The 2023 GMC Terrain’s attractively boxy, assertive look belies the fact that its specs and performance don’t provide a winning package in the ever-competitive compact crossover market. All Terrain models feel a little undernourished, a result of the universally equipped and unexciting 175-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The spacious and comfortable interior is restrained by modest equipment and simply average quality of materials. Stepping up to the more expensive Denali model helps solve some of these problems, but the competition likes it Mazda CX-50 and Honda CR-V offer better features and better performance at a similar price.

What’s new in 2023?

GMC kept changes to a minimum for the 2023 Terrain, but added five horsepower, bringing the total output of the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine to 175 horsepower. This year adds two new paint colors, along with redesigned 19-inch wheels for the Elevation package, which is available on SLE and SLT models. The Black Diamond Edition package is added to the Denali trim.

Pricing and which one to buy

To keep the Terrain’s price from getting out of hand, we’ll stick with the SLE model. It comes standard with plenty of equipment that compact SUV buyers now consider essential, including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a touchscreen infotainment system, and plenty of driver assistance features.

Engine, transmission and performance

The Terrain comes standard with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. We haven’t tested one yet, but we did run our engine test routine mounted on its mechanical twin, Chevrolet Equinox; it took 8.9 seconds to reach 60 mph. The Terrain provides its passengers with a comfortable, engaging ride. ​​​​​​While the soft-spring suspension is a boon on long highway trips, the comfort-oriented setup weakens the compact crossover when the driver starts to spin. Likewise, the direct but sharp steering, which provides easy turn-in at low speeds, proves as uninformative as a mob boss in a police interrogation room.

Fuel economy and real mpg

According to EPA estimates, the front-wheel-drive Terrain will earn up to 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway; switching to all-wheel drive drops the highway estimate to 28 mpg. We’ve yet to test the Terrain for highway fuel economy, but we’ll update this story when we do. For more information on the Terrain’s fuel economy, visit EPA website.

Interior, comfort and cargo

The spacious and comfortable interior is let down by low build quality and an average mix of materials. Meanwhile, the Terrain’s ergonomic push-button shifter rubs salt into the compact crossover’s internal wounds. It consists of several switches that look like power window controls, located low on the center console and less intuitive to use. ​​​​​​While we think owners will get used to it over time, we found the small buttons difficult to find at a glance, especially when looking for reverse, making it difficult to make quick three-point turns or operate the transmission in manual mode. Terrain is a suitable partner for transporting large loads of various sizes. Count on the standard 60/40 split-folding rear seat and the available folding front seat. The Terrain’s cargo area offers class-leading space. In our carry-on test, the Terrain had 24 boxes with the rear seats folded down; those looking for the absolute maximum amount of cargo space will be better served by the CR-V—albeit only marginally.

Infotainment system and communication

Easy to operate and responsive to commands, Terrain’s infotainment system features crisp graphics, logical menus and the latest in-car connectivity features. Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and an on-board Wi-Fi hotspot are standard. An in-dash navigation system is standard on the top-of-the-line Denali and available on other models. A head-up display is available—it’s standard on the Denali and optional on the SLT and AT4—but unlike other GM vehicles that project the feature onto the windshield, the Terrain uses a pop-up panel at the top of the dash.

Safety features and driver assistance

A lot driver assistance functions is standard and more can be added as options. For more information on Terrain crash test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute of Road Safety (IIHS) websites. Key security features include:

  • Standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Standard lane departure warning with assistance system
  • Adaptive cruise control is available

Warranty and maintenance

GMC’s warranty matches that of most competitors in the Terrain class. Buyers looking for more coverage should pay attention to models such as Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson.

  • The limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • The transmission is warrantied for 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Free service is paid for the first visit

More features and specifications

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