While the recent trend has been to make compact, crossover SUVs somewhat gentle, GMC deliberately went in the opposite direction with the Canadian-built 2011 Terrain. It's bold, broad, and muscular, with more straight lines and squared-off edges than Spongebob Square Pants! The result is a style that you'll either love or hate, depending on your personal preference. If it appeals to you, you'll fall in love with it right away, and if you can't get used to it, you'll be glad to know that a more rounded sister-vehicle exists in the guise of the softer and more curvaceous Chevrolet Equinox, also available from the same GM dealer.
The Terrain is certainly unique. The "in your face" style of the front grille, with big red GMC letters, makes sure you'll not confuse it with anything else on the road. From the side, the large square wheel arches positively shout at you, and only from the back does it seem to become a little more serene. In black it looks like it was inspired by a Stealth bomber, but in lighter colours the angular lines appear more subdued. In white it takes on a different character again, looking very impressive indeed.
The interior design is excellent. I immediately found the seating to be exceptionally comfortable, especially on my back. The position of the headrest was perfect and the visibility very good. There's an attractive sweeping look to the dash, and of course fit and finish is excellent. At night the instruments are white, with radio and heating buttons lighting up bright red - very sporting.
The inside is also a very quiet place to be. The ride is very comfortable and road noise is kept to a minimum, there's even an active noise-cancelling feature that broadcasts inaudible sound waves to help make the cabin quieter. On my drives between Carlyle and Wawota, I found the tester to be quieter than many cars, not bad for an SUV.
The tester was a fairly basic model, yet it still came with some great features. The rear-view camera, activated when you put the car into reverse, shows its clear picture on the left side of the mirror. The central section of the dash is well-designed and intuitive, with buttons for the driver information centre on the lower level. The transmission has manual override, and the buttons are conveniently located on the shifter. There's a handy storage on top of the dash, and a very deep receptacle in the central console, other storage pockets abound on doors and lower dash.
The back outboard seats are also comfortable, although I'd not want to spend hours in the middle, best to seat two people and use the armrest in the down position. I loved the eight inches of forward and backward travel of the rear seat; it allows a lot of flexibility either for extra cargo space, or passengers with long legs. And the cargo area is ample too, with folding seat backs of course, and an available cover to hide your valuables. The rear hatch has the option of being powered, and can be set to a custom position for smaller users.
Engine choices are either a 4 cylinder, 2.4L Ecotec unit with direct fuel injection, or a 3.0L v6. While the bigger engine will give more power, the "four-banger" is great on fuel economy. On our test, the computer often showed an instant fuel use of less than 7L/100km at highway speeds. The combination of small SUV utility with almost compact fuel economy is a nice feature, making the car very attractive with gas prices above $1.30 a litre.
The price of the test car was $30,700. It was finished in Summit White, with Jet Black cloth seating that included attractive red piping. It had great safety features including electronic stability control, six air bags, the OnStar system and all-wheel-drive, great inclusions at this price point.
My take on the Terrain is positive, although it did take me a while to get used to the rugged exterior style the first time I saw one. That example was finished in blue and I really didn't like the look of it, but then our tester looked stunning in white and it impressed the heck out of me. It is truly amazing what a different colour will do for some vehicles. I was very impressed with the interior and liked the fuel economy; yes I would consider a Terrain as a personal vehicle. So, if you're in the market for a smaller, economical, and very individualistic SUV that will stand out from the crowd, go to Carlyle Motor Products and check out the Terrain.