It’s interesting how a little paint and some black wheels can create a lower stance illusion and make the everyday a little special. That’s precisely what happened when I tested GMC’s new Terrain AWD SLT Black Edition.
For 2019, GMC put together a Black Edition that consists of 19-inch gloss black aluminum wheels, darkened grille insert and black surround, black mirror caps, roof rails and additional exterior accents.
All of these features combine for a dramatic effect for a very reasonable ($795) option price. GMC indicates that Internal sales data shows that roughly one-in-five new SUV buyers spends additional money after purchase to personalize their new vehicle’s appearance.
The Black Edition provides a factory option for a unique blacked-out look direct from the factory. The new exterior package gives Terrain a more elegant, tougher custom look. It provides Terrain with some much-needed personality and attitude, especially when compared to its Chevrolet Equinox cousin that it’s based on. Overall, I received numerous inquiries about the blacked treatment. Several people asked me where I had the “custom” work done.
Standard motivation consists of a base 1.5-L turbo 4-cyl, but my tester came with the upgraded 2.0-L turbo-4 that generates a healthy 252 hp. Most notably, it pulls much stronger off the line than a base turbo-4, and with 260 lb.-ft of torque it is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds.
A 9-speed automatic is standard and with it this engine is rated at 23 city and 26 highway. Acceptable numbers, and the automatic is smooth at low speeds. Terrain is not a performance model, but paddle shifters should be available.
Inside the vehicle it’s the creature comforts that matter. My Terrain tester featured nicely bolstered, comfortable power seats for slide and recline functions. Short trips are great, but on a long trip I took, I wished for more leg support. For rear seat passengers (up to three) get decent leg room, but seats are flat and not very comfortable. The wood accents and the amount of hard plastic pieces was disappointing.
For cargo, there is 29.6 cubic feet with second row up, and 63.3 cubic feet with the second-row folded seats, but not completely flat. The passenger’s seat can fold forward. I also appreciated the hands-free power liftgate that made loading easier.
My Terrain SLT tester came with heated leather seats, dual-zone climate control, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and a Bose premium audio system. I like the ease of the GMC IntelliLink infotainment system. The IntelliLink was already good and now it’s faster and better looking with improved graphics and better touchscreen controls than previous versions I’ve tested.
On road, the suspension mutes rough pavement, and the revised electric steering provided feedback and shorter turning radius than previous models. The upgraded 19-inch wheels are a plus for contact and cornering.
Terrain’s all-wheel-drive system requires activation via a knob on the console for engagement. Terrain defaults to front-wheel drive mode for better fuel economy unless you turn the knob. This is a little out of step and behind other competitors in the segment that offer an automatic all-wheel-drive system.
Acceleration with the upgrade 2.0-L engine is good. I was impressed by the low-end grunt and how quickly Terrain accelerated. Plenty of power for passing and towing. One element I did not like was Terrain’s stop/start feature as it does not provide the ability to turn it off. The shut off feature has been around for years so, smoother engagement and less noticeability should be possible.
For this year, the 2019 GMC Terrain has just enough comfort and amenities to make it competitive in the segment-but a few options can really launch the price skyward. The cargo and storage areas provide decent space and the ride and acceleration also keep pace with segment competitors CR-V and RAV4.
The curb appeal of the Black Edition, while very attractive, can’t quite ease the sting of reduced luxury amenities. I was looking for more additions (than the Equinox) to bolster the Terrain’s professional grade status and premium proposition.
This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication