2019 GMC Terrain Denali Review: Compelling Choice Overall

90
GOOD
Overall Impression
-Nice to have all-wheel drive available.
-Ride is fairly comfortable on the open road.
-A more compelling choice among smaller SUVs.
Pros
Engine Performance
Comfortable & Upscale Cabin
Intuitive Touchscreen Interfaces
Cons
Wind Noise (Higher Speeds)
Less Cargo Capacity vs. Competition

The 2019 GMC Terrain has the same footprint as the Chevy Equinox. However, the Terrain received new exterior styling to make it 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, 2019 GMC Terrain Denali with all-wheel drive. 

What’s New For 2019

The 2019 GMC Terrain receives an upgraded rearview camera and new appearance packages. Adaptive Cruise Control and Front Pedestrian Braking are now part of the available Driver Alert Package II.

Smokey Quartz Metallic joins the color palette for 2019. 

Features & Options: Two Safety Packages Worth Noting

The 2019 GMC Terrain AWD Denali ($39,500) 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. The Denali receives unique styling cues and interior trim, as well as Denali-specific 19-inch wheels and LED headlights.

The Driver Alert II package ($745) added low-speed forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking; lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. The Denali’s Comfort package ($450) added ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, plus a wireless phone charging pad.

The Advanced Safety package ($745) included a surround-view parking camera and an automated parking system. Total MSRP including destination: $43,650. By comparison, the 2019 GMC Terrain starts at $25,000. 

2019 GMC Terrain Denali.

Interior Highlights: Clear & Bright 

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 the eight-inch screen’s 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. However, 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.

2019 GMC Terrain Denali interior layout with cargo.

Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

The 2019 GMC Terrain Denali is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, making 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque. When properly equipped, the Terrain Denali tows 3,500 lbs. 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.

Fuel tank capacity for all-wheel drive models is 15.6 gallons; 14.9 gallons for front-wheel drive models. 

When compared at random to other possible choices, the GMC Terrain is about average for fuel economy.

The turbo offers steady power and a cool whistling sound as it climbs through the gears. Click To Tweet

Driving Dynamics: We Avoided The Deer! 

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. Our other complaint is the noticeable amount of wind noise coming from the outside mirrors at higher speeds.

The 2019 GMC Terrain 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: A Compelling Choice 

The 2019 GMC Terrain represents a more compelling choice in the smaller, five-passenger crossover segment. The Denali trim ramps up the level of luxury too. 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

2019 GMC Terrain Gallery

Photos: GMC

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