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GMC Terrain is a Compact, Contemporary Portal of Connectivity

BY MARK MAYNARD

Don’t expect much price negotiation on the GMC Terrain crossover for the immediate future. Sales have been so brisk that the factory has gone to three shifts and the supply of vehicles is still at about 18 days when 60 days is considered normal.

The GMC Terrain shares architecture with the also-popular Chevrolet Equinox, but the GMC goes for the mini-Tonka look with a package of electronic connectivity that, clearly, appeals to contemporary drivers.

This compact, five-passenger utility vehicle is modern and urban, which is quite a shift from the calloused-hands image conveyed by the “professional-grade” GMC marketing. Instead of hearty V-6 and V-8 engines, Terrain has a standard and quite adequate 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter direct injection four-cylinder and six-speed automatic transmission. A 264-hp, 3-liter V-6 is a $1,500 option — but unless you will be hauling the team over the mountain every week, the four-cylinder will please most drivers. And with 22 mpg city and 32 highway, it is at the top of the fuel-miser list.

Terrain is sold in several trim levels with front-or all-wheel drive with pricing that starts at $25,000. I tested a front-drive Terrain SLE-2 V-6, which had a starting price of $26,595 and a window sticker of $32,620. The top-line SLT2 AWD, with such standard features as a power tailgate and sunroof, will cost $34,000 and is more loaded.

Sharing a foundation with the Chevrolet Equinox, the GMC version is likable and functional. It is positioned as a little more upscale than Equinox and adds such standard equipment as fog lights, carpeted floor mats and a rearview camera.

The test car was teched-out with NavTraffic alerts, satellite radio, Bluetooth and eight-speaker Pioneer audio with a 40-gigabyte hard drive. The navigation system is simple to operate, aided by a touch screen. The seat fabric is of sturdy, appealing quality with contrasting stitching. The driver’s seat is power adjustable and the Multi-Flex back seats have fore-aft adjustment. The second row has a flat floor for good foot room, but the center position has no head restraint, which limits it to children and those whose heads don’t reach above the seatback.

Sightlines are good, helped by a wide rear window. The rearview camera comes in handy to compensate for a large turning circle, 40 feet on 17-inch wheels or 42.6 feet on the 19-inch wheels. To compare, the larger and longer seven-passenger GMC Acadia crossover has a turning circle of 40.4 inches.

Terrain is a downsized version of the Acadia and packs a lot in a small space. But the driving experience of the seven-passenger Acadia is more enjoyable — as if you could set out on a cross-country trip and not stop till the first fill-up. It is more comfortable and more settled on the road, but that’s not to imply that Terrain is rough.

Unless you are getting out of a Cadillac or Lexus crossover, the Terrain will have an above-average ride quality. It is smooth over most surfaces without a lot of wind noise. And the suspension works to prevent head toss when rolling over speed bumps and pulling into angled driveways.

The V-6 is modest in size and economical at 25 mpg on the highway.  Acceleration is strong up to cruising speed, but performance can feel thin when pressing hard for passing power between about 50 mph and 70 mph.

Terrain is tough but refined and will make an ideal family vehicle — and it does it with style, efficiency and economy.

SPECS BOX

2010 GMC Terrain SLE

Body style: compact, five-passenger crossover in front- or all-wheel drive

Engine: aluminum, 182-horsepower, DOHC 2.4-liter direct-injection four-cylinder

Transmission: six-speed automatic

EPA fuel economy estimates: 22 mpg city, 32 highway; 87 octane recommended

Cargo space: 31.6 cubic feet to 63.9 with back seats folded

Front head/leg room: 40.9/41.2 inches

Rear head/leg room:39.2/39.9 inches

Length/wheelbase: 185.3/112.5 inches

Curb weight: 3,798 pounds

FEATURES

Standard equipment includes: remote locking, automatic climate control, leather-wrapped, multifunction steering wheel, eight-way power-adjustable driver seat with lumbar, 60/40-folding back seat, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, eight-speaker Pioneer audio system with XM satellite radio, USB port and auxiliary music inputs, Bluetooth, floor mats, fog lamps, tinted glass, power (heated) mirrors, 17-inch wheels

Safety features include: six air bags, stability control with traction control, anti-lock disc brakes

PRICING

Base: $26,595, including $745 freight charge; price as tested, $32,620

Options on test vehicle: Convenience package, $440, includes heated front seats and remote vehicle starter; cargo-management package, $245, adds cargo cover, net and roof-rack crossbars; audio-navigation upgrade, $2,145, with 7-inch touch screen, voice recognition, 40-gigabyte hard drive; 3-liter V-6, $1,500; 19-inch wheels, $900; sunroof, $795.

Where assembled: Ontario, Canada

(set image) may020910-vis.jpg (end image) (set caption) The five-passenger GMC Terrain has modern styling and urban features that will appeal to a busy family. Photo courtesy of GM Corp. (end caption)

Mark Maynard is driving in cyberspace at Mark.Maynard@uniontrib.com.

COPYRIGHT 2010 THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM.

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