In case you missed the memos that have been circulating around product planning offices in Tokyo, Detroit, Wolfsburg and Seoul, the midsize crossover utility vehicle (CUV) segment is officially on fire. It is so hot, even the General decided its ice-cold "professional-grade" division needs a piece of the action.
So for 2010, GMC replaces the body-on-frame Envoy SUV with a new unibody CUV it calls the Terrain. GMC vehicles have traditionally been tweaked variants of existing GM products, and the Terrain is no different. It rides on the same 112.5-inch wheelbase of the Chevy Equinox, though is shorter in length (185.3 inches versus 187.8) and wider (72.8 inches versus 72.5). Powerplants are also shared and include both a direct injection, 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a DI 3.0-liter V-6 that makes 264 horsepower.
So what's different? Primarily sheetmetal and interior bits. Though hardpoints like bumper heights, day-light openings, and door frames are fixed for the platform, nearly all the exterior is unique to Terrain. For better or worse, styling borrows heavily from GMC's professional-grade truck image and includes a heavily chromed, three-bar grille and beefy, squared-off fenders and wheelwells. Whether you find it hairy-chested or ham-handed, the Terrain is definitely striking and not likely to be confused with its platformmate.
In keeping with the manly theme, GMC designers took the Equinox's family friendly interior and barbecued it medium rare. Terrain dash and seating materials skew darker, with names like Jet Black and Brownstone (though there is a lighter, but no less masculine Light Titanium option), while red backlighting accents the dials, knobs, and buttons
The Equinox is a fine CUV from which to borrow and if you like the Terrain's butch styling, then so far this is pretty good news. Apparently GMC has done a great job of repurposing yet another GM vehicle, except that, upon closer inspection, the deck is stacked against the Terrain, particularly against the V-6 model.
How so? GMC's marketing mavens say the Terrain's competitive set includes the Ford Edge, Mazda CX-7, and Nissan Murano, which sounds good, except all these vehicles receive more potent optional engines: either a 3.5-liter V-6 (Murano and Edge) or a torquey turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder (CX-7). Against these rivals, the Terrain V-6 just doesn't compete.