GMC Terrain Review

For decades, GMC has been selling re-badged Chevrolet trucks. In fact, for most of that time, the badges (and a slightly higher GMC price tag) were all that separated the products. Then, just in time for the SUV and luxotruck boom, GMC hit on the idea of loading theirs up with luxury features.

Which was fine until Cadillac started selling its own tarted-up Chevys and suddenly Escalades were only a bit more expensive than Yukon Denalis.

Though Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and SAAB were the obvious targets, GMC could have been another casualty of last year's Carpocalypse.  Not enough money to develop its own product line...not enough difference between GMC and Chevy.

But GMC survived the cut and the Terrain is meant to be the template for the way forward. Based on the Chevrolet Equinox,  GMC makes a lot of changes to the appearance of the vehicle yet keeps the base price within $1,000 of the Chevy.

Move up the trim levels and the differences magnify. The tester I drove was the top-of-the-line SLT-2, $7,600 more expensive than the base Equinox, but with an impressive list of standard features (power liftgate, 18-inch wheels, rearview camera system, sunroof, leather, heated seats, climate control, a Pioneer premium sound system and more).

That actually still leaves room for options...though with a standard content level that high, there's a limit...in the case of our tester, an additional $5,140.

The 3.0 liter V6 replaced the standard 2.4 liter four at a cost of $1,500. Horsepower goes up from 182 to 264, torque from 174 pounds per foot to 222. But gas mileage takes a big hit...from an EPA estimated 22 city/32 highway to a fairly pedestrian (for this class of small SUV) 17/24. And the gas tank size goes up from 18 gallons to 20...making each fill-up a bit pricier.

Ours also had the navigation system (a $2,145 choice we'd never make, though it does add a 40 gigabyte hard drive for music storage) , 19-inch wheels ($900), trailering equipment ($350) and a cargo management package (rear cargo security cover, cargo convenience net and roof rack crossbars for $245.

Bottom line, with $745 for destination charges: $36,885.

I liked it. A very nice ride. My wife informed me a few minutes ago that if the Terrain had a third row of seats, she'd want one.

But $36,885 for a small SUV gives me pause.

It could work for GMC, though...taking the Terrain out of direct competition with Chevy but into a size and price range where they're not bumping up against Cadillac and, by comparison to that brand, seem like a bargain.

Here's how GMC's making that case: