Jul
17
2018 GMC Terrain Denali

2018 GMC Terrain Denali in Graphite Gray Metallic

2015 Audi Q52018 GMC Terrain Denali AWD

Class: Compact Crossover

Miles driven: 840

Fuel used: 32.6 gallons

Real-world fuel economy: 25.8 mpg

Driving mix: 35% city, 65% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 21/26/23 (city, highway, combined)

CG Report Card
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Room and ComfortB+
Power and PerformanceB+
Fit and FinishB
Fuel EconomyB+
ValueB-
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyB+
Tall GuyA

Base price: $39,270 (not including $975 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Comfort Package ($525), Driver Alert Package ($495), Graphite Gray Metallic paint ($395)

Price as tested: $41,660

 

Quick Hits

The great: Generous passenger room; Denali’s turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder provides satisfying acceleration and good fuel economy

The good: Composed, absorbent ride quality

The not so good: Ho-hum interior ambiance for a top-line luxury trim level

More Terrain price and availability information

 

John Biel

There’s less of the GMC Terrain in 2018 but there’s a lot to like about this compact sport-utility vehicle. While it has been resized—Consumer Guide considered its predecessor a midsize SUV—the redesigned Terrain is likable to drive and ride in, reasonably powerful, and steeped in of-the-moment features.

2018 GMC Terrain Denali in Graphite Gray

Standard features on the top-line Terrain Denali trim level include 19-inch “ultra bright” machined aluminum wheels, LED headlights and taillights, power hands-free liftgate, and dual bright-finish exhaust tips.

The ’18 Terrain is approximately three inches shorter and around 400 pounds lighter than the one it replaces. CG got to sample it in its most powerful and luxurious form, as a Denali with a 252-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. With all-wheel drive (front-wheel drive is available too) the starting price is $40,245 with delivery, but the test truck ended up at a somewhat pricey $41,660 with a pair of comfort and safety-tech packages and Graphite Gray Metallic paint.

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2018 GMC Terrain Denali in Graphite Gray

The cabin materials aren’t particularly upscale for a top-of-the-line luxury trim level, and the unorthodox push-button gear selector might put off some drivers, but the Terrain nonetheless offers a comfortable, spacious-for-the-class cabin.

People buy SUVs to transport people, and the Terrain makes that job rewarding. Pavement cracks rarely register as unpleasant impacts, and a run between Chicago and Indianapolis, at a good clip at times, impressed this reviewer with its smoothness and overall quiet. Drivers have a fine sense of control and a good view of the road.

The Denali’s standard 2.0-liter engine and 9-speed automatic transmission produce impressive power for easy high-speed highway cruising, yet with good snap off the line. The 2.0 engine makes it possible for the Terrain to tow 3500 pounds. EPA estimates for fuel economy are 21 mpg in the city, 26 mpg in highway use, and 23 combined. Over 479 miles involving two fill-ups, this driver saw 25.7 mpg with 25 percent city-style driving. One of the two stints did crack 26 mpg.

2018 GMC Terrain Denali in Graphite Gray

The Terrain has 29.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats, and 63.3 cu. ft. with the rear seats folded.

Not only will Terrain passengers get where they’re going smoothly and swiftly, they’ll travel well. Supportive seats are long-drive comfortable. Front-row headroom and legroom are good. Rear legroom can be really good, but even if tall front-seat passengers have to track back a ways, there’s still pretty good second-row space. Three-across adult seating is possible in the second row—and comfortably, too. Entry and exit are uncomplicated. If anything was lacking it was the level of interior trim. A somewhat bland cabin without much relief from its Jet Black-ness didn’t rise to the standard that other Denali-branded GMCs have established.

2018 GMC Terrain Denali in Graphite Gray

There’s a bit of small-items storage space beneath the rear load floor.

Driving controls include legible gauges and a helpful vehicle-info display. The console is cleared to make room for a traction-selection dial that lets drivers tailor performance to the terrain. Whither the transmission selector, then? To the center of the dash below the climate controls, where a mix of push buttons (for park, neutral, and low-gear settings) and flippers (for drive and reverse) are horizontally aligned. It’s unorthodox, but not hard to catch on to. The audio system is easy to program and operate. Controls for the standard automatic dual-zone climate unit feature convenient twin dials to set temperature and another to select fan speed. Other settings are by push button.

On the Indy run, the rear cargo area easily housed the ice chest, carry-along coolers, and backpacks for four race fans. Loading is at bumper height through a wide opening reached through a hands-free power liftgate. When more space is needed, rear 60/40-split seats fold flat to expose a very big load area. Storage for incidentals in the front row consists of a usefully sized glove box; a deep console box with a long organizer tray up the side; a slot in the dash above the glove box; an open area at the front of the console near the USB and auxiliary inputs; slots in the sides of the console; a long, shallow tray under each door armrest; door pockets with bottle holders; and open cup holders in the console. Rear-seat storage is found in a similar door arrangement as in front (but with low pockets only big enough for a bottle), pouches on the backs of the front seats, and cup holders in the central armrest.

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In addition to components already mentioned, standard equipment for the highest-priced 2018 Terrain counts machined 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps and taillamps, roof side rails, and twin bright-tipped exhaust outlets. Interior features are perforated-leather seats (heated in front); 8-way power-adjustable memory driver’s seat and 6-way power passenger seat; heated leather-wrapped steering wheel; keyless entry and starting; 7-speaker Bose audio system; 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot; Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility; and an infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, navigation, and satellite radio. Base safety aids are lane-change and blind-spot alerts, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking assist, and GM’s Teen Driver monitoring system. Things like wireless cell-phone charging, ventilated front and heated rear seats, and forward-collision warning and automatic braking cost extra.

Even with its tidier measurements, the new GMC Terrain Denali is a comfortable and surprisingly lively sport-utility. With just a little better expression of interior luxury, it would be worth every cent of its price.

2018 GMC Terrain Denali in Graphite Gray

The GMC Terrain might have been downsized with its redesign for 2018, but it still offers pleasingly spacious, comfortable interior accommodations–and peppy-yet-economical performance from its turbo 2.0 engine.

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