The GMC Terrain is all-new this year with updated styling, three engine choices, and four available trim levels. Sitting at the top of the range is the exclusive Denali trim, which designates the most upscale and fully-featured vehicles in the GMC lineup.
GMC isn’t quite a luxury brand, but it’s aiming in that direction. The Denali trims are at the heart of that strategy. There are Denali versions of every model from the Acadia crossover to the Sierra 2500HD heavy-duty truck. They stand out with unique design elements and features not found in other trims.
The Terrain is a roomy five-passenger crossover with ample cargo capacity. There’s 29.6 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seat, and 63.3 cubic feet behind the front seats with the rear seats folded. It offers an extra level of flexibility with a front passenger seat that also folds to increase cargo capacity to 81 cubic feet. This allows enough space for longer items like a kayak without having to resort to a roof rack.
While the Terrain has three engines available, the Terrain Denali comes only with the powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. This has 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque and is paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Crossovers aren’t known for being performance vehicles, but this engine makes the Terrain Denali a surprisingly responsive vehicle.
It’s easy to merge into heavy highway traffic, and an aggressive foot on the accelerator provides plenty of power for high-speed passing. The Terrain Denali never feels heavy or slow and is instead light on its feet. The transmission provides smooth, seamless shifts that are never harsh and are well-timed to deliver optimum power.
The Terrain Denali has responsive handling and a controlled, comfortable ride that makes driving easy work. This also makes for a relaxing ride for passengers. Unique Denali-specific suspension tuning and urethane spring isolators ensure this upscale crossover rides like one.
In addition to a powerful engine and improved ride quality, the Terrain Denali has numerous interior and exterior touches that make it different from the rest of the Terrain lineup. Outside, there’s a satin-chrome multidimensional grille, LED headlamps with signature lighting, and 19-inch ultra-bright aluminum wheels with dark-painted pockets. It also has body-color fascias and lower trim and bright roof rails, door handle surrounds, outside mirror caps, and body-side moldings.
These enhancements serve to make the Terrain Denali stand out in a sea of crossovers. It’s hard to take that familiar shape and make it different. There’s only so much you can do with a crossover to give it some style. The Terrain Denali adds just enough extras to make it unique without going overboard.
Inside, it’s one part aesthetics and one part comfort that complete the Denali package. Standard amenities include dual-zone automatic climate control, Denali-specific trim colors, and Denali-specific leather-trimmed seating that’s heated up front. There are also aluminum sill plates with the Denali logo. It’s an attractive and comfortable cabin, especially on long road trips.
Front seating is plush yet supportive with good adjustability. Rear seats provide plenty of room for three adults with enough legroom and headroom, so even taller passengers won’t feel cramped. The available Comfort Package adds ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and wireless device charging. Infotainment features an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto for easy smartphone integration.
The Terrain Denali comes loaded with safety features including Rear Seat Reminder, which reminds drivers to check the back seats for children, pets, or precious cargo. The Driver Alert I package is also standard with side blind-zone alert, lane-change alert, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and a safety alert driver’s seat that vibrates to indicate various warnings. The available Driver Alert II package adds features including low-speed forward automatic braking, forward collision alert, lane-keep assist, and lane-departure warning.
The 2018 GMC Terrain Denali is a fully-featured crossover with a touch of luxury that makes it more than just another crossover. Starting price is $38,495 for front-wheel drive models and $40,245 for all-wheel drive models.