Car Guides

What the experts say about the 2018 GMC Terrain

A safety official, a writer, and an editor weigh in.

The 2018 GMC Terrain. GMC Cars is your go-to resource for coverage of local car news, events, and reviews. In the market for a car or truck? Check out our new car specials and used car specials curated by our local dealer network.

In this ongoing series, talks with automotive authorities about why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.

2018 GMC Terrain

Compact SUVs may rank high in cargo space and convenience, but, unless you’re piloting a sleek Porsche Macan, they’re not often fun. Redesigned for 2018, the GMC Terrain puts up a valiant effort for a non-luxury nameplate.

Built on the same platform as the Chevrolet Equinox, the five-passenger Terrain runs on a standard 170-horsepower, 1.5-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. Choose the 252-horsepower, 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine or 137-horsepower, 1.6-liter turbodiesel for additional oomph. The crossover comes in four trims ranging from basic to bling: SL, SLE, SLT, Denali. All-wheel drive is available on the top three. Surprisingly smooth for a mainstream SUV, the Terrain is also small enough to maneuver in city traffic. Together, these attributes account for more than half the fun you’ll have behind the wheel.


The Terrain has plenty of passenger room in both rows and feels notably more upscale than its Chevy cousin and its direct competitors, the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape. If it weren’t for its hard plastic surfaces and stiff upholstery, you might forget it’s not a luxury model. Standard features include Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a quartet of USB ports, a 4G LTE built-in Wi-Fi hot spot, and GMC’s IntelliLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen. Wireless phone charging, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen and navigation are available.

The 2018 GMC Terrain received excellent safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Every model comes equipped with a rearview camera and GM’s “rear seat reminder,” which reminds drivers to check for a child or pet in the second row as they exit. Buyers can upgrade to forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree parking camera on most trims.  

The compact crossover’s base model returns 26 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. SUVs equipped with the turbodiesel engine deliver a stellar 28/39 mpg city/highway. The GMC Terrain starts at $25,990 and ratchets up to $38,595 for the top-of-the-line Denali trim.

What the experts are saying

Poor headlights


“The Terrain is not among the nine 2018 small SUVs that earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick award, only because it is not available with headlights that are rated better than poor in our nighttime track tests. Visibility with the high beams is inadequate in most cases, and the low beams produce excessive glare for oncoming drivers, which results in a downgrade. In other safety evaluations the Terrain does well. This model earns the highest rating of ‘Good’ in six crashworthiness evaluations, including our newest test, the 40 mph passenger-side small overlap front crash test. This evaluation measures how well the right-front passenger would be protected in a severe crash where the impact is on the passenger’s side of the vehicle. The Terrain also earns the top rating of ‘Superior’ for how its optional front crash prevention system with automatic emergency braking would prevent or mitigate a front-into-rear collision.” Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Sleek and sophisticated

“The GMC Terrain carries an air of sophistication and athleticism, two character traits not traditionally associated with the budget-friendly compact crossover segment. Redesigned for 2018, the new Terrain is sleeker and less boxy than the outgoing model, and its heavily revised, high-tech cabin is sure to impress for years to come. Like its predecessor, the reworked Terrain shares engines and a common platform with the Chevrolet Equinox, but the GMC’s expressive design distinguishes it from its more sedate Chevy counterpart. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Terrain’s luxe Denali trim level. While the Equinox’s Premier trim certainly looks good by its own accord, the Terrain ups the ante with wood trim and liberal use of soft-touch plastics.” – Cameron Rogers, staff writer at Edmunds


City driving

Though the GMC Terrain is the smallest SUV in the GMC family, it holds its own. The compact utility vehicle has superior ride handling and tight steering — perfect for navigating tight city streets in congested urban areas. It has a sharp look, especially the Denali trim, which sports chrome detailing and 19-inch wheels. The interior is comfortable and offers 40 inches of legroom. That plus decent fuel economy makes it an ideal daily driver. It might be a little tight for a family of four, but it would be a perfect starter SUV for an expanding brood. Unexpectedly, it’s also a strong contender as a city vehicle because it offers ample SUV interior space in a compact body that makes weaving lanes, avoiding pedestrians, and turning narrow corners a cinch, and it has enough safety technology to keep the driver focused on the road.” – Carly Schaffner, managing editor at