Automotive road trip review of the 2019 GMC Terrain

In April of 2019 I had an opportunity take a road trip in a 2019 GMC Terrain. I logged over 1000 miles and had the vehicle for ten days. This is what I thought of the GMC Terrain from a road trip perspective.

GMC Terrain Black Edition (2019) at Papago Buttes
Papago Buttes near the zoo in central Phoenix

VEHICLE MODEL TESTED

2019 GMC Terrain Black Edition (ebony twilight metallic paint with black leather interior and black premium wheels) with 2.0L AWD (all-wheel-drive) Turbo. There are six models to choose from, the base SL, SLE, SLT, diesel versions, or the top-of-the-line Denali, which is about $15k more than the base model.

INITIAL ASSESSMENT OF THE GMC TERRAIN

The GMC Terrain is a solid crossover road trip vehicle. Actually, one of the best small SUV’s I’ve driven in recent years. It’s comfortable and fun to drive. It has fantastic power and acceleration. The GMC Terrain Black Edition with a 2.0 4 cylinder turbo blew me away with its power and performance. I would have bet money that the vehicle had a mightier 6 cylinder under the hood. The Terrain handles quite well too, especially with its AWD engaged. While I did not encounter rainy, snow or icy conditions, I have no doubt the AWD feature would come in quite handy. Fuel economy was good too, on par with the sticker estimates (More on that below).

GMC Terrain at Salton Sea
Salton Sea in Southern California

KEY VEHICLE SPECS

  • 2.0L Turbo, 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.
  • Millage 21 city / 26 highway mpg (1.5L gets 26/30 mpg).
  • 9-Speed Automatic Transmission.
  • GMC Infotainment system with 8″ HD Touchscreen, voice recognition and OnStar.
  • Premium Bose six-speaker surround sound system.
  • Driver Alert Package – Semi-autonomous features like lane assist, auto high beam, follow distance braking and more.

BASE PRICE

$25,000 base model. As tested, $40,750.

Interior of 2019 GMC Terrain Black Edition

MRT ROAD TRIP RATINGS OF THE GMC TERRAIN

(1-50 miles. The farther I’m willing to drive, the better! 50 miles is the highest score)

  • Acceleration 44 out of 50 miles (No problems passing, plenty of acceleration).
  • Braking 46 out of 50 miles (Very responsive breaking).
  • Climate Control 47 out of 50 miles (The air condition, heating, individual controls, etc. were fantastic).
  • Sound System 46 out of 50 miles (Great Bose sound system, easily connects to phone/iPod and has Apple CarPlay).
  • Navigation System 47 out of 50 miles (Great Bluetooth connection. Lane indicator. CarPlay and Sirius radio included. You can also download a number of apps for streaming music, entertainment and news. This vehicle also comes with OnStar, which features Advisory Call, turn-by-turn navigation and WiFi. I did a download speed of the OnStar WiFi system and it came in at just over 6m download, but only ..66 upload).
  • Windshield Wipers 47 out of 50 miles
  • Seat Comfort 45 out of 50 miles (The seats have plenty of power adjustments, but I found them to be a bit narrow for my average frame. The sides have slight wings that when my bum was not perfectly centered, I found it a bit uncomfortable).
  • Gas Mileage 43 out of 50 miles (I filled up three times and averaged 24.7 miles.
  • Miles per tank 48 out of 50 miles (The GMC Terrain gets pretty good range. The most miles I logged on a single tank was 378…the low fuel light was on and the tank was on fumes. When I filled up the tank took 14.92 gallons. The tank is just 15 gallons. I would not recommend taking the vehicle to the limit like this, but I knew I was near a fuel station and wanted to see how accurate the on-board computer was. The computer tells you when you get to 20 miles left of fuel, after that it says “fuel warning.” I estimate I had but 5-10 miles left. When I filled up the system said I had a range of 380 miles. 
  • Head lights 50 out of 50 miles (Great illumination with auto high beam feature, which means as on-coming traffic closes in, the lights automatically dim so you don’t have to).
  • Sun visor 30 out of 50 miles (Too small to really do much good, doesn’t expand).
  • Wind when window is down 38 out of 50 (When the driver’s window is down, quite a lot of air comes in, even more when the passanger’s window is also down).
  • Blind Spots 47 out of 50 miles (None really…good visibility).
  • Controls 48 out of 50 miles (Everything was quiet accessible and intuitive).
  • Heated Seats 50 out 50 miles (worked great, has 3 different heat level settings).
  • Cooling seats (Not applicable, which is disappointing for warmer climate areas)
  • Heated Steering Wheel 45 out of 50 miles (This is a nice feature, but not really necessary unless you live in really cold climates, and even then, you’re likely to have gloves on. I would much rather have a cooling option).
  • Road Trip storage 46 out of 50 miles (The GMC Terrain has adequate storage for a road trip. There are many cubbies to story things and there is also a roof rack option that could expand storage for a road trip).
  • Sunroof (Not applicable)
  • Autonomous features 40 out of 50 miles (I look forward to seeing continued improvements and options in autonomous features. The lane assist works okay, but not great…often crossing the lanes and/or going back and forth within the lanes. The braking assist works quite well).
  • AWD 48 out of 50 miles (Not just an option to switch from 2-wheel front drive to AWD, but also several modes for off-road, towing and/or down hill. There is also a variable low gear option)

Mike’s Road Trip GMC Terrain Black Edition Rating: 45.5 miles out of 50 – a stellar road trip rating.

GMC Terrain at Slab City
GMC Terrain in front of Salvation Mountain in Slab City, California

GMC TERRAIN FUEL ECONOMY DETAILS

This GMC Terrain model is rated at 21 city and 26 highway (23 mpg average). After three fill-ups with about 65% of highway driving (the rest city and off-road), I averaged 24.7 mpg.

CONCLUSION

I find the SUV and Crossover vehicles to be the most compatible for the types of road trips I like to do, which encompasses some off-road exploration. I also enjoy camping, hiking and other recreation activities that typically require more gear, which in turn requires more space. The GMC Terrain was a great vehicle to take on this road trip from Phoenix to San Diego and back. It was fun to drive, and for the most part, quite comfortable. The vehicle handles quite well, from speed/acceleration, braking to the tight suspension. I felt safe, confident, and in-control at all times. Visibility is quite good, which is important so that you are aware of your surroundings (other cars near you).

The semi-autonomous features, climate control and navigation systems also added to the road trip comfort. Heat and cooling never took long to get comfortable. While the Terrain had heated seats, it did not have cooling seats, a feature I was disappointed not to see at this price-point. Overall the GMC Terrain is a fantastic crossover/small SUV road trip vehicle.

2019 GMC Terrain near wildflowers
Wildflowers with ocean backdrop in Carlsbad, California

If you own, or have ever driven the GMC Terrain, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have any questions about this vehicle, please leave a comment below and I’ll try and answer it. Click here for a spec sheet of this model, or, visit: https://www.gmc.com/suvs/terrain-small-suv

Mike Shubic

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Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.

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