Blue 2018 GMC Terrain in city

2018 GMC Terrain vs 2018 Mazda CX-5: A Compact Comparison of Compact SUVs

If you’ve been looking for a new car this year, you’ve no doubt been bombarded by options from every brand in the book. From Chevy to Volkswagen, there are so many possible choices it might seem like there’s no way to find yourself a perfect fit. Luckily that isn’t the case, and with a bit of research and comparison, you can use the process of elimination to find your vehicle of choice in no time. Today we’re comparing the 2018 GMC Terrain vs 2018 Mazda CX-5, so if you’re in the market for a new compact SUV, you’re in luck.


2018 GMC Terrain

Performance & Fuel Economy

No matter what decision you’re about to make, whether you’re looking at a restaurant’s menu or a closet full of your own jackets, you’d probably agree that more options make virtually every situation better. The indecisive people among us might dread the thought of a few extra choices and the possibilities that might come with them, but for the rest of us, that added variety just gives more freedom to find an SUV tailored to our individual needs. GMC recognizes the value in this, as made evident by the three engine options available for the 2018 Terrain.

The standard engine is a 1.5-liter turbocharged gas engine, which means even if you choose not to opt for anything more powerful, you’re still getting 170 horsepower and over 200 lbs per foot of torque. The first possible upgrade, a 1.6-liter turbocharged diesel engine, delivers more torque than the standard engine at about 240 lbs per foot, though this comes at the expense of its total horsepower, which sits just below 140. The most powerful option available is a 2.0-liter turbocharged gas engine, and while it provides the highest output out of any of the 2018 Terrain’s potential engines with over 250 horsepower and 260 lb per foot of torque, it also has the lowest gas mileage of the three.

It may seem obvious, but the fuel economy provided by the two less powerful engines are both measurably better than that of the 2.0-liter engine. The 2.0-liter engine has a combined city/highway mileage of about 24 MPG, while the 1.5 and 1.6-liter engines offer 28 and 32 MPG respectively. Most people probably won’t end up choosing the 2.0-liter engine due to the disparity in this area, but other people stand to benefit greatly from the overall increase in strength, so the option hasn’t gone unappreciated.


Entertainment & Technology

As with most modern vehicles, the 2018 Terrain is outfitted with plenty of bells and whistles that add not only to convenience but to fun factor as well. If you’ve been trapped behind the wheel of an older model for the last few years, you might even be slightly overwhelmed by the different technologies that newer vehicles come equipped with. Some features, such as the rear vision camera system standard with the Terrain, are more user-friendly than others, but more recent entertainment features may stump the technologically illiterate among us in the same way that a new Apple product might. Try not to let that dissuade you, though; after a brief period of adjustment you should be fully capable of utilizing all the once unfamiliar benefits at your disposal (even you are the type of person who needs someone under 25 to help “fix the internet” three times a week).

Beyond the standard rearview camera, this year’s model Terrain has a number of available safety and driver assistance features. For an added price, you can opt for a rear cross-traffic alert system and/or rear park assist system, both of which help a great deal when navigating any kind of crowded parking situation. Teen driver settings can be configured and put into place if you have a child still learning to drive, but it can also function as a way to prevent any boneheaded friends from being too reckless if you ever let them drive your car.

In terms of entertainment, the 2018 Terrain has everything you need to keep occupied and engaged during long rides. The GMC Infotainment System displays applications from your phone onto a vibrant dashboard screen, giving you full, hands-free control over both communication and recreation. To top that off, a 4G wireless hotspot is an available option, so regardless of what streaming services you’re likely subscribed to, you can take your shows on the road. (Though, you should probably only “Netflix and chill” if you’re not the one behind the wheel, if you can help it.)


2018 Mazda CX-5

Performance & Fuel Economy

Unlike the Terrain, the 2018 Mazda CX-5 has only one engine option, unfortunately detracting from the vehicle’s total flexibility by a measurable amount when comparing it with more customizable alternatives like the Terrain. The engine offered is one of Mazda’s SKYACTIV 1-G 2.5 liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engines, and you’re right to think that’s a mouthful. For now, we’ll forget about the full technical explanation, and cover just the basics in order to keep things simple.

The engine is capable of delivering 187 horsepower and 186 lbs per foot of torque, balancing both specifications more evenly than the engines offered by the Terrain, albeit with significantly reduced torque. The combined fuel economy is about 27 MPG, sitting just below the Terrain’s standard mileage, but just above the MPG provided by its 2.0-liter engine. Depending on exactly what you value when considering engine options, any one of the four engines we’ve discussed may be right for you, but more varied choices are definitely available when you’re thinking about the 2018 Terrain.


Entertainment & Technology

Chief differences between the on-board technology of each vehicle include Mazda’s use of a virtual heads-up display as well as certain inconsistencies in the functionality of their individual entertainment setups. The biggest contrast between the Mazda Connect infotainment system and the GMC Infotainment System is Mazda’s lack of Apple Carplay or Android Auto compatibility, which brings with it a significant handicap in the quality of its voice recognition technology. There’s a reason Apple has been at the top of the tech world for over a decade, and any automotive manufacturer that thinks they can do better is probably fooling themselves.

For what it’s worth, the 2018 CX-5 has a few driver assistance technologies that the Terrain is lacking, such as blind spot monitoring and lane-keep assist. Unless you have anxieties about highway driving, these two features might not seem very useful, but the CX-5’s main advantage lies in these technologies. The most helpful among them is its smart braking system, and while we should hope most people won’t require it, it does add a modicum of increased safety not present in the 2018 Terrain.


Final Thoughts – 2018 GMC Terrain vs 2018 Mazda CX-5

Unfortunately for Mazda and the CX-5, GMC just has more bases covered when it comes to this year’s model Terrain. Of course, you may find your preference lies with Mazda regardless, but what’s most important is that the decision you make is your own. Hopefully, at this point you’ve created a full tournament bracket, and you’re ready to continue down the line of compact SUVs until you find a winner, but if not that’s okay too. As long as you’ve got a handle on what you’re looking for in your new vehicle, you should be alright.