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  • The exterior design of Terrain is a bold front end carved in a sculpted block with a sharp rake to the windshield and stepped hood

  • There are broad body surfaces on the sides with rectangular bulges surrounding the wheelwells

  • Plan for the five-seat cabin pins a pair of bucket seats on the front row separated by a floor-mounted console

2012 GMC Terrain Compact Crossover SUV

GMC Terrain the easy-driving CUV gains new features for 2012

  • Review
  • Fast Facts

FORT WORTH, Tex. — In this Texas city nicknamed Cowtown where stockyards sprawl in the shade of downtown office towers, pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles are more commonly seen plying Fort Worth pavement than cushy luxury sedans or sporty coupes.

So picture this anomaly:  The vehicle we’re steering along Main Street in Cowtown — the 2012 Terrain from the GMC brand of General Motors — resembles a boxy body-on-frame SUV with four passenger doors on flanks and a liftgate lid hanging off the tail but the structure concealed behind Terrain’s chiseled sheetmetal is actually more akin to the monocoque structure of a front-wheel-drive (FWD) sedan.

That structural organization classifies the Terrain as a crossover utility vehicle, or Crossover SUV.

All of the engine’s power goes to turn the front wheels which also steer this vehicle. Having the front wheels both turn and steer — when combined with the stiff unitized structure and lively suspension — makes Terrain uncommonly agile, but that’s the big idea behind GM’s design for the easy-driving Crossover SUV.

Stretching more than 15 feet long and six feet wide, this slippery wagon rides on a stretched platform and stocks a economy-minded four-cylinder engine or powerful V6.

And, unlike some SUV wagons rigged with a solid rear truck axle and crude leaf springs, Terrain carries out-of-the-ordinary suspension components — independent struts up front with tuned coil springs and direct-acting stabilizer bar and a four-link design in back with coil springs and trailing arm, a stabilizer bar and hydraulic link bushings — to deliver those car-like smooth ride sensations.

Steering is a rack and pinion  design with variable assistance. With the base four-cylinder engine aboard, an electric power steering (EPS) system replaces the hydraulic apparatus used with the optional six-pack plant.

Brakes include a large disc at every wheel with linkage to an anti-lock brake system (ABS) plus StabiliTrak, GM’s electronic vehicle skid control system.

GM offers two high-tech engines for the 2012 Terrain, each featuring dual overhead cams (DOHC), electronic throttle control (ETC), direct injection (DI) technology and variable valve timing (VVT).

The transaxle is a fuel-saving Hydra-Matic six-speed electronically controlled automatic. The Hydra-Matic 6T45 mates with the four-cylinder engine and the Hydra-Matic 6T70 applies to the V6.

Standard plant for all Terrain trims is the Ecotec 2.4-liter cast aluminum in-line-four engine which develops 182 hp at 6700 rpm and 172 lb-ft of torque at 4900 rpm.

The federal EPA sets fuel economy numbers for this four-cylinder powertrain at 22 mpg City and 32 mpg Highway with FWD, or 20 mpg City and 29 mpg Highway with optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) equipment.

The upgrade engine choice for Terrain’s top three trims is a cast aluminum 3.0-liter V6 which generates 264 hp at 6950 rpm and 222 lb-ft of torque at 5100 rpm.

When rigged with the V6, Terrain’s EPA fuel economy figures tally to 17 mpg City and 24 mpg Highway with FWD, or 16 mpg City and 23 mpg Highway for AWD editions.

The optional AWD device for Terrain is always engaged and uses a computer to determine how much power to apply at each wheel for maintaining tire traction on slippery roads.

Normally it runs in FWD mode for driving on dry pavement. When front wheels begin to slip in wet or icy weather, however, the power shifts automatically to the rear wheels temporarily to keep the Crossover SUV moving forward safely on a non-skid trajectory.

Focal point for the exterior design of Terrain is a bold front end carved in a sculpted block with a sharp rake to the windshield and stepped hood, the forward-projecting grille encased in chrome and oversized corner headlamp clusters.

There are broad body surfaces on the sides with rectangular bulges surrounding the wheelwells.

Plan for the five-seat cabin pins a pair of bucket seats on the front row separated by a floor-mounted console.

A bench on the second row splits and folds and also slides fore and aft by eight inches to vary legroom. GM’s marketeers label this bench as a Multi-Flex seat. In the rear-most position the legroom is easily the best in class.

Cargo space aboard Terrain is also generous. With the rear bench up, the flat-floored cargo bay measures to 31.6 cubic feet for stow room. With the back bench folded down, the rear bay expands to 63.9 cubic feet.

The 2012 issues of Terrain provide more features:

* The Ecotec 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine offers E85 FlexFuel capability.

* A new standard touch-screen audio system employs a seven-inch HD color display to control the AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3.

* The stock rearview camera uses the new dash-mounted seven-inch display monitor instead of the inside rearview mirror.

* Optional new GMC IntelliLink brings smartphone integration with the audio system through Bluetooth and USB linkage for hands-free control by voice activation and controls mounted on the steering wheel, plus streaming audio from the phone through services like Pandora and Stitcher.

Trims for the 2012 Terrain stack up as SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1 and SLT-2, each available with FWD or AWD traction.

GMC’s MSRP chart for the 2012 Terrain rises from the base point of $25,480 for Terrain SLE-1 FWD.


  • Description: Compact 4-door CUV
  • Model options: SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, SLT-2
  • Wheelbase: 112.5 inches
  • Overall length: 185.3 inches
  • Engine size:
    • DOHC 2.4-L I4/DI/VVT
    • DOHC 3.0-L V6/DI/VVT
  • Transmissions/speeds:
    • I4: Auto/6/6T45
    • V6: Auto/6/6T70
  • Rear/front drive:
    • I4: FWD or AWD
    • V6: FWD or AWD
  • Steering:Power rack and pinion
    • I4: EPS
    • V6: Hydraulic
  • Braking: Power 4-disc, ABS/StabiliTrak/TPMS
  • Air bags: 2 (front), 2 (side), 4 (side curtain)
  • EPA mileage est. city/hwy.:
    • I4 FWD:  22/32 mpg
    • I4 AWD:  20/29 mpg
    • V6 FWD:  17/24 mpg
    • V6 AWD:  16/23 mpg
  • Maximum GVWR:
    • I4 FWD:  3761 pounds
    • I4 AWD:  3929 pounds
    • V6 FWD:  3944 pounds
    • V6 AWD:  4101 pounds
  • Maximum trailer towing:
    • I4 FWD:  1500 pounds
    • V6 FWD:  3500 pounds
  • MSRP range, est.: $ 25,480 to $ 32,930