2019 GMC Terrain Review

2019 GMC Terrain - Terrain compensates for several shortcomings.


GMC's 2019 model of the Terrain faces stiff competition in the midsize sport utility vehicle market.

How it fares in sales depends on potential buyers determining whether or not several drawbacks are overcome by the vehicle's virtues.

Sight lines are not the best in the 2019 model. Maximum cargo space is unremarkable. The base 170-horsepower, 1.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine  is weak.

Visibility or sight lines may be in the eyes of the beholder. The answer is to sit in a Terrain and determine for yourself.

The 63.3 cubic feet of maximum cargo space is less than most competitors, who  are in the range of 70 to 75 cubic feet. Competitors do not have a flat folding front passenger seat, though, and the Terrain does, which means items longer than the norm fill fit inside the vehicle. The rear seats fold flat and the load area is carpeted and lighted with tiedowns.

The answer to a weak engine is to buy one that, at least, is more economical and GMC has the 1.6-liter, turbo diesel four-cylinder. This should improve fuel usage above and beyond 30 miles per gallon.

Also, GMC has a 2-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 252 horsepower. This engine was in a recently tested SLT model of the Terrain. It is quick, responsive and fast. The tested SLT is a loaded Terrain and comes with all-wheel instead of front-wheel-drive, larger 18-inch machined aluminum wheels and a host of trim and mechanical upgrades. Priced from $32,660 with the weaker 1.5-liter gasoline engine, upgrading to the optional $1,495 2-liter engine is worth it. Both the SLT's 1.5 and 2-liter engines are mated to a nine-speed shiftable automatic replacing  a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2-lite, 252-horsepower engine can tow a 3,500 pound trailer. The other engines are limited to towing a 2,000-pound trailer. One more reason to opt for the more powerful engine.

During the test week with two adults aboard in combined city and country driving, the tested terrain averaged 23.3 miles per gallon of regular unleaded fuel usage.  The Environmental Protection Agency rates the tested SLT at 21 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined with one person aboard.

Trim is leather and alloy metal which gives the Terrain a distinctive elegant look. Besides the upscale feel and look, the touchscreen is easy to use for heating, sound and interface business. In addition to an eight-inch screen , the sound system has voice recognition, Bluetooth, audio streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Audio, in-vehicle apps, a 4G wi-fi hot spot, two USB charging ports and four USB data ports. Not bad.

SLT inclusions are roof rack with cross rails, hill descent control, keyless and remote vehicle start, high definition rear vision camera, power express windows, power heated exterior mirrors, power front and heated seats plus power door locks, fog lamps in front, high intensity headlights, AM, FM and satellite radio plus a unique shifter. This shifting mechanism has been criticized in the automotive press, but it is a technological gem. There are three primary controls centered on the lower dashboard. They are for forward drive, reverse and park.  Touch and pull the "drive' control slightly, and the vehicle moves forward. The same for the reverse control and for park. This design eliminates the need for a shifter on the center console, which can be utilized for more convenient use such as cup holders or larger storage bins.

If in the market for a Terrain, the SLT is recommended for its power, luxury and tech features.

Vehicle: SLT model of 2019 GMC Terrain
Type: all-wheel-drive, four-door, five-passenger midsize sport utility vehicle
Price: $32,600 plus $1,495 replacing 1.5-liter with 2-liter engine
Engine:  2-liter, 252 -horsepower turbocharged inline four-cylinder
Transmission: shiftable nine-speed automatic
Fuel tank: 14.9 gallons
Fuel: unleaded regular
Towing: 3,500 pounds
Turn diameter: 38.4 feet
Wheels: 18-inch
Leg room: 40.9 inches front, 39.7 inches rear
Cargo: 63.3 cubic feet behind front row with folded second row, 29.6 cubic feet behind upright second row
Wheelbase, length, width, height, ground clearance in inches: 107.3, 182.3, 72.4, 65.4, 7.9
Weight: 3,659 pounds
Warranty: three years or 36,000 miles, five years or 60,000 miles powertrain and roadside assistance, free first maintenance visit within first year of purchase
Assembly: San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Information:  www.gmc.com

Jerry Kuyper

Born on a southwestern Minnesota farm, Jerrold E. Kuyper quickly became familiar with tractors, pickup trucks and related agricultural equipment. He left that behind to graduate from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and attend graduate schools in Evanston and Chicago. He was hired as a reporter for the Kenosha News, a daily newspaper in Kenosha, WI. After a stint of a dozen years at the Kenosha News, he became a columnist, layout, page and sections editor at the Northwest Herald, a daily newspaper based in Crystal Lake, IL serving northwest Chicago suburban communities.

While with the Northwest Herald he helped create, write reviews and opinion columns as well as edit the newspaper's Wheels section, a 16- to 40-page broadsheet that appeared weekly in the newspaper's Friday edition. Wheels was devoted to reviews of new vehicles, looks at automotive history, current trends in the automobile world and columns by automotive enthusiasts. Midwest Automotive Media Association members who contributed to reviews and columns included Mitch Frumkin, Phil Arendt, Matt Joseph and James Flammang as well as photo journalist Doug Begley and dragster specialist Fred Blumenthal.

Kuyper, who lives in Salem Lakes, WI, is a founding member of MAMA, is married, has three children and six grandchildren.