Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 GMC Terrain test drive review. The official small crossover of B.A. Baracus

If you are an American male between the ages of 35 and 45, GMC trucks should hold a special place in your subconscious. That’s because from the late 1970s through the mid-to-late 1980s, GMC executed the greatest product placement campaign targeted at seven-to-thirteen-year-old boys in the history of the world.

The onslaught of TV shows and movies that featured GMC vehicles jumping over construction sites, sliding around corners, and dodging bullets and explosives was nothing short of marketing brilliance. For your consideration: The A-Team van, The Fall Guy pickup, Rocky’s pickup in the Rockford Files, Hardcastle’s pickup in Hardcastle and McCormick, the “Robin 3” Jimmy in Magnum P.I., Hooper’s red stepside in the Burt Reynolds’ movie Hooper, Snowman’s rig in Smokey and the Bandit II, and the mobile repair semi in Knight Rider, just to name a few.

Times change, though, and modern kids are more into Angry Birds and texting than explosive car chases. But what if, say, the A-Team was still in operation today?

That GMC cargo conversion van was awesome, no doubt, but gas prices in L.A. are hovering just under $5.00/gallon. That’s pretty expensive for a group of guys that ends up doing most of their work for free. And that van was pretty antiquated. Maybe the Face Man would want to sync his i-Phone up to the vehicle’s in-dash entertainment system instead of using a rotary phone on a cord. What kind of rig would today’s soldiers of fortune drive?

Enter the 2012 GMC Terrain. Even the name implies rugged action. This compact crossover may be just the thing for taking down racketeers and crooked trucking companies.

I was able to spend a week with a Steel Blue Metallic FWD Terrain with the SLT-2 package, and I discovered all kinds of features that would appeal to an elite mercenary-for-hire team of Army Rangers falsely accused by their own government of a crime they didn’t commit.

What if the team was attacked while on the move? The optional power rear hatch would make a counter-strike from the rear particularly easy. Arial attack? One touch of the button on the optional power moon roof and the thugs in the chopper wouldn’t know what hit them. Plus, the optional backup camera would give them a clear, digital picture of Colonel Decker coming up behind them on the seven-inch touch screen.

Sometimes the best offense is the best defense, and in those cases, it may be better to just outrun an assailant. The standard 2.0-liter, 182-hp four-cylinder may get better gas mileage, but the A-Team would definitely order the 264-hp, 3.0-liter V6 like my tester.

Of course, one of the hallmarks of a great car chase is that a hubcap will fly off when squealing around a corner. At first, I was disappointed in the Terrain, because instead of hubcaps, it has beautiful chrome aluminum wheels. Upon further inspection, however, I learned that they were actually “chrome clad” aluminum wheels. That means that they are regular, old 18-inch aluminum wheels with a plastic chrome skin over them. Perhaps one could throw a wheelcover during a high-speed maneuver. Then again, maybe not. These babies seem to be stuck on there permanently. Shame. Seeing one of those pretty wheels fly apart would have looked spectacular in the fender camera shot.

This vehicle is obviously not as big as a full-sized van, but I think the A-Team would have been comfortable all the same. First of all, there is plenty of room for four adults. That’s especially true because the rear seat can slide way back, leaving Face and Murdock tons of leg room, while still leaving enough room in the covered cargo area for the machine gun stash.

They also could slide the seat forward, cut down on a little leg room, and load up the back with Bazookas with which they could blast their way through a fortified secret hideout. Or, leave Face and Murdock at home, fold down the rear seat, and toss in a couple of anti-aircraft missile launchers.

The accoutrements were considerably nicer than the drab, gray vinyl of the original A-Team van as well. The Jet-Black leather interior in the test vehicle was truly handsome, with soft-touch materials, impressive stitching, and fine details everywhere you looked. It would definitely be a nice place to spend your time if you were on the lam.

My $34,255 test vehicle was loaded with technology, including GMC Intellilink. This feature is described as “hands-free smartphone integration with Bluetooth audio streaming and voice-activated audio controls.” It also had Sirius satellite radio and OnStar Directions and Connections and Turn-by-Turn Navigation. These are all excellent features, and for most everyone in the world, very welcome additions. I’m not sure that the A-Team would want this stuff, though. Sure, it would keep them entertained and help them reach their destinations easier, but I don’t think that guys who are running from the government want to be hooked up to a tracking satellite.

In all seriousness, I really enjoyed driving the 2012 GMC Terrain. If you’re in the market for a compact crossover, it would be well worth your time to cross-shop this with a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV-4, or Ford Escape. It does pretty much everything the competition can do, plus it has the added action-packed cache of the GMC nameplate. I pity the fool that doesn’t give it a chance.

Take a look at the pictures in the slideshow below. And don’t worry; I didn’t do a bad Photoshop job on all of them!


  1. Love the A Team! It needs a red stripe to make it complete

  2. I like the blocky look of this and my Ford Escape, but this is more modern than the Escape. I might look at this next time.