Unless you absolutely must have the chrome, it’s hard to figure out this car’s unique selling point.

– Detroit, Michigan

There’s certainly nothing wrong with the GMC Terrain Denali; it’s a nice way to get to a family Thanksgiving celebration one state over. But with a sticker price in the $40,000 range, I start to expect a little more from a crossover, and this one doesn’t necessarily deliver. Yes, you get lots of chrome and many fancy standard features, but many of them are offered on the cheaper Chevy Equinox. You can even get this model’s 2.0-liter turbo engine on the Equinox. And based on my drive, the Terrain rides more loudly and more stiffly than the Chevy, too. Given all that, it’s hard to see why this model makes rational sense for SUV shoppers.

 

Pros

Plenty of style. Lots of chrome, a brash grille, and a nicely trimmed interior all make this Terrain Denali pleasing to the eye. It’s far sleeker than the last Terrain’s overtly boxy design, and its interior is fresher, too. As a premium design statement, the Denali trim level handily stands out from other crossovers.

Strong powertrain. The 2.0-liter turbo engine delivers plenty of punch at all speeds, delivered smoothly through the quick-shifting nine-speed automatic. Though the four-cylinder thrashes and moans when worked hard, it’s always ready to deliver all the acceleration I need for passing slow-moving trucks and minivans on the highway.

Future-proofed tech. This Terrain is the first car I’ve driven with a USB Type-C port. That’s the new universal charging standard for smartphones, tablets, and even laptops, so it’s great to see that GMC is already integrating the feature into new cars.

2018 GMC Terrain Denali: Review
2018 GMC Terrain Denali: Review
2018 GMC Terrain Denali: Review
2018 GMC Terrain Denali: Review

Cons

Rough rider. The “Denali-specific suspension tuning” promised in the catalog serves only to add stiffness and brittleness to this crossover’s ride. Suspension noise is plentiful, and the body jars over every impact. Sure, there’s admirable body control in cornering (for a crossover of this class), but I’d much rather be comfortable on the freeway.

Not particularly quiet. Whereas the big Denalis – that’s the Sierra pickup and Yukon SUV – are near-Cadillac quiet, this Terrain could use some more sound insulation. Wind noise and tire rumble fight over the Bose sound system’s output, diminishing the otherwise premium experience.

Still not loaded. With Denali standing at the very top of the GMC Terrain range – the company describes it as “the ultimate expression” of the crossover – one might expect it to arrive fully loaded. Wrong. Features like adaptive cruise control, heated rear seats, and a panoramic sunroof are all add-on options. That bumps the price tag even further, pushing it toward a number for which many more luxurious SUVs are available.

Competitors

Acura RDX
Cadillac XT5
Infiniti QX50
Lincoln MKC

 

Photos: Jake Holmes / Motor1.com

2018 GMC TERRAIN DENALI AWD

Engine Turbocharged 2.0-Liter I4
Output 252 Horsepower / 260 Pound-Feet
Transmission 9-Speed Automatic
Fuel Economy 21 City / 26 Highway / 23 Combined
Drive Type All-Wheel Drive
Weight 3,801 Pounds
Towing 3,500 Pounds
Seating Capacity 5
Cargo Volume 29.6 / 63.3 Cubic Feet
Base Price $38,515
As-Tested Price $43,920

Gallery: 2018 GMC Terrain Denali: Review

Photo by: Jake Holmes