2010 GMC Terrain AWD SLT-1 Review

Ken Glassman
by Ken Glassman

GMC has been General Motors’ truck division for a whole century, but with the elimination of several car lines, the automaker felt that GMC needed to fill some voids in its product offerings. As a result, this year GMC gets the five-passenger compact crossover Terrain, which slots in underneath the large three-row Acadia.


1. The Terrain comes with two engines, ether a 182-hp direct-injection 2.4L 4-cylinder or a 264-hp 3.0L V6.
2. Cargo room is rated at 31 cu.-ft. behind the second row or 64 cu.-ft. total.
3. V6 models are rated to tow 3,500 lbs with a $350 trailer package.
4. Fuel economy ranges from 22/32 mpg (city/hwy) for 2WD I4 models to 17/24 mpg for AWD V6 models.

The Terrain shares a platform with the Chevy Equinox and the Cadillac SRX. The exterior appearance of each of the three is, however, quite different. The Terrain, in a bow to its GMC roots, is the most truck-like in its styling cues. It has a boxy and brawny look with squared off bulging wheel wells and a large three slat front grill surrounded by chrome. The stacked front headlights and fog lights, which are pushed out to the corners of the vehicle, give it a hint of family resemblance to the Cadillac. Yet despite its bold front end appearance, GM says the Terrain has the same coefficient of drag as the last generation Corvette. The front end being more slippery than it looks probably helps keep the Terrain quiet while cruising on the highway, as there is almost no wind noise in the cabin.


The standard engine in the Terrain is a 2.4-liter, direct-injected motor that puts out 182-hp and 172 ft-lbs of torque. The optional engine, which my test car came with, is a 3.0-liter, V6 that delivers 264-hp and 223 ft-lbs of torque. With a curb weight of over 4,000 lbs. for the all-wheel drive version, the V6 Terrain has enough power, if not offering sparkling performance. Gas mileage is a respectable 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway (17/25 for 2WD V6 models). If you want more from your gas dollar, the 2WD 4-cylinder will bump you up to 22/32 mpg.

Mated to the V6 is a smooth shifting 6-speed automatic transmission, with a unique manumatic feature. According to Terrain Product Manager, Dave Poniatowski, “The transmission is not a true manumatic, but rather an Electronic Range Select (ERS) mode. A true manumatic would allow the driver to command the selected gear, while the ERS mode allows the driver to select the range of allowable gears.”

It works like this; there is a small rocker switch on the side of the pistol grip gear select lever that will allow the driver to manually shift up or down. So if you manually shift up to fourth gear and then coast to a stoplight, the gear indicator will still show fourth gear on the display. But the terrain will shift into first gear and take off from the light and then automatically up-shift until it reaches fourth gear, but won’t go higher. This feature is designed to limit the top gear while towing, or to downshift on a downhill grade and hold that gear to provide engine braking. It’s not intended to provide sportier performance as most manumatics do. By the way, the V6 equipped Terrain has a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs.

With the V6, you get a hydraulic steering system, rather than a more efficient electric system with the 4-cylinder. Steering feedback is good and the steering is responsive. The Terrain is set for a plush ride, so you’ll notice some body lean in hard corners, but the vehicle remains poised and quite comfortable over all types of road surfaces. Stability Control and Traction Control are always on the job for piece of mind and the all-wheel drive system will help cornering in both dry and wet conditions. ABS brakes haul the Terrain down from speed quite nicely, even if the pedal feedback is a bit vague.

The GMC Terrain is a pleasure to drive. It feels solid, balanced and sure footed. The ride quality is luxurious, and there is very little engine or exterior noise that makes its way into the cabin. It is the interior design of the cabin, however, that really makes this vehicle shine.


It is rare that an interior design jumps out at me the way this Terrain’s did. Sure, the lipstick red and black interior of a BMW coupe is striking, but that’s because of the colors, not the design. The interior of the new Kia Soul and Ford Fiesta got my attention for some innovative styling, but the Terrain really impressed me with it’s understated elegance. You’d think that some Italian design studio penned this cabin. The Terrain’s two-toned interior will make you think you are in a vehicle that costs $10,000 more.

All the different textures and finishes provide pleasant eye candy virtually everywhere you look, giving the cabin a rich sophisticated feel. I particularly like the red stitching on the dash, doors and seats. Those seats, by the way are finished in glove soft leather in the center portion and headrests, with a different color leather for the sides, completing the two-toned pattern throughout the cabin. The seats are wide and comfortable with good side bolstering and they feature three-position heating controls.

The rear passengers won’t feel short changed in the comfort or luxury department either. And thanks to the Terrains exterior width of 72.8-inches, there’s enough space for an adult to sit comfortably in the middle seat. Headroom is more than ample, rear seat legroom is generous and the rear passengers feet can easily fit under the high mounted, tall front seats. The rear seatbacks are 60/40 split, and they fold down flat for extending the cargo area. Another nice touch is that the rear seat bench slides forward to enlarge the cargo area even more, offering nearly 64 cubic feet of capacity. With the rear seat up, the Terrain still provides a healthy 31 cubic feet. Should you need even more capacity, a roof rack is standard.

All the controls for the driver are easy to operate and are logically laid out. Redundant controls for the cruise control, phone, and radio are located on the thick leather covered steering wheel.

The cabin has plenty of storage with a large glove box, good-sized door pockets, and a center console that is quite deep. The console is lighted, and also has a 12-volt power outlet for cell phone charging or to power other devices.

The driver information screen between the tach and speedometer lets you monitor gas mileage, distance to empty, trip meters, tire pressures, etc. The rearview mirror has a back-up camera built into it, so when you put the terrain in reverse, the left side of the mirror becomes the screen to see where you’re going. Unlike most vehicles, there’s no need to order the Navigation System to get the back-up camera feature.

There are lots of other standard features on this SLT-1 trim Terrain including 8-way power seats with lumbar controls, Climate Control, Tilt and telescope steering wheel, 8-speaker Pioneer sound system with CD changer, and auxiliary input and USB port, (XM Satellite service is available). The Terrain is Bluetooth equipped, and has an automatic dimming rearview mirror, and heated outside mirrors. You can even program the electric lift gate to limit the height the liftgate will open to, in case you have a low ceiling garage.

The base Terrain, with 4-cylinder engine, and front wheel drive starts at $24,250, and comes well equipped. My test car was the all-wheel drive SLT-1 version and stickered for $29,200. The options on the test car were very reasonably priced. The V6 engine added $1,500, the Moonroof $795, the programmable electric liftgate was $495, the Trailer Package was $350, and another $245 for the rear cargo cover, roof rack crossbars, and cargo net. When you add in the destination charges, the total comes to $33,525, which means that this GMC is a very good value, and stands up to any competition in its class.


This midsize crossover is an outstanding vehicle. It’s an excellent size, not too big or too small. There’s plenty of room to seat five adults comfortably and still carry lots of their luggage, and with the rear seat folded, you’ve got some serious cargo capacity. The ride quality is like a luxury car, but with the safety and security of all wheel drive – plus the high-up vantage point. And the interior appointments will make you think you’re in a Cadillac.


2010 Chevrolet Equinox 1LT AWD Review
2008 Ford Escape Review
2009 Honda CR-V
2009 Toyota RAV4
2009 Volkswagen Tiguan
2009 Mitsubishi Outlander
2008 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Review
2009 Hyundai Tucson
2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X Review


  • Gorgeous interior
  • Roomy for five adults
  • Excellent manners on all road surfaces


  • A few more ponies would be nice, if not necessary
  • Too much body lean in turns
  • Brake pedal could offer a bit more feedback
Join the conversation
 1 comment