2010 GMC Terrain Review – all-new compact SUV emphasizing MPG and utility

Expert Reviews GMC

2010 GMC Terrain

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics

This crossover was made for traveling. Everything about the Terrain makes those long-haul drives more enjoyable for everyone involved. In the front cabin area, the Terrain SLT comes standard with comfortable good-quality leather seats that are equipped with three levels of heat – warm, toasty, hot enough to melt wax. While this may seem a little bit over the top, this is a standard feature found on luxury vehicles from BMW, Infiniti, Acura and such. The Terrain’s seats warm up quickly and without being too hot – perfect for those wintry days or for relaxing aching back muscles. The leather seats are perforated for cooling purposes and the driver enjoys an 8-way adjustable seat position with lumbar support for an optimal vantage point. The leather wrapped steering wheel is also setup to keep your hands on the wheel with mounted audio and cruise controls, handsfree Bluetooth controls, and a tough-sounding horn.

If have to take your hands off the steering wheel, everything in the Terrain is placed within arms length; the center console has almost every control imaginable, but we found it intuitive. Within a very short time everything became second-nature for operation. My favorite feature was the 7″ touch-screen that comes with the optional audio and navigation package. It’s one of the larger sized screens found in  vehicles these days and has excellent picture quality. The multi-function display can control the audio system, navigation system, along with displaying the weather conditions and acting as a monitor for the rear-view camera. Plus, the driver has a split screen option if two items are needed for viewing simultaneously – e.g. navigation map and radio. I knew I would never have a problem navigating around town with this feature.

GMC Terrain interior GMC Terrain center console w/7 inch display screen steering wheel with audio, handsfree Bluetooth, and cruise controls

Standard equipment for all Terrains is the rearview camera system integrated into the rear view mirror if you do not choose the optional audio and navigation package. For additional safety the Terrain’s rearview camera has an Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist feature. The system is really accurate and shows the driver exactly where the car is moving with respect to objects around it and provides an audible tone indicator so you never get too close. There was only one hiccup, on very rainy days, the camera lens was covered with water droplets and were rendered useless. The picture displayed was too blurry and all objects were not distinguishable. Guess the tried-and-true method of knowing your surroundings and looking over your shoulder works best. Are rear cameras bad? On the contrary, when functioning as intended, it’s a great tool for those tricky rear-driving maneuvers and gives you a safety window before moving in reverse. No excuses for running over the kids’ toys anymore.

Another great option was the Dual Rear-Passenger entertainment screens. They are able to play DVDs and video games as expected, but the cool feature is that the display screens can play both the game and DVD simultaneously – one on each screen. GMC has eliminated the fighting over what to watch or play. Long distance traveling just got a whole lot more entertaining. The rear entertainment system comes with one remote and two wireless headsets. The screen and sound quality were fabulous. All my rear-seat passengers were happily amused by the system’s simplicity and easy-to-use console. Sometimes distractions are good!

2 bikes, cooler, extra wheelset, luggage, and still able to fit 3 inside

Did I mention there was a lot of space in the rear? I was able to pack in two road bikes, an extra set of wheels, cooler, luggage, shoes and other miscellaneous items. The best part, I could comfortably sit 3 people in the car. For me, SUVs need to be able to carry both people and luggage without compromise to either. Thank you GMC.


Terrain is offered in SLE and SLT trim levels, with front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models. The entry price for the Terrain is an SLE1 FWD model that starts at $24,995. It includes the 2.4L engine and six-speed automatic plus a long list of standard features uncommon for the lowest-priced model, such as a rear-vision camera, USB-equipped radio, ambient lighting, tire pressure monitoring system and 17-inch aluminum wheels. Safety is important and the Terrain has a complement of six standard airbags in addition to its 5-star crash test rating.

At the top of the range is the SLT2 model that starts at $29,995 which comes stocked with a lot of standard features for a price that is extremely reasonable – 18 inch aluminum alloy wheels, programmable power lift gate, 8-speaker Pioneer stereo, XM® Satellite Radio, OnStar, leather heated seats, rearview camera system, handsfree Bluetooth® and a slew of other great features.

Compact Crossover Engine
Passenger Volume
2nd Row Rear
Leg Room
2010 GMC Terrain SLT2 FWD 182 hp 2.4L I4 99.6 ft3 39.9 inches 185.3 inches 22/32 $29,250
2010 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ FWD 182 hp 2.4L I4 99.7 ft3 39.9 inches 187.8 inches 22/32 $28,045
2010 Honda CR-V EX-L 2WD 179 hp 2.4L I4 100.9 ft3 38.5 inches 177.9 inches 21/28 $26,495
2010 Mazda CX-7 s Grand Touring 244 hp 2.3L I4 98.8 ft3 36.4 inches 184.3 inches 18/26 $31,185
2009 Nissan Rogue SL 2WD 170 hp 2.5L I4 126.4 ft3 35.3 inches 182.9 inches 22/27 $21,810
2010 Toyota RAV4 Limited 4X2 179hp 2.5L I4 108.2 ft3 38.3 inches 174.3 inches 22/28 $24,490
2010 VW Tiguan SEL 200 hp 2.0L I4 95.3 ft3 35.8 inches 174.3 inches 18/24 $30,990
2009 Hyundai Tuscon Limited 2.0 2WD 140hp 2.0L I4 102.6 ft3 37.2 inches 170.3 inches 20/25 $22,670


This is a step in the right direction for GMC as a beleaguered US car manufacturer. GMC has come up with a great family SUV that can legitimately compete with other manufacturers. With the great cosmetics and styling expected from GMC and packaged with an engine that emphasizes fuel economy, GM is listening to the consumers and moving with the trends. The Terrain is on its way to being a successful crossover and perhaps changing our negative perceptions of gas guzzling SUVs.

RATING 4.0 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.4/B+

GMC Photo Gallery

GMC Terrain Specs

GMC Terrain Specs

GMCOfficial website for GMC trucks and SUVs – www.gmc.com

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  • Steve says:

    I have to agree with George that I find the styling of the Terrain overdone. Then again, the Chevrolet version is essentially the same but with different (and to my eyes more attractive) styling outside and the same nicely done interior.

    Thanks for testing the 4-cylinder version. I’ve been interested in hearing how this setup performs and if it’s really capable of meeting the EPA fuel-economy numbers.

    While on a business trip recently, I had a new Ford Focus as a rental and, in mostly highway driving I averaged just a tick below 30 mpg over a week. For GM to essentially meet this figure with a bigger, heavier, and perhaps more practical vehicle is fairly remarkable. The Focus with an automatic transmission was no speed demon, either.

  • George says:

    I*s the reviewer blind? The GMC Terrain is one of the ugliest vehicles ever to come from an auto manufacturer. It looks like a brick on wheels, with what one newspaper reviewer recently described as a window air conditioning unit hanging on the front end.

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