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2019 GMC Terrain, Bold Refinement - Review By Larry Nutson - It's E15 Approved

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2019 GMC Terrain
Bold Refinement

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

The very stealthy Terrain SLT Black Edition was, to me, really good looking. Admittedly I favor black cars.

With its Ebony Twilight paint, gloss black wheels, black grille and trim bits and jet black interior the Terrain got some notice. And then again, perhaps it didn’t. The Black Edition package is new for 2019.

GMC’s Terrain was all-new for 2018. Situated in the very popular compact SUV segment GMC has sold over 700,000 of these since its introduction in 2009. GMC plays in the premium space in the auto market. It’s not a luxury brand, however the GMC brand is shopped and purchased by folks who may also own a luxury vehicle. Often viewed simply as a higher trim level over the equivalent vehicle from GMC’s sister-brand Chevrolet, today’s thinking at GMC is to provide more differences and uniqueness.

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The 2019 Terrain is offered in SL, SLE, SLT and Denali models. Both front-wheel and all-wheel drive models are available, but the SE is only offered with FWD and the Denali only with AWD.

Denali is like a sub-band within GMC. GMC says it represents the pinnacle of their design, performance and amenities. Denali accounts for approximately one-third of all GMC sales.

Three turbocharged 4-cylinder engines are in the Terrain line-up. A 170-HP turbo 1.5-liter is standard on the SL, SLE and SLT. A 252-HP turbo 2.0-liter is optional on the SLE and SLT and standard on the Denali. A 137-HP 1.6-liter turbo-diesel is available on the SLE and SLT. The turbo diesel of course develops lots of torque, with 240 lb-ft at a low 2000 rpm.

Both gasoline engines use a nine-speed automatic transmission and the turbo-diesel has a six-speed automatic. Stop/start technology is used on all engines, and is continuously active for reduced fuel consumption and the elimination of any tailpipe emissions while stopped.

EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings for the Terrain range from 21 to 28 city mpg and 26 to 39 highway mpg. The lower ratings being for the 2.0-L AWD models and the higher ratings for the turbo diesel models.

From a space perspective the Terrain is a two-row SUV with seats for five. It’s a very comfortable 182.3 inches long, which makes for easy maneuvering and parking in congested cities. Behind the rear seat is 29.6 cu.ft. of cargo space that opens up to 63.3 cu.ft. with the 60/40-split rear seat folded. It can tow a 1500 lbs. trailer, but with the 2.0-L engine that is upped to 3,500 lbs.

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For 2019, Terrain base prices start at $25,000 for the SL and run up to $37,800 for the Denali. The built-in-Mexico Terrain destination freight charge is $1,195.

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For my stealthy drive evaluation I was in the Terrain AWD SLT with the 2.0-L engine which had a base price of $32,600. This SLT was quite loaded with lots of good optional features, many of which are extremely recommendable, that brought the bottom line to $40,550.

Two so-named Driver Alert packages are offered on the Terrain. Both provide the latest in driver-assistance safety technology that will help prevent a crash. This is equipment that comes in to play all the time and helps prevent or minimize a crash—-so that the passive safety equipment like an airbag isn’t activated to minimize injuries when a crash does occur.

Driver Alert Package I is available on SLE and SLT for $445 and standard on Denali. It includes Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Park Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Safety Alert Driver Seat.

Driver Alert Package II is available on SLT and Denali for $745. It includes Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Following Distance Indicator, Adaptive Cruise Control, Front Pedestrian Braking and IntelliBeam headlamps.

More Terrain product information, specifications and features can be found at

This was my second-look at the Terrain, having driven the 2018. It reinforced my view that the GMC design team did a good job on the new version. Riding now on a 5-inch shorter wheelbase, it’s about 3 inches shorter than the previous generation model and has nicer overall proportions and attractive design cues. Perhaps the total-blackout look is swaying me a bit!

Nice-to-have features such as a fold-flat right front seat for carrying long items, a power hands-free rear hatch, a rear seat reminder alert so you don’t forget your children, bluetooth audio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as wi-fi hotspot all make for a more pleasurable driving experience.

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The Terrain’s transmission selector buttons and triggers mounted in the center stack work very well and are easy to use. GM has done a nice job of tuning the 2.0-L turbo engine in combination with the 9-speed automatic. There’s good overall response with good acceleration and highway merging without hearing the engine thrashing about. We often think of the engine helping us to achieve low fuel consumption on a drive, but the transmission with all its gears is also a key contributor.

Around the streets of Chicago and the surrounding highways overall I thought the Terrain to be well composed with good ride and handling. Steering effort is comfortable with decent feedback and the overall compliance of the suspension delivered a comfortable and confident ride.

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The new-for-2019 Terrain Black Edition is available on SLE & SLT for $795. The package includes: 19-inch gloss black aluminum wheels, darkened grille insert and black surround, black mirror caps, roof rails and additional exterior accents, and black exterior model and trim badging. It’s offered in five exterior colors: Ebony Twilight Metallic, Summit White, Graphite Gray Metallic, Satin Steel Metallic and, new for 2019, Sedona Metallic.

On a final note, GM is now offering an extra two years on its factory warranty at a relatively modest upcharge. GM’s extended warranty upgrades the GMC vehicles to five-year/60,000-mile coverage, up from the standard three-year/36,000-mile warranty. IHS Markit says most new vehicle buyers keep their cars, trucks, or SUVs around 6.8 years on average. You might just want to think about this.

More Independent GMC Information Than Anywhere Else

© 2018 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy