2012 GMC Terrain

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
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Key Specs

of the 2012 GMC Terrain. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Four-cylinder gas mileage
  • Quiet cabin
  • Roomy backseat
  • Seat-folding mechanism
  • Large storage spaces

The Bad

  • Uninspiring V-6
  • Mushy brakes
  • Slow-reacting automatic
  • Wide turning circle
  • Large blind spot

Notable Features of the 2012 GMC Terrain

  • Related to Chevrolet Equinox
  • Four-cylinder or V-6
  • Available AWD
  • Five seats
  • Standard backup camera

2012 GMC Terrain Road Test

David Thomas

Rarely do I put more than 1,000 miles on a test car, but that's what happened when the 2012 GMC Terrain came into my hands.

The verdict? Any vehicle that can keep me as happy, as free of back pain and as entertained as the 2012 GMC Terrain did for a thousand miles should win an award.

Actually, the Terrain's twin, the Chevy Equinox, did win Cars.com's $29,000 Shootout. My GMC tester cost significantly more than that, but still delivered a lot of value.

What's New
Launched in 2010, the Terrain offers just a few updates for 2012, but what's striking is that the crossover didn't need much fixing. (See the two model years compared here.) The Terrain comes relatively well-equipped in its base, SLE trim level, which starts at $25,560. For 2012, the Terrain's new standard features are technology-focused, including a new standard audio system with SiriusXM satellite radio, a 7-inch touch-screen and a USB input. Bluetooth, cruise control and OnStar remain standard.

Other new standard features include a backup camera whose image appears in the 7-inch display instead of the rearview mirror.

This higher level of standard features justifies the Terrain's higher starting price versus the Chevy Equinox's $23,530.

Performance
Whether you pick the four- or the six-cylinder engine, you'll get a competent power plant, but not one that will stand out. My V-6, front-wheel-drive test vehicle had plenty of power to get up to speed on the highway, but ...

Rarely do I put more than 1,000 miles on a test car, but that's what happened when the 2012 GMC Terrain came into my hands.

The verdict? Any vehicle that can keep me as happy, as free of back pain and as entertained as the 2012 GMC Terrain did for a thousand miles should win an award.

Actually, the Terrain's twin, the Chevy Equinox, did win Cars.com's $29,000 Shootout. My GMC tester cost significantly more than that, but still delivered a lot of value.

What's New
Launched in 2010, the Terrain offers just a few updates for 2012, but what's striking is that the crossover didn't need much fixing. (See the two model years compared here.) The Terrain comes relatively well-equipped in its base, SLE trim level, which starts at $25,560. For 2012, the Terrain's new standard features are technology-focused, including a new standard audio system with SiriusXM satellite radio, a 7-inch touch-screen and a USB input. Bluetooth, cruise control and OnStar remain standard.

Other new standard features include a backup camera whose image appears in the 7-inch display instead of the rearview mirror.

This higher level of standard features justifies the Terrain's higher starting price versus the Chevy Equinox's $23,530.

Performance
Whether you pick the four- or the six-cylinder engine, you'll get a competent power plant, but not one that will stand out. My V-6, front-wheel-drive test vehicle had plenty of power to get up to speed on the highway, but the six-speed automatic wasn't as smooth as others in this class. For most drivers, though, it likely will not be an issue.

We've had issues with the estimated mileage of the four-cylinder engine in the Chevy Equinox; it rarely reached the EPA's 22/32 mpg city/highway numbers. The V-6 Terrain, over a thousand-plus-mile road trip, rarely dropped below the EPA's 24 mpg highway rating. That was with just me and a suitcase, in cool weather — between 20 and 40 degrees — across flat land with a 70 mph speed limit most of the way.

Long cruises were where I really appreciated the Terrain's quiet, comfortable ride. This type of ride is one reason automakers have shifted from a traditional SUV chassis to a more carlike one in crossovers like the Terrain.

In the Terrain, the move is welcome. My longest stretch of driving was nine hours, from Chicago to Toronto. Even during that drive, my back never became sore. The leather seats in the SLT trim were comfortable, with plenty of lumbar and thigh support. In comparison, I drove a smaller compact crossover on a particularly long commute, and my back was aching after an hour. Everyone's body is different, but the comfort level of the Terrain and Equinox has been praised by other Cars.com editors as well.

Because of the spotty mileage issues with the four-cylinder and the reasonable $1,400 upgrade to the V-6, I recommend shoppers move up — something I've done less frequently lately, as four-cylinders across the industry have steadily improved.

Features & Technology
In every model except the base, SLE-1, adding a navigation system (which displays on the 7-inch touch-screen) costs just $795 — a relative bargain, given most systems cost well above $1,000 as stand-alone options or even more as part of option packages.

I simply loved the multimedia and navigation system in the Terrain. It utilized the best of the touch-screen world as well as having physical buttons and knobs. I probably wouldn't rave as much about this mix of controls if it weren't for the fact that Ford relies on touch-sensitive panels that have irked our staff recently. The layout and screen clarity are a bit cleaner than that of the new Honda CR-V, but it's a close call.

iPod integration in the Terrain is flawless. This, combined with the upgraded sound system, put me in music geek heaven as I crossed state and international borders. Its Bluetooth pairing was simple and effortless, but most manufacturers have perfected this. I found the nav system to be above average, as well. I particularly liked the ability to display navigation cues in the small LCD screen in the gauge cluster, supplementing the map on the touch-screen. That was a good place to see the mileage tick down before a necessary exit or freeway exchange.

I'm not one for voice controls, as a few simple button clicks seem more intuitive and faster, but the Terrain's work about as well as Ford's Sync voice recognition system and the new system from Honda.

Forward collision alert and lane departure warning systems were also on my tester. At just $295 as a bundled option on the highest, SLT-2 trim — the only version on which they're available — they seem like a bargain, especially if you do a lot of bumper-to-bumper driving (for the former) or long stretches using cruise control (for the latter). These systems were introduced just a few years ago on luxury models, and it's nice to see them available on an affordable model at a very affordable price.

Versus the Competition
The tough thing for the Terrain — and the Equinox — is where they fit among the competition. They're larger on the outside than traditional compact SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 but offer less interior and cargo volume. They're more expensive, too. They're slightly smaller (but less expensive) than full-size crossovers and SUVs like the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano, both of which can be had with power plants I prefer to GM's.

The Dodge Journey was recently refreshed and is the most similar to the two GM products in terms of size and pricing, but the Terrain tops it in terms of performance and tech features.

See the Terrain compared with similarly equipped competitive models here.

Unlike some of the competition, the Terrain features a sliding second row, which is a crowd-pleasing feature when you're taking friends to dinner and don't mind losing cargo space by sliding the backseat rearward.

But that lack of cargo volume is substantial. I'm glad they don't call it an SUV, because there isn't much utility in the Terrain. At 31.6 cubic feet, the cargo area is significantly smaller than the CR-V's 37.2 cubic feet or the Journey's 39.6 cubic feet, and it's just a smidge behind the Edge's 32.2 cubic feet. The bigger issue with the Terrain is that the cargo area is particularly narrow, so items like golf bags and strollers have a hard time fitting horizontally across the back.

This limits the Terrain's value to families with small kids, given the equipment they require. For those looking for a car to do standard hauling jobs, like grocery store trips or discount-club shopping runs — sans passengers — it will do the trick.

Safety
The Terrain was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the organization's highest crash rating. It scored four stars out of five in the federal government's overall crash rating. In individual government tests, it earned four stars in frontal crashes, five stars in side-impact tests and a four-star rollover rating.

You can find all the Terrain's safety features here.

Terrain in the Market
The Terrain — along with the Equinox — is a terrific option for compact-crossover shoppers who want a more substantial feel out of their ride. It also packs all the current technology and safety features you would want in a car in this segment and price range.

Since it debuted in 2010, the Terrain has been a sales hit. Even with just a few minor upgrades, it should remain popular in 2012.

Send David an email  



Latest 2012 Terrain Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.0)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(4.3)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

What Drivers Are Saying

(1.0)

Worst car I?ve ever owned...

by DaAngryconsumer from Granbury Tx on August 11, 2018

This car has had so many recalls so many issues it?s hard for me to keep up with it or consumption issue the exhaust manifold issue climate controlled air blower horn timing chain issues Power seat ... Read full review

(5.0)

Just bought it

by Wildfire on June 30, 2018

I just bought my 2012 GMC Terrain 2 days ago. I has enough cargo room with back seats folded down to hold my metal art for a small inside show. I had originally thought I'd need a small trailer but I ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 GMC Terrain currently has 3 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 GMC Terrain SLE-1

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
acceptable
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 100,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by GMC

Program Benefits

Two Factory-Backed Warranties, CPO Scheduled Maintenance Program, Vehicle Inspection & Reconditioning, 3-Day/150-Mile Vehicle Exchange Program, 24/7 Roadside Assistance and Courtesy Transportation, OnStar & SiriusXM Satellite Radio Trial Offers, and a Carfax Vehicle History Report

  • Limited Warranty

    Two Factory-Backed Warranties

    6-Year/100,000-Mile, Powertrain Limited Warranty and a 12- Month/12,000-Miles, Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty, both with $0 deductible
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 75,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 172-Point Vehicle Inspection and Reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Terrain received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker