2016 GMC Terrain: A wagon posing as an SUV

GMC launched its updated Terrain model at the New York auto show, with new styling and a built-in 4G data connection, but this SUV has the proportions of a wagon.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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NEW YORK -- Americans may have turned their backs on the station wagons of the 1970s, but we apparently still crave their utility. Case in point, GMC's Terrain model, its SUV style masking wagon-like proportions. The Terrain has sold well for GMC, and the company launched a refreshed 2016 model year version at the 2015 New York auto show.

GMC refers to the new Terrain as a "compact SUV". While its height may come close to segment-setting models such as the Nissan Juke, it is almost 2 feet longer. That length buys plenty of legroom for front and rear seat passengers, along with sizable cargo volume of over 31 cubic feet.

The 2016 Terrain carries over its basic driveline configurations from the previous generation, offering a choice of a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, good for 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque, and a 3.6-liter V-6 making 301 horsepower and 272 pound-feet or torque. Both engines use direct injection to improve efficiency. A six-speed automatic transmission puts power to either all four wheels or just the front wheels, depending on the option chosen.

Either engine should be more than adequate for the Terrain, although the V-6 will allow more towing options. GMC notes that the four-cylinder engine on the front-wheel-drive Terrain can achieve highway fuel economy of 32 mpg.

GMC refreshes its rugged-looking Terrain crossover (pictures)

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Although GMC gave it rugged looks, the Terrain is smart, as well. The dashboard IntelliLink head unit uses a touchscreen to give passengers access to hands-free phone, the stereo and OnStar telematics services. Navigation is also available on this head unit. With an iPhone paired to the car's Bluetooth system, the Terrain supports Siri Eyes Free mode, letting drivers hold down the voice command button to send queries directly to Siri voice command.

The Terrain benefits from the latest generation of OnStar, which comes with a 4G data connection. OnStar supports a number of services, from roadside assistance to stolen vehicle recovery to integration with the OnStar app, letting drivers perform actions such as remotely unlocking their doors. OnStar's Wi-Fi hotspot lets passengers connect devices, taking advantage of the car's 4G connection.

Assist feature include a rearview camera that will actively warn the driver of obstacles in the Terrain's path, while blind spot monitors and a forward-collision alert cover its front and sides. Lane-departure warning can keep a drowsy driver from drifting into oncoming traffic, but GMC does not offer adaptive cruise control.

The 2016 GMC Terrain offers excellent passenger and cargo space, with strong SUV styling for those that want a rugged look. Larger than what most automakers would refer to as a "compact SUV", the Terrain's modest height and independent suspension should make it handle more like a midsize sedan. Solid electronics for both cabin tech features and driver assist put the Terrain in thoroughly modern territory, making it competitive with sedans and other more traditionally formatted cars.

GMC notes that the 2016 Terrain will hit dealer lots fall 2015. Pricing has not yet been announced.