GMC's reputation is as a truck brand, but new for 2018 is a redesigned Terrain compact crossover that is the furthest thing from a truck in the GMC lineup.
Truck or not, small crossovers and SUVs are important as they form one of the fastest-growing categories in the marketplace, and GMC hopes the new Terrain's new tech features and powertrains promising better fuel efficiency help reinforce this model's position in a burgeoning vehicle segment.
It's worth mentioning this new Terrain looks better than the outgoing model, whose boxy styling was practically a caricature of a car-based SUV trying too hard to look like a truck. Squared fenders are still a primary theme, but they're now better integrated into the design as a whole, which bears a strong resemblance to the larger Acadia that went on sale last year.
Ironically, in trying less hard to look like a truck, the new Terrain actually pulls it off more convincingly, even as GMC has adopted powertrains that originated in GM's car lines. Terrain is now an all-turbocharged four-cylinder lineup, starting with a 1.5L that can be optioned to a 2.0L, and a 1.6L diesel.
That 1.5L is a less-impressive performer than its 170 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque suggest, though it will be the fuel economy leader of the two gas engines. Whether the diesel, with its 136 hp and 236 lb-ft, will be any better suited to the task remains to be seen. Given our experience with the 1.5L in the lighter Malibu, where it cranks out 160 hp and 184 lb-ft, our choice -- at least on paper -- is the 2.0L.
The smaller gas engine comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, as we expect the diesel will be. but the 2.0L comes bundled with a nine-speed auto that GMC says will improve both performance and fuel economy. Six speeds or nine, the transmission is controlled via push-button controls located at the bottom of the centre stack. We've yet to fall in love with such an arrangement, whether in a Lincoln, a Honda or an Acura.
But as GMC explains it, the elimination of a traditional shift lever is what allowed its designers to add the prolific amount of storage space found in the Terrain's centre console. There's also a traction management system that offers the driver some control over how the optional AWD system puts power to the ground.
The new Terrain corrects the outgoing version's lack of advanced safety tech, with the addition of forward automatic braking and surround-vision parking cameras as options. Other available safety bits include side blind spot alert, rear cross traffic alert and lane keep assist with lane departure warning, all of which trigger GM's excellent safety alert seat to warn the driver of hazards.
Depending on trim, the Terrain gets either a seven- or eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, and now supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration platforms.
Terrain's standard and optional features come packaged in familiar SLE and SLT trim levels, and a Denali grade that will give GMC shoppers an upscale option that should challenge luxury brands like Land Rover and Audi in terms of feature content at a much lower price.