2010 GMC Terrain SLT-2 AWD
2010 GMC Terrain SLT-2 AWD. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Chris Chase

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2010 GMC Terrain

As a truck brand, GMC’s specialty has long been the meat-and-potatoes pickup trucks and SUVs that many truck owners appreciated for their tough body-on-frame construction and robust four-wheel drive systems.

The brand’s first foray into lighter-duty, unibody vehicles, the Acadia crossover, rolled into showrooms as a 2008 model. Now, for 2010, it gets a little sibling, the compact Terrain. Based on the same platform and mechanicals as the Chevrolet Equinox, the Terrain is essentially a replacement for the Pontiac Torrent, a twin to the last-generation Equinox that disappeared when GM’s “excitement” division was dropped last year.

2010 GMC Terrain SLT-2 AWD
2010 GMC Terrain SLT-2 AWD
2010 GMC Terrain SLT-2 AWD. Click image to enlarge

Like most of its compact SUV competitors, the Terrain can be had with four- or six-cylinder engines. The 2.4-litre four makes 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque, while the 3.0-litre V6 is rated at 264 hp and 222 lb-ft; both are paired with six-speed automatic transmissions, and either can be ordered with front- or all-wheel drive.

My tester came in top-end SLT-2 trim (the rest of the line consists of SLE-1 and 2, and SLT-1) with the four-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive and a starting price of $35,755; $27,465 will get you into a basic four-cylinder, front-drive Terrain, while the front-drive version of the SLT-2 is worth $34,400. The six-cylinder engine is a $2,050 add-on.

Options on my car included 18-inch wheels ($325), an upgraded stereo with rear-seat DVD entertainment system ($1,750), a cargo management package (roll-up cargo area cover, cargo net and rooftop luggage rack crossbars, $345) and a trailer towing package (Class II hitch, wiring harness and transmission oil cooler, $515), all of which brought my tester’s price to $38,805 (not including freight).

While the six-cylinder is the engine of choice for those who plan to tow with their Terrain – V6 towing capacity is 1,588 kg (3,500 lbs) compared to just 680 kg (1,500 lbs) with the four-cylinder – the 2.4-litre engine nonetheless does a fine job of moving the Terrain around. The problem is that it makes most of its horsepower at relatively high revs, so you have to delve pretty deep into the throttle to get the Terrain up to speed in any hurry. The engine sounds happy enough at high revs, but it gets noisy inside the cabin when the engine is working that hard.

2010 GMC Terrain SLT-2 AWD
2010 GMC Terrain SLT-2 AWD
2010 GMC Terrain SLT-2 AWD. Click image to enlarge

The six-speed automatic transmission does its job well enough, although even in gentle acceleration, it tends to hold gears longer than expected, making the car feel high-strung and contributing to the engine noise problem. An “Eco” mode, selected via a button ahead of the shifter, helps by forcing the transmission to up-shift sooner (though still not soon enough for my liking) and downshift later with a view to saving fuel. Another side effect is that it softens throttle response to the point that it makes the car lazy to downshift when you need a burst of power for passing or merging.

What doesn’t help the Terrain’s performance is that it’s at the heavy end of the small crossover class, weighing in at 1,837 kg (4,049 lbs) in SLT-2 trim with the four-cylinder motor and all-wheel drive. Certainly, it’s not alone in carrying around that much weight, but the fact that weight affects both performance and fuel consumption isn’t rocket science. In the Terrain’s case, all-wheel drive adds a significant 114 kg (250 lbs) to the car’s curb weight.

With the four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive, the Terrain’s Natural Resources Canada fuel consumption ratings are 10.1/6.9 L/100 km (city/highway); using Eco mode almost exclusively, a week of cool-but-not-cold weather and driving that included less congested city driving than usual, got me an average fuel consumption figure of just over 11.0 L/100 km. I didn’t baby the gas pedal, but I expected a lower number given the amount of time I spent on rural two-lane roads.

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