2020 GMC Terrain

By June 15, 2020

The smallest crossover in the GMC range is the compact Terrain. A cousin of the Chevrolet Equinox, the 2020 Terrain seats five in comfort and provides plenty of standard and optional equipment. It is a solid value in a competitive class, though Denali models are pricey.

For 2020, the Terrain holds steady. Another paint choice is now on the option sheet, and there are more standard active-safety features. The optional turbodiesel has been dropped due to lack of demand.

With the turbodiesel gone, buyers must choose between one of two gas engines. The base engine is a 1.5-liter turbo-4 with 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque, while the upgrade engine is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 with 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.

Both engines pair with a 9-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available.

With the 2.0-liter engine, maximum towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.

A number of active-safety features have been made standard for 2020, including parking sensors, blind-spot monitors, automatic emergency braking, and active lane control. Adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera system remain optional on the high-trim models.

Crashworthiness has been a strong suit of the Terrain. The NHTSA has awarded it a five-star overall rating, while the IIHS deemed it “Good” in all categories save the headlights.

Fuel economy is also a strength of the Terrain, and considering the efficiency of the two turbo-4s it isn’t surprising that GMC dropped the turbodiesel from the lineup. With front-drive and the 1.5-liter engine, buyers can expect 26 mpg city, 30 highway, 27 combined. Adding all-wheel drive drops those figures slightly to 25/28/26 mpg. The 2.0-liter engine manages only 21/26/23 mpg with all-wheel drive.

Model Lineup

All prices include a $1,195 destination charge.

The lowest-rung Terrain is the SL ($26,195). It is only available with front-wheel drive and can be picked out in a crowd by its unpainted black mirror caps. Standard features include a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, cloth upholstery, and keyless entry. All aforementioned safety features are also standard.

Next up is the SLE ($29,595 for FWD, $31,195 for AWD). It adds a 4.2-inch driver information screen, rear-seat release levers in the cargo area, and painted mirror caps. This trim also opens up more options.

The SLT ($32,395 with FWD, $33,995 with AWD) is where things begin to get luxurious. There’s leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch wheels, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen. The 2.0-liter turbo-4 is available on this trim, making an SLT the cheapest way into the upsized engine.

The Denali ($39,495 for FWD $41,095 with AWD) is the top-shelf Terrain. There’s 19-inch wheels, the Denali grille treatment, hands-free tailgate, navigation, a heated steering wheel, and wireless charging, among other luxuries.


While the Acadia has gone boxy for 2020, the Terrain retains more flowing, rounded lines. It’s an organic design, flowing naturally from front to back.

In profile view, the most distinctive trait is a narrow cargo-area window. The small opening makes the standard blind-spot monitors a useful bit of tech. Despite the sacrifice in practicality, the design is visibly larger thanks to the resulting tall rear fenders. The treatment makes the whole crossover look taller than it really is, something today’s buyers surely will appreciate.

The fascias are handsomely done. Up front, two C-shaped headlights flank a well-sized grille that shares the gentle hexagonal shape of other GMCs. In the back, there’s a mild horizontal theme, which is just enough to provide some appreciated sense of width.


The Terrain is the smallest and most affordable crossover in the GMC lineup, but the Terrain enjoys better materials than it has in the past, as well as more sound deadening and insulation for a quieter ride.

The Terrain’s compact footprint makes it a strict five-seater, but three across in the rear bench is a tight squeeze. Consider the Terrain comfortable for four and doable for five only in a pinch.

Passengers up front will be comfortable in well-bolstered chairs that offer leather upholstery and multi-way power adjustment in the higher trims. Most riders of most builds should be comfortable and well-supported in the Terrain’s front seats.

Though lower-spec models get a 7.0-inch touchscreen, the 8.0-inch unit is worth the upgrade. Both have smartphone compatibility and are easy to use, though.

Cargo space is decent for a compact crossover. Behind the back seat there’s 29.6 cubic feet, which expands to 63 cubes once the rear seatbacks are folded.

Driving Impressions

The base turbo-4 engine in the Terrain is a pleasant piece of work. It does its job without fuss or fanfare, and is the more efficient of the two available engines. The turbocharger brings the torque on early, so even with just 203 lb-ft there’s no sense of waiting around for a dollop of power. Yet the early wave of torque doesn’t hide the fact that this smaller turbo-4 can run out of breath on steep grades or at high speeds.

That’s a non-issue for the available 2.0-liter turbo-4. The 252 horses it packs represents a full 82-horse increase over the base engine, and that’s nothing to sneeze at—it makes the Terrain feel genuinely quick. It’s smooth, well-mannered, and fast, not to mention capable of towing 3,500 pounds. Considering the measly $1,300 upcharge, it’s well worth considering on the trims where it is available.

Both engines get a 9-speed automatic that does a deft job of handling gearchanges. It tackles most shifts imperceptibly, and it isn’t afraid to downshift when asked to.

Regardless of engine choice, the Terrain rides smoothly. It is calm, composed, and collected, even when the roads get nasty with bumps and potholes. This is especially true with the Denali, which is tuned to deliver a luxury ride with its 19-inch wheels and narrower tire sidewalls.

Though front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is available on most trims. The system is a manually-activated one, requiring the driver to turn a console-mounted knob in order to wake up the rear wheels.

Final Word

For those who don’t need a third row, the 2020 GMC Terrain is a strong contender for a family vehicle. It is spacious, comfortable, and efficient, and the middle two trims do a nice rendition of luxury at a mainstream price. Our choice is an SLT with the 2.0-liter turbo-4.


—By Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions by The Car Connection

You must be logged in to post a comment Login