The attractively boxy, assertive look given off by the 2023 GMC Terrain belies the fact that its features and performance fail to produce a winning package in the ever-competitive compact crossover market. All the Terrain models feel a little malnourished, a result of the universally equipped and less-than-enthusiastic 175-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The spacious and welcoming interior is held back by modest equipment and merely average material quality. Moving up to the pricey Denali model helps the solve some of those issues, but rivals like the Mazda CX-50 and the Honda CR-V offer better features and better performance at a similar price.
What’s New for 2023?
GMC kept changes for the 2023 Terrain to a minimum, but it did add five horsepower, bringing the total output from its 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder to 175 horsepower. Two new paint colors are being added this year, along with redesigned 19-inch wheels for the Elevation package available on SLE and SLT models. A Black Diamond Edition package is being added for the Denali trim.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
To keep the Terrain’s price from getting too out of hand, we’d stick with the SLE model. It comes standard with plenty of equipment that compact SUV buyers now consider must-haves, including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, touchscreen infotainment, and a host of driver-assistance features.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Terrain comes standard with a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a nine-speed automatic and either front- or all-wheel drive. We haven’t tested one yet, but we put that engine through our testing regimen fitted to its mechanical twin, the Chevrolet Equinox; it took 8.9 seconds to reach 60 mph. The Terrain provides its passengers with a comfortable, cosseting ride. Although the softly sprung suspension is a boon on long highway drives, the comfort-oriented setup drains the compact crossover of driver engagement once the tarmac gets twisty. Likewise, the direct but syrupy steering, which provides effortless turn-in at low speeds, proves as uninformative as a mob boss in a police interrogation room.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates the Terrain with front-wheel drive will earn up to 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway; going with all-wheel drive drops the highway estimate to 28 mpg. We’ve yet to put the Terrain through our real-world highway fuel economy test but we’ll update this story when we do. For more information about the Terrain’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
A spacious and accommodating interior is let down by subpar build quality and a middling mix of materials. Meanwhile, the Terrain’s ergonomically challenged push-button shifter sprinkles salt in the compact crossover’s interior wounds. It consists of several switches that look like power window controls, located low on the center console and less than intuitive to use. Although it’s something we think owners would grow accustomed to over time, we found the small buttons difficult to locate at a glance—especially when groping for reverse—making it difficult to pull off three-point turns quickly or operate the transmission’s manual mode. The Terrain is an amenable partner for lugging large loads of various sizes. Credit a standard 60/40 split-folding rear seat, as well as an available fold-flat front seat. The Terrain’s cargo area offers class-competitive space. In our carry-on luggage test, the Terrain held 24 cases with the rear seats folded; those in search of the absolute maximum cargo room will be better served—albeit only slightly—by the CR-V.
The Car and Driver Difference
Infotainment and Connectivity
Easy to operate and quick to respond to commands, the Terrain’s infotainment system benefits from clear graphics, logical menus, and the latest in-car connectivity features. Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot are all standard. An in-dash navigation system is standard on the top Denali and is available on other models. A head-up display is available—it’s standard on the Denali and optional on the SLT and AT4—but unlike other GM vehicles which project this feature onto the windshield, the Terrain utilizes a pop-up panel on the top of the dashboard.
How to Buy and Maintain a Car
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
A host of driver-assistance features is standard and more can be added as options. For more information about the Terrain’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
GMC’s warranty matches those of most of the Terrain’s class competitors. Shoppers seeking more coverage ought to look at models such as the Kia Sportage and the Hyundai Tucson.
Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles Complimentary maintenance is covered for the first visit
More Features and Specs