2016 GMC Terrain Denali Test Drive and Review

Jerry Reynolds | December 15, 2015
2016 GMC Terrain Denali Test Drive and Review

Americans are in a major transition when it comes to what they drive.  Find outd more, people are moving from sedans to SUVs for their increased visibility, ease of getting in and out, and the ease of putting cargo in versus a trunk. 

This week, I bring you one of the more popular SUVs, the.  It and its sister the Chevy Equinox make up about 15% of the compact SUV market, although both are slightly larger than most compact SUVs, but do not quite get to the mid-sized segment.

2016 GMC Terrain Denali

2016 is the 7th year for the Terrain, and overall it has stayed basically the same.  GMC did some tweaks for 2016, including some new wheels, an updated grille, and front fascia, LED lights in front, updates to the center stack, and new upholstery options for the interior.  Otherwise, everything stayed pretty much the same.

The Terrain comes in five different trim levels.  The entry level is the SL, from there you go up to the SLE1 and SLE2, next is the SLT, and finally the top of the line Denali, which represents 20% of total Terrain sales.

As we move to under the hood, you have two engine choices, the base engine is the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, which is the fuel economy leader, and you can also get a 3.6-liter V6 like my review vehicle has.  Both engines come with a 6-speed automatic transmission.  With this V6, you get a very respectable 301-horses at your disposal.  This is the same engine that is available in the   Towing capacity is 3500 pounds.

Terrain comes in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.  My tester has the all-wheel drive system.

Exterior styling is good and very different from the Chevy Equinox.  It has the typical squared off “professional grade” look that graces all GMC products.  It features dual exhaust with chrome tips from the rear view.  One thing that sets it off is the optional 19” wheels that make this Crimson Red Terrain stand out.

As you move to the inside, I have to say my first impression for a premium package vehicle was underwhelming.  The seats are very comfortable, but just don’t exude luxury, and you are surrounded by a lack of wood, although you do find a fair amount of stitching and some chrome accents.

The dash gauges are large and there is a driver information center that is programmable.  It has a nice sized center console, and above the shifter everything runs from a color touchscreen, that can also be voice activated.  All your sound system controls are there, as well as a host of apps for real-time info. Bluetooth connectivity is simple, and you can run multiple devices from the 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

The Denali comes with an impressive list of standard features like rear view camera, keyless entry with remote start, rear parking sensors, power heated front seats, and power lift gate that is programmable to stop lower for people who are vertically challenged.

One place the Terrain Denali really shines is standard safety features, like forward collision alert, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and stability control.

Options on this one include a power sunroof, navigation system, trailer towing package, and the optional V6.  Total options add up to $4665.

The Terrain Denali handles well and rides smoothly.  Often, small SUVs ride rough, but this one does not, and GMC did an exceptional job with interior quietness.  The second-row seating is very roomy, there is a lot of headroom, and the second-row seats slide forward and backwards, which is a nice touch.  The roomy backseat, however, comes at the price of rear cargo area, which is smaller than some of the competition.  It does come with a spare tire and wheel, albeit a compact one.

In summary, the Terrain Denali is a mixed bag for me.  Although it was refreshed for 2016, the Terrain is starting to look a little tired.  The touchscreen is behind in technology and can be slow to respond. I was shocked there was no pushbutton start on a vehicle topping $40,000.

Fuel economy is rated at 16 in town and 23 on the highway.  If you go with the 4-cylinder, it will actually do 32-miles per gallon on the highway, but it is a bit sluggish.

MSRP on my review vehicle is $41,315 which hits me as a little high, especially when compared to some of the new entry-level luxury SUVs like the Lexus NX, but GMC has kept the incentives heavy on Terrain to keep the price down.

I would not say this is on my “don’t buy” list, but I would encourage you to shop around if this is on your consideration list.

  • What I liked most:  Safety technology, and performance of the V6.
  • What I would change:  It needs more updates inside and outside.    
  • MSRP: Base price $35,725, as equipped $41,315.
  • Fuel Economy:  16 in town, 23 on the highway, 18 combined.
  • Fuel Tank:  18.8 gallons.
  • Dimensions:  185” long/72” wide/66” high.
  • Weight:  4248 Pounds.
  • Trailer Towing:  3500 pounds.
  • Miles When Tested:  3700 miles.
  • Final Assembly Point:  Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada
  • 2016 in a few words:  Terrain is just OK to me, it won’t make my “best of” list.
  • Warranty:  3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty, and two complimentary maintenance visits.
  • Manufacturers Website:

Photo Credit: GMC

Tags: GMC Terrain
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