A black 2020 GMC Terrain is parked in front of an industrial building at night after leaving a GMC dealer.

A Full Un-Cut Look at the 2020 GMC Terrain

Nowadays, what it takes to make a great quality car is drastically different from what it may have been ten to fifteen years ago. It’s no longer enough to simply offer decent powertrains, comfortable seats, and a decent sound and speaker system. Cars nowadays are expected to be both powerful and fuel-efficient, and equipped with technology that practically allows the vehicle to drive itself. Technology and rising gas prices have changed we expect out of our vehicles, and this is something plenty of GMC dealers and manufacturers have hoped to capitalize on with the new 2020 GMC Terrain. This stylish SUV sits in a strange middle point between full-sized and compact and is meant to appeal to an audience that is gravitating more and more towards utility-focused vehicles. That said, the utility field is crowded, and in order to make a mark, automakers have to design a vehicle that doesn’t just offer great value, but one that stands out from all of the rest.

Top-Notch Styling, Low-End Pricing

There is only so much you can do to make an SUV stand out on the road. With so many competitor models out there sharing the stage, it can be far to easy to find yourself lost in the noise. Fortunately, the 2020 GMC Terrain manages to hold its own in this regard. While it is far from unique contenders like the Jeep Renegade or the Mazda CX-5, it still does a decent job of not staying on that one lane of style with everyone else.

Both front doors of a blue 2020 GMC Terrain are open while a couple gets inside.

At first glance, you’ll notice the oversized red ‘GMC’ logo splayed on a large and dazzling front grille. While the exterior body has been designed to reduce as much drag as possible, there are still plenty of sharp edges. And when you spot the 2020 GMC Terrain on the road, you’ll surely be impressed with its sleek and sophisticated styling.

What makes the 2020 GMC Terrain worthwhile is the low-entry pricing. If you purchase the barebones SL model, you’re looking at $28,400 MSRP. While this is far from an economy car, the fact that you can build a GMC Terrain at such a low cost is certainly something worth mentioning. Unfortunately, things only go up from that $28,400 baseline, especially when you have three other trims to choose from, which include the SLE, SLT, and Denali.

On the surface, the 2020 GMC Terrain may make a decent purchase, with its conservative styling, and rather low-end entry cost. However, we’ll have to delve a little bit deeper to reveal whether you should rush over to a GMC dealer or not.

Powertrain Options Matter

Far too often, automakers opt for a single powertrain option. While sometimes this single powertrain can get the job done, it can be rather disheartening for those who want to purchase something with a little more oomph behind each tap of the accelerator. GMC didn’t make a vast assortment of powertrains available in their Terrain model, but the two engine builds are a certain relief from competitors like Mazda, who have decided that less is more.

When you purchase a base model GMC Terrain, you’ll get the bare basics of power funneled from a 1.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine that has little issue in making 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque. This base engine is solid, making short work of hefting the 3,500-pound Terrain on highways and byways. You’ll also get to utilize a front-wheel drivetrain and a 9-speed automatic transmission which, when working together, make for a rather seamless driving experience. Unfortunately, towing is on the lower end, which can be somewhat expected in a base model vehicle like this. At the jump, the GMC Terrain can haul a maximum of 1,500 pounds, and if you want to haul more, you’ll have to pay more.

A red 2020 GMC Terrain is towing two jet skies next to a lake.

If you decide to bite the bullet and spend the extra coin, you’ll be placed at the helm of a GMC Terrain powered by a bit bigger 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine which delivers on the promise of greater power with a rating of 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. While you can opt for the front-wheel drivetrain, you’ll certainly have a lot more fun when you purchase the all-wheel model. Although it’ll offer you greater handling and far more diversity in terms of what kind of terrain you can tackle, the GMC Terrain should never be confused as a rugged off-roader; and for plenty of drivers, this is hardly a problem. At its best, the GMC Terrain has a max towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, and with the option of either 17-inch or 19-inch wheels, you can certainly enjoy a variety of drive styles.

While we’d have liked to see a third powertrain option, maybe even a V6 or something powered by diesel fuel, we’re not complaining. In a field crowded with similar vehicles, the GMC Terrain still manages to do a solid job at holding its own in terms of performance.

Stepping into the Driver’s Seat

The GMC Terrain is a pretty hefty vehicle, with 54.4 inches of hip room, and 39.7 inches of legroom in the back. Behind those rear seats, you’ll find 29.6 cubic feet of space, which can, of course, expand to a substantial 63.3 cubic feet of space. All of this sizable interior is dressed in soft-touch materials, and active noise cancellation, which is offered as standard. As a result, riding in the GMC Terrain is a smooth and easy experience through and through.

A driver's view of the driver's display is shown inside of a 2020 GMC Terrain.

Take a seat behind the wheel, and in base models, you’ll find a decent spread. Bluetooth connectivity, cloth upholstery, keyless ignition, two USB charging ports, and a dazzling 7.0-inch touchscreen display that is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible come together to make for a pretty welcoming experience. This is a great start for GMC, and you can expand on that in higher trims with the option of leather seating, parking sensors, heated steering wheels, a bigger touchscreen, and a satellite-powered navigation system. So, yes, all the modern luxuries that you have come to expect are there, and then some. But if you’ve paid attention to the auto world in the past few years, you might be asking yourself, ‘what about the safety features?’

Well, if safety is your biggest concern, you can breathe a sigh of relief, as on all trims, you’ll find a chorus of active safety features which include parking sensors, blind-spot monitors, forward collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, and active lane control. Now, if you want the best of the best in terms of onboard tech, you can find it only on higher-end models, with adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera system coming at an extra cost.

To Buy or Not to Buy

When you put all of these characteristics together, you end up with an SUV that many GMC dealers should have no trouble selling. The GMC Terrain is a well-fleshed out vehicle that offers all that and more to provide a stellar experience no matter what trim you decide to purchase. While there are some areas where the GMC Terrain could use some improvement, we’re certainly not complaining about what’s already here, and look forward to what GMC can do next for this well-built SUV.