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2018 GMC Terrain AWD SLE: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

GMC scheduled the introduction of its redesigned 2018 GMC Terrain to coincide with the momentous eclipse of the sun over the United States on Aug. 21, 2017.

The intro took place in Pittsburgh, Pa., so the Terrain did not experience totality. The moon’s coverage of the sun there was about 81%, according to the experts, and that seemed fitting because it’s a good grade that roughly matches the achievements of the new Terrain, especially in the top-line Denali version.

GMC, the truck division of General Motors, manufactures a full array of pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles, vans and crossovers. It has been riding the current wave of customer infatuation with crossovers, which resemble but differ from SUVs because they are built like cars with unit bodies. True SUVs have body-on-frame construction like pickup trucks.

2018-GMC-Terrain-Denali-050This second-generation Terrain, a crossover SUV, is an upscale fraternal twin of the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. They share three new engines: a 170-horsepower, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder; 252-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and a 137-hp, 1.6-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder.

However, the Terrain uses a nine-speed automatic transmission on its gasoline-engine models, where the Equinox has a six-speed automatic. Diesel engines on both cars connect to the wheels via the six-speed automatic.

The Terrain features a new system for shifting the automatic transmission, which GMC says was developed with an eye toward the future when cars will be able to drive autonomously. A set of switches are mounted on the dash. You pull out the ones for “drive” and “reverse,” and push in for other functions.

2018-GMC-Terrain-059Terrains are available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Driven for this review were three versions: luxury-oriented Denali 2.0 AWD with a starting price of $40,245 and, with options, tested at $44,450; an SLT FWD diesel starting at $35,140 and tested at $39,545, and the focus here: SLE AWD with the 1.5-liter engine, starting at $30,545 and $33,210 as tested.

Of the three, the diesel is the fuel economy champ with an EPA certified city/highway/combined fuel consumption of 28/39/32 mpg. The 1.5-liter gets 24/28/26 and the 2.0-liter is rated at 21/26/23.

Though the Terrain’s all-new styling graces a vehicle that is slightly smaller than its predecessor, it is a roomy compact crossover with passenger room similar to that of a midsize sedan and a cargo area of 30 cubic feet, which is about double that of most midsize cars.

2018-GMC-Terrain-SLT-011It also is distinguished by an unusual design element: each trim level — SLE, SLT and Denali — has its own distinct grille, so astute neighbors can instantly detect your Terrain’s snob appeal.

The top-of-the-line Denali, which has standard and optional features intended to rival those of luxury vehicles, can be equipped with state-of-the-art safety features, including low-speed automatic braking, forward collision alert, lane-keeping assist with lane-departure warning, blind-zone alert and rear cross-traffic alert. Especially appreciated is the notice to the driver to check the back seat after parking. It could save a child’s or pet’s life.

Another welcome innovation was teen-driving parental control, which can set speed limits and audio volume, as well as produce a report card on the teen’s behavior behind the wheel.

2018-GMC-Terrain-066The Denali also features such comfort items as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats with memory settings, automatic tailgate, automatic dual-zone climate control, Wi-Fi hotspot and a full-fledged infotainment system. Curiously for this luxury-oriented trim, the right front seat has manual adjustments and the right front window does not have express up and down.

If you’re willing to give up some of the luxury and convenience items, the all-wheel drive SLE version is a satisfying vehicle in its own right — and in this test had a price tag $11,240 lower than that of the Denali.

Its smaller 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, with 170 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque, delivered sprightly acceleration with the nine-speed automatic transmission. Its main drawback is that its towing capability is 1,500 pounds compared to the 3,500-lb rating with the 2.0-liter engine.

The SLE’s front seats are comfortable and supportive, upholstered in sturdy cloth that keeps the torso cool in summer and warm in winter. The ride is pleasant on all but the roughest surfaces, and the Terrain handles securely on curves as long as it is not pushed too hard.

Overall, it is a competitive offering in the burgeoning compact crossover class and a good alternative — depending on an individual’s tastes — to the excellent Chevrolet Equinox.


  • Model: 2018 GMC Terrain AWD SLE four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine:5-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged, 170 hp, 203 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Nine-speed automatic with all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 2 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 103/30 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,622 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 1,500 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 24/28/26 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $30,545.
  • Price as tested: $33,210.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

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Photos (c) GMC.

2017 GMC Acadia Denali: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

In pocket billiards, snooker or pool, it’s called “Reverse English.” Among crossover sport utility vehicles, it’s the 2017 GMC Acadia.

A player using the technique aims the cue to strike the cue ball down low, sinks the object ball in the pocket, and the cue ball simultaneously backs up into position for the next shot.

That’s what GMC has accomplished with the new downsized Acadia. It started a decade ago as a midsize crossover with three rows of seats and accommodations for seven or eight passengers. Similar garage mates were the Chevrolet Traverse and the Buick Enclave.

The Acadia has played well. But now the designers have improved its game with Reverse English to position the Acadia for further success in an era when customers increasingly covet crossovers.

The 2017 Acadia is lighter by 700 pounds and marginally smaller inside, by about 19 cubic feet of space, than its 2016 predecessor. It is eight inches shorter bumper-to-bumper but can accommodate five, six or seven passengers depending on the layout.

2017 GMC Acadia Denali
2017 GMC Acadia Denali

That may not read like much on paper. But the 2017 Acadia is a tidier, nimbler vehicle that doesn’t give away much in accommodations. In the seven-passenger version, with sliding second-row seats, it’s easy to divvy up the space so second- and third-row passengers are not unduly scrunched. Climbing into the two third-row seats, however, requires agility despite cleverly designed second-row seats that flip out of the way.

General Motors likely is hedging its bets. The Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave continue as before as larger seven- or eight-passenger crossovers. But there are hints that they may follow the downsized Acadia. For now, the two GM vehicles that share the smaller new architecture are the Acadia and the all-new 2017 Cadillac XT5, a midsize, five-passenger two-row crossover.

Overall, the 2017 Acadia has a personality that’s easy to like—maybe even love. With its more compact overall dimensions, it handles more crisply and imparts confidence in urban and freeway traffic. With the 310-hp V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission, it cruises quietly and comfortably for long distances on freeways but welcomes twisting roads as well.

2017 GMC Acadia Denali
2017 GMC Acadia Denali

All-wheel drive models are equipped with five driver-selectable modes, starting with front-drive, in which the driveshaft and rear differential automatically uncouple for improved fuel economy. The tested V6 Denali, with cylinder deactivation during cruising, delivered 18/25/20 mpg on the EPA’s city/highway/combined fuel consumption cycle.

Other settings allow the driver to choose all-wheel drive, which has the capability to transfer power front-to-rear as well as side-to-side so the Acadia can keep going even with traction for one wheel. The sport mode tightens the steering and suspension system for confident handling on curves. Other settings enhance trailer towing and off-road driving.

There are eight Acadia models, starting with the $30,920 SL, which comes only with front-wheel drive. It is powered by GM’s 195-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is rated at 21/26/23 city/highway/combined mpg. It exhibits plenty of power off the line and in passing but is nowhere as turbine smooth as the V6.

Another is the $40,965 All Terrain AWD version that carries five passengers. It is designed for customers who like occasional off-road adventures and carry extra gear.

2017 All-New GMC Acadia Denali Interior
2017 All-New GMC Acadia Denali Interior

Others are the SLE, SLT and Denali versions, available with front-drive or all-wheel drive. Denali, a name GMC borrowed from the original name for the tallest mountain in Alaska, has been very good to the brand. It designates GMC’s top luxury versions and accounts for huge sales chunks of its Yukon, Sierra and Acadia nameplates.

The tested Denali AWD exhibited a luxury interior with comfortable leather upholstery, soft touch surfaces and tasteful faux wood trim. Instruments and controls are ergonomically designed, and easy to read and operate.

Safety and connectivity features abound, including automatic braking for objects and pedestrians, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind spot warning, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, SXM satellite radio, Android and Apple Car Play, and GM’s OnStar system.

Also included was an innovation that is certain to save lives. It’s called the rear seat reminder. On any given trip, if a rear door is opened and closed, the driver gets a reminder to check the back seat when the engine shuts down. It’s designed to prevent those horrific situations where forgetful parents have left children to die in hot parked cars.

That alone makes the Acadia a compelling choice. It’s a complete family crossover.

2017 GMC Acadia Denali
2017 GMC Acadia Denali


  • Model: 2017 GMC Acadia Denali AWD four door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine:6-liter V6, 310 hp, 271 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
  • Overall length: 16 feet 2 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 146/13 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,956 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 18/25/20 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $47,845.
  • Price as tested: $52,285.

Photos (c) General Motors

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