2023 GMC Terrain: Smooth Driver

What do our experts think of the 2023 GMC Terrain? We look at powertrain, interior options, trim levels, and more. Find out our thoughts here.

What’s new for the 2023 GMC Terrain?

The GMC Terrain is still in its second generation and it offers a single engine and transmission combo that works with either front or all-wheel drive. Four trims are on offer and pricing ranges from the low $30k mark to just above $40k for a Denali trim with some additional options.

GMC adds a new Black Diamond Edition package available to the Denali trim of the Terrain. It includes special wheels, a sunroof, and other luxury features. In addition, two new paint colors are available.

2023 GMC Terrain - gmc.com

2023 GMC Terrain – gmc.com |  Shop 2023 GMC Terrain on Carsforsale.com

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $31,295

Drivetrain

Drivetrain

FWD or AWD

Drivetrain

Fuel Economy

24 City / 29 Hwy (MPG)

Number of Seats

Seating

Seats 5

The Breakdown

Dapper styling

Comfortable interior

Fuel efficient

Weak engine

Cheapish feeling interior

Uncompetitive in the segment

We would love to see the turbo engine return

2023 Terrain Specs

Trims & Pricing

SLE - $31,295
SLT - $35,295
AT4 - $37,395
Denali - $39,995

2023 GMC Terrain Powertrain

2023 GMC Terrain 1.5L I4 - Ben Hardy on youtube.com
2023 GMC Terrain 1.5L I4 - Ben Hardy on youtube.com

When we reviewed the Terrain last year we lamented the discontinuance of the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that was available in 2021. While GMC still hasn’t brought it back, they did add five horsepower to the 1.5-liter engine that powers every 2023 Terrain making for a new grand total of 175 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque.

That’s still nowhere near enough in our eyes when the Denali version costs just shy of $40k. For comparison, the Honda CR-V makes 190 hp, the Mazda CX-50 and Hyundai Tucson make 187 and all three offer a more powerful engine choice too. Hopefully, GMC will find a way to offer a drivetrain that’s properly competitive in the future.

For now, the thing that we do like about this 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine is how smooth it is as it works along with its nine-speed automatic transmission. It’s quiet and composed unless you need to really wring it out when merging onto the highway or passing someone. Front-wheel drive is standard on the bottom two trims but AWD is available on each and becomes standard on the top two trims.

2023 GMC Terrain Fuel Economy & MPG

2023 GMC Terrain - gmc.com
2023 GMC Terrain - gmc.com

Since every Terrain has the same engine and transmission, fuel economy ratings are very similar across the entire range. In fact, regardless of FWD or AWD, the EPA estimates that it’ll get 26 mpg combined. The only difference in their figures comes down to highway mileage where it thinks that the FWD version will get 29 mpg while the AWD gets just 28.

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

Keeping occupants comfortable is where the Terrain does its best work. The front seats are surprisingly supportive and highly adjustable. The rear seats are a bit flat but this SUV benefits from the fact that it’s not trying to shoehorn a compromised third row inside of it. Because of that, we think that all of its seating positions are probably spacious and comfortable enough for long trips.

Top trims can also add heating to the rear outboard seats and ventilation to the front seats. At the same time, the lack of a third row is a benefit to cargo space behind the third row. There, you’ll find more than 29 cubic feet to stow stuff in. For the times when that’s not enough, the seats fold flat to offer just under 64 cubic feet. The front passenger seat also folds down flat to allow for 8-foot long cargo to fit completely inside of the Terrain.

If there’s anything to complain about it’s the somewhat dated nature of this cabin. The dash features cheap plastic and foam that doesn’t live up to the level we expect from GMC. The tri-level center control stack also looks long in the tooth and could use a modern redesign with better switchgear.

Entertainment & Technology

2023 GMC Terrain - gmc.com
2023 GMC Terrain - gmc.com

Atop the dash of lower-end Terrains is a 7-inch infotainment system that we’re fans of in general. It’s fast, easy to use, and the graphics are crisp. It does feel a bit small but thankfully, GMC offers a larger 8-inch version that looks more appropriate and offers additional features. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both standard across the entire lineup too.

The base sound system is fine but the available Bose package is a dramatic improvement. The SLT and AT4 have a heads-up display available to them which is standard on the Denali. It’s one of our favorites in the field and provides helpful information with bright graphics that can be seen in most situations. Still, if high-end tech is something you love, we suggest looking elsewhere. Even the much-maligned Mitsubishi Outlander beats the Terrain on those grounds.

Safety Features

The GMC Terrain fares well in most safety categories. It achieved a five-star crash test rating from the NHTSA and while it’s not a Top Safety pick from the IIHS, it scores well in most tests. In addition, it offers a lot of available safety technology for very little money. So little in fact that we’d like GMC to simply include features like adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic braking, and more as standard equipment.

2023 GMC Terrain Trims & Pricing

2023 GMC Terrain SLE - gmc.com
2023 GMC Terrain SLE - gmc.com

SLE – $31,295

The base Terrain gets 17-inch aluminum wheels, LED exterior lighting, heated mirrors, keyless entry, push-button start, a 7-inch infotainment screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, six speakers, and an on-board Wi-Fi hotspot.

Standard safety features include lane-keep assistance and forward collision warning. FWD is standard but AWD is available. For a little over $600, buyers can add a pair of packages that include rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, rear park assist and more.

2023 GMC Terrain SLT - gmc.com
2023 GMC Terrain SLT - gmc.com

SLT – $35,295

Buyers who step up to the SLT get roof rails, 18-inch wheels, a larger 8-inch infotainment system, a hands-free liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable heated front seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote start, driver’s seat memory functions, a high definition reverse camera, and a household-style power outlet.

2023 GMC Terrain AT4 - gmc.com
2023 GMC Terrain AT4 - gmc.com

AT4 – $37,305

The AT4 starts out with AWD and also includes 17-inch black wheels, an underbody skid plate, hill descent control, and all-weather floor liners.

2023 GMC Terrain Denali - gmc.com
2023 GMC Terrain Denali - gmc.com

Denali – $39,995

As the top trim, the Denali gets most of the available bells and whistles. That includes an upgraded driver information display, a wireless device charging pad, a Bose premium audio system, integrated navigation, a heads-up display, blind-spot monitoring, parking sensors, and a safety alert seat.

New for 2023 is the $3,240 Black Diamond Edition which includes a sunroof, heated rear outboard seats, adaptive cruise control, 19-inch wheels, a surround-view camera, automatic parking assist, and ventilated front seats.

Warranties

GMC offers a very basic warranty package which includes three years or 36,000 miles of limited coverage along with five years or 60,000 miles of powertrain coverage. It’ll also cover the very first maintenance visit to the dealership.

What we think

2023 GMC Terrain - gmc.com

2023 GMC Terrain – gmc.com |  Shop 2023 GMC Terrain on Carsforsale.com

The 2023 GMC Terrain is a decent SUV but the market is so big that we can see it getting lost in the shuffle quite easily. It’s possible that some new car incentives make it a worthwhile consideration but lots of rivals offer more for less cash. If it was our cash we’d consider a used Terrain before buying new.

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Stephen Rivers

Stephen Rivers is a car enthusiast who loves all things built with passion, extending to nearly all car cultures. After obtaining an occupational studies degree in sports medicine, Stephen turned his attention to sports cars. He was employed as an auto shop manager, spent time in auto sales, and worked as a software developer for a racing company, but Stephen began writing about cars over 10 years ago. When he's not in front of a computer screen, he's racing his own Bugeye Subaru WRX in as many autocross and rallycross competitions as he can.

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