2018 GMC Terrain Preview

Christian Wardlaw | Jan 09, 2017
  • Complete redesign of GMC’s compact crossover SUV
  • More refined and technologically advanced
  • Three different engines, including a turbo-diesel
  • New 9-speed automatic with push-button shifting
  • Optional active all-wheel-drive system
  • Greater utility though cargo space shrinks a touch
  • On sale in the summer of 2017


2018 GMC Terrain front quarter left photo


GMC introduced the Terrain to Americans in 2009, and the compact crossover SUV was an immediate hit. Eight model years later, the Terrain remains a popular choice thanks to its squared-off, rugged design cues, a rarity within its competitive set. In fact, GMC credits the Terrain with a significant chunk of the company’s sales growth during the past decade.

Now, GMC is planning to replace the original flavor Terrain with a new design. Introduced at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the 2018 GMC Terrain swaps some of its distinctive styling cues for a smoother, softer, and more modern look. At the same time, it gains the refinement and technological sophistication that it needs to remain competitive in the decade to come.

When the new 2018 Terrain goes on sale toward the end of the summer of 2017, it will be available in SL, SLE, SLT, and Denali trim levels.

Exterior Features

GMC says that the new 2018 Terrain represents the next chapter in GMC design: “It is a striking design with function beauty,” said Helen Emsley, executive director, Global GMC Design. “There’s confidence and optimism in its stance, with exceptional attention to detail that speaks to GMC’s rise as a premium brand.”

Every 2018 Terrain is equipped with standard C-shaped LED running lights and LED taillights. Painted 17-inch aluminum wheels are standard for the SL and SLE trim levels, while the SLT adds machined-finish 18-inch wheels.

The top-of-the-line Terrain Denali is equipped with exclusive ultra-bright machined-finish 19-inch wheels. Additionally, Denali equipment includes LED headlights, lots of extra chrome, and unique applications of body-color exterior trim.

Interior Features

GMC promises greater refinement within the new 2018 Terrain, which is, frankly, not a stretch. Still, the company goes above and beyond with soft touch dashboard and door panel materials, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, active noise cancellation for a quieter cabin, soil-resistant cloth seats, and real aluminum trim – all standard.

Greater versatility is also on the menu. In addition to a larger center console with pass-through storage and improved cup holders, GMC makes changes that result in improved cargo carrying capability. The cargo area is wider than before, and the front passenger’s seat folds flat in order to accommodate long items with the rear liftgate closed. GMC also supplies storage bins beneath the cargo floor. Maximum cargo space is not larger, though, shrinking a bit to 63.3 cu.-ft.

Upgrading to the Terrain Denali installs a special trim tint, front seat piping, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system, Bose premium audio system, hands-free power tailgate, appealing two-tone cabin treatment

Optional Features

Depending on the trim level you choose, the new Terrain either includes or is available with upgrades such as leather upholstery, an 8-way power driver’s seat, a 6-way power front passenger’s seat, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Additionally, this SUV offers ambient cabin lighting, a panoramic glass roof, a navigation system, a Bose premium audio system, and a hands-free power liftgate.

Under the Hood

Three different turbocharged engines are available for the 2018 GMC Terrain, including a turbo-diesel that gets excellent fuel economy.

The standard engine is a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder generating 170 horsepower and 203 lb.-ft. It is paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission equipped with electronic transmission controls. They are located on the dashboard, a series of buttons and “pull triggers” organized in P-R-N-D-L fashion.

Get the available turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder for more power and a maximum tow rating of 3,500 pounds. This engine delivers 252 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, 90 percent of which is available between 2,000 rpm and 5,000 rpm. It uses a 9-speed automatic transmission.

If you’re interested in maximizing fuel economy, try the turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine. At 137 ponies, the horsepower rating is not impressive, but this motor makes 240 lb.-ft. of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is bolted to this engine.

All three engines use automatic engine stop/start technology to maximize fuel economy, and all three transmissions deliver their power to the Terrain’s front wheels. An active all-wheel-drive system is an option.

Standard Traction Select provides the driver with different settings to use depending on the conditions and the situation. With front-wheel drive, those selections are Normal, Snow, and Trailer/Tow. Terrains with all-wheel drive supply AWD, Off-Road, Trailer/Tow, and AWD Disconnect.

Choose AWD Disconnect and the system disconnects the rear wheels from the AWD system. In turn, this reduces driveline drag and maximizes fuel efficiency. If the front wheels slip, the system automatically engages the rear wheels for added traction.


In addition to a stronger and more robust vehicle architecture, the 2018 Terrain boasts an expanded list of available driver assistance and collision avoidance technologies.

New features include forward collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, and automatic high-beam headlights. A Safety Alert Seat also debuts for the Terrain, vibrating to alert the driver of warnings from these systems.

Also new to the Terrain: a Surround Vision camera, a Rear Seat Reminder system designed to prevent people from leaving children or pets in the vehicle, and Teen Driver technology that given parents of new drivers the ability to program vehicle limitations and receive a report detailing how the SUV was driven.

Available features continuing from the previous Terrain include a blind spot warning system with rear cross-traffic and lane change alert, and parking assist sensors.


An IntelliLink infotainment is standard equipment for the new Terrain, with a 7-inch or 8-inch display screen depending on trim level and equipment. Both versions include smartphone projection technology supporting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto platforms, as well as OnStar 4G LTE internet connectivity for up to seven devices.

GMC installs four USB ports within the 2018 Terrain, and owners can access certain vehicle functions and information via a myGMC smartphone app. New OnStar Smart Driver is an opt-in service that helps owners become better drivers by monitoring various aspects of their driving behavior and suggesting improvements.

Just in case parking isn’t your strong point, the Terrain is also available with semi-autonomous parking assist that steers the SUV into a space while the driver operates the transmission and pedals.

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