The 2010 GMC Terrain swaggers into the cute-ute arena with bulging fenders, chunky stance and a don’t-mess-with-me front grill.


Yes, GMC’s take on the freshly-minted Chevrolet Equinox looks like it might eat your kids, but the ruggedly handsome Terrain is really more Rosedale than Rubicon, Which is a good thing. For its intended mission as a compact CUV to go up against such stalwarts as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4, this little Jimmy makes a pretty strong case.


The Ingersoll, Ont.-built Terrain starts at $27,465 for the base front-drive SLE-1 model with a 182 hp 2.4L four-cylinder. My tester was the top trim SLT-2 front-drive four-cylinder variant with a base price of $34,400. All wheel drive adds $1355 to the upper trim levels (SLT-1 and SLT-2) or $1610 to the lower (SLE-1 and SLE-2). A 264 hp 3.0L V6 is available for $2050 in the three upper trim levels.


Like its bigger brother, the Lambda-platform GMC Acadia, the Terrain benefits from some fine dynamic tuning. The ride is compliant and refined, yet it also shows commendable poise on the B-road stuff. The variable assist rack-and-pinion steering feels good too.


On the highway, the Terrain SLT-2 makes for a relaxed tourer. The eight-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar is first-rate (the passenger makes do with two-way manual) and there’s surprisingly little wind or engine noise. Perusing the spec sheet reveals standard active noise cancellation in the four-cylinder models.

The cabin design echoes the exterior with angular architecture featuring high quality materials and enough visual bling to keep things interesting. There’s plenty of well thought out storage, including a closed compartment under the centre armrest large enough for a laptop computer, and two-tier storage in the doors.

Base Terrains come standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, OnStar, Driver Information Centre, auto-dim rearview mirror with back up camera display, block heater and Stabilitrak stability control.

The upper three trim levels get Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, premium Pioneer sound with subwoofer and XM radio. Key SLT-2 features include leather, exterior chrome trim, sunroof, programmable powered lift gate, and rear park assist.

On the plus side, it’s a smooth unit and returns the best fuel economy in this segment — 9.2L/100 km city and 6.1L/100 km highway on regular fuel.

The Terrain has one of the longest wheelbases in its class, which translates to generous rear legroom. The three-position reclining rear seats slide 20 cm, although cargo capacity falls shy of the CR-V and RAV4.

General Motors is positioning the GMC Terrain a rung above the Chevy Equinox. As we’re seeing with many new GM vehicles, this well-sorted little tyke comes across as very grown up indeed.