Updated 9:21 p.m., Thursday, October 18, 2012
GMC’s midsize crossover, the five-passenger Terrain, has been a hit right out of the box since the current generation was introduced for 2010.
Now a high-end Denali version, the fanciest model yet in the Terrain lineup, is available for 2013. This makes the fifth GMC model to get the Denali treatment, which General Motors describes as a luxury subbrand.
Previously introduced, and still available, are Denali versions of the GMC Sierra pickup (1500, 2500 and 3500 models), the Yukon and Yukon XL full-size sport utilities, and the Acadia large crossover. There also were Denali models of the now-discontinued Envoy SUV.
GM says the Denali concept “has comprised a core set of design characteristics,” with features on every model such as chrome wheels and chrome trim in the grilles and body-color moldings and with the Denali name “displayed prominently on the outside of each front door.”
Inside, the automaker says, the Denali models are known for their premium materials, including soft leather upholstery and mahogany wood trim, and other premium features, including better audio systems and ventilated front seats.
For the newest entry, the Terrain Denali, prices start at $34,525 (plus $825 freight) for the front-wheel-drive version and $36,275 for the all-wheel-drive version, the one we tested for this report.
Besides the usual Denali interior and exterior cues, it comes with exclusive 18-inch satin-chrome aluminum wheels (19 inches with the optional V-6 engine). It also gets new technology, including radar-based blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts.
Standard is the same 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine found in other Terrain models, with 182 horsepower and 172 foot-pounds of torque, connected to a six-speed automatic transmission.
EPA ratings are 22 mpg city/32 highway with the four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. The four-wheel-drive model with the four-cylinder has ratings of 20 city/29 highway.
The new, optional 3.6-liter V-6, which also comes with a six-speed automatic, has 301 horsepower and 272 foot-pounds of torque. EPA ratings are 17/24 with front drive and 16/23 with all-wheel drive.
All Terrain models are available with all-wheel drive. Other trim levels for 2013 are the SLE 1 ($25,835, front drive) and SLE 2 ($27,335, front drive), and the SLT 1 ($28,885, front drive) and SLT 2 ($31,230, front drive).
Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are standard, along with electronic stability control and traction control, and six air bags: dual front, roof-mounted head-curtain side and seat-mounted front side.
An “infotainment” system is standard on the Denali, and it includes voice-command ability, along with iPod/iPhone controls, Bluetooth phone connection and streaming Internet radio apps such as Pandora and Stitcher.
A new package adds such high-tech safety features as forward collision alert, lane departure warning and rear park assist.
The exterior colors available for the Denali include: Quicksilver Metallic, Crystal Red Tintcoat, Carbon Black Metallic, Summit White and Iridium Metallic.
The interior comes with soft-touch Jet Black leather on the seats and door inserts, complete with contrast stitching and red accent lighting. There also are a leather-wrapped steering wheel with smoked-mahogany wood accents, Denali logos embossed on the front seatbacks, eight-way power driver and front-passenger seats, and a sunroof.
Our tester came with the V-6 engine ($1,750), which added the 19-inch wheels. We also had a color touch-screen navigation system ($795); trailer-towing package ($350); cargo package ($235), with a cargo cover, convenience net and luggage-rack cross rails; and the Iridium Metallic paint ($195).
Total sticker price, including freight and options, was $40,425.
The V-6 engine adds a real kick to the Terrain, but miser that I am when it comes to burning gasoline, I would leave off this option and stick with the four-cylinder. There’s plenty of power with the four, unless you have a trailer to tow.
A programmable power tailgate can be adjusted to a lower height to make it easier to reach for short people or to clear garage obstructions, GM says.
A standard sliding rear seat can be moved forward or rearward a total of 8 inches to give passengers more legroom or to give the cargo area more space, whichever is necessary at the moment.
The rear seat has a 60/40-split-folding back that can be lowered to increase cargo space. With the seatback in place, there is 31.6 cubic feet of storage. There are four 12-volt power outlets inside the vehicle, including one in the cargo hold.
For technology buffs, GMC’s IntelliLink system works in tandem with OnStar to add infotainment options to the vehicle, linked through a smartphone. It all can be operated by voice commands.
Automatic climate control is standard on Terrain SLE 2, SLT and Denali models, along with a 7-inch touch-screen audio display and USB and auxiliary inputs. A premium Pioneer audio with subwoofer and amplifier comes on the SLE 2, SLT and Denali models.
Also available is a rear DVD entertainment system.
Electric power steering is standard, along with power windows/mirrors/door locks and cruise control. The optional remote-start system allows the car to be started using the remote-control key fob so its interior can be warmed up or cooled down before the passengers get in (the cool-down feature is particularly helpful in the Texas summer).
Outside, the Terrain’s rocker panels are integrated into the doors to make it easier to enter and exit, a design that prevents getting pants legs dirty. A flush-fitting windshield and rear glass were designed to help reduce wind noise inside the vehicle.
There are many storage cubbies, including an oversized glove box, a bin above the center stack in instrument panel, and a closed bin under the front center armrest that is big enough to hold a laptop computer, allowing it to be hidden from view while the vehicle is parked.
Cloth upholstery is standard on models without leather. The “floating” center instrument stack was designed to make it easier to operate the climate-control and audio systems. XM satellite radio is included on all models.
’13 Terrain gets Denali treatment | Top Down Auto Blog | an SFGate.com blog