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The 2012 GMC Terrain a compact crossover that impacts in a big way

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Although the compact SUV market has gotten a little crowded, one hefty player seems to be pushing its way to the top, the GMC Terrain. Are consumer's preferences shifting toward smaller vehicles because of the madness going on with rising fuel costs? Is it just a quest for more upscale four-wheel offerings in smaller packages that offer value to boot? Whatever the case, the GMC Terrain is a happy medium for folks who are looking for a balance of class and functionality.

When you first peep the exterior of the GMC top selling 2012 Terrain you notice that it has an imposing T-square design. It dimensions actually look larger than its category of 'compact.' Some might object to the Terrain's fenders. I have heard a couple of folks even refer to the vehicle's looks as "cartoonish," but I for one, totally disagree. Since GMC is a truck company, the five-passenger Terrain naturally has a very trucky appearance, chunky in design. There are nice chrome touches which are not overdone, clean side surfaces, a high beltline, distinctive grille and wide stance completes the overall athletic design.

The 2012 GMC Terrain a compact crossover that impacts in a big way Photo credit: GMC
Inside the Terrain's cabin is a surprise of all things classy, spacious and not trucky. GMC has used an array of premium materials that gives the cabin a modern and neat look. The Terrain's dash is made of a soft-touch material. The seating is really bolstered, there's a super padded center armrest, tasteful chrome accents, a comfortable steering wheel that feels good to the grip; what you see is definitely what you'll like. The fit and finish of the vehicle's interior is just very neat and well placed.

The Terrain seating is just superb. It comforts every single inch that touches your body. You can feel the extra padding that is used, so long trips are a welcomed and pleasurable experience. Folks with back, hip or even thigh issues will welcome the cushion of the Terrain's comfort seating. Tall drivers those over six feet (my husband is 6'6") will welcome the leg and head room that the Terrain offers.

Rear seat passengers have loads of room as well. A MultiFlex sliding second row, that can move forward (great if you have smaller kids and want quick access to them) and back by up to 8-inches (for taller rear passengers) is just plain smart thinking. When pushed all the way back, the Terrain offers best-in-class (39.9") second row legroom, so leg cramping is a thing of the past.

Another observation is that whether you are tall or petite, entry into the Terrain from the front or rear is a no effort move, not too tall and not too low, the vehicle sits just right.

The bells and whistles of the technology that the Terrain has to offer really involves no guess work. The knobs are easy, large enough and are all within easy reach. Standard equipment includes OnStar, a touch-screen interface for the standard audio system, a clear rear-vision camera, and fog lights. If you bump it up a notch, you can add the navigation system which doesn't frustrate. You might also want to consider adding forward collision alert system coupled with a lane departure warning system which can keep you in check on the byways. Another interesting plus is that there are four power outlets throughout the Terrains' cabin for your laptop, phone charger or other tekkie stuff you schlep.

The Terrain's Intellilink system gives you good technology plus, offering enhanced voice commands of the audio system, hands-free calling with phone book screen access and Bluetooth streaming of internet radio stations. You can pamper your pint-sized crew with the optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

What's not so great is the cargo room in the Terrain that shrinks when you slide the seat all the way back. If you fold the rear seats down you get 63.9 cubic feet which is a few feet less than it's archenemies the Honda CR-V or the Toyota Rav4.

Getting behind the wheel of the 2012 Terrain is as comfortable as its seating. You definitely will think that you are in a larger vehicle because of its luxe feel. The ride is smooth, well-controlled, confident and luxurious like a pricier vehicle it soaks up road booby traps like a pro. Handling is absolutely carlike. There is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 182 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque which is slow on the draw but offers a stable ride overall. Optional on the SLE-2 and SLT models is a 3.0-liter V-6 that hammers out 264 hp and 222 lb-ft of torque. The V-6 won't win you any races on the straight and narrow but if you want to summon up more highway passing power, this is the route to go, hands-down. Braking gets high marks, thanks to four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes.

When you're driving, another huge plus is that the Terrain's interior space is just so incredibly hushed, thanks to its active noise cancellation feature that uses sound waves to reduce cabin noise--love it!

For 2012, the 2.4-liter and the 3.0-liter engines have been made E85 ethanol capable as well as regular fuel. The Terrain's EPA estimates for the 2.4L I-4 VVT (AWD) 29 MPG hwy, (FWD) 32 MPG hwy; 3.0L V6 VVT (AWD) 22 MPG hwy, (FWD 24 MPG hwy.)

The 2012 GMC Terrain is about safety. The crossover comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, a rearview camera and OnStar. In government crash tests, the Terrain earned an overall score of four stars (out of five), along with four stars in frontal impacts and five stars in side impacts.

The 2012 GMC Terrain is all-capable--roomy, comfortable, maneuverable. An overall great family ride or for couples with an active lifestyle, the Terrain is the big little crossover with lots of upscale appeal.

Prices start at $25,560.

Need more info? 2012 GMC Terrain | Small SUV | GMC

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