2022 GMC Terrain AT4: New off-road upgrade
Don't get me wrong, I like the 2022 GMC Terrain. But I think compact crossover SUVs are so popular these days that GMC is taking it for granted, even in the face of increasing competition.
After fully redesigning the Terrain in 2019, GMC dropped both of its optional engines for the 2022 version. That leaves it with just the base turbocharged 1.5-liter inline four that produces only 170 horsepower. And although there is a new AT4 option package that makes the Terrain look more off-road capable, it only adds knobbier tires and blacked-out wheels.
These decisions are puzzling. Although the 1.5T is more than adequate for around-town driving, the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine I tested in the 2019 version was more fun to drive. And the other available engine was one of the few remaining diesels on the market, which offered the best mileage.
The lack of more serious off-road upgrades with the AT4 package is also a missed opportunity. The ground clearance is the same as all other versions. And the standard all-wheel-drive system is the same that is available on all other trim levels. In contrast, Subaru now offers a Wilderness package on its Forester and Outback crossovers that includes serious suspension, underbody protection and all-wheel-drive upgrades.
But GMC might understand that Terrain buyers aren't looking for excitement. They just want a handsome, comfortable, practical and safe compact crossover SUV for everyday driving, which the Terrain definitely is.
The 2019 redesign replaced the original blocky styling with a sleeker if slightly generic look. The interior upgrades were more significant, with GMC's best infotainment system replacing one that looked like it was designed for Fisher-Price, the toy maker.
Materials are still hit and miss, however, with large stretches of textured rubber contrasting with quality leather in my test AT4 version. But at least the interior is roomy, with a good amount of cargo space, especially with the back seats folded down.
One thing that took some getting used to is the Electronic Precision Shift, which is a line of push and pull buttons for the transmission across the dash. Other manufacturers are doing similar things with their transmission shifters, including Acura, Honda and Ford. They all free up space on the console, even though they are not intuitive.
On the road, the Terrain offers a smooth and well controlled ride, with a supple suspension that easily absorbs road imperfections. A console-mounted dial allows easy switching from front- to all-wheel-drive, with an additional "off-road" setting that is compromised by the lack of serious off-road upgrades. I'm sure the Terrain will handle light trails to favorite fishing spots just fine, but I'd be hesitant to push it much beyond that.
GMC is not alone in offering mostly cosmetic off-road versions of their crossovers, however. Honda is doing the same thing with the TrailSport versions of their 2022 Passport and Pilot. Honda promises to offer more serious off-road upgrades in the future, however. GMC fans who want real off-road capabilities should set their sights on the AT4 version of the mid-size Yukon, which competed well in the recent annual outdoor activity vehicle completion organized by the Northwest Auto Writers Press Association, otherwise known as Mudfest 2022.
Other changes for 2022 include a revised grille and front bumper, new LED headlamps and tail lamps, fresh 18- and 19-inch wheel designs, updated upholstery, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
Four trim levels are now available, counting the new AT4. The base SEL starts at $29,095 while the high-end Denali begins at $37,745. My well-equipped AT4 version was nearly $40,000.
GMC is probably right to think it can sell as many Terrains as it can produce, even with the single engine choice and limited off-road capabilities. I noticed a lot of them during my week of test driving. But with the competition heating up — including the growing availability of hybrid and plug-in hybrid compact crossovers — wonder how much longer it will continue without another complete redesign.
2022 GMC Terrain AT4
Base price: $29,095 (SLE)
Price as tested: $39,315
Type: Compact crossover SUV
Engine: Turbocharged 1.5 inline 4 (170 hp, 203 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Overall length: 182.3 inches
Curb weight: 3,756 pounds
Final assembly: San Luis Potosi, Mexico
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