The 2021 GMC Terrain is both nimble and attractive.  Plus, factor its technology, fuel economy, and luxury features for a well-rounded value.

So, by EPA standards it’s a compact SUV.  But it doesn’t look like one on the outside.  Nor does it feel like a compact on the inside.

2021 GMC Terrain driver profile

2021 GMC Terrain SLT

2021 GMC Terrain Review

As a compact sport-ute, the ’21 GMC Terrain sits in a wildly competitive segment.  Because US drivers love SUVs.  And every carmaker has an offering to grab some of that high-demand market.

So why should you consider the ’21 GMC Terrain?

2021 GMC Terrain Top-3:

  1. Styling.
  2. Interior and space.
  3. Nimble and versatile driver.

Plus the fuel economy and the overall value delivered by the Terrain can’t be overlooked.

Prices And Trims

For 2021 GMC offers Terrain in four main trim configuration options.   With manufacturers suggested retail prices starting at just over $26k and going up to about $37k.

2021 GMC Terrain Trims And MSRPs:

  • SL $26,195
  • SLE $29,695
  • SLT $33,795
  • Denali $37,095

And while Denali is the top trim configuration, there’s an Elevation Edition package that’s available on both the SLE and SLT trims.

Engine, Transmission, And MPG

The powerplant is kept simple across all trim levels.  Because regardless of your Terrain trim selection, you receive a spirited 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder.  It has dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder.  Additionally, the motor is direct-injected while delivering 170-horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque.

18" machined aluminum wheels w/ dark gray painted accents

18″ machined aluminum wheels


And like the engine, the same transmission is in Terrain across all trim levels.  It’s a smooth-shifting 9-speed automatic that gives the Terrain great off-the-line acceleration.  But it also delivers fuel economy that makes you want to plan a road trip.


As a result of the same engine and transmission throughout Terrain’s trim options, its fuel economies are similar as well.  So the only difference is whether or not you go with all-wheel drive or two-wheel drive.  And in the case of the ’21 Terrain, the two-wheel-drive option is front-wheel drive.

Fuel Economy:

  • FWD 26/30
  • AWD 25/28

*City/Highway MPG

Also, the compact sport-ute has a 1,500 towing capacity with a curb weight of between 3,449 and 3,662 depending on your configuration.


As you’d expect from a GMC, the Terrain is handsomely designed.  In fact, its roofline and stance give it an appearance of being a larger vehicle than it actually is.

Red 2021 GMC Terrain driver rear level angle

Height 65.4″ & 72.4″ width

All Terrain trims have black accent paint near the roofline of the C-pillar.  And that helps to give it an athletic appearance different from its competitors.

Exterior dimensions:

  • Wheelbase 107.3
  • Length 182.3
  • Width 72.4
  • Height 65.4
  • Track:
    • Front 62.3
    • Rear 62.5
  • Ground clearance 6.9 to 7.9

*All inches

2021 GMC Terrain Interior

Whereas Terrain looks bigger than it is on the outside it feels bigger than its compact rating on the inside.  Because it has plenty of space for passengers and cargo.

2021 GMC Terrain front seats and dash

103.2 cu-ft passenger volume

It’s a 5-seat SUV with two seating rows.  Whereas some compact SUVs give the option to add a 3rd row of seating GMC Terrain does not.  And frankly, I think that makes sense.  Because when you pack the 3rd row of seating in a compact vehicle it’s only for small children.  And negotiating toddlers into the third row of seating can be an interesting project. :0)

Interior Dimensions:

  • Headroom:
    • w/out sunroof 40/38.5
    • w/ sunroof 38.2/36.8
  • Legroom 40.9/39.7
  • Shoulder room 57.2/55.6
  • Hip room 54.4/51.8

*All inches

Overall, the inside Terrain is both big and well laid out.  Additionally, its surfaces have a quality look and feel for each respective trim configuration.

2021 GMC Terrain cargo area w. backseat partial down - gray interior

Up to 63.3 cu-ft cargo area

And with the 60/40-split backseats folded down, the 2021 GMC Terrain provides 63.3 cubic feet of cargo space.  Plus you can event fold the front passenger seat down for a grand total of 81 cu-ft of cargo space.  Additionally, that can really come in handy for hauling longer items too!

Infotainment And Safety Technology

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are avaiable through 7″ and 8″ infotainment touchscreens.  And the user-interface is both friendly and intuitive – very easy to use on your first drive.

'21 GMC Terrain cockpit

Available navigation & 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot

The 2021 Terrain comes with GMC Pro Safety standard and then GMC Pro Safety Plus is available.  And here’s how those packages break down:

GMC Pro Safety:

  • Lane keep assist w/ departure warning.
  • Automatic emgerency braking.
  • Following distance indicator.
  • Front pedestrian braking.
  • Forward collision alert.
  • Intellibeam headlamps.

GMC Pro Safety Plus:

  • All above and below.
  • Lane change alert w/ blind-spot alert.
  • Rear cross-traffic alert.
  • Safety seat alert.
  • Rear park assist.
  • Adaptive cruise.

Finally, a notable tech feature that is easily overlooked if not pointed out.  But, you’ll definitely notice it upon your first test drive.  And that’s the gear shifter.  It’s missing completely!  Instead Terrain has shifter buttons located on the dash.

Gear shifter buttons

Gear shifting buttons

Located at the bottom of the center stack, the buttons are easy to use.  However, their location most certainly give you pause upon your first use.

2021 GMC Terrain Top-3

Indeed, with all the above in mind, my Top-3 favorite aspects of the 2021 GMC Terrain were easy to pick.  Although, I could easily add more than three.

  1. Styling: Terrain catches the eye – in all trim levels.  Especially for a compact SUV and at that price point.  Because that segment isn’t always known for aesthetic appeal.
  2. Interior and space: I love the layout of Terrain’s cockpit.  It’s intuitive and complements instead of confounding the driver.  And it has a highly versatile use of space.
  3. Nimble and versatile driver: The turbo 4-cylinder delivers great MPG but it’s still fun to drive.  Plus it looks great whether you’re hauling people or stuff.