12 Best & Worst GMC Terrain Years (With Pictures)

The GMC Terrain is a compact SUV that was introduced in 2010. 

It’s known for its muscular exterior, sufficient interior space, and comfortable driving experience. 

In this article, we’ll check out the best and worst years of the Terrain.

2023 GMC Terrain SLT

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The GMC Terrain Are:

The best GMC Terrain model years are 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2017. The worst model years of the Terrain are 2011, 2012, 2013, 2010, 2014, and 2015. This is based on auto industry reviews, NHTSA statistics, reported problems, and consumer feedback.

What Are The Best Years For The GMC Terrain?

2023 and 2022 GMC Terrain

The 2023 and 2022 Terrains are two of the most stylistically and technologically advanced Terrain models to date.

Both models possess a comfortable interior, easy-to-use tech features, and an attractive exterior.

Either model year comes in 4 trims: SLE, SLT, AT4, and Denali. 

When purchased brand new, pricing ranges from roughly $30,000 to $40,000.

Each unit is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (175 horsepower) and is paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission.

Front-wheel-drive is the standard configuration (for the SLE and SLT trims) but all-wheel-drive is available too (standard on the AT4 and Denali trims).

The most popular trim is the entry-level SLE variant. It lacks in bells and whistles but does a fairly good job for a compact SUV in terms of performance and comfort. 

Owners praised the following aspects of the vehicle: comfort, driving experience, ride quality, interior, and safety.

Auto journalists, on the other hand, truly loved the model’s tech features, both standard and optional.

EPA fuel estimates are 27 MPG for combined driving, 25 MPG for city driving, and 30 MPG for highway driving. 

2023 Terrain:

  • Edmunds: 4.2 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.1 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 85 / 100

2022 Terrain:

  • Edmunds: 4.2 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.1 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 85 / 100

2022 Terrain, Edmunds review:

“Had a 2018 Terrain and now have a 2022. I have nothing negative to say about the Terrain. No, the 1.5L isn’t a powerhouse, but it’s completely adequate around town, and it’s surprisingly quick entering the freeway with ample passing capabilities. Anyone who says the 1.5L is a slug hasn’t driven the car. The ride is firm and well controlled, never bouncy. The upscale cabin is comfortable and extremely quiet. Gas mileage is very good. Build quality and paintwork are excellent.”

2021 and 2020 GMC Terrain

The 2021 and 2020 Terrain models offer a good balance of value and up-to-date looks and features.

Other than some minor tweaks and equipment shuffling, both model years are virtually identical.

Both models secured a perfect 5-star NHTSA safety rating based on how they performed in various crash tests.

Our favorite safety features are Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert, and Safety Alert Seat.

There are 4 trims to choose from: SL, SLE, SLT, and Denali. 

The base level SL trim comes equipped with a 170 horsepower turbocharged engine, a 9-speed automatic transmission, and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

The SLE is identical to the SL but with the addition of the Driver Convenience, Infotainment, and GMC Pro Safety Plus packages.

The midrange SLT comes with all the previously mentioned features plus leather upholstery, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and even a heated steering wheel.

The top-of-the-line Denali provides luxurious features, including Bose premium audio, a wireless charging pad, and front parking sensors. 

2021 Terrain:

  • Edmunds: 4.0 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.1 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2020 Terrain:

  • Edmunds: 4.1 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.1 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2021 Terrain, Edmunds review:

“I was pleasantly surprised how peppy this small SUV is. I love all the safety features and the fact that I don’t have to pay so much for gas since it takes regular 87 octane. I took it on a long trip this weekend and it performed great.”

2020 GMC Terrain Denali

2019 GMC Terrain

The 2019 model year is the second installment of the second generation. 

It sports an upgraded rearview camera, all-new appearance packages, multiple minor tweaks to standard and optional features, and a sleeker-looking modern interior.

There are 4 trims to pick: SL, SLE, SLT, and Denali.

An optional diesel variant is also available in certain configurations. 

EPA fuel estimates are 28 MPG for combined driving, 26 MPG for city driving, and 30 MPG for highway driving.

These great fuel economy figures are due to the highly efficient 1.5-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine (170 horsepower) as the standard engine and the slightly bigger 1.6-liter diesel engine with 137 horsepower. 

Owners found the following aspects of the vehicle to be its greatest assets: fuel efficiency, ride quality, off-roading capability, reduced road noise, and overall driving experience. 

Auto journalists, on the other hand, loved this iteration of the Terrain for its various tech features, including numerous driver aids, 6 USB ports, and optional navigation software. 

  • Edmunds: 3.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.1 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 84 / 100

2019 Terrain, Edmunds review:

“After having the terrain (SLT, 1.5 Turbo) in the family for 2 months I have found much of these reviews debatable. Yes the 1.5 Turbo Engine is lacking, especially when compared to my 2013 Terrain Denali but with ever raising gas prices the mpg is great. Even I would compromise speed for such great gas mileage and trust me I’m a lead foot. The car is nice to drive in my opinion and the body redesign is nothing short of beautiful. Yes the trunk lacks space, but the reviews forgot to mention another level of storage space under the trunk over the spare tire. It is an incredibly nice feature that hides all the needed nicknacks like jumper cables and snow supply’s leading to a much nicer aesthetic.”

2017 GMC Terrain

The 2017 Terrain is a first-generation model that has a slightly dated design but a highly efficient engine and a lower price tag to make up for it.

The SUV is known for its spacious backseat, quiet interior, and supple suspension which is especially useful when navigating through rough roads. 

There are 5 trims to choose from: SL, SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT, and Denali.

In case you were wondering, the primary differences between the SLE-1 and SLE-2 are LED daytime running lights (DRL), automatic climate control, and an 8-way power driver seat (with power lumbar adjustment). 

EPA fuel economy estimates are 25 MPG for combined driving, 21 MPG for city driving, and 31 MPG for highway driving. 

These figures drop slightly if the optional all-wheel-drive is equipped.

Owners of this model year praised the vehicle for its comfort, appearance, spaciousness, safety, and off-roading capability.

When properly equipped, the nimble terrain can provide you with a maximum towing capacity of 1,500 pounds, sufficient enough to pull small-sized trailers.

  • Edmunds: 3.4 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 3.9 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2017 Terrain, Edmunds review:

“The Terrain not only stands out for its looks, but it drives great, is dependable, comfortable, offers great features, and is decent on gas. I loved my first one so much that I got a new one. I did look at a few other vehicles, but none in the same class even compare. I have owned almost every make of car out there and the GMC Terrain has been the only one I ever considered owning a second time around!”

2017 GMC Terrain SLT

Consumer Scores For Best GMC Terrain Years

Model YearEdmunds
Consumer Rating
Kelley Blue Book
Consumer Rating
JD Power
Consumer Rating
2023 GMC Terrain4.2 / 5.04.1 / 5.085 / 100
2022 GMC Terrain4.2 / 5.04.1 / 5.085 / 100
2021 GMC Terrain4.0 / 5.04.1 / 5.082 / 100
2020 GMC Terrain4.1 / 5.04.1 / 5.082 / 100
2019 GMC Terrain3.3 / 5.04.1 / 5.084 / 100
2017 GMC Terrain3.4 / 5.03.9 / 5.082 / 100

Related: How Long Do GMC Terrain Last? (Solved & Explained)

What Are The Worst Years For The GMC Terrain?

2011, 2012, and 2013 GMC Terrain

The 2011, 2012, and 2013 Terrain model years are the most problematic model years, according to auto industry data.

They were extremely susceptible to engine-related problems, including vehicle stalling, speed reduction, knocking sounds, and excessive oil consumption. 

Most of the engine-related issues started to occur at around 150,000 miles and rapidly progressed to a variety of other problems, making the vehicle extremely risky to drive.

One unfortunate owner experienced numerous issues within his very first year of ownership, as detailed below:

“I have owned this car for a little over a year and have had nothing but issues. The car caught on fire due to electrical issues once, the car has just stopped running on me multiple times while I was driving, almost causing a wreck. The engine goes through oil like crazy. I’ve had it back to the dealership multiple times and never get a fix. I believe this vehicle is a true lemon.”

  • The 2011 Terrain had a total of 525 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 148 complaints at CarComplaints.com.
  • The 2012 Terrain had a total of 450 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 90 complaints at CarComplaints.com.
  • The 2013 Terrain had a total of 426 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 66 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Engine stalls/shuts down while driving
  • Transmission failure
  • Timing chain broke
  • Check engine and StabiliTrak warnings
  • Blown engine
  • Main seal blew
2011 GMC Terrain

2010 GMC Terrain

The 2010 Terrain had similar issues to the previously discussed model years, albeit at a smaller frequency.

Repeatedly reported issues are timing chain failure and burning oil odors inside the car.

Engine power reduction and loss of traction control were also quite common. One owner report is detailed below:

“The contact stated that while driving at an undisclosed speed, the vehicle experienced a reduction in engine power with the check engine and traction control warning lights illuminated. Additionally, the vehicle intermittently failed to start, the passenger’s side rear tire made knocking sounds and lifted up while making turns, and the vehicle consumed an excessive amount of oil, causing the contact to refill the oil reservoir every three days.”

The 2010 Terrain had a total of 406 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 121 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Transmission failure
  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Runs roughly
  • Erratic power

2014 GMC Terrain

Engine-related issues continued with the 2014 Terrain, with hundreds of reports filed yet again from disgruntled owners. 

Loss of power, vehicle stalling, and problematic sensors caused headaches for owners of this model year.

A number of owners also reported headlight issues – flickering, low brightness, loss of power.

The 2014 Terrain had a total of 330 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 74 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Engine shuts down while driving
  • Wipers stopped working

2015 GMC Terrain

The 2015 had significant visibility concerns due to major defects with the windshield wipers – and subsequently there was a recall.

While this may not be as concerning as the other problems discussed on this list, it is very dangerous to drive in the rain with no wipers.

The report below was filed on the NHTSA website:

“The contact owns a 2015 GMC Terrain. The contact stated that while driving approximately 65 mph in a rainstorm, the front windshield wiper blades suddenly malfunctioned and ceased operation creating a visibility hazard to the driver. The vehicle was taken to the local dealer who determined that the windshield wiper motor was faulty and needed to be replaced…”

Unfortunately, a lot of owners were left waiting for unreasonable periods of time for the repairs. 

The 2015 Terrain had a total of 309 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 68 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Engine stalls while driving
  • Blown rear seal on motor
  • Loud tapping noise
2015 GMC Terrain SLE

Related: Where Are GMC Terrains Made? (Solved & Explained)

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

Model YearComplaints
(CarComplaints.com)
Problems
(CarProblemZoo.com)
Recalls
(NHTSA.gov)
2023 GMC Terrain1
2022 GMC Terrain2173
2021 GMC Terrain1121
2020 GMC Terrain2841
2019 GMC Terrain221283
2018 GMC Terrain161785
2017 GMC Terrain18871
2016 GMC Terrain141232
2015 GMC Terrain683093
2014 GMC Terrain743302
2013 GMC Terrain664263
2012 GMC Terrain904503
2011 GMC Terrain1485253
2010 GMC Terrain1214062

What Problems Do GMC Terrains Have?

  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Transmission failure
  • Runs roughly
  • Erratic power
  • Engine stalls/shuts down while driving
  • Timing chain broke
  • Check engine and StabiliTrak warnings
  • Blown engine
  • Main seal blew
  • Wipers stopped working
  • Blown rear seal on motor
  • Loud tapping noise

Related: 11 Most Common GMC Terrain Problems (Explained)

What Are The Best Alternatives To The GMC Terrain?

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy (MPG)
Kia Sportage8.1$25,990 – $36,790City: 23 – 25 /Highway: 28 – 32
Toyota RAV48.1$27,975 – $37,680City: 25 – 27 /Highway: 32 – 35
Ford Escape7.8$28,000 – $39,460City: 23 – 42 /Highway: 31 – 36
Volkswagen Tiguan7.8$26,590 – $37,320City: 21 – 23 /Highway: 28 – 30
Jeep Cherokee7.7$37,695 – $41,295City: 20 – 21 /Highway: 26 – 29
Mitsubishi Outlander7.7$27,595 – $39,995City: 24 /Highway: 30 – 31
Chevrolet Equinox7.5$26,600 – $33,400City: 24 – 26 /Highway: 30 – 31
Jeep Compass7.3$29,995 – $35,745 City: 24 /Highway: 32
Jeep Wrangler7.3$31,195 – $82,495City: 13 – 22 /Highway: 17 – 29
GMC Terrain7.2$29,900 – $38,600City: 24 /Highway: 28 – 29
Dodge Hornet7.1$29,995 – $34,995City: 21 /Highway: 29
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross6.9$25,795 – $29,495 City: 25 /Highway: 26 – 28

Source: cars.usnews.com, edmunds.com

Related: 16 Best & Worst GMC Acadia Years (With Pictures)

References

https://www.caranddriver.com/gmc/terrain

https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/gmc/terrain

https://www.edmunds.com/gmc/terrain/

https://www.kbb.com/gmc/terrain/

https://www.jdpower.com/cars/2023/gmc/terrain

https://www.carcomplaints.com/GMC/Terrain/

https://www.carproblemzoo.com/gmc/terrain/

https://www.cars.com/research/gmc-terrain/recalls/

Author:

  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...

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