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2016 GMC Terrain Denali

2016 GMC Terrain Denali 3/4 front

Base Price: $34,900
Price as Tested: $41,315

In its seventh year, the current GMC Terrain is an “oldster” among its competition. As the trend has skewed toward sleeker-, softer- looking crossovers, Terrain retains its broad-shouldered and generally butched-up, truck-like styling. There certainly is a place for that.

If you look at Terrain on GMC’s retail Website, it breaks out Terrain Denali from the rest of the nameplate’s versions. I will follow its lead here, but just so you know: A base Terrain SL has an entry-level price of $24,900. Entry into the Denali subset will set you back $34,900.

As Terrain ages, GMC makes modest improvements to this still very competent crossover. The bulk of these tweaks applies to the grades arrayed below Denali.

A bit surprising, GMC offers two engines in the Terrain Denali. In every other respect, Denali is the top of the Terrain food chain. With that in 2016 GMC Terrain Denali 3/4 rearmind, it would seem logical that only the 301-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 would serve as the power source – particularly for the AWD version. This, however, is not the case. The same 182-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder found in the entry-level Terrain provides the go in the Denali grade. The V6 is a $1,500 upcost. With either engine, a six-speed automatic transmission delivers engine output to the wheels.

No shock the 2.4L delivers better fuel economy than the V6. According to the government, two-wheel-drive Terrains with the four-cylinder engine get 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway/26 mpg combined; while the V6 gets 17/24/20. My test Terrain with the V6 had the $1,750 AWD system. Its estimated fuel economy is 16/23/18.

I didn’t have to discover just how well the four-banger performed; GMC brought one with the V6 upgrade. My driving the week spent with Terrain consisted primarily of a few trips to the home-improvement store, daily gym visits and a couple of excursions to the grocery store. There were probably a couple of other errands in the mix, but none were particularly taxing. The V6 got up and moving with intent. It made quick work of entering the flow of traffic on the local freeways. It always felt as though it had plenty of thrust left in reserve. It is a cruiser.

Although Terrain looks more like a heavier-duty SUV than most of today’s herd of crossovers, its looks are somewhat deceiving. It is a crossover with more in common with a bigger sedan than an SUV. On the highway, it is quiet and smooth. Sailing over pavement imperfections, its ride quality is topnotch.

2016 GMC Terrain Denali light titanium-jet black interiorFrom the Terrain’s library-quiet cabin and unexpected comfort, you probably wouldn’t automatically conclude GMC specializes in trucks. In fact, the upscale interior puts some cars to shame. Tasteful styling, quality materials and careful craftsmanship collude to create an inviting passenger environment. It may not have quite the cargo-carrying capacity of others in the segment, but with its sliding/reclining second-row seat, soft-touch surfaces and 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Terrain Denali provides an up-level passenger experience.

For the most part, Denali translates into added luxury. Sure, there are a few exterior changes, such as a chrome grille, body-colored fascias and unique wheels all setting Denali apart from Terrain’s lesser grades. Eight-way power adjustable front seats, as well as mahogany wood accents top the list interior enhancements.

Standard features not already mentioned included automatic climate control, rear-park assist, backup camera, power rear liftgate, full power accessories, remote start, heated front seats, OnStar, Bluetooth connectivity, blind-zone alert, lane-departure warning, forward collision alert, seven-inch color touchscreen, Intellilink with voice control and an eight-speaker Pioneer audio system with USB port.

GMC loaded up my test Terrain with $4,665 worth of options. In addition to the V6 and AWD, extras around my test Terrain included a power sunroof, navigation system, 19-inch wheels and some cargo area upgrades like a cargo cover and net.

Although the Terrain is getting older, it is aging gracefully. Still relevant within its segment, it coddles its occupants within a rugged-looking wrapper. Terrain Denali is a viable alternative to its less macho-looking peers.