GMC’s second-generation Terrain is by no means a new product, having been around since the 2018 model year, but a midlife facelift for 2022 means there are a few upgrades of note. The front end has been spruced up with new grille designs and reworked LED headlamps that provide a more assertive look. Bookending those enhancements, the Terrain’s LED taillights are new as well. Several fresh, extra-cost paint colors are offered, too, as are some new 18- and 19-inch wheel designs. Inside, there are upgraded materials and newly standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Also new for 2022 is this AT4 trim, which is intended to be more off road-focused than other versions of the Terrain. This model comes standard with all-wheel drive and a front skid plate, though with only 7.9 inches of ground clearance and no low-range gearing, you probably won’t be going very far off the beaten path.
The Terrain’s well-built interior isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s perfectly fine for the compact crossover segment it competes in. The updated materials feel a bit workaday for what is supposed to be a premium brand, but nothing is blatantly low-rent or flimsy, save for the standard-issue General Motors control stalks and some of the trim that features an odd crosshatch pattern. The dashboard design is clean and highly functional, with nearly every secondary control being easy to see and reach (except for the HUD switches, which are to the driver’s left and buried low on the dashboard). There’s also a thoughtful storage cubby on the passenger side that’s large enough to fit a supersize smartphone.
As for the climate controls, they’re dead simple to use, plus there are audio-system knobs for volume and tuning, controls that many automakers annoyingly forget these days. Plus, Amazon Alexa voice control is new for 2022.
Some people may not like this GMC’s unusual electronic gear selector, which consists of a series of buttons and toggle switches mounted low on the center stack, but the design frees up space and quickly becomes second nature.
Two large cup holders on the console are ready for your Big Gulp of choice. There’s also a decently sized storage cubby ahead of those drink holsters, as well as a surprisingly deep bin underneath the middle armrest. When it’s time to haul larger cargo, the Terrain has you covered, too. Behind the rear seat you get 29.6 cubic feet of storage space, but fold the split backrest down, which you can conveniently do from either the second row or the cargo area, and that figure grows to 63.3 cubes. These figures trail what you get in a Honda CR-V, Ford Escape or Toyota RAV4, but they’re close, plus the Terrain’s cargo hold seems bigger than the numbers suggest.
Passenger comfort is not an issue in this GMC. The rear seat offers miles of headroom and legroom, plus the lower cushion is nicely elevated above the floor, so it’s ideal for adults. There are also air vents and two USB ports to keep passengers comfortable and their mobile devices charged. The Terrain’s first-row bucket seats feel flat and lack support in corners, but they are comfortable for hours on end, so that’s a win. Folks seated up front have access to a pair of USB ports (one Type-A and a Type-C) as well as an SD card slot and an auxiliary jack. There are also two USB Type-A ports in the center console.
A 7-inch touchscreen is standard equipment, but the $1,180 Infotainment Package II gets you a slightly bigger 8-inch display and a decent-sounding Bose seven-speaker audio system. Like other GM vehicles, this optional screen is home to a multimedia system that’s super easy to use and very snappy. An embedded navigation system is included, too, for added versatility. If there aren’t enough USB ports, a wireless charging pad is standard on the Denali model, though unfortunately, this feature is not even optional on lesser trims like this AT4.
The Terrain seen here features the Skyscape Sunroof, a panoramic $1,495 extra, and the $850 Tech Package. That latter options group includes a crisp and clear HD surround-view camera system, ever-handy front and rear parking sensors (so you don’t bash a bumper while pulling into a spot), and even a new-for-2022 head-up display that uses a small combiner (basically a transparent piece of plastic) that motors up from the top of the dashboard when the system is engaged. This type of HUD looks cheap but works well enough, plus if you ever have to replace the windshield, it should be far less expensive than HUDs that project directly onto the glass.
Unlike past model years when a zesty 2.0-liter unit was available, just one engine is offered in the 2022 Terrain, a 1.5-liter turbo four. Rated at a modest 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque, this little engine delivers acceleration that’s adequate at best, but falls short of GMC’s “Professional Grade” tagline. The Terrain is billed as a premium SUV, though to live up to that standard it should provide performance that’s better than merely good enough. Yes, the Terrain has sufficient scoot for normal driving and puttering around town, but when you need more speed, such as when passing other vehicles or merging onto busy highways, it struggles. The vehicle is also rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds, but dragging any sort of trailer would probably be a little frightening. Further cheapening the experience, that 1.5-liter turbo buzzes like a massager and sounds unwell.
If there’s an upside to the Terrain’s powertrain, it’s the fuel economy. With all-wheel drive, the vehicle stickers at 25 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. Combined, this SUV is estimated to deliver 26, though on an 800-mile round-trip drive to northern Michigan, I eked out a whisker better than 29 mpg, an undeniably impressive figure. An obedient and smooth nine-speed automatic transmission makes the most of the Terrain’s stable of horses, almost always shifting seamlessly, if not quite with lightning speed.
Even when driven at extra-legal highway speeds for hours on end, this SUV’s efficiency is admirable. Its interior also remains impressively quiet, with hardly any tire noise and just a wisp of wind rush around the A-pillars. The Terrain’s ride is also well controlled, on the soft side but not sloppy. By 2022 standards, the AT4’s 17-inch wheels may seem tiny, but that’s to ensure the rugged-looking 225/60 R17 Goodyear tires have plenty of sidewall, which helps keep roadway harshness away from the passenger compartment. Like other dynamic aspects, this GMC’s steering is completely unremarkable. The wheel feels a bit numb in your hands, which is par for the course these days. As for the steering ratio, it’s neither too loose nor over-caffeinated, in short, totally middle of the road.
Things get better when you focus on driver aids, because the Terrain comes standard with GMC Pro Safety. This suite of advanced assistance systems includes six potentially life-saving features: automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist with lane-departure warning, automatic pedestrian braking, a following distance indicator, forward collision warning and automatic high beams. Unfortunately, if you want more aids they’ll cost extra, but the good news is rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and a vibrating safety-alert seat are all bundled in the GMC Pro Safety Plus Package for just $645 more.
The 2022 GMC Terrain is available in four trims, including SLE, SLT, AT4 and Denali. This SUV starts around $29,000 including $1,195 in destination fees, which is pretty damn reasonable these days. Naturally, this higher-end AT4 model with all-wheel drive is pricier, though it’s still eminently affordable, checking out for $39,315, which is about six grand less than the average new vehicle transaction price these days. Load up a top-shelf Denali model and you’re still only in the mid-$40,000 range, a bargain in 2022.
No, it’s not the best-driving compact SUV you can buy and it’s far from the most interesting, but the Terrain has a certain nose-to-the-grindstone honesty that endears. If you want something flashier, check out the Ford Bronco Sport. If luxury is your thing, Mazda’s CX-5 feels way more premium. And if long-haul dependability matters most, the Toyota RAV4 is probably the way to go. Still, this GMC is a respectable choice, thanks to its impressive efficiency, reasonable pricing and versatile interior. If you don’t need the latest and greatest tech and don’t care about flashy styling and interior fripperies, the Terrain might be for you.