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AUTO REVIEW: 2019 GMC Terrain Denali AWD: No Longer Looking Like Its Chevy Equinox Sibling

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The Terrain also distinguishes itself from the pack by taking a page from the Lincoln luxury brand. GMC’s compact crossover drops the traditional gear shift lever for a push button (piano-like) system.




By: Jeff Fortson of

Highlight: The Terrain is available with a fold-flat passenger front seat. This feature makes the vehicle great for stowing items like a mop and a rake in a vertical position, when the second-row seat is folded flat.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $43,550 (Base model: $26,195)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; rearview camera; a stability control system and a tire pressure monitoring system

Standard Equipment (Base Model): 17-inch wheels; a 9-speed automatic transmission; a single zone a/c; a 7-inch infotainment system; a keyless ignition starter system; a keyless lock/unlock door system; Wi-Fi availability; manual operated front seats; cloth seats; a gas savings stop-and-start feature; a leather steering wheel; and a single exhaust system

Standard Equipment (Denali): 19-inch wheels; 2.0-liter turbo with a 250-horsepower engine; carpeted floor mats rear; lane change alert system; blind zone alert changing system; memory power driver’s seat; heated front seats; a heated steering wheel; an automatic rearview mirror; a rear cross traffic alert system; a rear park assist system; a HD rear vision camera; a remote engine start system; an in-vehicle wireless charger for all devices; SiriusXM radio; a power liftgate; and a safety alert driver’s seat

Options: Driver Alert Package: an adaptive cruise control system, a low speed auto braking system, a lane keep assist system, a lane departure warning system, a forward collision alert system, automatic high beam headlights, a pedestrian front braking system and a following distance indicator; Advanced Safety Package: HD surround vision and automatic parallel/perpendicular parking assist; Comfort Package: ventilated front seats and heated rear seats; trailering wiring equipment; special paint; and a roof rack with cross rails

Other Trim Level: SLE; SLT

Standard Audio on Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker AM/FM radio

Compatible with AppleCar Play and Android: Yes

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Depending upon the trim.

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder/170-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage: 17-city/25-hwy

Towing Capability: 1,500 to 3,500 lbs

What’s New: After the second-generation Terrain received a major redesign during the 2018 model year, the 2019 model year brings with it a few new package and cosmetic tweaks. Some of those enhancements include both a new Black edition and a chrome package, which can alter the exterior appearance of the vehicle.

Why: The stylish compact crossover is available in a variety of trims. It is available with a front wheel drive or an all-wheel drive configuration. The vehicle is powered by three engine choices: a diesel, and two, four-cylinder engines.

While the Terrain offers a combination of powertrains, it is rare to find a diesel in a world that is still heavily bent toward gasoline, while making a slow shift toward electrification. Currently the smaller, but quite nimble Mazda CX-5 is the only other vehicle in the segment powered by a gasoline or diesel engine.

And to my surprise, the Terrain offers an ultra-peppy engine that exceeds the horsepower of many of today’s six-cylinder engines. An optional turbo fueled, four-cylinder produces upwards of 260-horsepower. That is a lot of juice for a segment that literally frowns upon performance.

GM’s hot-selling Terrain, which wears the bold prominent GMC family grille, is quiet, roomy, too. Not only is GMC’s smallest crossover outfitted with an easy-to-use touchscreen infotainment system, which houses the navigation, audio and ventilation systems, partially reclining rear adjustable seat are available, too, depending upon the trim.

The Terrain also distinguishes itself from the pack by taking a page from the Lincoln luxury brand. GMC’s compact crossover drops the traditional gear shift lever for a push button (piano-like) system.

In terms of the exterior styling, the hard-edged, me-too design of the previous generation Terrain, which mirrored its sibling the Chevy Equinox, has a distinctive design that seem to be taken directly from the Japanese. In fact, the curved rear side windows of the Terrain borrow styling cues from Nissan’s midsize Murano. Imitation is the best form of flattery.

Moreover, for those seeking aid with parking, the top of the line Terrain Denali trim, which includes such features as an automatic parallel and perpendicular parking assist system. This high-end trim also is powered by the powerful, four-cylinder engine.

Furthermore, the Denali included such comfort touches as front ventilated and rear heated seats, as well as a heated steering wheel.

Lastly, the Denali can be accessorized with driving assist aids, ranging from a radar-activated cruise control system to a lane keep assist system to a pedestrian braking system.

Overall, the Terrain offered literally every feature and powertrain option one can think of in this segment.

But: A mainstream five-passenger, compact crossover ‘driving’ over the $40,000 mark is unacceptable. At this price point, the Terrain Denalli competes with Cadillac’s all-new XT4 crossover. At most, this vehicle should top off at $35,000. Industry analysts realize the pricing of all vehicles are climbing, as a result of consumers’ desire for the latest driver safety aids and other high-tech features. Prices of many today’s vehicles are surreal.

Another gripe is that the front center armrest, with its super deep covered storage area, is positioned too high. GM’s design team forgot to take into consideration those drivers who are height-challenged. Also, why isn’t an oversized sunroof standard on the Terrain Denali? By making the skyroof standard, this could help in the digestion of the $40,000 plus price tag.

Lastly, the safety alert system, which in theory should remind the driver to look for occupants in the rear seat, before exiting, doesn’t always gain the attention of the driver. It doesn’t take long to realize that the current system can be easily disregarded.

Verdict: The GMC Terrain has become the second best-selling vehicle in the line-up. Unlike the previous generation Terrain, this time around the vehicle distinguishes itself from its sibling — the Equinox — offering an upscale trim, more high-tech features and a diesel option.

Thus, all of the aforementioned factors we noted make this stylish vehicle, the priciest in the segment, when optioned out. Buyers seeking a Terrain should take note of all of the trims and make sure, before making an investment one has explored all of their options, as well as examined the competitors in both the compact and mainstream segments.

Because of the pricing, buyers might want to examine the luxury crossover segment too. From time to time, buyers can also run across some sweet deals being offered on the Terrain. I came across a deal on a new 2018 SLE model that was being discounted by the dealer $11,000. It was an odd trim that included a light color interior with an oversize sunroof.

Yet, while the vehicle lacked a satellite radio and a navigation system, the owner was able to connect a smartphone to the infotainment system to compensate for those features. It is noted that GM offers a subscription-based OnStar service which replaces the navigation system with a downloadable turn-by-turn system.

Competition: Chevy Equinox; Ford Escape; Honda CR-V; Hyundai Tuscon; Kia Sportage; Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester; Toyota RAV4 and VW Tiguan

Jeff Fortson is the host of SiriusXM Channel 141 “Auto Trends with” It is a weekly multicultural automotive show, which includes in-depth conversations with today’s influencers and pioneers. For more information about the show and a new-vehicle pricing guide, cruise over to Follow him on Twitter/JeffCars.


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