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GMC

The Terrain is touted as GMC’s "all-new small SUV," but it seems to be a rebadged Chevy Equinox, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Overall, the vehicle is solid, if a bit pricey ($31.4K without options).

As one of the relatively new crossover vehicles — an SUV built on a smaller chassis — the Terrain is easier to get in and out of than conventional SUVs and doesn’t ride quite as tall. But it only holds five passengers which, in reality, ends up being more like four full-sized adults, the same as any midsized sedan.

Inside, the SLT version we tested has all the comforts, including seat heaters, rearview camera, lots of leather, and video screens in the back of the front seats hooked to a DVD player to keep those rear-seat occupants entertained (a $1,300 option).

The Terrain is comfortable to drive, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take it on an extended road trip. Some reviewers complain about it having too little cargo room. The Terrain might not have as much as other crossovers, but it seems as if it could accommodate four people’s luggage. GMC says the Terrain has 31.6 ft3 behind the passenger seats and 64 ft3 if the passenger seats are folded down. The same figures for the Edge are 32.2 ft3 and 68.9 ft3.

The 3-liter V6 (a $1,500 option) puts out 245 hp, more than enough to let the Terrain keep up with or ahead of traffic. The Canadian-built engine connects to a smoothly shifting six-speed automatic transmission made in Mexico. I would have liked to see how the standard 2.4-liter four cylinder with its 172 hp performed with the 3,800-lb vehicle.

The smaller engine would be the way to go if you wanted to save on gas. Its EPA ratings are 20/29 mpg city/highway in AWD. The larger, more powerful 3-liter engine gets 17/24 mpg. And if you really want to save, go for the front-wheel drive four-banger; it gets 22/32 mpg city/highway.

The car carries TPMS, an acronym I had to look up to be sure what it stood for. Turns out it’s the tire-pressure-monitoring subsystem. A sensor mounts on the valve stem of each tire, which can include the spare. Each one detects temperature and pressure and sends this data, along with a unique ID code, to a control module via radio frequency. The module compares the data to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, and if it’s too high or too low, a warning light on the dashboard illuminates. I’m not sure how much it adds to the price of the vehicle, but I’m pretty sure my 10-year-old tirepressure gage is just as accurate, costs less, and won’t need as much servicing.

The Terrain SLT we tested carried several other options besides those already mentioned. They include a $245 cargo-management package (cargo net and a security screen for the rear cargo area), a $2,145 navigation and upgraded audio package (AM/FM/CD player, radio data subsystem, 7-in. touchscreen, voice recognition, and 40-Gbyte hard drive), $900 19-in. chrome-clad aluminum wheels, $350 for trailering equipment, and $195 for the carbon-black metallic paint. This brings the tab to $38,030.

— Stephen J. Mraz

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.