Test Drive: GMC Terrain

It seems like every time I talk to someone the conversation leads around to the health of the American auto industry.? I have always had an optimistic attitude about the situation.? I have always maintained that when the manufacturers build a good product ? meaning that it is an attractive design, well built with quality materials and is fairly priced, it will sell.? Good fuel economy is probably an important factor now, too.

I just had an opportunity to drive a very good example of the kind of car that fits these criteria ? the GMC Terrain.

All new for 2010, the GMC Terrain has a distinctive bold design, innovative features, appears to be well built of quality materials and it gets an impressive 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.

The Terrain shares its platform with the Chevrolet Equinox and Cadillac SRX; however the three are very distinctive, not at all like some of the ?badge shares? that was done by General Motors in the past.

With exaggerated flared fenders, deep trapezoidal chrome grills and squared off edges, the Terrain shape reminds me of a customized Hummer H3 ? and that is a good thing.? The stylish design is accented with an attractive textured black plastic trim on the lower levels on the sides and the front and rear fascias. ?The trim itself is not new, but the texture on the material adds a new level of sophistication.

The two-tone cloth seats with a deep texture in the base SLE model were some of the best-looking I?ve seen, plus the hard surface appears durable and allows for easy movement on the seat, as opposed to some materials act like Velcro.? The optional leather seating is also two-tone with a soft perforated surface.

The two-tone color scheme carries over to the dash, which has a distinctive large contrasting colored inset covering most of the surface area and gives the front seats a roomier feel.? The high mounted center stack is logically organized and has large, well-marked buttons and knobs.

Most shoppers will probably choose the 182-hp 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine for its impressive fuel economy, but will be pleased by the performance.? However, someone that wants to pull a trailer, up to 3500 pounds, needs to select the 264-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 (a $1,500 option). The V-6 is rated at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway with front wheel drive.? Both engines are equipped with a standard six-speed automatic transmission and front wheel drive.? All-wheel drive is a $1,750 option.

Terrain is loaded with innovative extras that enhance the driving experience.? For example, a backup camera is standard equipment on all models. ?It shows on navigation screen of models equipped with the optional feature and on the rear-view mirrors of all others.? To my knowledge, the Terrain is the first to offer this valuable safety feature on all models.

Another available feature is a programmable power liftgate allowing the driver to adjust how far the rear gate opens.? This is very handy when the gate is opened in a garage with limited clearance.

GMC?s Terrain is available in two trim levels, SLE and SLT with two engine choices and in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.? Pricing starts at $24,995, including destination charge, for a well-equipped front-wheel drive SLE with four-cylinder engine.? An SLT with AWD and the V-6 starts at $29,945.? Check all the available option packages and add rear seat entertainment, moonroof, navigation with hard drive and a handful of other goodies and price can flirt with $38,000.

Most of my drive time in the Terrain was on freeways and some 40 mph ?back roads.? Under those conditions it feels solid, corners flat, has strong acceleration and a smooth quiet ride.


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