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Safe and Economical: 2010 GMC Terrain

The GMC Terrain has been classified as a small SUV, but it certainly doesn’t feel like one, writes Sally Miller Wyatt.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2010 GMC Terrain

It’s no secret that sports utility vehicles are known for being great on the “utility,” but not so great for fuel economy.

Things are looking up, however. Consumers demand better gas mileage, and manufacturers are finding all kinds of ways to boost it.

The all-new GMC Terrain is a good example. It’s a five passenger, small SUV that GM says will deliver the segment’s best fuel economy, at 32 mpg highway, because of its new 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine. Terrains obtain this good fuel economy rating because the engine features direct injection and an “eco” mode can be activated on a console-mounted button. When activated, it lowers the torque converter lockup speed to 1,125 rpm, to help save fuel on models that are equipped with this 2.4-liter engine. The Terrain is also paired with a efficiency-enhancing six-speed automatic transmission.

Of course, GMC also offers a 3.0-liter DOHC direct injected V-6 engine, but that one is optional.

In addition to its fuel efficiency, GMC is touting the all-new Terrain’s many safety features. Always a big fan of standard safety features, I was pleased to see that the Terrain has many of the most desirable ones, including four-wheel disc brakes with StabiliTrak Stability Control with Traction Control, anti-lock brakes, side impact air bags, head curtain side air bags with rollover protection for all rows, remote keyless entry and one year of OnStar automatic crash response. Nice.

The 2010 GMC Terrain also has many standard and optional features that are real conveniences, such as rear-vision camera, OnStar and XM Satellite radio (standard); a programmable power rear lift gate; Bluetooth hands-free phone capability; a Multi-Flex rear seat that slides forward and back as much as eight inches to make it easier for passengers and to optimize cargo space; remote vehicle start; USB audio connectivity with MP3 playback; a seven-inch touch screen navigation system and a 40-gigabyte hard drive; a DVD-based rear seat entertainment system.

The Terrain has been designed to make a bold statement, with its wide stance and wide fender flares. The width carries over to the interior, as there is a good amount of room here for your five passengers. The seats are firm and supportive, and were covered in a tough cloth fabric that would certainly hold up well to the rigors of family life.

(Above): Interior view of the 2010 GMC Terrain

There are plenty of storage spaces on board, including an oversized glove box, a closed storage area in the instrument panel, storage under the center armrest that is actually large enough to hold a laptop computer, and two-tier storage located in the doors.

Behind the wheel, I found visibility to be very good and thought the dashboard was nicely designed. Controls are enhanced by warm-colored lighting.

On the road, the Terrain handled very well and performance was swift and responsive. Freeway noise was non-existent.

I know the GMC Terrain has been classified as a small SUV, but it certainly doesn’t feel like one. The cabin is good sized, the rear cargo area is accommodating and the list of safety features top flight. The improved gas mileage is just icing on the cake.

(Above): Exterior view of the 2010 GMC Terrain

Today’s Test Drive – 2010 GMC Terrain
Base Price: $24,250
Price as Tested: $29,905
Engine: 2.4L I-4 SIDI (Spark Ignition Direct Injection) engine with VVT (Variable Valve Timing)
(Available 3.0L V6 SIDI engine with VVT)
Mileage: 22 city/32 hwy with 2.4L 4-cylinder engine

Sally Miller Wyatt is a freelance writer who writes family-oriented auto reviews for newspapers, magazines and the Web.


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