Smart acceleration, sound handling, smooth on the road and good looks, the smallest GMC offering is generous on size and gorgeous on attitude, Chris Fisher finds
Very few SUVs make bold statements in the automotive industry. Even fewer do so when it’s merely a sized-down iteration of a larger flagship vehicle. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the long and tired lineup of German SUVs out there (save for Mercedes-Benz perhaps). However great these vehicles may be, it’s always the same SUV whittled down to mimic the performance and styling of its older and (almost always) larger sibling.
The smallest of GMC’s SUVs are still those that command respect and admiration on the roads – and that’s what makes the brand stand out among other vehicles of their class from various other brands.
There seems to be only one way with the American SUV-maker: It’s supersize me or nothing. And keeping in line with that motto is the all-new Terrain. And yes, this is undoubtedly the brand’s smallest offering in the lineup.
So, when I got my hands to the keys to the Terrain, I was nothing short of surprised by the sheer size of this machine. And avid readers of Y will know how much I appreciate large and sizeable vehicles.
That’s a tick for curb appeal (yes, I’m using that term for an SUV) then. The Terrain’s doing well so far.
Moving on, the design of the Terrain is one that will invoke some comment from passersby. It isn’t as flamboyant as, say, the larger Acadia or the Yukon, but the design is tasteful.
The headlamps are quirky and almost shaped like a wedge. There’s no exact way to really describe its shape rather than to point at it when you’re showing the car off. Still, it comes with projector Xenon lamps and daytime running LED lights. I also admired the character line that extends all the way from the lights to the bumper.
Owing to its sheer size, the side profile is rather bulky, but there’s a kink on the window sill that complements the shape of the car. The posterior is inspired by the fascia, as is seen with the wedge-shaped tail lamps.
On the upside, no one is going to walk up to you and tell you that your car looks similar to their cheaper SUV – it’s definitely a distinctive design-language that translates into smiles in my book.
Much of this quirkiness is carried over to the interior too. Everything, from the thick-rimmed steering wheel to the a/c vents, is inspired from the exterior design. Still, the buttons and knobs are all where they’re supposed to be. As is the norm with cars of today, the boffins from GMC also chuck in buttons on the steering wheel.
Thankfully, there isn’t any touch-wizardry going on inside to control your a/c temperatures and music volume. There are knobs to take care of such rudimentary functions; just like how it should be.
They do chuck in a large 8-inch-wide touchscreen for good cause though. And as is the case with most of GM’s infotainment screens, the one on the Terrain is slick and easy-to-use too. Setting up the Bluetooth took a mere 20 seconds – it’s the fastest I’ve ever tested on a car till date.
The inside of the GMC is a nice place to be – and I definitely took a shying towards the faux wood elements and the fabric seats that were fitted to my tester. Let’s face it: Leather- and leatherette-wrapped seats may look posh, but there’s nothing classy about a hot seat cooking you in the summer.
Space inside the cabin is commendable, and five people can ride in the car at all times in absolute comfort. The space upfront is ample for full-size adults; this is also the case in the back.
Boot space is on a par with its rivals but you can fold the second-row seats away to make room for large bags.
Now let’s move on to the most unique part of the car: The powertrain. Powering the Terrain is a small 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder pot-banger pumping out 252hp and 352Nm of torque.
I was definitely a bit taken aback and skeptical when I heard that the beast was only powered by a small engine – but not for long. The moment I put my foot down, I realised that the turbo made a world of difference in the performance of the car.
The potent engine – coupled with the nine-speed automatic transmission – was brisk enough to hit the 100kph mark in only 8 seconds. Of course, it will do the run faster when the temperature is optimal.
I found the nine-speed gearbox to be smooth and slick when cruising. The gear ratios are short, which makes the Terrain the perfect city cruiser. I was astonished by the fuel economy readouts – it was superb.
The best part about the Terrain is its road-response: it’s very smooth. The suspension, coupled with the high-profile tyres, makes the ride very compliant on the highways. And because the Terrain is an all-wheel drive SUV, it can also take small dunes with ease.
It’s not a full-blown off-roader like the Yukon, but I did take it on some soft sand to get to know the capabilities of the vehicle. At no point did it bog down and it took on the sand like a champion.
A part of that could be due to the large tyres that are wrapped around 18-inch alloys and the clever all-wheel-drive system.
I’ve always loved GMC products. It’s one of those companies that stays true to its forte and tries to keep its DNA authentic. That’s what makes it a formidable opponent to the big guns from Japan and Europe.
And while this may not seem like a direct competitor to some prolific names in the market, the Terrain doesn’t just impress in size and design but, for the first time, in performance and fuel-efficiency too.
If that isn’t the bargain of the century, then I don’t know what is.