The compact SUV market has been dominated by Japanese rivals, the Rav4 and the Honda CRV. The 2021 GMC Terrain is here to give these giants a run for their money with a handsome styling and spacious interior. Although designed as a family wagon, the GMC terrain is not an off-road specialist. This article answers all questions about the 2021 GMC Terrain from the trim levels to the safety ratings.
2020 vs. 2021: What's the Difference?
The 2021 GMC Terrain takes a new direction by incorporating a contemporary look. In addition to the prominent grille and squared-off headlights, the new models adopt a visual trick seen in other brands like the Lexus and the Nissan. However, the most significant change is in the driver assistance department. The 2021 GMC Terrain now comes with a Pro Safety Package that is standard across the trim levels. Another significant change is that the optional diesel-powered engine is no longer available.
What Do the Various Trim Levels Offer?
The previous four trim levels, the SL, SLE, SLT, and the Denali are carried over to the 2021 edition of the GMC Terrain. All the trims come with a standard 1.5-liter 170-hp turbo engine coupled with a 9-speed automatic transmission. However, buyers have an optional 252-hp four-cylinder upgrade. Here are the details from each trim level.
GMC Terrain SL
The Terrain SL remains the cheapest route to owning a GMC Terrain. Despite being the lowest trim, it still offers buyers a lot of features. The SL comes with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system equipped with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a six-speaker stereo system, 17-inch wheels, Bluetooth, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The trim also offers added convenience with features like keyless entry, automatic climate control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Pro Safety driver aids included in all trim offers lane departure warning, pedestrian detection, following distance indicator, and automatic high beam headlights.
GMC Terrain SLE
The SLE trim is quite similar to SL. However, it unlocks a few additional packages. The infotainment package comes with two additional USB ports, a power outlet in the center console, and a HD rearview mirror. The driver convenience package includes roof rails, dual-zone climate control, and heated front seats. This trim also comes with a Pro Safety package and an optional all-wheel-drive configuration.
GMC Terrain SLT
The SLT adds several new features to the first two trims. It offers a bigger infotainment system, featuring an 8-inch touchscreen. Other highlights of this trim include leather upholstery, a hands-free lift gate, heated steering wheel, drivers-seat memory setting, and power-adjustable passenger seats. Buyers are often given an upgrade to a 252-hp turbocharged engine, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, and a sunroof at an additional cost.
GMC Terrain Denali
The GMC Terrain Denali leads the lineup in style. This top trim comes with additional features that are optional on the lower trims. The first thing that pops out is the 19-inch alloy wheels, which are two inches more extensive than the standard wheels. Safety features are upgraded, including the Pro Safety Plus suite, which adds front parking sensors, parallel park assist, and adaptive cruise control. Other upgrades are premium suspension, a sunroof, and wireless charging. The Denali is also the only trim with the more powerful 252-hp turbocharged engine as a standard feature.
Which Trim is Right for Me?
Although the base trim comes with the most popular features, it doesn't offer the optional all-wheel-drive option. Which is why the GMC Terrain SLE offers the best value for money out of all four trims. However, one may need to get the SLT if they are looking for a more powerful engine. Unfortunately, the additional upgrades will bring the cost higher than some fully loaded alternatives.
What Kind of Technology Does It Have?
All the 2021 GMC Terrain Trim levels are equipped with a wide array of the latest technology. The infotainment system features a touchscreen interface expected on all vehicles today. Drivers can integrate their devices thanks to the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Additional convenience features include heated front seats, dual climate control, keyless ignition, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and USB charging ports. Safety is enhanced by the addition of driver-assist features, such as lane keep assist, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking.
How Does It Perform?
The 2021 GMC Terrain's 170-hp, 203 lb-ft engine makes driving on highways and around the city effortless. However, it struggles when faced with off-road Terrain. The bigger 225-hp turbo engines perform better. And although the four-wheel-drive option is available, it is rudimentary by today's standards. Buyers are better off with the standard front-wheel-drive configuration. In terms of fuel consumption, the 2021 GMC Terrain has an EPA fuel economy rating of 25/30 mpg.
Is It Safe and Reliable?
The NHTSA gives the 2021 GMC Terrain a safety rating of five, which is the maximum attainable rating. Despite this impressive score, the GMC Terrain misses Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Overall, it is one of the safest models, thanks to host driver assistance features that are standard across the trims. Buyers also get to enjoy a competitive warranty and additional complimentary maintenance for the first visit.
What's the Interior Like?
Wide opening doors welcomes one to the attractive interior thanks to fine grade finishing. The low seats make entering and exiting the Terrain effortless. There is plenty of leg and headroom for both the passengers and the driver. Although the adjustable drivers' seat is a nice touch, the dash is set too low and may hinder road visibility. Another let down is a cluster of small buttons that are not easy to operate. The last row of seats fold to create more cargo space should one need it.
What are the Alternatives to this Model?
The 2021 GMC Terrain ticks most of the boxes. It is reliable, safe, comfortable, and has an efficient powertrain. However, buyers may have to spend a little more to get all the best features. Fortunately, there is no shortage of options in the compact crossover SUV market. Possible alternatives within this price range include the Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CRV, and the Toyota RAV4.
Note: All GMC Terrain lease prices and dollar figures above are approximate amounts. Prices are subject to change without notice.