KBB Logo Expert Review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.

Editor's Overview

Like its corporate sibling, the Chevrolet Equinox, the 2012 GMC Terrain is a big kid in the compact SUV sandbox. Underneath the Terrain's aggressively styled sheet metal is a roomy cabin, neatly-appointed cockpit, two enticing engine choices and a myriad of storage compartments.

You'll Like The 2012 GMC Terrain If...

If you're thinking you'd like a reasonably sized crossover SUV that gets great gas mileage, has room for five but also has a bit of an attitude, the 2012 GMC Terrain compact SUV deserves a spot on your shopping list.

You May Not Like The 2012 GMC Terrain If...

If you're looking for a powerful V6 engine option and capable all-wheel-drive (AWD) setup, the 2012 GMC Terrain may meet only half your criteria. While its V6 is a strong engine, the only terrain the Terrain is designed to tackle is that of the paved nature. Mild off-road adventures might be better served in a vehicle such as the Subaru Outback wagon or Jeep Patriot.

What's New

The 2012 GMC Terrain receives an updated 2.4-liter engine that is now E85-compatible. Later in the model year GMC will make available IntelliLink, a service that allows customers to customize the touch-screen radio and use voice commands to operate various functions. IntelliLink uses USB and Bluetooth to connect the user's smart phone to the radio, making it possible to stream apps such as Pandora and Stitcher.

Interior Features

If there is a place where the Terrain's Chevy roots are exposed, it's the nearly identical interior it shares with the Equinox. To differentiate the two models, GMC employs more high-quality materials and soft-touch areas, as well as satin metal trim. Compared to the Equinox, the Terrain offers more standard features, but retains the same available interior color schemes of black, gray and brown/black. GMC's signature glowing red instrument panel looks particularly fetching in the Terrain, with backlighting for just about every conceivable switch or button. Even the USB port features a lighted surround making it easier to locate in the dark. There's also a new touch-screen radio that uses smart-phone-like icons to operate the screen functions. Cool features we thought were above what most in this segment offer include an available power rear liftgate and a standard rearview camera.

Exterior Features

The 2012 GMC Terrain compact SUV shuns the rounded, wavy look so popular among small crossover SUVS today, opting instead for a rugged, almost Hummer-like profile. Strong angular wheel arches and a huge 3-bar grille with block GMC lettering and chrome cap are the first things that will catch your eye, but definitely not the last. Optional 19-inch wheels make a bold statement, as do the sturdy roof rail racks perfect for holding kayaks, bikes, skis, surfboards or a cargo carrier. The 2012 GMC Terrain isn't terribly tall off the ground, making it easy to get in and out of, as well as to reach the roof. The long 112-inch wheelbase creates a more stable and comfortable ride, as well as opens up the interior for superior legroom both front and rear.

Driving Impressions

With the proliferation of Bluetooth-enabled devices becoming increasingly more commonplace, the 2012 GMC Terrain SUV's impressively quiet cab is an unexpected bonus. Extensive use of acoustic laminated glass, active noise-cancellation technology, and triple-sealed doors culminate to create an interior that is nearly Lexus-like at highway speed. Powering the 2012 GMC Terrain SUV is a competent 4-cylinder engine admittedly better at impressing with its fuel economy than its passing prowess. For those more appreciative of power, a 3.0-liter V6 is available, delivering 264 horsepower yet still earning fuel-economy ratings in the mid 20s.

Pricing Notes

The 2012 GMC Terrain SLE has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) close to $26,000, while the SLT runs closer to $30,000. Adding all-wheel drive will set you back $1,750 on either model. Competitors of the Terrain include the Dodge Journey, Honda CR-V and the Subaru Outback, all of which cost less than the Terrain, but come with less standard equipment. To ensure that you get the best price on the 2012 GMC Terrain SUV, be sure to check out the Fair Purchase price on kbb.com, which will give you an idea of what people in your area are paying for theirs at the local GMC dealership. A 2012 GMC Terrain will hold its value exceedingly well over the years, far better than the Journey and the Compass, but still well behind the segment residual leader, the Honda CR-V.

Notable Equipment

The base 2012 GMC Terrain compact SUV comes equipped with features like a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with 6-speed transmission, 17-inch wheels, rearview camera, a USB port, six airbags, XM Satellite Radio, OnStar, and a sliding rear seat that can move fore/aft nearly eight inches. Inside, ambient lighting sets the interior's mood, and Active Noise Cancellation – the usage of sound waves through the car's speakers to counteract loud exterior noises – means that the car is also quiet.

Notable Options

Want a little more oomph under the hood? Add a 264-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. Want larger wheels in those bold wheel wells? Upgrade to the 19-inchers. Looking to keep the kids quiet on a long trip or just while out running errands? Add the rear-entertainment system with two independent screens. Also available is a 7-inch touch-screen navigation system, a 10-gigabyte music storage hard drive, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, and a programmable rear liftgate that can be set to open to a lower height.

Favorite Features

Heated Cloth Seats

Heated seats aren't often seen without a leather interior. The seats in the 2012 GMC Terrain can be programmed to begin warming when the vehicle is turned on via remote start, which always makes for a more comfortable start to the day on a cold winter morning.

Moveable Second Row

The entire second row can be moved forward or back eight inches, allowing for taller passengers to gain more legroom and for parents to pull kids in car seats significantly closer.

Under the Hood

Motivating the 2012 GMC Terrain is either a 182-horsepower in-line 4-cylinder or a 264-horsepower V6. Both benefit from direct injection and are mated to 6-speed automatic transmissions, and see excellent fuel-economy numbers.

2.4-liter in-line 4

182 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm

172 lb-ft of torque @ 4,900 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 (front-wheel drive), 15/22 (E85, front-wheel drive), 20/29 (AWD), 14/20 (E85, AWD)

3.0-liter V6

264 horsepower @ 6,950 rpm

222 lb-ft of torque @ 5,100 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 (front-wheel drive, gasoline), 12/18 (front-wheel drive, E85), 16/22 (AWD, gasoline), 12/17 (AWD, E85)

Editors' Notes

The 2012 GMC Terrain crossover SUV straddles the fence between a compact and mid-size SUV. Although it does not offer a third-row seat, the 2012 GMC Terrain is intended to lure away customers looking at the RAV4, as well as the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe and Ford Escape. Riding on the same platform as the Chevy Equinox, the Terrain displays a decidedly more truck-like appearance, an important link to its GMC heritage. The oversized wheel arches and massive grille make the 2012 GMC Terrain appear much larger in photos than it is in person. Yet, despite its compact SUV size, the Terrain offers an impressively large interior, as well as the best highway fuel economy in the segment (rated at 32 mpg for front-drive, 4-cylinder models). If the GMC Terrain SUV's strong styling and narrow windows don't offend your visual senses, there is a lot to fall in love with in this compact crossover SUV.

Road Test Video Reviews

2012 GMC Terrain Owner Reviews

4.22
193 Reviews
44% 41% 12% 1% 1%
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My favorite car over the years!

2012 GMC Terrain

I have had very few problems with my 2012 GMC terrain. I have OnStar, which is extremely helpful, as it helps me navigate my trips anywhere I go, whether out of town or in town, as well as giving me monthly updates of my car's performance and issues/non-issues with oil life, etc. It has a very roomy interior, and the back seats can both be put down in order to accommodate extra-large items to be hauled in the back. I once hauled two twin beds and their wooden frames over to my aunt's house with no problem! The terrain is a very sporty crossover vehicle and I have received numerous compliments on it, including not only how it looks but also how smoothly it rides. I have had it for seven years now, and have only had to replace tires and oil. I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an SUV or crossover vehicle to buy a GMC terrain! It has been my favorite car I have owned to date, and I have owned several over the years!

- Mary M

GMC Lover: Happy with their Economical Crossover in the Terrain

2012 GMC Terrain SLT-2

The only issue I had was when I first got it, 2 failed starts without any error message in the computer when read at the dealership. Never happened again. Otherwise, very economical with a 4 cylinder, so great mileage for a crossover. Comfortable ride. Nice leather seats, heated and great AC/Heating system. No vents in back, but cools/warms the space well. Wish it was just a little bigger sometimes, ended up buying a roof rack for some more cargo room. Interface is very app-oriented, but easy to interact with. I did not do the navigation package, but like the sound system in the trim selection. I got black on black with some standard rims. It's a great looking car in my opinion, some don't like the business! I love the front end, looks badass. Back seats split 70/30% to open up the entire back for larger cargo items.

- Claire G

Love my GMC terrain - bought new and enjoyed it since!

2012 GMC Terrain

I have loved my car since I bought it new! I did have issues where the timing chain went on it, but it was covered under warranty and gm got me a whole new engine. I live where we get a lot of snow and I was able to drive back and forth to my job in the winter with only 2 wheel drive and had no issues. The vehicle is light so on ice can have some struggles and spin. Good tires have helped this issue. Back up cam is super handy. Would recommend to other buyers! Lots of interior room, yet easy to park and compact enough for an everyday driver. Have had 5 full sized large adults in the vehicle and although I wouldn't recommend packing everyone in like that for a long road trip, for around town everyone fit comfortably.

- Katie F

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