Road-Tripping in the 2018 GMC Terrain Denali

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The 2018 GMC Terrain Denali is redesigned for this model year with a whole new look inside and out, a new powertrain, and more available features. The Denali sits at the top of the Terrain lineup with exclusive features that mark it as something special.

The GMC brand is a step up from the norm with ruggedly styled vehicles that don’t pretend to be elegant and reserved. These are bold vehicles that have presence, even when it’s a family-friendly crossover like the Terrain.

Looking for a new or used GMC Terrain? Check out BestRide’s listings search here.

Crossovers are kings of the road right now. Everyone wants one. Everyone drives one. Every automaker is coming out with a new one to better fill the niche and make sure all those crossover buyers pick its vehicle. The Terrain Denali takes everything people love about crossovers – room for five passengers, plenty of space for cargo, all-wheel drive to handle winter weather – and packages it all in a decidedly upscale vehicle.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission. This is the only option on the Denali trim, with the smaller 1.5-liter relegated to lower trims in the line-up.

It provides brisk acceleration with smooth shifts that help ensure a quiet ride for passengers. Combined with the a specially tuned suspension found only in the Denali, the Terrain is a pleasant place to pass the time.

We took the Terrain Denali on a three-hour road trip up to Stowe, Vermont. It was a relaxing drive on the highway and had no problem merging and passing in high-speed traffic. It also managed side roads well, which is saying something if you have ever seen the rutted, pot-holed mess that passes for roads in Vermont in the middle of February.

Adding to the comfort level are Denali-specific leather seats that are heated and dual-zone automatic climate control. Those seats are supportive without getting stiff, even at the end of our three-hour drive. OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi keeps everyone connected and makes passing the time easier.

Our Terrain Denali came equipped with heated rear seats to make sure everyone was comfortable and wireless charging in something of a unique charging slot. Rather than a flat pad that takes up lots of surface space to charge your phone, it’s a little slot in front of the armrest that’s completely out of the way. This leaves plenty of room in the storage area ahead of the cup holders for smaller items.

The Terrain Denali is also a stand-out on the outside. It gets upgrades including a satin-chrome multidimensional grille, LED headlamps with signature lighting, 19-inch ultra-bright machined aluminum wheels, and body-color fascias and lower trims. It’s comfortable and relaxing inside and attractive outside.

When it’s cargo and not people, the Terrain Denali offers impressive flexibility. There’s 29.6 cubic feet behind the second-row and 63.3 cubic feet behind the first row. The front passenger seat also folds forward for longer items, which expands the cargo room all the way up to 81.0 cubic feet. Skis, snowboards, and kayaks fit in the Terrain no problem.

Looking for a new or used GMC Terrain? Check out BestRide’s listings search here.

As the top-of-the line Terrain trim, pricing comes in higher, but not as high as you might expect. Front-wheel drive models start at $38,495 while all-wheel drive models start at $40,245. It’s not an inexpensive crossover, but for its looks, comfort, and features, the 2018 GMC Terrain Denali is a cut above competitors.

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Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin