October 24, 2018

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GMC’s crossovers are shrinking. Following the redesign of the mid-size Acadia, which saw its wheelbase and overall length decrease by more than half a foot each, the redesigned 2018 GMC Terrain’s wheelbase and overall length contract by 5.2 and 3.0 inches. The prior Terrain straddled the line between the compact and mid-size crossover SUV classes, but the second-generation model now sits firmly in the compact category.

Despite its smaller footprint, the svelte 2018 Terrain is a far better vehicle than its blocky predecessor. Riding on an all-new chassis shared with the equally fresh Chevrolet Equinox, the Terrain is both lighter and nimbler. This top-of-the-line Terrain Denali with all-wheel drive was a noteworthy 342 pounds less porky than a previous-generation Terrain Denali V-6 AWD that we tested.

the 245-hp Ford Escape 2.0L EcoBoost and the 237-hp Kia Sportage SX Turbo. Thanks in part to a new quick-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission, the Terrain 2.0T never struggles to make a high-speed pass. Its 30-to-50-mph and 50-to-70-mph passing times of 3.3 and 4.7 seconds were equal to or better than the times we achieved with the old Terrain Denali V-6, as well as the times of the Escape and the Sportage.

The Terrain 2.0T accompanied its relatively sprightly straight-line performance with surprising frugality, as this all-wheel-drive Denali beat its EPA-rated 26-mpg highway figure, returning 28 mpg on our 75-mph real-world fuel-economy loop.

the CR-V’s midpack performance.

With a starting price of $38,595, the Terrain Denali serves as the flagship trim and includes as standard LED headlights, blind-spot monitoring, a power liftgate, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation. Options on our test car included $1700 for all-wheel drive, a $1495 panoramic sunroof, the $745 Advanced Safety package (a 360-degree camera and an automatic parking system), the $525 Comfort package (wireless device charging, cooled front seats, and heated rear seats), a $495 Driver Alert package (automatic high-beams, forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and lane-departure warning), and a $450 trailering kit, all of which ultimately raised its as-tested price to $44,005—almost $1000 more than the base price of a Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4Matic, although to comparably equip a GLC will cost thousands more. Those looking at the Terrain can save a few coins by equipping a lower-level Terrain SLE or SLT with the 2.0T engine.

Regardless of trim, the 2018 GMC Terrain invalidates the concept that bigger is better. More versatile and enjoyable to drive than its larger forebear, the new Terrain 2.0T is a quick and generally competent compact crossover mainly diminished only by the high price of the Denali trim.

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