GMC Terrain Denali review: responsibility over raw power

The 2022 SUV isn't the fastest vehicle in its class, but it has many other things going for it

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SUVs in the US have traditionally had one very strong point in their favour ― they’re often considerably less expensive than many of their counterparts from other parts of the world.

Although that does not mean all the vehicles being produced by mainstream US manufacturers are necessarily budget offerings, with the GMC Terrain Denali being a case in point.

That Denali moniker is attached to the manufacturer’s premier offerings, with Yukons, Sierras and Acadias all being available in that format, and the top-of-the-range Terrain is part of this posh bunch.

The specs

Engine: 4-cylinder 2-litre
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Power: 252 brake horsepower
Torque: 352Nm
Price: from Dh146,700
On sale: now

The tweaked design of the 2022 Terrain Denali (a face lift, if you will) retains the seemingly powerful stance of previous models, but it all looks a little more streamlined.

Some SUVs, particularly those passing themselves off as borderline muscle cars, have adopted a swept-back look, with the roof tapering at the back. The Terrain seems to have gone halfway with this, retaining a truck-like stance, but with just enough of a downward curve to lose the blocky look of some of its rivals.

That big grille on the front still smiles like James Bond's 1970s metal-toothed adversary Jaws, emphasised as it is by the C-shaped lights on either side. Nothing too tame here.

The cabin is impressively quiet, even at high speed. Photo: GMC

The designers have made sure you and your passengers will be aware of the model you’re in, because the embroidered Denali logo occupies a prominent position on each head rest.

The seating is comfortable and no one should be complaining of any lack of room in the cabin, even if you’re giving the local basketball team a lift.

Let’s talk performance then.

When you get behind the wheel, the Terrain feels nippy enough for a moderate-size SUV (it’s actually GMC's smallest vehicle in this bracket). There are faster competitors, it has to be said, but a lot of these are at a much higher price point.

The cabin is impressively quiet, even at high speed, making the Terrain another one of those no-hullaballoo rides.

It’s decent to drive, too. The handling is acceptable and the brakes have a clean and crisp bite.

You'd have to say that it doesn’t feel like the kind of all-wheel drive you’d be looking to take off-road any time soon (sometimes you can feel the bumps), but this will not be a problem because most drivers of this type of vehicle stick stolidly to tarmac at all times.

You get some tidy extra stylings on the Terrain Denali as well.

The updated interior with new Electronic Precision Shift and stop/start disable buttons. Photo: GMC

The seats are all stitched leather with burnished aluminium accents spread around the cabin. A Bose seven-speaker sound system comes as standard, and you get other nice touches such as a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel and extra ventilation on the front seats.

You can also connect to the GMC Connected Services app, giving you remote access to your vehicle.

From Dh146,700, the Denali isn’t a budget option cash-wise. You can get a base-level Terrain from Dh96,100, with the midway offering, the AT4, starting at Dh120,700.

But the upgraded engine in the Denali is the key factor in lifting it above some of its less expensive siblings. The extra little luxuries are all welcome, but the new Terrain definitely benefits from a beefier engine.

All in all, though, the Terrain feels a very responsible ride, which is never something to be sniffed at.

Updated: July 17, 2022, 4:15 AM
The specs

Engine: 4-cylinder 2-litre
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Power: 252 brake horsepower
Torque: 352Nm
Price: from Dh146,700
On sale: now

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