GMC has completely revamped its Terrain for 2018 and the new generation of the crossover is improved in almost every way. It's a bit smaller and lighter, easier to drive, more comfortable, and more efficient. There are drawbacks to the new 2018 Terrain, but not enough to hurt its family-friendly appeal.

The most obvious changes to the 2018 GMC Terrain are seen from the outside. The flat-nosed front grille, square-ish front fascia and hood, and near-square wheel wells let it be known that this is a GMC. Yet, the bodywork, floating roof over the rear pillar, and sportier roofline are nice changes upgrading the new Terrain.

Going with that change, the grille is downsized a bit to deemphasize the SUV appearance of the vehicle without losing its GMC identity. The light taper to the greenhouse and beltline emphasize the curvier roofline, giving a light pinch to the rear end. All of this creates a forward movement for a faster-paced feel.

Inside, the Terrain has had a total makeover, with a more upscale cabin boasting lots of headroom and legroom throughout. There is seating for five, but the somewhat compact crossover is not quite wide enough for three adults to sit with total comfort three across in the back. It'll do in a pinch, though. The overall upscale appeal of the cabin is great.

The driver, however, will see a few ergonomic changes that may or may not resonate. The push-button shifting on the console is a little odd – its presence seems less about practicality and more about just being different for the sake of being different. It doesn't seem to free up any extra console space for cup holders or gadget storage and requires the driver to look down for every gear change. It's somewhat confusing, especially in the dark, and gearing down for long grades or in manual shifting mode means the driver will very likely look down to make sure the right button is being pressed.

We do give GMC kudos for the added gadget shelf on the front passenger's side, which has been appearing in various makes and models recently. Cargo space is pretty good at 81 cubic feet (2,294 L) all told, thanks to the front passenger's seat folding completely flat to add length when required. That unusual step means big items like paddle boards and surfboards will fit in the Terrain easily. Cargo space is otherwise 29.6 cu ft (838 L) behind the second row and 63.3 cu ft (1,792 L) with just that second row folded. All good sizes that are fairly easy to access thanks to the large hatch and wide-swinging passenger doors.

On the technology side, GM's IntelliLink infotianment system has improved greatly in the past two or three years, culminating in a great experience inside the 2018 Terrain. A 7-inch touchscreen is standard equipment in the crossover, including Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Onstar 4G LTE and built-in Wi-Fi (with subscription) are also included, as are four USB ports located throughout the cabin. That's a pretty impressive array of tech for a base offering.

Our Denali model had the upgraded 8-inch touchscreen, which adds two more USB ports to the front and brings HD and satellite radio and navigation. Wireless charging is available as well, along with a stereo upgrade to a more premium Bose sound system.

Most of the improvements to IntelliLink are with usability, which is now great. The learning curve is fairly short and voice controls are equally improved for better hands-free use.

Under the vehicle's skin is a tighter chassis that sheds a little weight and improves handling by pushing the wheels a bit further towards the corners. The Terrain now handles like a large car instead of a small SUV, making it more maneuverable and useful as a family toter.

Fuel economy is also improved, with the EPA rating the Terrain at 26 mpg (9.04 L/100km) in the city and 30 mpg (7.84 L/100km) on the highway with its base engine offering. That engine is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder that outputs 170 hp (127 kW) to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is the only option with this powertrain.

Upgrading from that base engine to the more astute 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder brings 252 hp (188 kW) into the same nine-speed automatic. This engine is offered in front-wheel drive as standard and with all-wheel drive as an option. This engine is an option in the middle-grade SLE and upper-grade SLT trims and is standard in the top-end Terrain Denali trim we drove. The little 2.0 offers a strong power band that gives the vehicle a confident feel and somewhat sporty attitude. It doesn't turn the little crossover into a sports car, but the sacrifice of just a couple of MPG points (22/28 mpg or 10.7/8.4 L/100km city/highway) is worth the uptick in power output and confidence.

Another option for the 2018 Terrain is a peppy 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine, which outputs 137 hp (102 kW) into a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine offers an eye-popping 28 mpg (8.4 L/100km) in the city and 39 mpg (6 L/100km) on the highway. Like the 1.5-liter gas engine, however, the diesel isn't very fast on the uptake to make a pass or get through an intersection.

For us, having briefly driven the diesel, we'd prefer the 2.0-liter turbo as the engine of choice for its better-suited appeal to the little crossover. Yet the diesel is very compelling for its non-hybrid MPG returns and smooth highway cruising ability.

The 2018 Terrain is a right-sized family mover with seating for up to five and a good amount of cargo space. As a premium option, it upsells from the often cheaper (and cheaper-felling) market options in the small crossover space. The base price is US$27,900 with a lot of equipment only found in similarly-priced (and not always as refined) competitors. Our test model 2018 GMC Terrain Denali rang in at $44,370 after delivery.

Product Page: 2018 GMC Terrain

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