2022 gmc terrain elevation
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First Drive: 2022 GMC Terrain Review

We drove the updated 2022 GMC Terrain to see if it has what it takes to compete in this very competitive segment of compact SUVs. Will the Terrain's exterior styling tweaks, an all-new AT4 model with rugged add-ons, and the available blacked-out Elevation package for the SLE and SLT trims be enough?

Key Features:

  • Interesting AT4 trim
  • Capable all-wheel drive system
  • Tried and proven drivetrain

Direct Competitors:

  1. Toyota RAV4
  2. Honda CR-V
  3. Hyundai Tucson
  4. Nissan Rogue
  5. Mitsubishi Outlander
  6. Ford Escape
  7. Chevrolet Equinox
  8. Mazda CX-5
  9. Jeep Cherokee
  10. Kia Sportage
  11. Subaru Forester
  12. Volkswagen Tiguan

Succeeding in the compact SUV market isn’t easy. Segment leaders, like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue have taken years to improve their product so they could gain the trust of Canadian consumers. 

These consumers look for reliability, safety, cargo space, all-weather capability and, perhaps more importantly, an attractive price tag. How does a model like the GMC Terrain, one that’s not at the top of consumers’ shopping list, manage to compete in this crowded segment? We went to Montreal, Quebec, during the launch of the updated 2022 model to find out.

2022 Terrain pricing and rivals

The list of rivals for the Terrain is enormous. Not only does this GMC compete against its own corporate twin, the Chevrolet Equinox, it faces a full plethora of capable offerings, things like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, Mitsubishi Outlander, Jeep Cherokee and Volkswagen Tiguan.

More rugged GMC Terrain AT4 joins the lineup

2022 Terrain AT4 | Photo: GMC 

To properly take them on, GMC has updated the lineup for 2022. Consumers now have four trim levels to choose from: SLE, SLT, an all-new off-road-dedicated AT4 variant and premium-focused Denali. Plus, just like the Canyon and Sierra, it’s possible to add the blacked-out Elevation package on SLE and SLT trims.

GMC also dropped the entry price of an SLE by $800. It now kicks off at $32,498. A fully loaded Terrain Denali tops the lineup at $43,498, but you still need to pay $1,000 for a sunroof.

GMC Terrain’s updated interior

We drove the 2022 GMC Terrain almost immediately after reviewing the 2023 Kia Sportage. It simply doesn’t offer the same level of sophistication or refinement. For instance, the GMC still comes with traditional analog gauges in an industry that’s now shifting to fully digital displays. The infotainment screen is also limited to 8-inches, even on a premium Denali model.

2022 Terrain | Photo: GMC 

Range-topping Terrain Denali offers the most premium cabin

Build quality in a Terrain is fine, without being excellent. We were however pleased by the subtle fake wood trim and plush leather seats in the Denali model. Overall seat comfort is good, with great visibility all around. And while the switchgear is starting to show its age, there’s no denying how good GM still is at making everything work. The infotainment screen responds quickly, all menus are easy to find, and there’s now standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Out the rear, the Terrain’s seating area is surprisingly roomy, with easy ingress and egress and more than ample head and leg clearance.

Sadly, the Terrain’s total cargo space (with the rear seatbacks folded flat) falls short of the competition. While 1,703 liters of room is a generous number, it’s considerably behind segment leaders like the Kia Sportage (2,098 liters) and Honda CR-V (2,146 liters).

2022 Terrain | Photo: GMC 

Performance and driving impressions

1,500 pounds towing capacity from a new, smaller engine making the same 170-hp

One of the big changes for the 2022 model year, is the removal of the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The Terrain therefore only comes with one powertrain, a turbocharged 1.5-litre four. Power and torque remain unchanged at 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque. But contrary to its Chevrolet twin which gets a six-speed automatic transmission, this gets a nine-speed unit instead. In this configuration, the Terrain will tow up to 1,500 pounds.

It's too bad that the 2.0-litre engine is long gone, because it allowed the Terrain to distinguish itself from its rivals from a performance standpoint. GMC says the decision comes from the fact that consumers were simply not buying it and rather preferred the improved fuel economy of the 1.5-litre engine. 

No hybrid options for the new Terrain

It’s true that the 8.5L/100 km fuel consumption average we recorded during our drive is competitive for the segment, but don’t expect this drivetrain to offer stellar acceleration. Then again, it’s the same story for the all-new Kia Sportage or the current Toyota RAV4. Except they both offer hybrid and plug-in hybrid alternatives. The Terrain does not.

2022 Terrain Denali | Photo: GMC 

Punch the accelerator pedal in a GMC Terrain, and the transmission does a fantastic job of handing you over a lower gear, but the engine itself sounds forced and never really exhibits any form of power. Its powerband is flat and there’s no real kick when the turbocharger kicks in.

Terrain AT4 handles more like a truck and all-wheel drive can be disabled (manually)

One area where the Terrain does feel different than other compact SUVs, is in its truckish feel, especially in AT4 trim. The Terrain drives more like a tiny Yukon than a car on stilts, which gives it a pleasing personality. It’s also possible to manually remove the Terrain’s all-wheel drive system for improved fuel economy, a feature most vehicles in this class don’t offer.

Handling is decent without being sporty. The Terrain’s suspension damping works well for beaten roads, but this is nowhere near as refined as something Japanese or South Korean. It’s a vehicle that goes about its business without much drama and it pretty much ends there.

Verdict: is the 2022 GMC Terrain worth it?

It’s hard to justify the purchase of a GMC Terrain considering all the good alternatives currently on sale. But the truth of the matter is that the Terrain’s reliability record has so far been rather impressive. That’s an appealing quality for modern middle-class families.

We find that while the GMC Terrain lacks the refinement and the technology of more modern offerings, it still deserves a good look. There’s also the AT4 model, which adds functional skid plates, standard all-wheel drive, and off-road tires for just over $38,000. That’s good content for your hard-earned dollar.

But the real value lies in the more affordable SLE and SLT trims. These models will keep you under the $37,000 mark, but still come loaded with interesting features, like that optional Elevation package.

Are you shopping for compact SUV? Here's our inventory of used, certified SUVs and crossovers.

2022 Terrain AT4 | Photo: GMC 

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