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2018 GMC Terrain Review: First Impressions and Photo Gallery

18GMC_Terrain_AS_AC_10.jpg 2018 GMC Terrain | Cars.com photo by Angela Conners

CARS.COM — GMC designers have struggled to find a consistent design language for their pickup trucks and SUVs, but that may be changing if the 2018 Terrain is any indication. This second-generation Terrain incorporates several significant changes, not the least of which being how it brings the SUV’s exterior looks more in line with the mid-size GMC Acadia SUV, redesigned inside and out last year.

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At first glance, we like the more compact look and proportional stance; the previous generation always looked a little clunky and boxy to us, as if it was trying too hard to look macho. This new exterior is much more aerodynamic, with sleeker lines and rounded angles and corners. Even the signature trapezoidal wheel wells are softened and more rounded.

18GMC_Terrain_AS_AC_07.jpg 2018 GMC Terrain | Cars.com photo by Angela Conners

The grille is also less upright and angular; from a distance, it makes the SUV look more stable, more planted to the road. The grille now has a smoother oval shape and the headlights and LED running lights add to the wider, lower look.

In the rear, we’re seeing some echoes of the Honda CR-V and Nissan Murano, but the Terrain features a unique detail: Where the previous-gen Terrain had a traditional wrap-around glass piece over the cargo area, the new Terrain ties the rear glass to the rear doors instead of  the tailgate glass, filling in the under-space with a new body panel. The look is both dramatic and eye-catching.

18GMC_Terrain_AS_AC_11.jpg 2018 GMC Terrain | Cars.com photo by Angela Conners

Although the new Terrain sits on a smaller chassis, losing more than 5 inches of wheelbase, the interior seems bigger in both the front and rear seats. Credit GM engineers: With the addition of three smaller four-cylinder engines, they were able to move the cab and passenger seating forward to keep head, shoulder and legroom close to the previous (longer) model. In fact, when comparing cargo areas, the new Terrain actually looks like it has more usable room because both the rear and front passenger seats will fold flat. Even the small storage area under the rear cargo deck seems like it would hold more gear and knickknacks.

18GMC_Terrain_AS_AC_20.jpg 2018 GMC Terrain | Cars.com photo by Angela Conners

With all that said, the biggest improvements are most obvious when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat. Thanks in large part to a new push-button electronic Precision Shift transmission that sits low in the center stack, there’s more room for storage, cubbies and cupholders. Additionally, gone are the angular information screen, angular vents and cheap-looking buttons, replaced by a more balanced gauge cluster, easy-to-see center screen and air-conditioning controls.

18GMC_Terrain_AS_AC_21.jpg 2018 GMC Terrain | Cars.com photo by Angela Conners

Likely the biggest news for the new model is that the Terrain will have three new turbocharged engines — 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engines and a turbo-diesel 1.6-liter four-cylinder. We expect all of them to offer pretty good fuel economy, but we’ll wait and see if the 400 pounds of weight savings will be enough to keep this premium compact SUV from feeling underpowered.

The 2018 GMC Terrain’s new look is a strong evolution over the vehicle it’s replacing but very similar in strategy to what we’ve already seen in the larger 2017 Acadia: Go smaller and lighter with better powertrains. Our guess is that this will play well with the growing premium SUV market and likely push this new player back near the top of the segment when it goes on sale this summer.

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