A black 2023 GMC Terrain is shown cruising down a gravel road in a 2023 GMC Terrain vs 2023 Toyota RAV4 comparison.

GMC Terrain vs Toyota RAV4—Which Will Reign Supreme?

When searching for the best SUV, a shopper will inevitably compare different brands, models, and trims to see what is the best value for their dollar. Today we are looking at the 2023 GMC Terrain vs 2023 Toyota RAV4. They are almost identical in size and shape; both vehicles provide similar features; both have numerous trim options with a wide variety of colors, interior features, and more. And while both are similar, there are some differences. Which one will reign superior depends on what someone is looking for in their SUV.

Let’s take a closer look at some feature highlights before jumping to any conclusions. Both brands have a good history of reliability and customer satisfaction. The Terrain and the RAV4 have each been well received and have provided many buyers with a quality drive.

Highlights of Each Vehicle

Both vehicles are about the same size, within an inch in both length and height. The GMC Terrain uses its size to provide roomy and comfortable seats; five people can fit into this SUV and will have more room than in the Toyota RAV4, as the Terrain provides more legroom and headroom in both the rear passenger seats than the RAV4. The RAV4 has the edge in cargo space, however, with 69.8 cu.ft. of space with the rear seats folded, while the Terrain has 63.3 cu.ft. with the same configuration.

Both vehicles get impressive fuel economy. The GMC Terrain gets 24 MPG in the city and 28 to 29 MPG on the highway. The RAV4 gets approximately 25 to 27 MPG in the city and 32 to 35 MPG on the highway. GMC uses a 1.5L Turbocharged engine, while the RAV4 uses a 2.5L four-cylinder. The Toyota has the edge in horsepower with 203 hp to the GMC Terrain’s 175 hp; GMC takes the victory in torque, however, with 203 lb-ft of torque over the RAV4’s 184 lb-ft. Increased torque allows for greater towing capacity and better transmission of power to the wheels than a lower torque.

The Terrain and the RAV4 both have trim options built for off-roading. The GMC Terrain trim is the AT4 which comes with an off-road traction select, Sport Terrain Tires, and a front steel skid plate, making it a vehicle with good off-road capabilities. The RAV4 has their TRD Off-Road model, which features Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive, multiple stabilizer bars, and other off-road suspension elements. The RAV4 does not have a skid plate, though, which gives the off-road edge to the Terrain AT4.

A blue 2023 Toyota RAV4 is shown parked in front of a modern structure.

Which Has the Better Safety Features?

Both the GMC Terrain and the Toyota RAV4 have great all-around safety systems. Each vehicle has a similar set of high-tech safety features, which have slightly different nomenclature due to the difference in brand ownership. Both possess a front emergency braking system that detects both pedestrians and vehicles and will automatically brake to prevent a collision. These features provide safety both to your occupants and those vehicles traveling parallel to you.

While traveling down the road—especially for highway use—both vehicles have the capacity to gently keep them in the middle of the lane or warn the driver if the vehicle is wandering outside of its lane. There is also a following distance protocol so that the distance between the vehicle and the car in front will remain consistent when using cruise control. Both vehicles also have a version of auto-dimming high beams, which automatically dims the high beams when oncoming traffic is approaching in the other lane; this prevents other drivers from being inadvertently blinded by your high beams.

Both GMC and Toyota have developed safety features that make the drive safer for you, your passengers, pedestrians, and other vehicles. The GMC Terrain and Toyota RAV4 have very similar safety suites and therefore are approximately the same in their safety ratings. Structurally, too, both are very safe vehicles that provide more than adequate safety measures by today’s high standards.

Which Has the Better Driving Experience?

A driving experience is a relative meter that depends greatly on each driver’s preference; however, we can look at some features and leave the judgment of which is better up to the reader. Each vehicle provides a great, comfortable ride with good suspension, great safety features, good sound system options, and a comfortable interior. The GMC provides more luxury options, however, and a slightly roomier interior.

The Terrain has a slightly smaller multimedia display of 8.0 inches compared to the RAV4’s 9.0-inch display. However, the Terrain has a heads-up display functionality available, which allows you to see some key vehicle information projected onto the windshield without interfering with your visibility. Also, while both have high-quality audio systems, the Terrain can be outfitted with a Bose sound system, which is universally considered the best audio system on the market.

In terms of comfort, the GMC Terrain provides a greater level of satisfaction, with available leather seats, greater seat legroom, headroom, and more. Both vehicles provide quality infotainment systems and air conditioning as well. GMC really knows how to produce luxurious vehicles. Both vehicles also sport heated seats for chilly days, and both have available sunroofs, allowing occupants to gape skyward.

A black 2023 GMC Terrain Denali is shown cruising down a highway.

Which SUV Is Best?

Choosing the best SUV will depend on the criteria each person has, and each of these vehicles offers slight differences. While the Toyota RAV4 has a lower starting MSRP, the GMC Terrain is only a little bit more, especially depending on the features available and the trim model selected. Both vehicles have similar safety features, giving all drivers peace of mind.

While both vehicles are also very similar in interior specs, the RAV4 has slightly more cargo space, while the Terrain provides more legroom and headroom in the rear seats. The Terrain also has the ability to upgrade the sound system to Bose, while the RAV4 does not. In terms of luxury, the GMC has the edge over the RAV4. While it is difficult to compare driving experience due to personal preference, it seems the GMC Terrain has an advantage in this area as well.

When considering performance, the RAV4 has an edge in a couple of features, but not all. The RAV4 has better horsepower than the Terrain but less torque. It gets slightly better gas mileage, but only by a couple of miles or two per gallon. The RAV4 also has a better off-road trim model, with a skid plate to help protect the undercarriage of the vehicle while traveling off the road.

So while it is challenging to compare two vehicles that are largely similar, the GMC Terrain has some advantages over the RAV4, and the RAV4 has some advantages over the Terrain. Which of the two a buyer prefers will depend on that person’s own needs and desires. Both are in a similar price range, have similar fuel efficiency ratings, and are almost the same size. If someone is looking purely for performance specs, the RAV4 may be for them. If a driver is looking for an SUV with lots of great luxury options that also provides great functionality both on and off the road, the GMC Terrain is the better option.