- Photos By Kyle Edward

2019 GMC Terrain Black Edition Review


In 2018 the GMC Terrain received major exterior style updates, a variety of new turbo-charged engines, plus an extremely efficient diesel. The Terrain falls into the incredibly competitive compact-crossover segment and competes with vehicles such as the Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and VW Tiguan. This five-passenger hauler starts around $26,000 for the base and low $40s for a fully loaded AWD Denali model. Considering a fully loaded RAV4 cost around $34k, the Terrain is pricier than most.


The Terrain has a few strong points, with a diverse powertrain lineup being one of them. There are three engines available, a 1.5-liter, 4-cyl turbo is the base engine creating 170 hp @ 5,600 rpm and 203 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm. You can step up into a more potent 2.0-liter, 4-cyl turbo which creates 252 hp @ 5,500 rpm and 260 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm, clearly a big step up in power from the 1.5 liter base. Lastly, there is a diesel engine option if you have efficiency in mind; it creates 137 hp @ 3,750 rpm and 240 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm, it's rated at 38 highway and 28 city. Having only driven the 1.5-liter base engine, I can tell you that I was impressed with acceleration around town; it's more than enough to get you moving from a dead stop at a red light. It's also very smooth and refined for only being 1.5-liters. Often 4-cylinder engines in SUVs of this size struggle to remain linear under heavy acceleration. Also helping this little guy make the most of its power is the new 9-speed automatic transmission which provides crisp, quick shifts. Gear hunting is common in 9 and 10-speed transmission applications, especially with smaller engines which don't have a ton of power. But that was never a problem in the Terrain, so hats off to GMC on that.

Handling & Suspension:

When it comes to handling, the Terrain is focused on comfort over an engaged driving experience. Steering is numb and moderately precise, but doesn't allow you to really feel the road. When taking quick turns or tight curves, the suspension stays on track and body roll is kept to a minimum which is always appreciated in a boxy crossover. The ride is adequate, but other vehicles in this segment offer smoother rides. I found the Terrain to have too much bounce when driving over bumpy Michigan roads.


Another high point is styling; it was updated in 2018 with significant improvements. It's no longer a big square in literally all areas, instead featuring sweeping lines, crisp LED accent lights and a unique rear hatch light design. Our Black Edition tester came with black rims (crazy, I know), trim badges and a slick black exterior paint color. The body looks sculpted now, as if they designed the body around the car rather than tossing a big block onto a chassis and calling it a day.

Comfort & Interior Quality:

The interior quality is average at best. The Mazda CX-5 and VW Tiguan both use higher quality materials and provide a better fit and finish. The leather seats are on the smaller side, especially when it comes to seat length. I'm 5'10" and my legs were only supported 60% to the knee. As expected, it did come with heated seats and steering wheel which is always a nice touch. The steering wheel itself was made out of very soft leather and had a great mutil-grip design. Unfortunately, the good news stops there. While the interior is better than a Ford Escape, it's still no match for the Mazda CX-5, which nearly full-loaded costs under $35,000.

Tech Features:

Recently updated, the new GMC multi-media system is a breeze to use and features one of my new favorite in-car navigation systems. It has the ability to find one-off destinations and recognize voice commands quickly, which makes all the difference. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are also easily connectable if you prefer that user interface, or if you just love Android Auto, as I do. When it comes to safety features, the Terrain has you covered with distance guided cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning with emergency stop and blind spot detection. Considering the wide array of safety features and the updated multi-media system, the Terrain does a good job at staying updated in the tech department.

Sound System:

The premium Bose sound system is part of an optional infotainment package which costs $1,180. However, in order to get that you also need the preferred package. With all numbers considered, you're looking at $2,430 for the two packages. All of those packages give you the Bose premium 7-speaker audio system, power front passenger seat lumbar control, an 8" infotainment system with navigation, HD radio, universal home remote, heated steering wheel, hands-free power programmable lift gate and a 6-way power front passenger seat. When it comes to the system itself, it's not amazing like the Bose system in the CX-5. There are no surround options and there are only three different audio adjustments you can make. Personally, I would still go with the premium system because the base system is quite bad as it's tinny and unable to remain clear at a high volume.


The GMC Terrain is an average five-passenger crossover for the segment. I would check out the Mazda CX-5 or VW Tiguan before I pulled the trigger on a Terrain. It does, however, boast a very potent 2.0T turbo 4-cyl and an incredibly efficient diesel engine option, so if that's very important to you, you could make the case for overlooking some of its flaws.

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