2018 GMC Terrain Denali Review

2018 GMC Terrain Denali
Based 1-5
4.6 SOLID
Pros
  • Peppy Engine
  • Comfortable Cabin
  • Infotainment System
Cons
  • Cargo Capacity
  • Rear Seating Surfaces

The 2018 GMC Terrain is all-new and like the Chevy Equinox, has the same footprint, but it gets new exterior styling that makes this SUV a lot tamer for consumers. The new 2.0-liter turbo should give families enough power and some fuel mileage gains as well. 

This week, we’ve been driving the top-of-the-line, 2018 GMC Terrain Denali with all-wheel drive. 

What’s New For 2018

The 2018 GMC Terrain is entirely new, from the downsized chassis and body, to the 2.0-liter turbo engine and nine-speed automatic transmission. 

Features & Options

The 2018 GMC Terrain Denali ($39,270) comes with leather seats, an eight-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, blind-spot monitors, a 110-volt power outlet, remote start, power driver’s seat, heated front seats, and a panoramic sunroof. Denali adds a handsfree tailgate, a power passenger front seat, HD radio, seven-speaker audio, navigation, 19-inch wheels, and LED headlamps.

Extra safety equipment includes forward-collision warnings, surround-view camera, and automatic park assist. Additional extras included the ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and wireless charging. Total MSRP including destination: $44,370.

Interior Highlights

Stepping inside reveals leather seats with plenty of bolstering, lots of soft-touch materials, brushed aluminum trim, and plenty of power adjustments to help find the perfect driving position. The first thing we noticed was the unique push/pull space-saving gear shifter in front of the console. It took us awhile to get used to it, but it does add extra storage space in the console and room for the smartphone charger.

The seating position in the Denali’s cabin seems lower than before, which makes the Terrain feel less SUV-like. The infotainment system is straight-forward and simple, with a eight-inch screen and big icons. The display is clear, bright, responsive, and fast, all without too many features or too much information.

The backseat has plenty of room for adults, and rear passengers will appreciate the tall doors, so there’s less ducking to climb in, but the flat seat bottoms won’t be comfortable for long trips. The seats fold mostly flat to provide 63.3 cubic feet of cargo space, less than the competition. Behind the rear seats there is 29.6 cubic feet available.

There’s a handy storage compartment underneath the rear cargo deck. The front passenger seat folds flat to accommodate longer items like 2x4s and kayaks.

Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

The 2018 GMC Terrain Denali is powered by a new turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, making 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque. Mated to a nine-speed automatic with all-wheel drive, it offers peppy acceleration and gets an EPA-estimated 21/26 city/highway and 23 combined mpg.

Driving Dynamics

The transmission pairs nicely with the new 252 horsepower turbo engine, and it felt strong during our quick runs up I-70 west of Denver. The turbo offers steady power and a cool whistling sound as it climbs through the gears. We found ourselves wanting steering wheel paddle shifters which aren’t offered on the Terrain.

The Terrain’s ride is designed more toward comfort than cornering ability. We took it through the tight mountain curves and there was enough body lean to remind us we weren’t in a sports sedan. The suspension offers poised and predictable handling in all situations; the ride overall is comfortable on the highway and you hardly feel the bumps on rough pavement. 

The Denali has a higher state of suspension tune and 19-inch wheels with better all-season tires. It tracks true and smooth, but doesn’t offer much feedback. Still, it helped us avoid a deer in the mountains west of Denver during our seat time.

The optional all-wheel drive on our Denali tester is a part-time system, activated by a knob on the console with different traction modes. It’s easier than other all-wheel drive units without the ability to self-activate.

Conclusion

The fully redesigned 2018 GMC Terrain addresses the problems the aging generation had, and now represents a more compelling choice in the smaller, five-passenger crossover segment. GMC pulled off making the Terrain smaller in size without sacrificing too much leg and headroom.

The new four-cylinder improves performance and fuel mileage is reasonable if you keep your foot out of the turbo. It’s comfortable, easy to drive, and comes standard with one of the best infotainment interfaces in the class.

Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy

2018 GMC Terrain Gallery

2018 GMC Terrain Official Site.

Photos: GMC (SLT & Denali models shown).

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2 Comments on "2018 GMC Terrain Denali Review"

  1. Camille

    Great review. I just want to add that I have a 2018 Terrain. I thought I would hate that shifter but actually love it after a 1/2 hour learning curve. It frees up space and you can shift so easily and quickly using 2 fingers. BTW, the L selector is to limit the top gear for towing and not to shift manually. Also want to add that I got about 10k off list with GM incentives, so the true pricing makes a no brainier versus the competition. The 2.0T AWD drivetrain is best in this class by a huge margin. 0 to 60 in 6.4 sec. I love driving this vehicle!

    • Carl Anthony

      Hi Camille . . . thank you for the feedback and the insight. Glad to see you got a good deal too! That’s the best kind of vehicle – one that is affordable! Thank you for reading our site and if you ever have any car-related questions, feel free to reach out to us.

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