New turbos, shifter for GMC Terrain

2018 GMC Terrain Denali aims at compact crossovers. (Bud Wells photos)

I’m a push-button shifter from way back; crawling into the 2018 GMC Terrain Denali cabin for the first time, though, I had to take a second look to determine there were shift controls.

The Terrain’s new electronic precision shifter consists of a row of push and pull buttons across the center stack of the instrument panel.

Push-pull logic for 9-speed automatic transmission.

The driver pushes the Park button, pulls another for Reverse, pushes the middle one for Neutral, pulls one for Drive and pushes the far right for Low. By replacing the normal transmission shifter with the push/pull setup, room for pass-through storage and side-by-side cupholders is left in the center console. The row of shift buttons is beneath the HVAC and entertainment systems.

The buttons are electronically connected to a new 9-speed automatic transmission, which is mated to a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine which produces 252 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, with all-wheel drive.

Standard engine in a lesser-priced Terrain (below the Denali level) is a 1.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder of 170 horsepower and 203 lb.-ft. of torque.

A third option is a turbocharged 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder diesel-powered 4-cylinder of 136 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque, and tied to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

The resized Terrain is smaller and lighter than a year ago and meets head-on with such compact SUV standouts as the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, Jeep Cherokee, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue.

GMC engineers reduced wheelbase by 5 inches, overall length by 3 inches and curb weight by 250 pounds. Its specs are 107.3-inch wheelbase, 182.3 overall length, 72.4 width and 65.4 height. The decreased length cut the Terrain’s cargo space behind the rear seats to 29.6 cubic feet, considerably smaller than much of the competition.

The five-passenger Terrain carries an EPA fuel estimate of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 26 on the highway. Overall average under my piloting was 23.8 mpg. The crossover rides on Hankook 235/50R19 tires.

GM designers had fun with this new one, settling on a “floating roof” look with blacked-out rear pillars. The interior is upscale and roomy, particularly with the Denali trim.

Optional low-speed forward automatic braking, lane-keep assist, surround vision and heated rear seats pushed sticker price to $44,370. Base price is $40,245.