A silver 2021 GMC Terrain is shown from the side driving in front of a river.

Skip the Sameness: The 2021 GMC Terrain is the Statement SUV You’re Looking For

America is addicted to crossovers. This addiction is creating a wave of sameness that threatens to take the personality out of what we drive. There once was a time that buyers chose vehicles because they reflected their personalities and values: convertibles, beefy trucks, and muscle cars told everyone who we were. Can we recapture that spirit in 2021? We say yes: you just have to buy a 2021 GMC Terrain.

GMC is known for building luxury pickup trucks, but some may forget that the company dabbles in SUVs too. The 2021 Terrain is GMC’s small SUV, and since it comes from a renowned truck builder that knows a thing or two about luxury, buyers will get the best of both worlds, all wrapped up in a standout exterior design. The overarching confidence that comes with buying a car from the largest automaker in the world – General Motors – also contributes to the GMC Terrain’s appeal.

Brands like GMC come with baked-in capability. It’s a standard set long ago by GM engineers, and it lives on today, thanks to venerated trims, like Denali, that are present across the entire family of GMC vehicles. Meanwhile, constantly-evolving special editions that contain features modern-day buyers want and need keep the brand feeling fresh and exciting.

In short, the 2021 GMC Terrain is a blend of tradition, technology, and uniqueness. It’s not easy to stand out in an endless sea of boxy SUVs and car-on-steroid crossovers. They’re all starting to look the same, quite frankly, and because the formula – car-like handling with SUV-sized cabins – stays the same, designers are getting a little lazy. Not so at GMC, where the Terrain stands out, both for its looks and its true truck-like capability. What do we like about the 2021 GMC Terrain? A lot. We break it down here so you can get to know what has us so intrigued.

A dark gray 2021 GMC Terrain is parked at a stop sign on a city street.

An Eye-Catching Exterior Styling

What we especially love about the 2021 GMC Terrain is how customizable it is on the outside. GMC offers a plethora of exterior touches that transform the Terrain’s curb appeal, making it indistinguishable from itself at times. It’s not often that customers can choose from exterior differentiators, like headlight options and a myriad of wheel choices.

What do we mean by differentiators? Take the grille options. On the soon-to-be-released Terrain Denali, GMC offers the Multidimensional Denali Grille that’s heavy on satin chrome and adopts a block style designed to catch and reflect light. It screams luxury in an understated way. On the lower end SLE and SLT, the Refined Grille is completely different, with horizontal lines that are more straightforward but no less dramatic.

GMC varies the Terrain’s exterior within each trim even more specifically. You’ll find liberal use of chrome accents on the Denali, from the roof rails to the body side moldings on the lower door to chrome side mirror caps and door handle accents. The LED headlights and taillights add a surprisingly futuristic appearance to the front and rear profiles, and halogen fog lamps on the Denali help in low-visibility driving conditions, but they look pretty cool, too.

Wheel choices are especially important to further define your personal style. GMC offers plenty, and depending on the trim you choose, you can dress up your Terrain with dramatic wheels that push the style envelope to jaw-dropping levels. The Denali’s 19” Ultra-Bright machined aluminum wheels are trimmed with gray accents. They’re gorgeous when the Terrain is parked but mesmerizing when it’s moving, thanks to a unique spoke design.

Opt for the Terrain Elevation Edition, and your wheels are glossy black aluminum, matching the Elevation Edition’s overall black-trimmed theme. Black mirror caps and roof rails replace the Denali’s liberal use of chrome. The darkened front grille is another variation on the Terrain’s exterior style, and special paint colors only available on the Elevation Edition, like Ebony Twilight Metallic and Graphite Gray Metallic – differentiate it from other models even more.

A Versatile Interior to Match the Eye-Catching Exterior

The Terrain offers as much versatility on the inside as it does on its exterior; only now, that variety is laced with ultra-luxury and comfort. Thanks to a changeable seating layout, the Terrain is a capable cargo hauler, too. With all four seats down, it’s easy to transport cargo up to 8 feet long with an overall cargo capacity of up to 63.30 cubic feet.

The Terrain SLT incorporates aluminum trim throughout the cabin, along with soft seating surfaces that feel plush and luxurious. These simple touches combine to create interior cabins that are more like an oasis. Leather-wrapped steering wheels and special French-stitched leather seats on the Denali further differentiate the Terrain within its trim range.

One of our favorite Terrain features is the available SkyScape Sunroof. It’s not a simple rectangle of glass in the headliner; this sunroof is the next best thing to a convertible. It spans almost the length of the roof area, including over the second row, bringing in light and brightness, especially on sunny days.

The Denali is a late availability trim, so for now, customers can trick out the upper-end SLT trim. The SLT is available with an infotainment package that adds navigation, an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, HD radio, and an upgraded Bose 7-speaker premium audio system. Add an optional rear entertainment system with a DVD player for the kids, and everyone will stay entertained during long family road trips.

The cargo area is shown in a 2021 GMC Terrain with the rear seats folded down.

Bringing in the Best Safety Features

The 2021 GMC Terrain delivers on safety, too, with a suite of available driver-assist systems designed to keep occupants safe and help drivers avoid collisions and other road hazards. Unfortunately, GMC doesn’t include the full safety suite as standard on the lower trims, a reality that might be off-putting, but the upgrade package – called GMC Pro Safety Plus – is just a $695 addition to the price tag, which takes the sting out a little.

GMC Pro Safety is standard on all Terrain models. Upgrade to GMC Pro Safety Plus for Adaptive Cruise Control, which automatically adjusts speed to keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. The Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert helps drivers complete safe lane changes. This package also includes Rear Park Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. You will also get outside heated power mirrors with a built-in LED turn signal indicator when you get Pro Safety Plus.

Once the Denali arrives in showrooms, buyers have the option of High Definition Surround Vision. This camera-based system gives drivers a full 360-degree view around the car, including a bird’s-eye view, for excellent visibility that comes in handy in congested driving conditions, during parking and backing out of parking spots, and other low-speed conditions. Combine all of these amazing features for a vehicle that is safe and assistive while driving.

The GMC Terrain Is a Standout SUV

At a starting price of just $25,000 for the base SL, GMC makes the Terrain reachable for budget-minded shoppers. This is great news because finding a distinctive SUV that still delivers quality and exciting features isn’t easy. The Terrain is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine which gives it a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds (plenty of power for a boat or small trailer). In the crowded and cluttered SUV category, it’s nice to know that some automakers are still striving for truck-like vehicles that stand out from the pack.

The GMC Terrain is unique. It borrows all the best of GMC truck capability, marries it to the luxury features the GMC brand is known for and packages it in a lineup of trims that work for budget buyers and luxury seekers alike. We think the Terrain is worth a second look, especially if you’re uninspired by the usual suspects. Add the General Motors seal of quality, and you’re onto something truly special and – best of all – different.