Crossover & Midsize

You Should Skip the Underpowered 2021 GMC Terrain And Wait for 2022

The GMC Terrain is reliable, but its newest edition isn’t especially fun to drive. The stripped-down 2021 GMC Terrain simply underwhelms in the performance department. Although, there is hope on the horizon as the 2022 GMC Terrain brings about much-needed improvements.

Previous model years supported two engine options, but GMC dropped the beefier available 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the Terrain’s lineup for 2021. Thankfully, the 2022 GMC Terrain won’t be the same underpowered machine as its predecessor. 

According to GM Authority, the 2022 Terrain will return with a new-and-improved 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This begs the question, should consumers even bother with the 2021 GMC Terrain? 

What’s wrong with the 2021 GMC Terrain’s standard engine?

A 2020 GMC Terrain parked in front of several windows
2020 GMC Terrain on display | Photo via GMC

The 2021 GMC Terrain struggles to match the performance levels of its competitors. Compare the GMC Terrain and Mazda CX-5 in a road test, and you’ll be left with a clear winner.

The 2021 GMC Terrain’s standard 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine doesn’t do it any favors. Sure, it gets fairly decent gas mileage – rated at an EPA-estimated 27 MPG city/highway combined. Unfortunately, it lags behind its rivals by generating just 170 hp. That’s just not the kind of power drivers expect from an SUV.

The saving grace of previous editions of the Terrain was its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. This powerplant kicked out 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, and it had a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. 

However, drivers would have to be willing to sacrifice significant gas mileage if they want this engine. The EPA estimates that front-wheel-drive models get 24 MPG city/highway combined, and that number dips to 23 MPG if all-wheel drive is equipped. When comparing this model of the GMC Terrain vs. Toyota RAV4, you’ll see the RAV4 offers more value with an EPA-estimated 30 MPG city/highway combined.

The 2022 GMC Terrain’s upgraded engine brings new life to the vehicle

2021 GMC Terrain owners will have to rely on the lowly 1.5-liter powerplant to get the job done. Thankfully, 2022 GMC Terrain buyers will regain the power of choice.

GM Authority claims the revamped 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is a shade weaker than the outgoing version, as it delivers 237 hp. However, it is expected to be much more efficient, rectifying the biggest downfall of its predecessor.

Many car shoppers will wonder why GMC didn’t add this engine option to the 2021 Terrain. GM Authority noted that GMC planned for a mid-cycle refresh of the Terrain for the 2021 model year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the auto manufacturer’s plans.

Thankfully, the compact SUV didn’t go entirely unchanged from the previous model year. The 2021 GMC Terrain comes standard with a new driver-assistance technology package. This host of safety systems includes blind spot warning, automatic emergency braking, and more.

Wait and be rewarded

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The 2021 GMC Terrain will suffice for those merely looking for a compact SUV to get from Point A to Point B. Although, there are better options on the market. 

Meanwhile, many consumers will wait for the arrival of the 2022 GMC Terrain. Not only will these buyers have the option of a superior engine, but they’ll also reap the benefits of the mid-cycle refresh. GMC has not yet announced what other changes to expect for 2022. However, it’s recommended to either wait for the next model or to buy a used GMC Terrain with the old 2.0-liter turbo engine.