Anyone considering a potential downsizing, or “rightsizing” in industry terms, from an SUV into something smaller, is no doubt well aware that the marketplace is thick with crossover options right now. These vehicles are meant to ease the pain of moving out of a gas guzzler, but with few exceptions, the utility is no better than a typical wagon and styling ranges from feminine to simply ugly. But maybe there is hope in this segment afterall. The 2010 GMC Terrain for instance. A crossover that may finally win the hearts of self-respecting men forced out of their Tahoe.
At first glance, the rebadging of an existing model as something new seems like the same old routine for GM. In this case, the existing vehicle is the Chevy Equinox, which appears to been bulked up slightly to become the Terrain. Nothing terribly extraordinary about that except that even with larger proportions than those of the CR-V and RAV-4, fuel efficiency of the Terrain breaks the coveted 30 mpg benchmark. GMC may call it a compact, but even the most cursory glance would lead you to believe that it is solidly midsize at least. Beyond sales, why GMC would even want to be associated with the likes of the CR-V and RAV-4 is a head scratcher. For one, it has a decidedly different approach to the crossover equation, including the squared-off look complete with oversized headlamps and exaggerated fender flares. In fact, although the entire design may seem a bit overblown, at least portions of the SUV DNA other crossovers claim to own still seems present in the Terrain. As a point of reference, the Terrain is more than 10-inches longer than a Ford Escape. That being said, the Terrain is a five-person max proposition, which leaves plenty of extra space for luggage that would otherwise have been swallowed up by a third row of seating crammed in the back.
While on the subject of the interior, the Terrain may not pretend to be anything other than an urban hauler, but egress in and out of the cabin takes a moderate amount of climbing abilities over the wide door sills. It’s pavement-only manners are confirmed even by the optional all-wheel-drive, which only engages the Terrain’s rear wheels when called upon with torque delivered through a Getrag-supplied computer-controlled coupling positioned downstream of the 6-speed automatic transmission. Both the base 2.4-liter, 182 hp, 4-cylinder engine and the optional 3.0-liter, 264 hp, V-6 have direct fuel injection tuned for maximum efficiency. Rarely is the lesser of two engines endorsed around here, but because the Terrain has little use as anything but a people hauler, the smaller engine is adequate for most. Depressing an “Eco” mode button on the console locks the torque converter at 1125 rpm to save gas. The optional 3.0-liter V-6 is an extra $1500. The independent front and rear suspension systems are calibrated for excellent isolation with electrically assisted power steering that serves its purpose for cruising duties. In anticipation that the four-cylinder engine might be too noisy on long hauls, the Terrain has one of GM’s first applications of noise cancellation technology. Hidden microphones listen for any excess laboring and when detected, an amplifier dispatches out-of-phase signals to a speaker located at the rear of the cabin. The sound waves cancel each other out with a quiet interior the happy winner. The payoff for its frugality is 22/32 mpg in city and highway driving with the four-cynlinder, and 17/25 with the V6
Inside, both the Equinox and Terrain make use of a MultiFlex rear seat that slides nearly eight inches to trade legroom for cargo space on demand. As a sacrific for having highly cushioned rear seats, they do not fully fold flat when the rear area is in use for significant cargo.
Offered in SLE and SLT trim levels the Terrain is available with two grades of cloth or perforated leather upholstery. The uplevel instrument panel pads are neatly molded and stitched with contrasting thread. Storage was a high priority and even the center armrest is configured to fit a laptop computer. HVAC, entertainment system, and navigation controls are logically arrayed and clustered at a convenient height above the center console in a high-tech looking package. Other goodies include the ability to program the power liftgate to automatically stop at any desired point of its travel to clear a low garage door or to provide pet ventilation while the vehicle is parked while running a quick errand. (That just seems like an accident waiting to happen) A rear-vision camera, OnStar, and XM satellite radio are all standard equipment. The available navigation system has a 7-inch touch-sensitive screen wired to a 40-Gbyte hard drive. Click the right options box and you can Bluetooth your cell phone and connect MP3 and USB devices here. Four power outlets are provided and remote starting is optional. The $1295 rear DVD entertainment system provides two display screens mounted to the front seat backs, each capable of playing two distinct programs simultaneously.
Base price is $24,250 with 4WD and higher trimmed versions still coming in around $30,000. Frequently certain Japanese automakers and their offering are referred to as merely automotive “appliances.” While that may be true and certainly not in the spirit of what RideLust is all about, I think we could all agree that GM could stand to have a few more reliable appliances on the street. Rather than cars with character on the dealer lots.