Sometimes you have to admit defeat and concede that not every car is meant to provide the pure thrills of driving. Many are functional products with few flaws, so long as you're not looking to raise your pulse above resting. Exhibit A: the GMC Terrain.
Since testing this updated compact SUV, I have taken more notice of who actually drives them in the UAE, and my surreptitious stares through windscreens have yielded some unexpected results: it isn’t just soccer moms behind the wheel of Terrains. Picture my surprise.
But the needs of that stereotypical role would certainly be best fulfilled by this GMC, which marries unmemorable, chunkily rugged styling with a hard-wearing interior that is, in my Denali test car at least, classily decked out in minimal black with wooden veneer trim. An entire football team could cram their kit into the capacious boot, and although there is no middle headrest on the back seats, there is sufficient room for three solid adults. A huge central console adds to the generous total storage space.
The second generation Terrain has had some of the previous model’s external boxiness smoothed out, but it is still not what you would exactly term a looker.
The high door sills make for nice lines leading into the C pillar, although they do restrict the view from the rear seats for shorter passengers. The apostrophe-shaped headlights and the trademark big, brooding GMC grille are the only other facets to distinguish the Terrain from a bevy of rivals in class. Again, it’s largely function over form.
The top-range Denali carries a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, although a 1.5-litre is also available with a lower spec – not that I would recommend the drop. The larger unit comfortably carries my test car, but the momentum never gets much beyond polite. Lose a quarter of the capacity and I fear it might be underpowered, not least as you lose a whopping 82hp (170hp versus 252hp), as well as 78Nm of torque (275Nm versus 353Nm).
In Denali form, the Terrain comes packed with tech and safety features, with all manner of warning systems and surround-view camera. The stereo controls on the back of the steering wheel are a thoughtful touch, too, for those of us who prefer not to total our cars having taken eyes off the road to fiddle with the stereo. The connectivity covers just about every base, including USB slots aplenty front and back, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus an SD card reader and wireless phone charging.
A couple of hiccups on my test car slightly sour the experience. The stereo display keeps freezing with Bluetooth engaged, which requires you to disconnect and reconnect – not ideal and rather distracting when on the move. And the electronic parking brake doesn’t always seem to engage on first press.
That is about as bad as things get, however. The Terrain won’t get your blood pumping with adrenalin, but neither will it with annoyance. It gets on with the task in hand with a matter-of-factness that will make your life easier without adding anything approaching excitement. Which is pretty much job done.