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2021 GMC Terrain Review- Trims, Prices, Features, Towing Capacity and Rivals Compared

Joel Sam Santhosh's image

Joel Sam Santhosh

Content Writer July 01, 2020 at 09:27 AM
GMC is good at keeping its words. It very well remembers the promise it made back in 2018 to release an off-road based AT4 trim for most of its vehicles. Just like the other GMC vehicles, the 2021 GMC Terrain is now going to get the AT4 trim which increases the total AT4 vehicles in the GMC's lineup to six. The AT4, standing below the Denali, would be an off-road focused trim bringing more capabilities along with some cool gizmos inside.

The 2021 GMC Terrain, which is set to release in fall 2020, will be more rugged, more powerful and much upscale than its competitors. A lot of GMC fans have been eyeing on its AT4 trim which has obviously been the center of attention recently. But as GMC wants to keep this as a surprise, there is not much information about the changes in upcoming 2021 model.

This midsize SUV brought standard active features for the 2020 model. It also got surround-view camera and adaptive cruise control. This time, the GMC Terrain will bring the much-awaited AT4 trim to its lineup. There will also be many cosmetic changes inside and out. All this should make it an even more attractive offering when GMC officially lauches it sometime towards the end of this year.

How will the 2021 GMC Terrain be Priced?

The current GMC Terrain is offered in four trims, viz., SL, SLE, SLT and Denali. The 2021 model will also come in four trims but the GMC Terrain AT4 will replace the SL trim. Nonetheless, even the base trims of this SUV are fairly equipped. So the upcoming AT4 variant is expected to bring more advanced tech and mechanical refinements. We would definitely recommend opting for the 2021 GMC Terrain AT4 when it is made available. It will bring more upscale features into the stack along with improved performance.

It will also be much stylish than other models because of the refreshed exterior. Still, if you are a sucker for extreme luxury, the Denali variant of the Terrain is always waiting for you. The present-day lineup of this midsize SUV starts at an MSRP of $25,000. So expect the prices for the upcoming 2021 model to be around the same mark. The cost of owning a 2021 GMC Terrain AT4 will be known once the official announcement is made sometime around fall 2020.

What Engine will Power the 2021 GMC Terrain?

The 2020 GMC Terrain offers two turbocharged flavors to choose from. That despite dropping the old Turbo-diesel motor for the year 2020. The base 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine feels slightly weaker. It's coupled with a nine-speed automatic shifter and makes an underwhelming 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft torque.

While it is not all that bad for driving around town but suffers at hauling stuff. The bigger 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine makes higher 252 hp and 260 lb-ft torque. This not only improves performance but also pushes the towing capacity of GMC Terrain to up to 3,500 pounds. Apart from that, front-wheel-drive is standard for all the models, while AWD is optional.

Models

2021 GMC Terrain (Expected)

2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Mazda CX-5

2020 Toyota RAV4

MSRP

$25,000

$25,050

$25,190

$25,950

Engine

1.5L Turbocharged Inline-4

1.5L Turbocharged Inline-4

2.5L Inline-4

2.5L Inline-4

Drivetrain

FWD

FWD

FWD

FWD

Transmission

9-speed automatic

CVT

6-speed  Automatic

8-speed automatic

Power

170 hp @ 5,600 rpm

190 hp @ 5,600 rpm

187 hp @ 6,000 rpm

203 hp @ 6,600 rpm

Torque

203 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm

179 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm

186 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm

184 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm

The 2021 GMC Terrain is likely to continue with the two engine choices but expect some tweaks. Sure, both the engines are equally potent in their own areas and we would like seeing them again in 2021. In comparison, the Toyota RAV4 has the biggest, most powerful engine but the CR-V with its 190 hp turbo-four is not a lot behind.

How Fast is the 2021 GMC Terrain going to be?

The base 1.5-liter inline-4 engine is weak when compared to the rivals and it badly affects acceleration of this SUV. A typical GMC Terrain equipped with the base engine mated to a 9-speed shifter takes a slow 9.3 seconds to leap from 0 to 60 MPH. The quarter-mile timing of 17.2 seconds also makes it lag behind most SUVs in this segment.

But the standard front-wheel-drive can be upgraded to an AWD system and the base engine can be swapped with a bigger 2.0-liter engine to get even better acceleration figures. Yes, this isn't a racing vehicle, but that's no reason why the acceleration cannot be better.

Models

2021 GMC Terrain (Expected)

2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Mazda CX-5

2020 Toyota RAV4

0-60 MPH

9.6 sec

7.7 sec

8.2 sec

8.2 sec

Quarter Mile

17.1 sec

16.0 sec

16.3 sec

16.4 sec

Top Speed

120 MPH

130 MPH

128 MPH

130 MPH

Engine

1.5L Turbocharged Inline-4

1.5L Turbocharged Inline-4

2.5L Inline-4

2.5L Inline-4

We are hopeful that the 2021 GMC Terrain will bring in some performance tweaks and refinements to improve these sluggish figures. The similarly-speced Honda CR-V makes the quickest display by dashing past the quarter-mile line in just 16.0 seconds. Its top speed of 130 MPH is also matched only by the RAV4 which has a much bigger motor.

How good is the Ride and Handling of the 2021 GMC Terrain going to be?

The GMC Terrain is a decent driver. Its suspension setup isn't sporty but they provide a smooth and composed ride. The slick 9-speed automatic transmission and the tinier 17-inch wheels contribute to a plush and refined ride which many expensive crossovers can't claim. The luxurious Denali comes with even bigger 19-inch wheels and is finely tuned for an indulging experience.

Sure, this midsize SUV might respond to small bumps and vibrations on the road but that is not too frequent. Its steering wheels though is slightly slow to respond and feels a bit sloppy. At the highway, however, it starts to feel firm and stable. The AT4 trim of the 2021 GMC Terrain will most likely get the AT4-specific off-road suspension that would increase both stability and capability of this SUV.

How Quickly will the 2021 GMC Terrain Stop from 60 MPH? 

Thsi SUV does very well in the braking department. For a midsize crossover, its brakes perform very well. The 12.6-inch front and 11.3-inch rear rotors are bigger than what we find in most counterparts. They help the GMC Terrain to fully stop from 60 MPH in just 130 feet. At 3449 pounds, it is one of the heaviest crossovers. 

Models

2021 GMC Terrain (Expected)

2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Mazda CX-5

2020 Toyota RAV4

Brake Rotors: Front (in)

12.6

11.1

12.6

12

Brake Rotors: Rear (in)

11.3

10.2

11.9

11.1

Curb Weight (lbs)

3449

3398

3541

3380

60-0 MPH (ft)

130

118

125

120

But the brakes of the GMC Terrain are responsive and proportinate to the pedal pressure. We expect more improvements in the braking ability of the 2021 GMC Terrain, specially the AT4 trim which is likely to receive bigger and sturdier brakes. In this case, the Mazda CX-5, which is the heaviest, impresses a lot with its 60-0 MPH stopping distance of 125 ft.

Will the Fuel Economy numbers of the 2021 GMC Terrain change?

The 2020 model of this midsize SUV offered decent gas mileage. The base model of the 2020 GMC Terrain, equipped with the 1.5-liter engine, returns 27 miles per gallon combined, which is well at par for the class. But equipping it with the 2.0-liter unit and AWD, drops the combined MPG rating to 23. 

Models

2021 GMC Terrain (Expected)

2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Mazda CX-5

2020 Toyota RAV4

MPG (City)

26

28

25

26

MPG (Highway)

30

34

31

35

MPG (Combined)

27

30

28

30

Fuel Capacity (Gallons)

14.9

14.0

14.8

14.5

Range (City/Highway/Combined) (mi)

387/447/402

392/476/420

370/459/414

377/508/435

Emissions (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15k mi/yr) 5.4 4.9 5.3 5.0

The fairly large 14.9-gallon fuel tank allows it to offers a decent range, however. We expect the 2021 GMC Terrain to come with some engine refinements and improved fuel economy figures. But it hard to beat the Honda CR-V, which not only performs well but is also very frugal.

Will the Interior of the 2021 GMC Terrain be updated?

The GMC Terrain's cabin is actually an attractive and serene place to be in. Though some controls and switches are awkwardly placed, the overall interior seems to be crafted as if it were a luxury vehicle rather than a rugged crossover. Even the base model is very well equipped and the materials are of decent grade. Top-tier trims add more high-quality materials, leather upholstery and contrast stitching for a more premium feel.

It is also more spacious than the rivals and provides comfortable seating arrangements. Only, on paper there is 5-passenger seating but 4 average-sized adults would find ample amount of room and comfort inside. But its heavily bolstered and adjustable seats are relaxing over long distances. The 2021 GMC Terrain is likely to receive a refreshed interior with more modern designs and advanced interior features.

Models

2021 GMC Terrain (Expected)

2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Mazda CX-5

2020 Toyota RAV4

Seating Capacity

5

5

5

5

Front Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

40.0/57.2/40.9

38.0/57.9/41.3

39.7/57.1/41.0

39.5/57.8/41.0

Second Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

38.5/55.6/39.7

39.1/55.6/40.4

39.0/54.8/39.6

39.5/56.4/37.8

Cargo Capacity (cu-ft)

29.6

39.2

30.9

37.5

As already mentioned, this SUV provides decent room inside for four average adults to sit comfortably. However, rivals such as the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4 provide good interior space along with huge cargo storage capacity. The trunk of this five-seater SUV from GMC is the smallest of the lot.

What will be there to keep you Entertained?

The entertainment factor of the GMC Terrain is high right from the base trim. It gets most of the upscale features which can be seen in top-tier trims of rivals. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility was made standard on the 2020 Terrain, and they will be carried over to the 2021 model too. The infotainment screen choices consist of either a 7-inch or a bigger 8-inch unit, depending upon the trim level. As it turns out, the infotainment center of the 2020 GMC Terrain is very popular and is very likely to add more features in 2021.

Currently, it includes smartphone integration, 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot and touchscreen navigation. The tech arsenal also came with six standard USB ports to charge all of your devices on the go. There's support for Type-C USB too! The standard AM/FM stereo and six-speaker sound system works well but the optional 7-speaker Bose Premium Audio unit is definitely a much better choice. One can only be hopeful of more features being added in the 2021 GMC Terrain.

Is the Exterior of the 2021 GMC Terrain getting Redesigned?

The GMC Terrain got rid of its boxy shape in the year 2020 by curving out those orthodox right-angled edges. This resulted in an overall sleek shape. All that together with the floating roofline, made the exterior even more attractive. Though it's identical to the past models, the overall design refresh does make it look bolder and exquisite.

The Terrain adorns sports sheet-metal which makes the exterior look even more upscale. All black or chrome styling options for the outside make this crossover one of the hottest midsize SUV in the competition. Its large 19-inch wheels of the Denali variant look all the premium and impactful.

Models

2021 GMC Terrain (Expected)

2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Mazda CX-5

2020 Toyota RAV4

Curb Weight (lbs)

3449

3398

3541

3380

Length (in)

182.3

182.1

179.1

180.9

Width (in)

72.4

73.0

72.5

73.0

Height (in)

65.4

66.1

66.2

67.0

Ground Clearance (in)

6.9

7.8

7.5

8.4

Wheelbase (in)

107.3

104.7

106.2

105.9

The 2021 GMC Terrain will be getting a design refresh yet again across the range. As far as the AT4 model is concerned, it would add trim-specific off-road exterior styling and unique wheels to the lineup. This five-seater SUV is the longest vehicle among its competitors. It is also considerbly heavy.

What new Safety features will the 2021 GMC Terrain get?

Of all the interesting feature about the 2020 GMC Terrain, the one that stands out is that every trim comes with standard GMC Pro Safety Package. This package features some of the best high-end safety tech which set it apart from the rest. Accordingly, NHTSA gives it a full 5-star overall rating and the IIHS also gave Good remarks.

All these facotrs combined make the GMC Terrain a crossover that you can rely on. There's no doubts that the  2021 GMC Terrain will continue the GMC Pro Safety Package as standard, and we might also see a couple of more driver-assistance aides. Some most notable safety features include:

  • Auto Emergency Braking
  • Lane Keeping Assist
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • IntelliBeam Headlamps
  • Pedestrian Braking
  • Rear Park Assist
  • Adaptive Cruise Control.

Should you Buy the 2021 GMC Terrain?

The 2020 GMC Terrain redesigned for the year was much more attractive than its predecessors. The interior was more spacious, more utilitarian, and much upscale. Though the weak base engine was a disappointment it provided a bigger engine choice too. The 2021 Terrain launching Fall this year is expected to bring all these features with many newer ones in the stack. The AT4 is certainly a great addition to the lineup however its only an appearance package to the terrain.

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2021 GMC Terrain Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does GMC Terrain have third row?

GMC terrain is a midsize SUV but it does not have a third row. It can seat only 5 people. If you are looking for a three-row GMC SUV, the Yukon is the one for you.

How much can the GMC Terrain tow?

The GMC Terrain comes with two engine options, one more powerful than the other. Its base engine makes 170 hp and 203 lb-ft torque. The other is 252 hp motor. Between these, the towing capacity of the GMC Terrain varies from 1,500 to 3,500 pounds.

What kind of gas does GMC Terrain require?

Both motors of the GMC Terrain are good at doing what they're meant to do. According to the car maker, it best that you use 87 octane regular unleaded or higher grade gasoline for the GMC Terrain.

What is GMC Terrain Elevation Edition?

The GMC Terrain Elevation Edition adds several cosmetic features to this SUV. They include exclusive styling elements like 19-inch gloss-black aluminum alloy wheels, a darkened grille upfront, and blacked-out mirror caps, roof rails and exterior accents. There is also trim-specific badging on the body.

What is GMC Terrain Eco Mode?

The GMC Terrain gets Normal mode, Snow mode and Tow/Haul mode. Well, the Snow mode is not present on the AWD Terrain for obvious reasons. There is also an Eco mode besides that. The Eco mode of the GMC Terrain is meant for achieving maximum fuel economy.

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