2013 GMC Terrain

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Key Specs

of the 2013 GMC Terrain. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • V-6 power
  • Four-cylinder gas mileage
  • Roomy backseat
  • Cornering poise (Denali)
  • Highway stability
  • Visibility

The Bad

  • Occasional drivetrain clunk (V-6)
  • Wide turning circle
  • Denali version isn't unique enough
  • Large blind spot

Notable Features of the 2013 GMC Terrain

  • New Terrain Denali model
  • New 301-hp V-6
  • Related to Chevrolet Equinox
  • Available AWD
  • Five seats
  • Standard backup camera

2013 GMC Terrain Road Test

Mike Hanley

The 2013 GMC Terrain finally gets a proper V-6 engine option, but the new high-line Denali version doesn't distinguish itself enough from the crossover's other top trims.

Both the 301-horsepower V-6 engine and the Denali trim level are new to the Terrain for the 2013 model year. We experienced each in our AWD test model, which had an as-tested price of $40,425 including an $825 destination charge. To compare the five-seat Terrain with competitors like the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano and Toyota RAV4, click here.

Polarizing Design
Compared with its sibling, the Chevrolet Equinox, the GMC Terrain's exterior styling takes a lot more risks. It's a dramatic departure from the Chevy, but not the prettiest one.

A large trapezoidal grille defines the Terrain's front end, and on Denali models the chrome grille has circular cutouts. The look is a little chrome-heavy.

The huge fender flares are a bit jarring, too. There's something not quite right about the exaggerated, blocky shape surrounding a round wheel. Jeep has a similarly rugged fender treatment on its Liberty SUV, but that design seems to work better than the Terrain's look.

Overall, the GMC Terrain's mix of unusual design cues didn't win many points from Cars.com staffers. It's as if GMC was overly concerned the Terrain wouldn't live up to the brand's rugged, truck-centric image if it had more conservative styling.

V-6 Performance
The GMC Terrain's newly available 3.6-lite...

The 2013 GMC Terrain finally gets a proper V-6 engine option, but the new high-line Denali version doesn't distinguish itself enough from the crossover's other top trims.

Both the 301-horsepower V-6 engine and the Denali trim level are new to the Terrain for the 2013 model year. We experienced each in our AWD test model, which had an as-tested price of $40,425 including an $825 destination charge. To compare the five-seat Terrain with competitors like the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano and Toyota RAV4, click here.

Polarizing Design
Compared with its sibling, the Chevrolet Equinox, the GMC Terrain's exterior styling takes a lot more risks. It's a dramatic departure from the Chevy, but not the prettiest one.

A large trapezoidal grille defines the Terrain's front end, and on Denali models the chrome grille has circular cutouts. The look is a little chrome-heavy.

The huge fender flares are a bit jarring, too. There's something not quite right about the exaggerated, blocky shape surrounding a round wheel. Jeep has a similarly rugged fender treatment on its Liberty SUV, but that design seems to work better than the Terrain's look.

Overall, the GMC Terrain's mix of unusual design cues didn't win many points from Cars.com staffers. It's as if GMC was overly concerned the Terrain wouldn't live up to the brand's rugged, truck-centric image if it had more conservative styling.

V-6 Performance
The GMC Terrain's newly available 3.6-liter V-6 engine is significantly stronger than the old 3.0-liter V-6, which never offered the level of power we've come to expect from modern six-cylinders.

The new V-6 is rated at 301 hp. With it, the Terrain moves out swiftly, accelerating strongly up to midrange speeds. Gradual gas pedal response means you need to press down more than in some cars, but the benefit is improved linearity across the pedal's range and less sensitivity in its first inch of travel.

It accelerates easily to highway cruising speeds, too. Press the gas pedal partway down or fully to the floor and the six-speed automatic transmission responds readily with an appropriate downshift for more passing power. The automatic shifts smoothly … most of the time. It clunked a few times at parking-lot speeds, and there's a persistent drivetrain whine when cruising at city speeds.

Our appreciation of the V-6's gusto is tempered somewhat by its EPA-estimated fuel economy, which at 16/23 mpg city/highway trails its V-6-powered AWD competition: The Edge is rated 18/25 mpg with the 3.5-liter V-6, while the Murano and RAV4 get 18/23 and 19/26 mpg, respectively. Fuel-conscious shoppers should consider the Terrain's base four-cylinder engine, which is rated with fuel economy as high as 22/32 mpg with front-wheel drive.

Ride & Handling
The Terrain Denali feels hefty and substantial from the driver's seat, more like a traditional SUV than a crossover. Suspension tuning is firm; it lets you feel bumps in the road, but it handles them in a refined way. The steering wheel turns with luxury-car smoothness, though feedback has been thoroughly suppressed.

The big surprise, though, is how well this crossover corners. Drive it hard into a tight turn and it stays flat and hunkered down in a way that encourages you to push it harder. Among midsize family crossovers, this kind of handling is especially rare, and it's all the more surprising considering how the crossover feels in ordinary commuting — somewhat large and ponderous. The Denali version gets a unique suspension with dual-rate shock absorbers geared toward handling, GMC says.

The Terrain Denali settles in nicely on the highway, and that substantial, secure feeling is the kind of thing that can make a long day of driving less stressful. Road noise is constant but muted, and wind noise starts to build as you pass 65 mph.

The crossover's large turning diameter, however, is a problem, and it revealed itself when maneuvering in a parking garage. With 19-inch alloy wheels and tires, like our test vehicle had, the GMC Terrain's turning diameter is 42.6 feet, 2.6 feet more than models with 17- or 18-inch wheels. Both the Edge and Murano are around 39 feet while the RAV4 tops out at about 37 feet.

The Inside
Denali-specific details include a soft-touch dashboard with contrast stitching, black leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and embossed logos on the front seats, among other things, but the enhancements aren't a dramatic leap from the regular Terrain's higher trims. Some of the premium finishes, like red stitching on a soft-touch dashboard section, seem ill-conceived when the upper door trim remains hard plastic — not ideal for resting your arm.

Visibility from the driver's seat is good overall. The high seating position benefits forward views, and large side windows offer good over-shoulder visibility in spite of the high shoulder line.

It takes some studying to learn the layout of the center entertainment controls; it's not the most intuitive, though it's better than some GM designs. For a number of functions, like selecting a radio preset, you can press either the touch-screen or a hard key, which is a nice feature.

When it comes to backseat space, the GMC Terrain makes the most of its size, offering one of the roomiest second rows in the midsize-crossover segment. The rear bench slides forward and back as one piece, though the reclining backrest is split 60/40. With the seat all the way back, legroom is similar to what you'd get in a long-wheelbase full-size sedan. It's very impressive.

The Terrain's 31.6-cubic-foot cargo area is similar in size to the Edge's and Murano's, but the two-row RAV4 has about 36 cubic feet. The cargo floor in the GMC is a little high, and underneath it is the temporary spare tire. Fold the backseat and a flap on the floor helps prevent anything from falling into the gap created by the sliding backseat. There's a maximum of 63.9 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats folded.

A power liftgate is available, and I like how it lets you choose the opening height of the hatch as well as turn off the power function. However, with the power off it takes a lot of effort to open and close the liftgate; it feels like you're pushing against the liftgate motor.

Safety
The GMC Terrain received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick designation, and it was awarded four out of five stars overall by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Standard safety features include antilock brakes and an electronic stability system, which are required on new vehicles as of the 2012 model year. Also standard are side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags for both rows and a backup camera. An optional Safety Package bundles forward collision warning, lane departure warning and rear parking sensors.

For a full list of safety features, check out the Features & Specs page. To see how well child-safety seats fit in the Terrain, see the Car Seat Check.

Terrain Denali in the Market
The Terrain has only been around for a few years, but it's established itself as GMC's second-best-selling model — through September 2012 only the Sierra full-size truck is ahead of it — proving that a car-like unibody crossover can have success with a traditional truck brand. The Terrain is a better crossover for 2013 with the new V-6 engine option, but the Denali upgrades are underwhelming.

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2013 Terrain Video

For the first time since it was introduced in 2010, the GMC Terrain is available in a Denali luxury trim. This top-of-the-line model offers more bling — and a $40,000 price tag.

Latest 2013 Terrain Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.9)
Performance
(4.4)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.4)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Great vehicle

by CindyF from Wabash, IN on August 2, 2018

this vehicle is by far the best I have ever owned. lots of leg and head room, lots of stow and go room. it is a beautiful vehicle. love the deep red with sparkles Read full review

(5.0)

Very comfortable

by Mike & Kristin from Erie pa on July 6, 2018

Very comfortable and reliable. This suv has plenty of room in the back seat. For a smaller suv it handles nice and has great safety features which is important for a family car. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2013 GMC Terrain currently has 2 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2013 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