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Essentially a more upscale version of the Chevy Equinox, the Terrain is one of the most popular vehicles in GMC’s lineup. Many people especially appreciate this small crossover’s spacious seating and stylish exterior. Well-designed interior electronics give you more reason to like the new 2021 GMC Terrain. However, should you head to the dealership to buy one?
What’s New for 2021?
For 2021, GMC’s new Pro Safety Plus package now comes standard on every trim. Automated emergency braking is just one of the extra driving aids.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 GMC Terrain – The Pros
1. Can Deliver Good Gas Mileage for an SUV
Some SUVs force owners to spend a lot of money on fuel. Fortunately, that’s not the case for the 2021 GMC Terrain. It only slightly less efficient than some family sedans. The Terrain’s base powertrain will be your most economical optional. It’s rated by the federal government to return an estimated 26 mpg town/30 mpg freeway. Even the SUV’s more potent powertrain is quite good on gas. Drivers can anticipate getting 22 mpg town/28 mpg freeway.
2. Stronger Engine Comes Equipped on Denali Trim
When preparing to test drive the 2021 GMC Terrain, you’ll have two turbocharged four-cylinder engines to pick from. The Denali trim’s larger 2.0-liter engine is clearly the better performer. It produces a more satisfying 252 horses and 260 lb-ft of torque. As soon as drivers step on the gas, they’ll notice a big difference in acceleration. There’s ample passing power under the hood. Automotive reviewers have clocked the 2.0-liter Terrain with a 0-60 mph time of around 7.2 seconds.
3. More Versatile Than You May Think
The 2021 GMC Terrain isn’t just a comfy family vehicle. It also has some versatility. When equipped with a tow package and an upgraded engine, this small SUV to handle up to a 3,500-pound load. This means you should have no issues transporting ATVs and small boats. Although some other SUVs in the segment are more skilled at tackling rough landscapes, an Off-Road driving mode helps the Terrain to topple a muddy trail.
4. Handles and Rides Well
Most people will be more than satisfied with the Terrain’s driving dynamics. It doesn’t feel clumsy like some big, truck-based SUVs. This crossover handles well enough for drivers to approach curves with confidence. While the Terrain is certainly not as agile as a sports sedan, it still displays a lot of athleticism for a two-row SUV. An agreeable ride also makes the Terrain great for taking road trips. An upgraded suspension is found on the range-topping Denali model, which promotes an even softer ride.
5. Base SL Model Comes Loaded With Many Features
Priced at around $25,000, the base 2021 GMC Terrain is highly recommended for buyers looking to save money. It doesn’t feel like a cheap ride on the inside. Active noise cancellation, which is typically a premium luxury feature, comes standard on the value-packed Terrain SL. Meanwhile, active grille shutters help optimize fuel economy at highway speeds. Some of the other standard items include a 7.0-inch touchscreen, four USB ports, Bluetooth, and onboard Wi-Fi.
6. Stylish Enough to Turn Heads
Most people consider the 2021 GMC Terrain to be a very nice-looking crossover SUV. While the lower trim levels have a simple design, they are still attractive. Drivers looking to really turn heads will be looking at the higher trim levels. GMC’s optional Elevation package gives the Terrain an extra wow factor. It decks out the SUV with black exterior accents and 19-inch black alloy wheels. Meanwhile, LED headlights come standard on the chrome-accented Denali model.
7. IntelliLink Infotainment System Featured On Every Trim
Every driver can take advantage of GMC’s highly touted IntelliLink infotainment system. It’s far from complicated. In fact, many people consider IntelliLink’s simplicity to be one of the interface’s best qualities. Even amateurs will quickly learn how to use the system. Its touchscreen works especially well. Not only is the touch display responsive, but it also has clear graphics. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enable drivers to connect their smartphone without any hassle.
8. It’s Safer Than Ever
The Terrain already ranked among the segment leaders in crash protection. However, GMC designed the 2021 model to offer more security on the road. A Pro Safety Plus package has been added to the SUV’s list of standard equipment. It brings automatic panic braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping technology, and automatic high beams. Drivers will also appreciate the standard Following Distance Indicator, which further helps them to avoid rear-end collisions. Blind-spot warning and smart cruise control are offered on the upper trim levels.
9. Spacious, Comfortable Interior
Families can comfortably gather inside the 2021 GMC Terrain. There’s a good amount of passenger room in both rows. Well-cushioned seats also help ensure a relaxing trip. Ventilated front seats and heated rear seats are offered on the more luxurious Terrain Denali. Another big highlight is the SUV’s flexible cargo area. Although some competitors provide more overall storage room, the Terrain maximizes its available space. Even the front seat folds flat to accommodate longer items, like lumber and surfboards.
10. Good Predicted Reliability Rating
Owners can expect this SUV to be reliable. It received a 3.5 out of 5.0 dependability rating, which is above average for the class. Maintenance costs for the new Terrain are also very affordable.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 GMC Terrain – The Cons
1. Base Engine Reduces the SUV’s Performance Capabilities
The Terrain’s base 1.5-liter engine is a fuel saver. However, it doesn’t feel very muscular. Most critics describe the Terrain’s performance as being merely adequate. Tests show models equipped with the base engine clock a 0-60 mph time of around 9.3 seconds. This smaller engine also lowers the Terrain’s tow rating to 1,500 pounds. When experiencing the vehicle’s upgraded engine, drivers will notice a big difference in power.
2. Automatic Transmission Has Some Shortcomings
A nine-speed automatic transmission is found on every new Terrain. Its extra gears help promote better fuel economy. However, drivers have noted that the transmission can hesitate to shift at times. While this issue may not be a deal-breaker for most buyers, it’s something to keep in mind.
3. Denali Trim Can Become Expensive
Most of the Terrain’s trim levels have a competitive price. While the range-topping Denali model does look and feel luxurious, it will cost buyers a lot more money. GMC lists the Terrain Denali with a starting MSRP of more than $38,000. Options, like smart cruise control and an automated parking system, will add to the SUV's total cost. At this price point, there are some premium luxury models to consider.
4. Outward Visibility Could Be Better
While the Terrain is a safe vehicle, its outward visibility could improve. The cabin’s angled dash can somewhat hamper a shorter person’s forward view. Visibility out the rear window is also a bit restricted. Drivers must overcome the SUV’s sloping roofline. Nevertheless, GMC’s available blind-spot warning system will help drivers to monitor oncoming traffic in the next lane.
5. Push-Button Gear Selection
A push-button gear selector is found on the 2021 GMC Terrain. While this feature helps free up more space in the front, some drivers are not too fond of it. A traditional gear shifter would be easier to use.
How It Stacks Up to the Competition
2021 GMC Terrain vs 2021 Honda CR-V
The CR-V has long remained a top-selling model. Drivers appreciate this SUV’s comfort and space. While the CR-V’s standard turbocharged engine is strong, Honda does not give buyers access to an engine upgrade. Drivers will find the Terrain Denali’s engine to pack more muscle. GMC also equips the Terrain with a more user-friendly infotainment system. A 3,500-pound tow rating gives the Terrain yet another edge over the CR-V, which can only tow 1,500 pounds.
2021 GMC Terrain vs 2021 Mazda CX-5
In terms of driving fun, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 ranks near the top of the segment. It offers superior road handling. Many people also like the CX-5’s posh interior. However, there’s more room for passengers inside the new GMC Terrain.
2021 GMC Terrain vs 2021 Subaru Forester
Adventure-seeking drivers love the Subaru Forester. High ground clearance and a standard AWD system enable the Forester to topple rural trails. While the Terrain may not be as rugged as the Forester, it does offer a powerful engine upgrade.
For good reason, the 2021 GMC Terrain will likely remain a popular pick. This is an ideal family hauler for the everyday grind. With the arrival of additional standard safety technologies, it’s now even more fulfilling than before. A good infotainment system with standard Wi-Fi enables the Terrain to satisfy technology lovers.
While the Terrain scores well in several key categories, drivers shouldn’t expect its standard powertrain to deliver a jaw-dropping performance. Some of the SUV’s premium options are also on the pricey side. Aside from a few small drawbacks, the Terrain is a very good buy.
• Why buy a 2020 GMC Terrain? w/ pros vs cons