Motoring Monday: 2019 GMC Terrain AWD Denali is finally getting some respect

Never heard of the GMC Terrain, much less how it lives in Denali? You are not alone.

There’s not much advertising of it among the Comic Con set, and that’s great if you want to have a certain elite ‘reputation’, but it ain’t great if you want sales. I mean, these kids, young and old, have gadgets and money.

All GMC vehicles have struggled for any kind of recognition into today’s overly populated car market (General Motors being the proud father of many of those children). But now, those GMC juniors, namely the Terrains, just may be getting their Fiji Water Girl moment, even if they have to photobomb a Halloween red carpet shot with Jamie Lee Curtis.

U.S. News and World Report, my trusted source for automotive information, says this year’s Terrain is in the top 1/3 of the Compact SUV market.  Woohoo, we’re moving on up in the nightly ratings! Downsides include poor rearward visibility (agreed) and a higher-than-average starting price (debatable). Other than that, this could be the solid little ‘compact’ SUV that you need for your inner-city travels from bear den to leather dungeon to pot luck to daddy day care.

I tested the Denali (to be clear, the car is the Terrain and the trim is the Denali), which is one of the higher end trims of the Terrain, and one of its more gorgeous and butch variants. Actually, Denali is the high-end luxury we-are-your-classy-friend trim on all GMC trucks, and when you buy it, you pay about 47% extra for all the added creature features, according to Wikipedia.  Indeed, the 2019 GMC Terrain Denali (sounds like a lovely local drag queen) starts at $37,800, and the trim I tested, with All-Wheel Drive, starts at $39,500.  Should you want ventilated seats, roof rails or the driver alert package (which IMHO should be standard), you will pay extra. By comparison, starting price for the regular 2019 GMC Terrain is just $25,000 (just). Hey, what price luxury, but if you want to save even more money, the car that is almost identical is the Chevy Equinox, the brother from another mother.

I really liked the interior on the Terrain. Everything inside the car was nice and rich and, well, strong enough for a man and playful enough for a bear. It wasn’t gushing with leather-bar leather and refined hard wood or anything like that: it did have ‘leather-appointed’ perforated seat trims, leather-wrapped steering wheel, lumbar, strong and soft dashboard materials…. works for me!

The standard technology that comes with the Terrain may be the biggest draw.  You get six USB ports.  That may not sound like a big deal until you actually have to start charging a bunch of devices that are about to go dead. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but even without those, you will be just fine playing your music or operating the car’s tech. Ease of tech use on this car was indeed superior.

I was not real keen on mileage, however, which is 22 city / 28 highway.  There are compact SUVs out there that can do better, but not by much, perhaps.  It’s kind of a wash for me.

But I will tell you this: the 2019 GMC Terrain AWD Denali is a great looking car. Or SUV. Or small truck. Or whatever you think it is. And you will look good driving it. This is indeed a bear car for all your bear adventures, all of them. It’s also a vehicle that you should be able to park just about anywhere in just about any tight spot, but as always, please know your limits.

You may be bigger than you think, and just because you think you can get it in, that doesn’t mean you can do so without some pain or damage.

Caution and proper preparation are always advised, even in dry conditions.