2021 GMC Terrain

MSRP $26,195 - $32,395

Ranked #25 in Suv

6.6

Overall Rating

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2021 GMC Terrain Price, Review, Ratings and Pictures

Updated on: July 12, 2021

Nathan Dyer's image
Nathan Dyer 

Senior Editor


The 2021 GMC Terrain is a compact SUV that is a very popular offering in the market right now. It is a very good-looking car and has the interiors and infotainment features to match. However, it is much more than a good-looking car as we will see in detail in this review. The Denali trim of the SUV will be reviewed separately.

See detailed review »

Pros

Nice ride and handling

Excellent safety features

Good looking design

Cons

Base engine is not exciting

Priced a bit steep

Cargo capacity is a little low

What's New?

Automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, etc. now standard

Optional diesel engine has been discontinued


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$26195

bodystyle

4dr SUV

passenger capacity

5

drivetrain

front wheel drive

engine type

displacement

91 cu.in.

horsepower

170 hp @ 5600 rpm

torque

203 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

transmission

9 speed Automatic

chassis

brake rotors (f/r)

11.8/11.3 in.

dimensions

wheelbase

107.3 in.

length

182.3 in.

width

72.4 in.

height

65.4 in.

curb weight

3801 lbs.

ground clearance

7.9 in.

capacity

passenger volume

103.2 cu ft.

cargo volume

63.3 cu ft.

towing capacity

1500 lbs.

payload capacity

1146 lbs.

performance

zero to 60 mph

9.6 sec.

standing 1/4-mile

17.1 sec.

warranty

basic warranty

3 yr./ 36000 mi.

drivetrain warranty

5 yr./ 60000 mi.

corrosion warranty

6 yr./ 100000 mi.

roadside assistance

Yes


Pictures & Videos


Trims

SL$26,195 onwards

SLE$29,595 onwards

SLT$32,395 onwards

Colors and Styles

2021 GMC Terrain in Ebony Twilight Metallic color
Ebony Twilight Metallic

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Pricing and Features

6.0

Engine and Performace

9.0

Fuel Economy

8.0

Interior

6.0

Exterior

6.0

Safety

6.0

Competition

6.0

6.6

OVERALL RATING

Expert Review, Pricing Analysis and Buying Guide

6.6

Overall Rating


Carrying over pretty much unchanged over the 2020 GMC Terrain, the car gets two engine options - a 1.5 L in-line four and a 2 L turbocharged in-line four, both paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. For this year, GMC Terrain's price starts at MSRP $26,195, and it competes against the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Toyota RAV4.


8.0/10
Fuel Economy

6.0/10
Interior

6.0/10
Exterior

6.0/10
Safety

6.0/10
Competition


2021 GMC Terrain Features

As we mentioned, the GMC Terrain Denali gets reviewed separately, so this article covers the three trims below that. These are the SL, SLE, and SLT trim levels. It starts with the base SL trim level, which has features like the 1.5 L engine, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment, six-speaker audio system, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, lane keep assist, and so on. Overall it aims to create a good value and appeal to a lot of buyers since it starts at a price tag of $26,195.

Trim

SL

SLE

SLT

MSRP (FWD)

$26,195

$29,595

$32,395

MSRP (AWD)

N/A

$31,295

$35,395

Key Features

IntelliBeam automatic high beams

In addition to or replaces SL trim features with:

In addition to or replaces SLE trim features with:

 

Heated side-view mirrors

Auto-dimming rearview mirror

Heated front seats

 

7-inch Touchscreen

16-inch compact spare tire

Leather Upholstery

 

Forward collision warning

Rear seat release levers

HD rear vision camera

 

Lane-keeping assist with lane departure warning

4.2-inch driver information screen

Roof-mounted side rails

 

Remote Anti-Theft Alarm

18-inch Aluminum Wheels

Dual-zone automatic temperature control

Which trim should you buy?

We find the base trim level well equipped but mechanically unexciting. Stepping up to the SLE trim level gives you the option of adding an all-wheel drive, and at the price of $31,295 for this version, it makes more sense. It adds things like dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, additional USB ports, HD rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, and so on as optional packages. We would also want you to opt for the bigger 2.0L engine if you want some excitement from your SUV.

2021 GMC Terrain Engine and Performance

Powering the GMC Terrain SUV is a set of two power plants: the base trim comes with the 1.5 L in-line four-cylinder that generates 170 hp, while the SLE trim level and upwards come with the option of a 2L in-line turbocharged four-cylinder engine that generates 252 hp. Then there is also the option of choosing between front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive, the latter being much more capable.

When it comes to transmission, all cars are equipped with the nine-speed automatic transmission which is far better than the six-speed automatic we find in other corporate siblings from the brand such as the Chevrolet Equinox. Acceleration figures in the base engine are unimpressive, with a 9.6 second 0 to 60 mph time as well as a 17.1-second quarter-mile time.

Models

2021 GMC Terrain

2021 Honda CR-V

2021 Mazda CX-5

2021 Toyota RAV4

MSRP

$26,195

$25,350

$25,270

$26,050

Engine

1.5L Turbocharged Inline-4

1.5L Turbocharged Inline-4

2.5L Naturally Aspirated Inline-4

2.5L Naturally Aspirated Inline-4

Drivetrain

FWD

FWD

AWD

FWD

Transmission

9-speed automatic

CVT automatic

6-speed automatic

8-speed automatic

Power

170 hp @ 5,600 RPM

190 hp @ 5,600 RPM

187 hp @ 6,000 RPM

203 hp @ 6,600 RPM

Torque

203 lb-ft @ 4,000 RPM

179 lb-ft @ 3,900 RPM

186 lb-ft @ 4,000 RPM

184 lb-ft @ 5,000 RPM

Towing Capacity

1,500 lbs

1,500 lbs

2,000 lbs

1,500 lbs

0-60 MPH

9.6 seconds

9.3 seconds

8.3 seconds

9.1 seconds

Quarter mile

17.1 seconds

16.0 seconds

16.4 seconds

16.6 seconds

Top Speed

120 MPH

127 MPH

130 MPH

130 MPH

It is very clear that the GMC Terrain is the slowest car in its class both on paper as well as in real life. However, it is the most expensive car in this category even with its relatedly uninspiring base trim. In terms of performance, it is the Mazda CX-5 and the Toyota RAV4 that remain the most competitive and impressive cars. Toyota has the most powerful engine, but the Mazda CX-5 is the fastest accelerating car. However, things can be improved by a lot for the GMC Terrain as we equip the better performing engine.

How well does the 2021 GMC Terrain SUV handle?

The GMC Terrain makes it clear that its focus is on ride quality and not handling. The suspension is sprung very softly and hence promises a very plush ride over every road surface no matter how bumpy it is. Customers will be definitely happy with the ride quality, but the fact is the car has to sacrifice a lot of handling for this to happen.

The steering is also equally laid-back and does not provide a lot of feedback. In fact, it is absolutely nil in terms of communication. Even when equipped with a more powerful engine, the car fails to be engaging. However, in terms of comfort, the car is in a league of its own. But several competitors like the Mazda CX-5 promise to be better cars, hitting a much better balance between ride and handling departments.

2021 GMC Terrain SUV Braking Performance

Being part of the heavier cars in this category at 3,449 pounds, braking performance definitely needs to be good to bring the car to a stop. The car is fitted with 11.8-inch rotors in the front and 11.3-inch rotors in the back which are definitely sizable in the category. These rotors are enough to bring the car to a halt from 60 mph in 130 feet which is not very impressive.

Models

2021 GMC Terrain

2021 Honda CR-V

2021 Mazda CX-5

2021 Toyota RAV4

Brake Front (in)

11.8

11.1

11.7

12.0

Brake Rear (in)

11.3

10.2

11.9

11.1

Curb Weight (lbs)

3,449

3,455

3,541

3,370

60-0 MPH (ft.)

130

N/A

N/A

120

The Toyota RAV4 is the lightest vehicle in this category at 3,370 lbs. As a result of this and being equipped with some of the biggest brake rotors in this class, this car can bring itself to a halt from 60 mph in just 120 feet. This is very impressive and sets the class benchmark. Although the exact braking distances of the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 are unknown, they are definitely better than that of the GMC Terrain due to the definite focus on performance.

2021 GMC Terrain Fuel Economy

8.0/10

One of the good things about the 1.5L engine is its decent fuel economy. It returns 25 MPG in the city, 28 MPG on the highway, and 26 MPG combined. The 2 L engine is an even more impressive asset as it returns almost the same fuel efficiency figures. The fuel tank capacity is 15.6 gallons, which is the largest in its class, and hence results in an excellent range of 390 miles in the city and 436 miles on the highway.

Model

2021 GMC Terrain

2021 Honda CR-V

2021 Mazda CX-5

2021 Toyota RAV4

MPG (City)

25

27

22

25

MPG (Highway)

28

32

27

33

MPG (Combined)

26

29

24

28

Fuel Capacity (gallons)

15.6

14.0

15.3

14.5

Range (City/Hwy/Combined) (miles)

390.0/436.8/405.6

378.0/448.0/406.0

336.6/413.1/367.2

362.5/478.5/406.0

Fuel efficiency is single-handedly the department of the Honda CR-V because the car promises 27 MPG in the city, 32 MPG on the highway, and 29 MPG combined. Even with the smallest fuel tank in the class at just 14 gallons, it returns a very decent range. The Mazda nearly has the largest fuel tank but is the least efficient in its category. The RAV4 has good fuel efficiency figures that are better than the GMC Terrain.

2021 GMC Terrain Interior

6.0/10

The interiors of the GMC Terrain are better than its Chevrolet counterparts in terms of luxury and features, but it is not good enough to justify the price tag. Although it does have soft-touch materials here and there, there are plastic bits that don’t exactly give it a luxury feel. It also lacks the fit and finish that one would expect in this category. It also performs badly in terms of cargo capacity with just 29.6 ft.³ of storage.

In terms of interior space, however, the car feels like one of the largest ones in its class. There are enough storage spaces inside for most stuff, and the cargo capacity can be adjusted by folding the seats and making room for more. However, our biggest gripes are about the switchgear and controls which are not exactly intuitive and take a bit of time to get used to.

Model

2021 GMC Terrain

2021 Honda CR-V

2021 Mazda CX-5

2021 Toyota RAV4

Seating Capacity

5

5

5

5

Front Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

40/57.2/40.9

38/57.9/41.3

39.3/57.1/41

37.7/57.8/41

Rear Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

38.5/55.6/39.7

39.1/55.6/40.4

39/54.8/39.6

37.7/56.4/37.8

Cargo capacity (cu-ft.)

29.6

34

29.9

39.2

We find that the CR-V leads the category again and sets benchmarks in terms of interior space. The cargo space of all the cars in this category is generous, but the GMC Terrain still has the lowest space when compared to its category. However, the Toyota RAV4 has excellent cargo space that is nearly 25% larger than the GMC’s. In terms of features, however, the GMC impresses a lot. Some standard features include:

  • Dual-zone automatic climate control system
  • Heated seats
  • Leather upholstery
  • Cruise control
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Power adjustable steering wheel
  • Heated steering wheel

What’s there to keep you entertained?

When we mentioned that the interiors are unintuitive, we did not mean the infotainment system as it is one of the best ones around. The GMC Terrain is a truly modern car, and hence it does not skimp on its infotainment features. The system is very easy to operate, and the snappy response is very much appreciated. A 7-inch touchscreen interface that comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard is also one of its biggest plus points. The SLE trim level onwards upgrades to a better 8-inch touchscreen system. The basic sound system is a six-speaker system that provides decent output. Some features of the infotainment system include: 

  • 7" touchscreen infotainment system
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Wi-Fi hotspot
  • 6-speaker audio system
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • SiriusXM radio

2021 GMC Terrain Exterior

6.0/10

In terms of looks, the GMC Terrain has definitely got it right. It looks very well proportioned and with very cohesive design details. Even next to the very sophisticated rivals from the Asian counterparts, we feel that the American has absolutely nailed it in terms of looks. It does not look like a GMC that has been shrunk to fit into the compact SUV segment but rather like a whole car on its own.

Model

2021 GMC Terrain

2021 Honda CR-V

2021 Mazda CX-5

2021 Toyota RAV4

Curb Weight (lbs)

3,801

3,576

3,825

3,655

Length (inch)

182.3

182.1

179.1

181.5

Width (inch)

72.4

73

72.5

73.4

Height (inch)

65.4

66.5

65.3

68.6

Ground Clearance (inch)

7.9

8.2

7.5

8.6

Wheelbase (inch)

107.3

104.7

106.2

105.9

It is not very hard to find that the road presence that the GMC has is not just due to clever design but also due to its bigger dimensions than the rivals in many aspects. It has the longest wheelbase as well as the longest dimensions. It is almost the heaviest car we can find in this category. However, it does not provide the best ground clearance in the segment which hampers its off-road capabilities although we expect that from a GMC. Some standout exterior features include:

  • LED headlights with LED DRLs
  • Heated and powered side mirrors
  • 18" alloy wheels wrapped in P225/60R18 all-season tires
  • Powered liftgate
  • LED taillights
  • Roof rack
  • Active noise cancellation

2021 GMC Terrain Safety

6.0/10

In terms of safety, GMC is absolutely on a good trajectory as their recent offerings have been doing well in crash tests. It has scored an excellent five stars overall safety rating from the NHTSA, which is the highest honor. It also performed very well in the IIHS crash test, although it’s not named as a Top Safety Pick due to the headlamps. The SUV not only has passive safety features but even offers some active safety features as standard such as automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and so on. Some of the standout safety features include:

  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Rear park assist
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Rearview auto-dimming mirror
  • Automatic on/off headlamps

2021 GMC Terrain Competition

6.0/10

2021 GMC Terrain SUV Vs. 2021 Honda CR-V

The GMC Terrain might be a good offering from the brand, but the Honda CR-V outperforms it in nearly every segment. In fact, Honda has had several generations of the CR-V by now that they have absolutely nailed the formula of the successful family compact crossover SUV. It is a better-performing, well-built, well-equipped car, and the GMC has no particular strengths to match.

2021 GMC Terrain SUV Vs. 2021 Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 is an excellent offering from Mazda that packs a lot of features and focuses on driving comfort and pleasure more than the GMC. While the GMC is supple and soft, the Mazda is exciting to drive in a way the GMC will never be. Mazda does not offer the best fuel efficiency figures but is a competitive car in all departments.

2021 GMC Terrain vs. 2021 Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is probably the car that started the compact crossover SUV segment. To begin with, it is a car that offers more practical interiors, decent fuel efficiency while at the same time, works as an excellent performer. And due to its decreased weight, it is much more capable both in terms of acceleration as well as in terms of braking.

2021 GMC Terrain Final Verdict

The 2021 GMC Terrain is one of the most popular cars from the American automotive giant. It does promise a lot of features along with excellent looks but falls short in terms of performance, build quality, fuel efficiency, and so on. Competing in a category with excellent rivals, this car fails to impress us. For these reasons, the GMC Terrain is not a car we would recommend you to buy over any of its competitors.

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