2022 GMC Terrain Review Update

Jeff Youngs, Independent Expert | Apr 04, 2022

Introduction - Find the best GMC deals!

The Terrain is GMC's compact SUV offering, slotting beneath the Acadia and serving as the entry point into the automaker's lineup. GMC introduced the current second-generation model for the 2018 model year. The 2-row Terrain shares a platform and mechanicals with the Chevrolet Equinox. The Terrain's primary competitors include popular crossover SUVs such as the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4.

GMC has continued updating the Terrain to keep it competitive in a crowded segment. Updates for 2019 included a new Black Edition, an available Chrome package, optional surround-view camera (Denali), enhanced driver-assistance and safety tech, and one new exterior paint color: Smokey Quartz Metallic.

For 2020, GMC made available a new Denali Premium package containing advanced safety and comfort options. The Terrain Elevation Edition, available on SLE and SLT trims, featured black or darkened wheels and exterior trim. Front and rear park assist was standard on the Denali, and GMC offered extra-cost White Frost Tricoat exterior paint.

In 2021, the base turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder became the only available engine. Also, the optional GMC Pro Safety Plus suite of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) replaced the Driver Alert I package.

For 2022, the GMC Terrain receives a significant refresh. Updated front styling, redesigned LED lighting, new wheel designs, and three new extra-cost paint colors highlight the changes to the exterior. Meanwhile, GMC updates the interior with all-new fabrics and trim. A newly available Tech package includes a 360-degree surround-view camera, an all-new head-up display, and front and rear park assist. Also, Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard, as are built-in Amazon Alexa capabilities. But perhaps the biggest news for 2022 is the new AT4 trim, which brings standard all-wheel drive (AWD), unique off-road trim, and a front steel skid plate. Various AT4 badges and logos are also part of the package.

The 2022 GMC Terrain SUV is available in four trim levels: SLE, SLT, new AT4, and Denali. The aforementioned 1.5-liter 4-cylinder turbo engine powers all, and a push-button 9-speed automatic transmission handles gear changes. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard on the SLE and SLT, while AWD is optional on those two trims and standard on the AT4 and Denali. All 2022 Terrains come with GMC Pro Safety, which essentially provides a starter kit of ADAS, and selectable drive modes. Pricing ranges from $29,095 for the base Terrain SLE with FWD to $37,795 for the top-of-the-line Denali with standard AWD. Prices include the $1,195 destination charge.

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2018 GMC Terrain. This review focuses on the Terrain's updates since then and how they potentially impact its overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the GMC Terrain - Find the best GMC deals!

2022 GMC Terrain AT4 AWD Desert Sand Metallic Front Quarter View

Photo: Jeff Youngs

The GMC Terrain competes in the Compact SUV market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 58 percent of new GMC Terrain buyers are female (vs. 50 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new Terrain buyer is 58 years (vs. 60).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the Terrain in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Getting in and out
  • Feeling of safety
  • Interior design
  • Setting up and starting
  • Driving comfort
  • Infotainment system
  • Powertrain
  • Fuel economy

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the Terrain ranks sixth out of 14 Compact SUV models.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the GMC Terrain - Find the best GMC deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes a 2022 Terrain AT4 AWD equipped with the following options:

  • Skyscape sunroof with power sunshade
  • Infotainment Package II
  • Tech package
  • GMC Pro Safety Plus package
  • Desert Sand Metallic exterior paint

The price of the test vehicle came to $39,810, including the $1,195 destination charge and a $50 credit for the Terrain not having heated front seats—a side effect of rolling content adjustments due to the ongoing global microchip shortage.

More Rugged Exterior, Upgraded Interior Styling

2022 GMC Terrain AT4 AWD Interior Dashboard

Photo: Jeff Youngs

To keep its compact crossover looking fresh, GMC updated the Terrain's styling for 2022, both inside and out. Compared with the 2021 model, the 2022 Terrain features a more rugged front fascia and grille, flanked by redesigned LED headlights. Around the back, LED taillights add to the stylish new look. Other updates to the Terrain's exterior include new 18- and 19-inch wheel designs and three new extra-cost paint colors: Marine Metallic, Cayenne Red Metallic, and Desert Sand Metallic (AT4 only).

Inside, all-new trims and fabrics adorn the 2022 GMC Terrain's cabin, improving upon what was an already stylish, inviting space. Material improvements notwithstanding, the Terrain still offers spacious seating for five (no third row is available). There's a modest 63.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat folded, but the front passenger seat does fold flat for easier loading of longer items.

Newly Available Technology Package

In addition to styling enhancements, GMC also improved the Terrain's technology offerings for 2022. A Tech package is newly available on the SLT and AT4 trims. It includes a 360-degree surround-view camera, an all-new head-up display, and front and rear park assist. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard, as are built-in Amazon Alexa capabilities. On Denali trim, a new 8-inch driver information center is now standard.

The improvements for 2022 add to a solid standard tech menu, which includes a 7-inch touchscreen (8 inches on SLT and above) GMC infotainment system. Navigation is available on the lower three trims and standard on the Denali. A 4G Wi-Fi hotspot is standard but only comes with a one-month (or 3 GB) data trial, after which you'll need a paid subscription.

Off-Road-Oriented AT4 Trim Joins the Lineup

2022 GMC Terrain AT4 AWD Desert Sand Metallic Front Grille

Photo: Jeff Youngs

Similar to the approach taken with its popular Denali sub-brand, GMC is steadily rolling out new AT4 versions of its trucks and SUVs, the latest recipient being the Terrain. Whereas the Denali focuses on premium treatments, the AT4 is geared toward off-road enthusiasts.

On other GMC models such as the Sierra 1500 and Yukon, AT4 equipment might include off-road tires, off-road suspension, red-painted recovery hooks, an underbody skid plate, automatic 4WD, a limited-slip rear differential, equipment for heavy towing, and hill-descent control. On the Terrain AT4, however, it's more about aesthetics than any real off-road capability. True, the Terrain AT4 does come with a front steel skid plate, standard AWD, and a selectable traction system with "off-road mode." That said, it's hardly a dedicated off-roader in the vein of the Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco. No doubt the Goodyear Sport Terrain tires give the Terrain AT4 a little extra grip when the trail gets sloppy, but for proper off-roading, you'll want the higher ground clearance and the added capability of the Jeep, the Ford, or something similar.

To give the Terrain AT4 its own identity, GMC endows the SUV with black chrome exterior accents, 17-inch gloss black aluminum wheels, front sill plates, and a unique interior with perforated leather seats with an AT4 logo and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Comprehensive Standard and Available Safety Features

One of the things that's top-of-mind for most new-car shoppers is safety. Acknowledging this, GMC offers a comprehensive list of standard or available safety features on the Terrain. The standard GMC Pro Safety suite of ADAS includes automatic emergency braking with front pedestrian detection, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assistance with lane-departure warning, a following distance indicator, and automatic high-beam headlights.

The optional GMC Pro Safety Plus package of ADAS—standard on Denali and available on all other trims—includes lane-change alert with blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning, rear park assist, adaptive cruise control, and a Safety Alert Seat, which vibrates the driver's seat on the same side as the threat so they can take measures to avoid it. Additionally, a new head-up display—optional on SLT and AT4 and standard on Denali—helps keep the driver's eyes on the road instead of looking down for speed, navigation, and other information.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best GMC deals!

2022 GMC Terrain AT4 AWD Desert Sand Metallic Rear Quarter View

Photo: Jeff Youngs

While there are certainly more popular choices in the compact SUV segment, the GMC Terrain offers good looks, a nicely outfitted, comfortable interior, and user-friendly technology. Although the 170-hp powertrain doesn't excite, available AWD and four trim levels—including the premium Denali and off-road-oriented AT4—give buyers a variety of flavors from which to choose.

Critics (and hard-core off-road enthusiasts) will point out that the new AT4 trim on the Terrain is nothing more than an appearance package, lacking any substantive off-roading equipment. And they'd be right. After all, a front skid plate does not an off-road vehicle make. GMC knows this, and they're OK with it. It's all part of their strategy to grow AT4 into a successful sub-brand, just as they've done with Denali. Besides, if you like GMC sport utilities and are an off-road enthusiast, the company will gladly sell you a new Hummer EV SUV when it becomes available early in 2023.

At nearly $40,000, the test vehicle wasn't cheap—the AT4's base price of $35,195 (including destination) being the primary culprit. At $1,495, the optional Skyscape panoramic sunroof further contributed to the somewhat rich price, but it was one of my two favorite features, the other being the head-up display (part of the $850 Tech package). With the power sunshade retracted, the vast panoramic sunroof provided a magnificent view of the cosmos at night. During the day and with all the windows down, the open, airy feel in the cabin was reminiscent of driving in a convertible. For its part, the configurable head-up display projected key information in a clear, legible manner that was both helpful and aesthetically pleasing.

Another pricey option, the $1,180 Infotainment Package II included a premium 7-speaker Bose sound system and a GMC infotainment system. The former provided rich sound, while the latter provided a familiar, reliable wireless gateway to Apple CarPlay. Pairing two phones at once was a bit confusing, as it wasn't always obvious which was the "alpha" phone. That minor niggle aside, all the tech worked seamlessly and didn't spoil the fun.

According to J.D. Power research, fuel economy is a pain point for GMC Terrain owners. However, at 26.3 mpg, the observed fuel economy during my week of testing was right in line with the EPA-estimated 25 mpg city/28 mpg highway/26 mpg combined fuel-economy ratings.

Another area in which the Terrain performs admirably is regarding safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Terrain gets the highest-possible 5-star rating for overall safety, including 5 stars for both frontal and side crash protection. The SUV gets a 4-star rating for rollover resistance. Meanwhile, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2022 Terrain top "Good" ratings in all individual crashworthiness measures except for the updated side-impact test, in which it receives a "Marginal" score (it scores "Good" in the original test).

Bottom line: If you're looking for a safe, stylish, comfortable compact SUV that's easy to live with, the Terrain is worth a look, despite the slightly higher price.

Jeff Youngs has more than 25 years of experience in the auto industry, including 19 years with J.D. Power in both marketing and editorial management roles. He also spent nearly six years with General Motors as a media relations pro.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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