GMC Introduces Upgraded 2018 Terrain

Published March 15, 2017 by Elizabeth Jeneault

GMC unveiled its second-generation Terrain SUV. The all-new compact SUV features a bold exterior design, offers a range of new turbocharged powertrains and has more available active safety technologies.

“GMC’s strong growth over the past decade is due in large part to Terrain,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of global sales and marketing for GMC. “The all-new Terrain builds on that success, leveraging GMC’s proven premium SUV experience to shake up the largest vehicle segment, with a strong blend of design, functionality and engineering excellence.” 

The all-new Terrain will go on sale this summer in SL, SLE, SLT and Denali models. The brand is confident it will maintain the momentum created by the first-generation model. More than 700,000 of those have been sold in North America since it hit the market in 2009.


The 2018 Terrain’s exterior has sharper and more sculpted elements such as the grille and lighting features. To make it more aerodynamic, its shape was refined in the wind tunnel. This helped GMC ensure the Terrain cuts through the air efficiently and quietly.

“It is a striking design with functional beauty,” said Helen Emsley, executive director of global design for GMC. “There’s confidence and optimism in its stance, with exceptional attention to detail that speaks to GMC’s rise as a premium brand.”

The range topping Terrain Denali features a signature chrome grille along with “Denali-specific accents including body-color fascias and lower trim, plus chrome roof rails, door handles, side mirror caps and body-side molding.” It also adds LED headlights and 19-inch machined aluminum wheels. All other trims, meanwhile, receive bi-functional HID headlights and LED daytime running lamps and tail lamps. Standard on SL and SLE trims are 17-inch wheels. 18-inch wheels for those trims are available, however, and come standard on SLT.


The interior of the 2018 Terrain has been refined. An expanded center console offers more storage and side-by-side cupholders. GMC was able to offer more room there by replacing the conventional transmission shifter with push buttons and pull triggers that electronically control gear selection. Meanwhile, aluminum trim, soft-touch materials on the instrument panel and doors and standard active noise cancellation are all elements that the brand says make the vehicle’s interior feel more luxurious.

When it comes to technology, passengers are able to stay connected with a 7-inch-diagonal or available 8-inch-diagonal infotainment system. The systems feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and a standard Wi-Fi hotspot that up to seven mobile devices can connect to. Also at no additional cost, every new Terrain comes standard with five years of the OnStar Basic Plan.

As for the range topping Denali’s interior, it comes with a unique trim tint color and Denali-specific logos and piping on the front seats. Customers who choose this trim will also benefit from additional standard features including a heated steering wheel, navigation, a Bose premium 7-speaker audio system and hands-free power liftgate.


Where things have really changed for the Terrain is under the hood. GMC is now offering a range of three all-new turbocharged engines, including an all-new 1.6-liter turbo-diesel. Also available are 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter turbocharged gas engines matched with two new nine-speed automatic transmissions. The company says it wanted to provide customers with more choices when it comes to performance, efficiency and capability.

“Turbos have been around for a while but they’re becoming more and more popular for a very simple reason,” said Rick Spina, executive chief engineer for GMC compact and crossover SUVs, at the unveiling. “They allow a small engine to make power only when you need the power. When you make power you burn more fuel typically, right? You don’t want to burn more fuel unless you need to be making that power. Turbo does that for you and as an added benefit we don’t talk a lot about, about reducing what we call induction noise. Induction noise is that whoosh, sucking sound when you step on the accelerator. A turbo takes that noise away. So while you make that power, it’s a little more pleasant while you’re doing it.”

The vehicle comes standard with GMC’s Traction Select system. It allows the driver to adapt the vehicle’s handling to the road conditions. All-wheel drive models, meanwhile, are able to disconnect the AWD system when it’s not needed to minimize drag and optimize fuel economy.


GMC took safety to the next level with the 2018 Terrain. An expanded range of active safety technologies is now available and is designed to enhance driver awareness and make certain parts of driving that are not so fun, like parking, easier. New available features include Surround Vision, Forward Collision Alert with Following Distance Indicator, Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning and Safety Alert Seat. Other

features includes Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert.

The new Terrain also alerts drivers to check their back seat before they exit their vehicle under certain circumstances. It also comes with Teen Driver which allows parents to set controls and see how their teens are driving when they’re not in the vehicle with them. The feature encourages better driving habits. 

Our Take

GMC sees the Terrain as critical to its brand and by offering a sharper exterior, more refined interior, a range of new turbocharged powertrains and more available safety features, it’s securing the vehicle’s future.

“The compact SUV segment is a 3 million segment, biggest in the industry right now and growing rapidly, and that’s why having this new Terrain is a fantastic opportunity for GMC to grow its market share of the segment,” said Duncan at the unveiling. “Clearly, it’s very competitive but with this vehicle we think we got a real winner.”

The new Terrain is an indication of the kind of designs that we can expect to see from the brand in the future. Again, it will arrive in showrooms in the summer.

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