By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
Eagle, Idaho – When we heard that Barbara’s son-in-law, Todd, would be racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race in Roseburg, Oregon, we figured it was a good time to go watch him race. We happen to have the 2019 GMC Terrain SLT and decided it would be a good vehicle for the cross-state road trip. It turned out to be a much better road trip vehicle than we would have guessed.
Drive Across Oregon
Although we’d driven on these roads many times before, the June crossing of Oregon turned out to be one the most scenic drives through that area we’d ever done. Along the 500-mile route we passed over rolling wildflower-covered planes, through thick pine forests highlighted by volcanic mountain peaks, past sparking mountain lakes and blue whitewater streams. About 95 percent of the route was on rural two-lane highways which made it a much more interesting drive than on freeways.
The striking Terrain Black Edition had Ebony Twilight Metallic paint, black trim and grille surround and unique black 19-inch aluminum wheels. Strange to us was that the Black Edition also comes in Graphite Gray Metallic, Satin Steel Metallic, Summit White, or Sedona Metallic exterior colors.
Terrain SLT Black Edition has leather seating, heated front-seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, roof-mounted side rails, a 4.2-inch diagonal color Driver Information Screen, and an advanced 8-inch GMC Infotainment System with personalized profiles for infotainment and vehicle settings, along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
As we started off before sunrise Friday morning, the first thing we noticed about the GMC Terrain was how quiet and smooth riding it was, especially for an SUV. The black leather seats are comfortable and supportive but are still easy to slide onto. We like the looks, but the upswept rear side body panel limits rear side visibility. The rear camera and blind spot warning systems help limit that problem, however.
The controls are nicely organized, but neither of us liked the unusual push-button shifter which is mounted on the bottom of the center stack. It required us to look away from the road to shift and although it might become routine with practice it lacked the intuitive feel we think a shifter should have. It was also nearly impossible to shift the nine-speed automatic transmission manually – the driver has to reach to the far side of the shift panel and push buttons up or down. Shifting in and out of all-wheel drive was a much easier task that just required turning the knob on the center console.
The Terrain rides on a four-wheel independent suspension with MacPherson struts up front and a four-link configuration in the rear. The handling was good, about what we’d expect from a compact SUV. There is a little body lean when cornering but not enough to distract from good handling characteristics.
Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Engine
The second feature that stood out was the performance. Our test vehicle had the optional 252-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine attached to a nine-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. The combination is capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds which makes it a good tow vehicle for a couple of adult toys.
Impressive Performance & Economy
Our trip often required us to pass slower moving vehicles, and this engine provided very good passing power. Stomp the gas and the transmission shifted down smoothly and with no noticeable hesitation the engine accelerated to get quickly around the slower vehicle. Buff magazine testing lists a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 6.8 seconds. Fuel economy was also very good, we logged 29.1 mpg for the round trip. The EPA fuel economy is listed at 21 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. The engine has a virtually seamless auto stop system.
The Terrain is also available with a standard 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline engine or an optional 1.6-liter turbo diesel which has an EPA estimate of 39 mpg.
Our test vehicle had a long list of options ($6,995 extra) which added all the safety and luxury features we see on most upper level vehicles. This included an excellent navigation system, full-featured infotainment system, hands-free power rear liftgate, memory driver seat, heated steering wheel, Bose audio, auto high beam and on and on.
The 2019 GMC Terrain is available in six trim levels including two diesel trims. The front wheel drive SL pricing starts at $26,195, including destination charge. All-wheel drive adds $1,700 to all models. The diesel adds $2,800 to the price of the 1.5-liter turbo and is $295 less than the 2.0-liter gas turbo for the SLT trim. The Terrain is also available in a fully loaded and upscale Denali trim for $41,890.
Overall, we were impressed by the GMC Terrain. It was enjoyable and comfortable to drive, relatively fuel efficient, quiet and it seemed to be well built. In the highly competitive category of compact SUVs we think it’s a contender and well worth checking out for someone shopping for a small SUV.