The 2016 GMC Terrain SLT is the Professional Grade answer to this question: What’s a good choice for drivers who want the benefits of a compact crossover—one of the most popular vehicle types in the country—but in a bold looking package that stands out from the crowd? Indeed, the 2016 GMC Terrain has an MSRP that wouldn’t be out of place among the mainstream entries, yet it also delivers the kind of sophisticated appeal that attracts luxury owners, along with plenty of traditional crossover versatility. The SLT trim in particular hits the sweet spot, slotting above the more affordable SL and SLE grades but below the range-topping Denali.
2016 GMC Terrain Road Test and Review
Vehicles from the GMC brand are more upscale than most mainstream makes, and it's reflected in higher MSRPs. Thus, the 2016 GMC Terrain SLT is priced from $30,820, and for all its wealth of features, it’s not the nameplate’s top trim; that’s the Terrain Denali, starting at $34,175. For comparison, the top-level Ford Escape Titanium trim is $29,100, and the Honda CR-V EX-L can be had for $29,945 with navigation—which is optional on the Terrain SLT. Now, the GMC Terrain does have an important advantage that may make up for that with some customers, since—as detailed later—it and its GM siblings offer the only mobile Wi-Fi technology in the segment.
Power, Performance and Fuel Efficiency
The test drive is a vital part of the shopping process, and when the time comes for your own 2016 GMC Terrain SLT road test, you’ll find two engine choices offering two very different driving experiences. The standard 4-cylinder unit, displacing 2.4 liters, provides relatively unexceptional output and EPA ratings when compared to the standard entries from Honda and Toyota. But if you upgrade to the 3.6-liter V6, for $1500, you’ll see a best-in-class 301 horsepower along with 272 lb.-ft. of torque and a 3500-lb. towing limit. You won’t see the best EPA marks, however, as those slip from a standard 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway/26 mpg combined to 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway/20 mpg combined.
Exterior Design and Lighting
Overall, the Terrain’s appearance may not be for everyone, but that’s exactly the point.
The chiseled, angular appearance of the GMC Terrain SLT was refreshed for the 2016 model year, with designers introducing more intricate front and rear fascias, a new “power dome” hood, LED daytime running lamps, and more. Of particular note is the Terrain SLT’s updated, chrome-accented front grille, which sets off the newly added chrome trim on the vehicle’s lower front fascia; when the Terrain is viewed from the front, the width of the massive wheel arches is emphasized. Chromed exterior mirror caps make for a nice touch, and they house heated power-adjustable mirrors. There’s a new 6-spoke design for the vehicle’s 18-inch aluminum wheels, too.
Interior Design and Capacities
As already mentioned in this Autobytel review of the Terrain SLT, GMC designers have been busy upgrading this vehicle, and their work extended inside the cabin. There, the soft-touch materials and precise stitching of the SLT interior—which features heated front seating with perforated-leather appointments as standard equipment—has been bolstered with a redesigned center stack and chrome-trimmed transmission shifter. The interior of the Terrain also is fairly stylish, thanks to cues such as chrome-trimmed outboard climate vents and a multilevel dash setup in which the upper part seems to be emerging from the lower.
And if the front dimensions of the Terrain are a bit tighter than those of the segment leaders, it does boast noticeably more rear headroom and rear legroom than compact Nissan, Honda and Toyota crossovers.
Audio and Infotainment
The infotainment highlight of the 2016 GMC Terrain SLT is its standard Wi-Fi capability with 4G LTE connectivity. It’s technology that’s missing from all of the GMC’s mainstream rivals and even from some of its premium competitors. With the SLT trim, you additionally get an uplevel audio system, in this case an 8-speaker setup that includes a subwoofer and amplifier, and it’s supported by a 7.0-inch GMC IntelliLink touchscreen, along with voice control and interfaces for both Pandora Internet radio and Stitcher SmartRadio.
The 2016 GMC Terrain also leverages GM’s OnStar division for standard telematics services. You get six months of OnStar Guidance, with turn-by-turn navigation and automatic crash notification, plus five years of the Basic plan, including RemoteLink key-fob service.
Photo Credit: GMC
Safety Ratings and Technology
Let's cut right to the chase: The Terrain passes all IIHS crashworthiness tests with the best possible grades—unlike the Ford Escape—and by adding the GMC Driver Alert packages, it has enough technology for a Top Safety Pick recognition. True, that package increases the MSRP by $1780, but the price covers side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, rear park assistance, forward collision alert and lane-departure warning—and a power-programmable rear liftgate. As for the expected rearview camera, that’s standard across the Terrain lineup.
The Terrain’s 4-Star Overall Safety Score from NHTSA includes 5 stars for side-crash testing and 4 stars for both frontal-crash and rollover evaluations.
All-wheel drive is available for all models, with both engines, while the 2016 GMC Terrain SLT also offers navigation and its own distinct set of upgrades. For example, the SLT options menu showcases 19-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels and an 8-way power-adjustable passenger seat (to match the standard 8-way driver’s chair). Two packages are further on hand. One bundles that enhanced passenger seat with memory functionality for the driver’s side and exterior mirrors. The Open Road package puts together navigation, a power sunroof, a power-programmable liftgate, GMC’s Driver Alert package I, and a universal home remote. Shoppers also should be aware that, at the time this review was being written, GMC was offering a $790 discount on that latter package, reducing its price to $2085.
Photo Credit: GMC
Other Cool Info
Although the focus of our 2016 GMC Terrain SLT review is, obviously, the 2016 model, the brand already has revealed a preview of a special 2017 variant due this autumn. The Terrain Nightfall Edition—based on either the SLT grade or the more basic SLE-2 setup—gets gobs of gloss-black exterior accents, including on the spokes of its 18-inch machined-face aluminum wheels, and will be matched with one of four exterior finishes: Summit White, Onyx Black, Graphite Gray Metallic or Crimson Red Metallic. Pricing for the Nightfall package will be released closer to the edition’s actual on-sale date.
Photo Credit: Megan Green
The 2016 GMC Terrain SLT strikes a good balance between refinement and affordability, and that’s certainly the vehicle’s strong suit. Additionally, the Terrain’s exterior is likewise striking, especially now that it’s been further fine tuned for the 2016 selling season. GMC’s standard mobile Wi-Fi creates another hard-to-match selling advantage. Yet customers who put their priority on practicality may notice that the Terrain trails the best-sellers in the segment for cargo space and fuel efficiency. Shoppers who prefer the Professional Grade ownership experience, however, probably won’t care.