Trucks & SUVs

GMC Makes the Quickest 2021 Compact SUV

As SUVs continue to garner widespread appeal, powertrains are also getting much quicker. However, since most people can’t pay $245,000 for a Bentley Bentayga, you might have to settle for a quick GMC SUV. Consumer Reports lists the GMC Terrain as the fastest compact SUV you can buy.

The GMC Terrain has a 0-60 time of 7.2 seconds, which is impressive for a vehicle of its size. Let’s look at what makes the Terrain so fast and how its rivals compare.

The heart of the GMC Terrain

The GMC Terrain gets its quickness from a 2.0-liter turbo-four that makes 252 hp. However, this powertrain is only available for the SLT and Denali trims, so you’ll have to pay a little extra to get it. Many critics, including Consumer Reports, feel it’s worth it for the extra pep.

The base model comes with a 1.5-liter turbo-four that only produces 175 hp. While it still provides plenty of power, its 0-60 time is predictably slower. However, it gets considerably better mileage than the optional engine, an estimated 27 mpg overall compared to 24 mpg. Both motors come paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The GMC Terrain outruns every car in its class

A 2020 GMC Terrain on display at an auto show
A GMC Terrain on display | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The Jeep Cherokee is a close competitor to the GMC Terrain, clocking in a 0-60 mph time of 7.5 seconds. The Honda CR-V, one of the best-selling vehicles in the United States, is a full second slower than the Terrain SUV. The GMC Terrain is also faster than sportier rivals like the Mazda CX-5.

Both the Kia Sportage and the Subaru Forester take upwards of nine seconds to reach 60 mph. According to Consumer Reports, the slowest compact SUV on the market is the Volkswagen Tiguan. Its 2.0-liter turbo-four isn’t as powerful as the GMC Terrain’s, netting it a 0-60 mph time of over 10 seconds.

Other nice things about the GMC Terrain

RELATED: 3 Reasons To Buy a 2021 Nissan Rogue Instead of a 2021 GMC Terrain

The GMC Terrain also handles well, though it’s nothing to write home about. The reviewers were more impressed with its quick braking performance and how well it performed in the avoidance maneuver test. Inside the SUV, the seats are supportive and it’s easy for taller passengers to stretch their limbs.

Consumer Reports was also satisfied with the number of safety features included in GMC’s Pro Safety suite. Automatic emergency braking, following distance monitoring, pedestrian detection, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assistance, and the Teen Driver program are included. Higher trims come with handy features like automatic parallel parking and blind-spot monitors.

The GMC Terrain isn’t quite perfect

The GMC Terrain might be fast, but its actual ride quality leaves a lot to be desired. The suspension is too stiff and any small impact sends shudders and clunks throughout the car. Exterior noise is also very pronounced inside the GMC Terrain, even with the better engine.

The Terrain also exhibits a worrying amount of body lean that doesn’t instill much confidence for drivers. Front visibility is alright, but it’s compromised at the rear thanks to the tiny third-row windows and the narrow rear windshield.

The buttons for the gear selector are a little too low for the driver to reach easily. You’ll have to take your eyes off the road to change gears, which could potentially be unsafe.

Consumer Reports was also disappointed with the GMC Terrain’s interior quality. It’s primarily composed of black plastic bits, with some wood trim to spice things up. The Terrain Denali looks a bit nicer and comes with special embroidered patterns on the seats.

While the GMC Terrain has exceptional acceleration, it’s only an average SUV for its class. Several rivals have better cabin materials, smoother rides, and higher reliability ratings.

So while the Terrain might be the quickest compact SUV in Consumer Reports testing, it is worth considering more well-rounded options in this segment.