2022 GMC Terrain: Roughly, It’s a Nice, Compact, Family SUV In for a Rough Ride

2022 GMC Terrain 10 photos
Photo: GMC
2022 GMC Terrain2022 GMC Terrain2022 GMC Terrain2022 GMC Terrain2022 GMC Terrain2022 GMC Terrain2022 GMC Terrain2022 GMC Terrain2022 GMC Terrain
There is a saying that goes "be careful what you wish for." Want to buy your family SUV from a well-known truck-oriented brand because the image of a massive, robust, die-hard vehicle makes your soul sing? After all, why not? GMC also thought about this idea, so it brought the modernized Terrain for you. Time to have a closer look at it.
GMC is not even a brand name, it’s an acronym. Since 1911, it stands, somehow, for General Motors Truck Company. During the latest decades, the idea of projecting the image of a workhorse vehicle manufacturer onto automobiles intended for personal and family use has led to the appearance of some smart-looking GMC-branded compact, mid-size and full-size SUVs and pickups. The GMC Terrain is one of those. This model series was introduced in 2010, and now we take a close look at the second generation.

Its facelift finally managed to synchronize the idea behind the product with the product’s appearance. Until now, we think the GMC Terrain had too much of a soft or mild look. Approaching this case the other way around: did they prefer to give the car a more rugged aspect instead of refining its manners? Anyway, the effect is positive. After just a glance at the 2022 Terrain, you get the message of its incisive and determined attitude.


Clearly, GMC decided not to disappoint those who, after being drawn to the 2022 GMC Terrain's exterior aspect, would like to have a look inside. The interior’s refresh is easily noticeable. Also, the addition of the engine auto stop-defeat switch and a new head-up display should contribute to the general good impression. The new AT4 trim level, consisting of some off-road specific features, is worthy of being mentioned here as it fits well with the core philosophy of GMC products.

2022 GMC Terrain
Photo: GMC
However, if the potential buyer who examines the 2022 Terrain is not psychologically ready to embrace the kind of lifestyle it offers, they might feel a bit discouraged by the fit and finish. The Denali top trim level compensates for this, at least partially. That's good to know because the luxury-oriented Denali versions of all GMCs represented 30% of sales in 2019. In the end, it’s hard to imagine anybody would appreciate the transmission’s small buttons placed out of direct sight, quite far and down, at the base of the center console—even if this could be considered a truck-ish detail.


Contrary to the suggestion implied by the GMC brand image (you know, the big-daddy truck of the category), the Terrain doesn’t come with any big engine, even though the previously-optional turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder mill and the 1.6 liters turbodiesel were discontinued. So, we have a typical downsizing case here: the Terrain’s hood hides only a turbocharged 1.5-liter gasoline engine (rated at 170 hp at 5,600 rpm and 203 lb-ft/275 Nm of torque between 2,000-4,000 rpm), mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Of course, you can have it with or without all-wheel-drive.

That’s good for the fuel economy, but don’t expect some convincing nerve from the throttle response. Hey, but trucks should be kind of slow by nature, shouldn’t they? Actually, we would have preferred the GMC Terrain to be livelier and sharper because, after all, it is not a traditional freighter but a spin-off product with a spiritual truck theme at its basis. That said, we found the diluted feedback from the steering’s assistance not charming at all. And we would have expected a more comfy behavior from the suspension, also.

2022 GMC Terrain
Photo: GMC
Event with the AT4 package on, the off-road abilities of the GMC Terrain have obvious limits. There is an off-road mode on the Traction Select driving modes switch (find it between the front seats), yet the transmission does not include a low-range ratio. That's typical for modern compact SUVs with transverse-mounted engines on a FWD-based technical platform. Also, the attacking angles of this SUV are not exactly fit for this kind of fun.

Brief conclusion for this chapter: regarding the propulsion tech, it looks like GMC tried to approach the compact SUV segment the same way as some of its mainstream-oriented competitors do—see the 1.5-liter turbo engines employed by Honda CR-v or the VW Tiguan, for instance. What is there to say? It’s understandable, but it just doesn’t seem the right thing to do.

What to pay for?

There are four trim levels available for the 2022 GMC Terrain: the SLE, SLT, AT4, and Denali. There is roughly a $11,000 difference between the basic and the top one. So, is the Terrain SLE FWD (about $29,000) worth buying? It is equipped with touchscreen infotainment, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and a consistent bunch of driver-assistance features, called GMC Pro Safety package. Ironically, maybe it’s the time to remind you the Terrain is a GMC truck: overload it with options, and its genuine (eh!) truck feeling might be compromised. But no, the truth is that choosing the SLE will bring you satisfactory comfort both for the ride and the budget.

Adding AWD here costs about $1,600 more. We would say “yes” to this if the car if we were to use it on rougher roads or in a mountain area. Bigger alloy wheels, heated seats, leather or some other Denali shiny cosmetics won’t come cheap at all, so we are not feeling eager to throw them in. The specific tires and the front steel skid plate are the only seriously off-road oriented features of the AT4 package; the rest of it consists of some personalized styling details. Rough truck-like styling details, of course.
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