2016 GMC Terrain Denali Review

Terrain Denali

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2016 GMC Terrain Denali Overview

If you have a few extra dollars and want a uniquely well-appointed crossover, take a good long look at the 2016 GMC Terrain Denali when it starts showing up at dealerships in the fall of this year. With its distinctive size—just a tad larger than a compact, but not quite a midsize—the Terrain Denali seats 5 folks in its surprisingly spacious cabin, boasts a choice of 2 powerplants, handles the daily commute with impressive aplomb, and offers a veritable cornucopia of standard appearance and cabin features. Furthermore, cargo-toting capability returns for the upcoming model year at a reasonable and proper 63.9 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded.

Sitting atop the Terrain trim lineup, which is covered as a separate model, the 2016 Terrain Denali remains offered with either the standard front-wheel drivetrain (FWD) or with available full-time all-wheel drive (AWD).

A new grille design will set the 2016 Terrain Denali apart from its forebears, as will some nips and tucks to the front and rear fascia designs, a new “power dome” hood, and debuting LED running lights. Inside, look for such debuting upgrades as a re-worked center stack, now boasting several re-labeled buttons for the various climate-control and techno-features that come standard in this high-end mini-ute. Additionally, the upcoming year’s V6-equipped Terrain Denali is slated to sport a set of redesigned 19-inch alloy wheels. But don’t worry; this quasi-midsize crossover retains its rugged Hummer-like good looks, though you still won’t want to take it far off the beaten path, unlike, for instance, its Jeep Cherokee rival.

In any case, the traditional 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) engine is scheduled to remain standard in both FWD and AWD variants of the Terrain Denali for 2016. Mated with the returning 6-speed shiftable automatic transmission, this somewhat ho-hum mill puts out 182 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque, but mileage figures are expected to return at a wallet-friendly 22 mpg city/32 highway/26 combined in FWD versions, and 20/29/23 in AWD variants.

Should you desire a little more giddyup in your various excursions, a 3.6-liter V6 engine also remains available for the 2016 edition of this feature-laden crossover. Again managed by the 6-speed shiftable automatic, this peppy powerplant throws down 301 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque to the tune of 17/24/20 in FWD editions and 16/23/19 in AWD variations. By the way, towing capacity with the V6 remains maxed out at 3,500 pounds, while the I4 will tow up to 1,500 pounds, assuming each has the proper equipment installed.

Where the 2016 Terrain Denali makes its mark, however, is with a plethora of top-shelf standard adornments. Look for this classy crossover to sport 18-inch alloy wheels on its I4-toting frame, or the reworked 19-inch alloy wheels when it packs the V6 powerplant. Adding to the appeal of those debuting tweaks to the profile are such perks as a power sunroof, a roof rack, a power liftgate, and heated, power-adjustable, and reverse-tilt mirrors.

Inside, expect standard leather upholstery, heated power-adjustable front seats, full power accessories, cruise control, and telescoping tilt-wheel steering to complement the new-look center stack. Additionally, look for a rear-view camera, rear parking sensors, a remote garage door opener, upgraded-for-2016 cabin accents, and automatic climate control to also adorn this princely people-hauler.

Of course OnStar telematics, again boasting 4G LTE Wi-Fi capability returns, complemented by standard IntelliLink Bluetooth-integrated hands-free infotainment functions interfaced with the ubiquitous 7-inch touchscreen display. Additionally, the standard 250-watt Pioneer premium audio system hosting a CD/MP3 player, 8 speakers, satellite radio, and an auxiliary audio input also returns in the 2016 Terrain Denali.

Noteworthy options, meanwhile, include GPS navigation bundled into the IntelliLink display, as well as available rear-seat DVD entertainment boasting dual screens mounted behind the front-seat headrests.

Standard safety equipment aboard the 2016 Terrain Denali is expected to include, once again, 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, and front and rear head-protection airbags. Those already-noted debuting LED daytime running lights, meantime, are also standard, as are front fog/driving lights, OnStar emergency alerts and communications, a post-collision safety system, and a remote antitheft alarm. Additionally, this top-shelf Terrain is again slated to carry standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts.

Despite all of the above, the current Terrain Denali earns only a second-best 4-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for overall crashworthiness. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), however, gives this flagship Terrain trim its best score of Good overall.

Besides Jeep’s capable Cherokee Limited, challengers to the upcoming year’s Terrain Denali are again expected to include Ford’s nimble and techno-savvy Escape Titanium, Hyundai’s well-wrought Santa Fe Sport, Honda’s niche-topping CR-V Touring, and Mazda’s ultra-competent CX-5 Grand Touring.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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