2017 GMC Terrain Denali Review

Terrain Denali

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2017 GMC Terrain Denali Overview

The 2017 GMC Terrain Denali carries itself like an old-school SUV - rugged and bold. But, since it’s a Denali, it’s also loaded with comforts and flash, giving you the best of both worlds.

There are plenty of similarities between the Terrain Denali and the standard Terrains, but there’s also plenty that sets the Denali apart. The Terrain Denali’s grille is mesh and the metallic trim has a satin texture. All of the Terrain cabins are classy, but the Terrain Denali takes it to another level with a wood-grain steering wheel, a French-stitched dash pad, and two-tone leather upholstery. There are also Denali badges and unique color choices to further distinguish the model from its brethren.

The Terrain Denali comes standard with a direct-injected 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) engine that produces 182 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. The I4 would be the logical engine choice if you’re aiming for optimum efficiency - it gets 21 mpg city/31 highway with the standard front-wheel drive (FWD) and 20/28 mpg with the available all-wheel drive (AWD). But most critics agree the optional 3.6-liter V6 is the more impressive power plant.

The V6 cranks out 301 hp and 272 lb-ft of torque, can push the Terrain Denali from 0-60 mph in about six seconds, and can tow up to 3,500 pounds. It gets 17/24 with FWD and 16/23 with AWD. Both engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

All of the Terrains offer a comfortable ride, but that’s especially true in the Terrain Denali, which comes with an enhanced ride and handling suspension. Not only is the Terrain Denali composed on the road, it’s also quiet, thanks to triple-layer door seals, laminated glass, and active noise-cancellation technology. None of the Terrains are all that comfortable off-road, however, due to that cushy suspension and its low ground clearance.

But the Terrain Denali sure looks like it would be good off road. The huge, angular wheel openings, domed hood, oversize grille, and sharp lines all contribute to the rugged feel. And if you’re really going for the tough-guy look, there’s the new Nightfall edition, which comes with black wheels, a blacked-out grille, black paint, and a black front and rear fascia.

Comfort continues to be a theme inside the Terrain Denali. The front seats offer great headroom and support for long drives. The second row can slide forward or back on an 8-inch rail, which can create space for traveling adults or extra cargo. With the rear seats pushed forward, there’s 32 cubic feet of rear storage space. With the rear seats folded flat, there’s 64 cubic feet of space. There’s also plenty of convenient storage nooks, like an oversize glove box, door cubbies, and a bin in the center armrest that can fit laptops.

Of course, what makes the Terrain Denali especially appealing is all the bells and whistles, although it’s probably not fair to describe the extra standard safety technology in such a flippant manner. In addition to antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, and the full complement of air bags, the Terrain Denali comes standard with side blind-zone alert, forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, rear park assist, and 5 years of OnStar service.

Other highlights on the standard feature list include heated exterior mirrors, chrome luggage rails, deep-tinted glass, a power liftgate, remote start, Bluetooth for phone, 8-way power and heated front seats, and a premium 8-speaker Pioneer sound system with Sirius XM Satellite Radio, an auxiliary jack, and a USB port.


After working at gas stations and car washes in high school, driving across the country more than a dozen times and even living on the road in a well-outfitted truck, Tim O'Sullivan finally started putting some of his automotive knowledge to work when he began writing for CarGurus in 2008. He's also an award-winning journalist and the Sports Editor at the Concord (NH) Monitor.

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