The 2021 GMC Terrain ‘Is Priced like a Winner’ – But There’s a Catch

The 2021 GMC Terrain gets high marks in a few different areas. It stands out against other compact SUVs with its power offerings and tech. Pricing for the Terrain also seems reasonable, on the surface, that is. 

The 2021 GMC Terrain offers two distinct driving experiences 

2020 GMC Terrain Denali driving
GMC Terrain Denali | GMC

GMC got rid of the Terrain’s diesel engine, so there are now performance options to consider. Standard Terrain models have a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 170-hp. Models with this engine can get up to 27 mpg overall, which is pretty good for the segment. But as other reviewers have said, the Terrain’s standard engine often feels underpowered.

You get a completely different experience if you upgrade to the Terrain’s available 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. This turbo-four makes the Terrain the quickest compact SUV in the class. No matter which engine you end up going with, a nine-speed automatic is standard. You also have the choice between front- or all-wheel drive.

Edmunds is among those that prefer the Terrain’s more powerful engine option for a better driving experience. Road testers at Edmunds also appreciate this SUV’s smooth braking performance. The main downside to aware of is that the Terrain’s steering can feel vague at times.

There are more pros and cons on the inside 

Front seats of the 2021 GMC Terrain.
2021 GMC Terrain Interior | GMC

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The Terrain is a two-row SUV that can seat up to five. Comfort is a highlight for the Terrain, but interior design isn’t. Its cabin is adorned with lots of cheap, flimsy plastic, which is disappointing for a vehicle that starts at $25K. 

The Terrain’s low-grade build quality is why Car and Driver say it’s priced like a winner but doesn’t deserve a podium finish. Car and Driver also echo Edmunds’s sentiments the Terrain’s transmission push-button interface isn’t that easy to use. 

[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. 

Car and Driver (2020)

At least the SUV provides good storage options and tech

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

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The Terrain has earned some compliments for its useful storage space. It offers a flat-folding passenger seat that can help you accommodate long items. And in Car and Driver’s test, this SUV was able to carry 24 carry-on pieces of luggage with the rear seats folded. The Honda CR-V can hold a bit more, though. 

Generally speaking, GMC has become a standout because of its user-friendly infotainment feature; the Terrain is an excellent example of this. It comes with a 7-inch touchscreen plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. All models also come with a few active safety features, including automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, and lane-keep assist. 

Should you buy a new Terrain?

Competitors like the CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Toyota RAV4 are more well-rounded than the Terrain inside and out. That said, the Terrain is still a good small SUV. And as Edmunds highlighted, the Terrain has generous warranty coverage. Your first two scheduled maintenance visits are free. Plus, GMC includes roadside assistance and loaner cars for five years or the first 60,00 miles.