The 2010 GMC Terrain’s Exterior Placed It High on the Wrong List

The 2010 GMC Terrain was the lucky winner of MotorTrend’s Ugliest Car Of The Year. But what about that mid-size crossover earned it that coveted title? And why does it matter that a vehicle has dubious honor of being the ugliest? Well, do you want to buy a car that’s wearing the Ugly Crown? Consumers prefer cars that are attractive, so bad exterior design does have an impact on resale. 

What made the Terrain so ugly?

According to MotorTrend, the Terrain’s fenders are basically a crime against automotive design. First, GMC designed the Terrain to look like the SUV version of the Sierra pickup–so it looks like a tall box. The big cubic fenders on the box emphasized the small wheels–since the Terrain is a crossover SUV and sports regular car tires. The end product resembles a top heavy shopping cart, which is probably not what the GM engineers had in mind.

The Terrain is basically a tall cube

You’ll either love or hate the 2010 Terrain. It’s a tall, boxy cube, with an upright stance, a broad grille, and those offending fenders. The Terrain does look a bit like a mini-Escalade, so you may be surprised to find out that the chunky GMC Terrain does have a fraternal twin–the Chevrolet Equinox. Once you’re in the cabin, it’s hard to tell the Terrain from the Equinox. Both have a modern and minimalist design, although with intelligently placed knobs and buttons. 

Chevy Equinox is actually bigger than the Terrain


The 2020 GMC Terrain Has 1 Important Advantage Over the Honda CR-V

Another surprise is that the soft and cushy Equinox is actually bigger than the Terrain by a couple of inches. The vertical lines and monster grille on the Terrain make it appear much more of a beast than it really is, a sort of wanna-be Hummer. The V6 model does have a solid towing capacity when you get the requisite towing package–a hefty 3,500 lbs. It’s not going anywhere at lightning speed, wither, but will go from 0 to 60 in a stately 8.1 seconds, says MotorTrend.

GMC built the Terrain to appeal to the middle of the SUV market. It’s a crossover so it rides more like a car, with four wheel independent suspension on a car-based frame.  It’s more fuel efficient than say, a Tahoe–nor does it have the off-roading and towing capabilities of a full-size SUV. 

Five stars for safety

Looks aside, the 2010 Terrain is a safe choice. It got a full five star rating from the NHTSA in driver and passenger frontal crash tests, and for front and rear side impact tests. IIHS also scored the Terrain at the top, with their highest rating of “good” in frontal offset and side impact crashes, and gave it a Top Safety Pick rating. 

Is a 2010 Terrain a good SUV to buy?

Initial reviews for the debut year of the Terrain were solid, if you leave out MotorTrend’s ugly prize. It’s steady, safe, and reliable, and GMC built several options–four or six cylinders, drive train choices, and trim levels. A basic Terrain in decent shape will set you back around $5,000, making it a good choice of a first car for a nervous teenager. 

If you fall in love with a 2010 GMC Terrain, have a qualified mechanic do a thorough check up on the car before you sign on the dotted line. Terrain engines have had problems between 85,000 and 108,500 miles, so if your car falls in that range, ask your mechanic to look closely at the timing chain, cylinder head, and head gasket. 

Have Terrains gotten better looking?

GMC has worked to make the Terrain a little less of a shopping cart on steroids in recent years, and the 2020 editions are probably their most streamlined yet. These new models are curvier and shorter than their predecessors, but even these all-new GMC Terrains look like something else, rather than itself.