2010 GMC Terrain review: 2010 GMC Terrain

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.1
  • Cabin tech: 8.0
  • Performance tech: 6.0
  • Design: 7.0

Average User Rating

5 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
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The Good A new generation of hard-drive-based navigation with traffic makes up the centerpiece of the 2010 GMC Terrain's cabin tech, and music sources include the navigation hard drive and full iPod integration. Active noise cancellation keeps the cabin insulated from the road. A direct injection engine sends plenty of power to the wheels.

The Bad The Bluetooth phone system lacks a phone book. The six-speed automatic is a little clunky.

The Bottom Line Despite its strongly SUV-styled body, the construction, power plant, and cabin tech of the 2010 GMC Terrain are thoroughly modern, equal to or surpassing much of the competition.

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When GM rolled out the Terrain at the last New York auto show, it seemed the company hadn't learned a thing from recently plummeting SUV sales. Not to mention that the Terrain seemed an unnecessary addition to an already full SUV lineup. But then we got a 2010 GMC Terrain into our garage, and found the most modern SUV we've seen. If this is GMC's future, it's a good one.

Despite its big, square fenders and typical five-passenger, high-riding style, inside the Terrain is a new generation of cabin tech for GM, with a hard-drive-based navigation system showing traffic and weather, along with a full-featured audio system. Under the hood is a new direct injection 3-liter V-6, giving the Terrain reasonable power and decent fuel economy.

Urban pioneer
Unlike truck-based SUVs of the recent past, the Terrain uses a fully independent suspension, leading to a more car-like ride and handling. Our vehicle was a front-wheel-drive model, although all-wheel drive is available. Further putting our tester in the on-road category were the optional chrome 19-inch wheels. Those, coupled with the heavy bass from the 8-inch Pioneer subwoofer, suggested GM expects the Terrain to fit into the urban environment more than rugged back country.

Big, square headlight casings accentuate the tough look of the Terrain.

Although the bass was powerful, delivering a good kick with the right kind of music, it didn't overwhelm more delicate highs from the layered electronic music we fed this Pioneer-sourced system. It may not have been the best audio system we've heard in a car, but it certainly equaled those in much more expensive BMW and Mercedes-Benz models.

This Pioneer audio system also takes part in the Terrain's active noise cancellation feature, which works by using microphones in the front and rear of the cabin to sample engine and road noise, then transmitting opposing frequencies from the speakers. As this system is always operating, we couldn't tell exactly how effective it was, but the cabin of the Terrain did seem well-insulated from the road, at least until we gave it a substantial squirt with the gas pedal.

GM uses direct injection technology in the Terrain to maximize engine efficiency.

Our Terrain was impelled by a 3-liter direct injection V-6, a new generation of engine from GM that works much more efficiently than previous port injection engines. But this V-6 is actually on the option sheet for the Terrain. Rather than including the engine at the trim level, as most automakers do, GM lets you replace the stock engine, a direct injection 2.4-liter inline four, with this more powerful V-6 at the same time you're deciding on color and wheels.

We can't speak to the base inline four cylinder, but the V-6, putting out 264 horsepower and 222 pound-feet of torque, delivers solid acceleration, motivating the Terrain forward fast enough to get a chirp from the front tires if you're not careful. At least, it delivers that kind of power when the six-speed automatic transmission wants to cooperate.

We don't have a problem with spontaneity, but a little more consistency from the transmission would have been nice. Normally it kept the engine speed low, with typical fuel-saving programming, showing some sluggishness to downshift when we mashed the pedal. Occasionally the transmission would read our inputs and other road conditions and deliver a jarring downshift when it didn't seem called for. And at other times, mostly while already at speed, we got a thoroughly satisfying push from the transmission quickly engaging a low gear for passing power.

The shifter has a rocker switch set into it for selecting gears in manual mode.

GM includes a manual mode on this transmission, designed for engine braking. To activate it, you have to move the shifter into the M position. Selecting gears involves hitting a rocker switch on the side of the shifter with your thumb. This system gives more flexibility and control over a transmission with a low range or two.

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Where to Buy

2010 GMC Terrain

Part Number: 101181310
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Trim levels SLE-2
  • Body style SUV
  • Available Engine Gas