones.
There were a couple of updates that we would encourage GM to add to the Terrain as soon as possible; the first would be a keyless entry and pushbutton start of the Denali. The first time we got into the SUV Craig was very surprised that he had to get out the key from his pocket to start it up. It seems we rarely get to drive a car particularly in this price range that doesn’t have a push button start.
The second would be to replace the monochrome red information center between the tachometer and speedometer with a more updated color led screen like the larger brothers in the line have received, it is a much better technology than what was included in the small SUV.
The 3.6 liter V6 is the largest available in this class at 301 horsepower and we found it to be a very strong choice for the smallest SUV in the GMC line up. The Terrain is also one of the heaviest in this class, so we would recommend the larger engine as there is a 4-cylinder version available with 182 horsepower. Fuel economy is not the best in the market as we averaged right at 18.5 mpg for the week. The smaller engine should move that number to the mid 20’s.
On the safety side our Denali came with airbags all-around located in 6 different locations throughout the vehicle. Also included was blind spot monitoring, forward collision alert, rear cross path detection and lane departure warning, all added up to make the drive as safe as possible.
Overall the Denali was very powerful and easy to get around in, if a full size SUV is not as desirable because of drivability, then this would be a great smaller version to consider. It has a larger look than others in the class and drives with more attitude.
See one today at Harmons GMC in Provo at 470 West 100 North, 801-841-3109 or AutoFarm GMC in American Fork at 629 East 1000 South, 888-887-5041.
Base Price: $35,725
Price as Driven: $41,080