The 2018 GMC Terrain ups the ante for luxury crossovers

The all-new 2018 GMC Terrain takes a giant step forward with numerous updates and an attractive redesign that create a complete package.

The 2018 all-new GMC Terrain SLT.
The 2018 all-new GMC Terrain SLT. –Provided by GMC

The GMC Terrain is all-new for 2018, and it’s showing off a much-needed update. The popularity of crossovers has exploded since the Terrain debuted way back in 2010. A plethora of choices threatened to push the Terrain aside, but GMC gave it a new look, new engines, and an all-new infotainment system to keep it competitive.

The first trick was to stay true to the bold look of GMC vehicles while making the Terrain appeal to a wider audience. The goal with the new Terrain was to build something that still looked like a GMC, but with a more premium feel for luxury buyers.

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This includes HID headlamps with LED signature lighting, three grilles, and a heavily sculpted hood. The rear tail lamps also have LED signature lighting to complete the look, and it works. It has the feel of GMC’s larger vehicles with a dose of refinement.

A choice of three new turbocharged engines also broadens the Terrain’s appeal. The two gas variants are a 1.5-liter four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 201 pound-feet of torque or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Both are paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission with well-timed shifts that deliver a smooth ride.

The larger engine is the more fun of the two, but the 1.5-liter is no slouch. The Terrain doesn’t target performance buyers, but rather luxury buyers. Many will be happy with the smaller engine. Even at highway speeds, it has strong acceleration that doesn’t disappoint.

Your third choice is a 1.6-liter diesel engine with 137 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s also a strong performer and remarkably quiet for a diesel. Yes, while outside, the vehicle announces its presence with that typical diesel engine note, but it’s not abrasive. Inside, you’re hard-pressed to notice it’s a diesel at all. It only gives itself away with a bit of vibration you can feel in the lower gears if you’re really paying attention.

Boston.com Dealer Specials:
Inside the GMC Terrain SLT
The interior of the 2018 all-new GMC Terrain SLT. —Provided by GMC
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GMC is solidly targeting the luxury buyer with the Terrain, but not one who wants to be flashy about their new set of wheels. It doesn’t scream luxury from the outside, but inside the trims are attractive and tasteful with quality materials and an upscale feel. Think of the Terrain as luxury-light for someone who wants a little bit more but doesn’t want it over the top. Particularly in the Denali trim, the Terrain has a fantastic interior.

Key features for the all-new Terrain include a standard fold-flat front passenger seat and a fold-flat second row. This makes it easier to load and makes it possible to load items up to 8 feet long. An available hands-free power liftgate further assists with easy loading.

Up front, the dashboard has two new features designed to give the Terrain an edge. First, there’s the electronic precision shift rather than the traditional shifter configuration. This unique design features buttons on the dashboard beneath the infotainment and environmental controls. Also, if you manage to turn off the car without putting it in park, then the Terrain figures that out and automatically puts it in park for you.

Above those controls is an all-new infotainment system that makes its GMC debut in the Terrain. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard along with a 7-inch touchscreen. The system also features unique personalization with the ability to create profiles for each user. You can swipe and pinch the same way you would on a tablet or phone, making it intuitive and less distracting.

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The all-new 2018 GMC Terrain takes a giant step forward with numerous updates and an attractive redesign that create a complete package. It’s arriving in dealerships now at a starting price of $25,970.

Nicole Wakelin is a contributor to BestRide.com and CarGurus.com; she can be reached on Twitter @NicoleWakelin.