Skip to main content

Small SUVs offer a good blend of space, driveability, and efficiency. Even though it isn’t the best compact SUV, the 2023 GMC Terrain excels in one area. Don’t blame the Terrain for being the best in this unimportant arena because the tall people in your life might appreciate it. Tall drivers, gather around. GMC has a model for you, and it starts under $30,000 (sort of).

Is the GMC Terrain the best compact SUV?

The best compact SUV might not be the GMC Terrain Denali
A GMC Terrain Denali in Ebony Twilight Metallic | GMC

Most would agree the 2023 GMC Terrain is not the best compact SUV. It came in almost last on the rankings by U.S. News, but it isn’t all bad. It has comfortable and roomy seats in both rows of seating. All five passengers have plenty of space, and GMC includes many family-friendly features.

GMC offers four trim levels this year, ranging from $29,900 to $38,600. The trims are SLE, SLT, AT4, and the fully loaded Denali. Drivers like the Denali trim for all the additional features and upgrades throughout the cabin.

2023 GMC Terrain TrimMSRP
Is the GMC Terrain the best compact SUV?

The base SLE trim comes pretty well equipped, so you can stick with that. In the compact SUV segment, that price is already pretty high. The good news is that it receives a predicted reliability score of 86 out of 100, which is excellent. So, what’s the unimportant area that the Terrain excels in?

Is the GMC Terrain a roomy compact SUV?

The best compact SUV might not be the GMC Terrain
Inside the 2023 GMC Terrain Denali | GMC

That’s right, for a compact SUV, the GMC Terrain has a lot of leg and cargo room. If you are looking for a smaller SUV that still has room for adults and everyone’s luggage, the Terrain might be your best bet. It has 39.7 inches of second-row legroom and 40.9 inches of front legroom. Headroom is 40.0 inches in the front and 38.5 inches in the back.

With all the seats in place, the Terrain has 29.6 cubic feet of cargo space. With the seats folded, that increases to 63.3 cubic feet of space. The seats in the back fold and a folding center armrest help increase the space for passengers and cargo. Even though the GMC SUV is compact, the interior is versatile and spacious.

All trim levels receive a 1.5L engine with 175 horsepower, enough for a daily driver. It isn’t the quietest engine, but it gets the job done. There was only one major change for 2023, the addition of the Denali Black Diamond Edition package.

What’s the best compact SUV of 2023?


The Best Compact SUV of 2023 Nails Almost Perfect Safety Score

If you want the best compact SUV, the 2023 Mazda CX-5 earned high marks across the board. It also starts at only $26,700 and earned this year’s Best Car for the Money award. Mazda’s CX-5 offers a great ride, good acceleration, and tons of standard safety systems on all trim levels.

If that isn’t enough, the 2023 Hyundai Tuscon is similarly well-equipped for $26,900. It has excellent safety scores, a comfortable ride, and good fuel economy. Plus, all five seats have plenty of space, and the cargo area is one of the best.

If you have very tall family members and need extra head and legroom, the GMC Terrain is a sensible choice. With a few areas of improvement, the Terrain has the potential to be the best small SUV of 2024. It is a fine compact SUV, but other, more affordable options are better in most areas.