Danielle Assenheimer

Turning the Page: 2018 GMC Terrain Denali

The truck-like SUV remained popular during the upswing of the small SUV movement. New technology and increased competition encouraged GM to re-evaluate the Terrain from top to bottom. The all-new 2018 Terrain is a little smaller, a little mightier, and more efficient than ever before. We made sure to put the Terrain through its paces. One of the best ways to do this? New York City traffic. It gives you the opportunity to test just about everything – ride quality, acceleration, braking, passenger comfort, the navigation system – I could keep going. Once away from the city, we also endured cold, muddy roads that an SUV driver in the Northeast might anticipate.

2018 GMC Terrain Denali 4

Now in its second generation, the Terrain Denali has more premium features and added refinement. The Denali is recognizable in a crowd with its satin-chrome grille, bright 19-inch wheels with dark-painted pockets, body-color fascias and lower trim, lots of chrome accents and Denali badging. The redesign has made the Terrain less boxy, which is a welcome change. Some may have liked it, but the rounded off edges will make it more appealing to the majority.

2018 GMC Terrain Denali 3

The new design language has followed through to the interior as well. The Denali comes with special leather trimmed seating with logos on the front seats. There are plenty of areas in the cabin to store cargo with storage on each side of the console. You can also charge multiple devices at once with one 110-volt outlet, four data/charging and two charge-only USB ports. With the optional Comfort Package, there is also an area for wireless device charging. Keeping with the GMC brand it has a truck-like feel on the inside. It might be appealing to everyone. Everything feels large and more rugged; it’s not a feeling of luxury. The Terrain’s new shift selection method is causing the most debate amongst auto journalists for how different it is. I applaud GMC for coming up with some different. There are pushbuttons for park, neutral and low gear selection with pull switches for reverse and drive. Unlike many vehicles in this segment, there isn’t a sport mode. The process and layout take a little getting used to, but it’s manageable.

The new Terrain has above average power for the segment, which will be most advantageous. It’s able to do 0 – 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. This is 1.5 seconds faster than the Mazda CX5. The Terrain is equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder, providing 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Ride quality is not the best on rough roads; its suspension is very bouncy. However, the interior remains quiet thanks to increased sound deadening. Fuel economy is on par with its competition. During our week of testing, it managed 24 mpg. It’s rated 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. The improved fuel economy comes from the new nine-speed transmission.

2018 GMC Terrain Denali 5

The new chapter of the Terrain should be a good one. Now, it’s more versatile with better styling. There’s even more power available while sipping less fuel. For the automotive industry, the small SUV segment has become a perpetual episode of “keeping up with the Joneses” and GMC has parked the Terrain in the driveway with the greenest lawn.

-Danielle Assenheimer

2018 GMC Terrain AWD Denali
$39,300
Driver Alert Package II $495
Advanced Safety Package $1,095
Comfort Package $1,095
Destination Charges $995
As Tested MSRP $42,0060

Related: Exceptional: 2017 GMC Acadia Denali

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