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Review: 2019 GMC Terrain Denali

by: Mike Ginsca,

The 2019 GMC Terrain is the domestic option that consumers have at one of the most crowded auto segments in the market. Literally every mainstream auto manufacturer has a compact crossover SUV because that’s what consumers want these days. But at just over $46,000 CAD for this fully loaded Denali trimmed Terrain, is it worth the extra $4,000 CAD that you pay over the competition?

2019 GMC Terrain Denali


Engine – There are 3 engine choices with the GMC Terrain. A 1.5L Turbo 4 cylinder. A 1.6L turbo-diesel. Or a 2.0L turbocharged 4 cylinder as found under the hood of this Denali Terrain, which is the only engine available with the Denali trim. Power is rated at 252hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. As far as 2.0L turbocharged engines go, this one is on the more powerful end of the scale but it’s still relatively fuel efficient. Power comes in low and the rpms rarely have to go beyond 2,500 when accelerating from a stop or overtaking.

As a result, the 2019 GMC Terrain Denali is rated at 9.0L/100km (26.1 mpg) on a highway and 11.2L/100km (21 mpg) in a city. During my week with the GMC Terrain, I averaged 12.3L/100km (19.1 mpg) which I’d still consider to be good given a few circumstances. Majority of my driving that week involved city only driving and no highway. Also it was consistently below freezing every morning and I frequently used the remote start feature for a few minutes each day to warm up and defrost the car before heading out.

2019 GMC Terrain Denali Interior

Transmission – A 9-speed automatic is the only transmission that’s paired with the Terrain Denali. It is smooth to shift gears however it is slow to respond to a sudden stab of the throttle pedal when you require a sudden surge of power. The Electronic Precision Shift (or gear selector) did get a bit of negative feedback when it was first introduced on this new generation terrain last year but it works just fine. There’s no mistaking which drive mode you’ve selected and it allows for more storage space.

Braking – The brakes on the 2019 GMC Terrain Denali are adequate for the type of vehicle. Forward Collision Alert with Low Speed Automatic braking and Pedestrian braking are available as options and thankfully they are not overly intrusive when driving as other systems on the market.

2019 GMC Terrain Denali

Handling – As a luxury focused crossover SUV, the Terrain Denali drives like one. The steering is not as quick to respond as on the Mazda CX-5 but it does allow for a stable and planted feeling at higher speeds. There is more noticeable body roll through corners though as other, more sporty crossovers in this segment. Also the turning circle is bigger than expected at 12.7m (41.6 ft.).

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2019 GMC Terrain Denali Interior


Ride Comfort – The suspension is tuned with luxury in mind to provide a smooth ride. Over more jarry driving surfaces, it can become more noticeable inside the cabin but it’s not back breaking bad. Overall for daily city driving, it’s comfortable.

2019 GMC Terrain Denali Interior

Interior Space – Front occupants have a lot of leg and head room even if they’re over 6 feet tall. Rear occupants will find leg room adequate if they’re under 6 feet tall but loads of headroom even with the panoramic sunroof. Trunk space is a tad smaller than the Honda CR-V but fold flat rear seats add more cargo space if needed.

Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – With an acoustic laminated windshield and noise absorption materials throughout the engine bay, the 2019 GMC Terrain is a quiet vehicle. There is a bit of wind noise intruding from the mirrors at higher speeds but it’s not unbearable. The auto start/stop feature (which annoyingly cannot be turned off) is thankfully one of the smoothest of any 4 cylinder engine.

2019 GMC Terrain Denali Interior

Interior Design – The look and feel of the Terrain Denali is that of luxury. The soft leather seats with “Denali” lettering on the headrests look and feel luxurious. The dashboard is not covered in chrome or piano black trim but rather a bit of wood and some brushed aluminum trim. The 8” touchscreen is the primary focus of the dash but physical buttons & knobs below it allow for quick and easy adjustments of the climate and radio.

2019 GMC Terrain Denali Interior

Odds and Ends

Gadgets – The 2019 Terrain Denali is packed with tech. Starting with the infotainment, it is very easy to use and has an Android Auto familiarity to it. Speaking of which, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard across all trims and there are multiple USB and USB-C ports all over the cabin to plug your phone into. Wireless charging is also available just underneath the center armrest.

As mentioned earlier, this demo vehicle is equipped with the Driver Alert Package which adds the Automatic Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise control, Auto high beams, and 360 degree cameras. Blind spot sensors are standard on the Denali trim. Overall all of these features work as intended and best of all, the surround view cameras are HD so there’s no need to squint when parking close to a curb. Or just let the car park itself with the Park Assist feature. It will scan for a spot, you put it into reverse once it’s found a spot, and let the car steer itself while you just control the braking.

2019 GMC Terrain Denali

Exterior Design – While there may not be a lot of chrome on the inside, the outside is another story. The Denali exclusive chrome grille may be a bit much for some. In addition, there’s also chrome along the bottom of the front bumper, along the windows, lower door valance, and the roof rails. However, disregarding the chrome, the 2019 GMC Terrain looks good. The C-shaped LED running lights in the front and back add a bit of unique character to the SUV and this is one of the better implementations of the “floating roof” trend that is happening these days along the C-pillar.


So is the 2019 GMC Terrain Denali worth the extra $4,000 CAD over the competition? Not really. I’d recommend the SLT trim if you want a loaded up GMC Terrain. It is available with pretty much the same features as the Denali, it is available with the 1.6L diesel engine, it has less exterior chrome, and has a starting price that is $4,000 CAD less than the Denali’s starting price.

Thank you to GMC Canada for providing the vehicle.

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