The Denali luxury package for GMC’s 2015 Terrain is like the cherry on top of a sundae. You don’t need it but it adds a tasty touch.
Lesser model Terrains are nice enough, but the Denali gets exclusive wheels, a chrome grille, a smoother ride, black leather on the seats and door inserts and a sunroof. The Denali starts at $36,415 for front-wheel drive or $38,165 for all-wheel drive.
Folks concerned with fuel economy probably will choose the standard powertrain, a 2.4-liter, 182-horsepower four-cylinder with a mileage rating of 22 miles per gallon in the city and 32 on the highway for front-wheel drive and 20 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway for all-wheel drive. You give up a little around-town zip for better mileage.
On the other hand, the optional 3.6-liter V-6, with 301 horsepower, is more satisfying in terms of performance and towing. Fuel economy drops some, of course. This engine is rated at 17 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway for front-wheel drive and 16 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway for all-wheel drive.
Settling into the Denali’s interior is reasonably pleasant. The leather seats are comfortable and have a good feel. The test vehicle’s instrument panel had mahogany wood accents. Red ambient lighting highlights the console and cup holders.
The fit, finish and quality of materials are on par with most vehicles in the compact crossover class. Wind and road noise are managed well. The steering wheel has controls for cruise and audio. The rotary knobs can be rolled with a thumb and are a breeze to operate.
Rear-seat legroom is generous, thanks to the back seat that can be moved backward and forward 8 inches. Put it forward, and it is easy for front-seat passengers to reach an infant in a child seat. Put it back, and rear-seat passengers have more room.
Because so many buyers have smartphones and want to stay connected all the time, the Terrain, as well as many of GM’s 2015 products, has a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot via OnStar’s 4G LTE connection. The vehicle becomes a mobile hotspot that is on whenever the vehicle is on. It comes with a three-month/three-gigabyte data trial. After the free trial, consult OnStar because there are several data plans, and the price for OnStar subscribers ranges from $5 a month to $50 a month depending on the amount of data used. GMC says that AT&T subscribers can add their vehicle to a mobile share plan for $10 per month.
GMC’s media information says that the IntelliLink system “extends the OnStar experience from safety and security to information and entertainment by seamlessly integrating the capability of a smartphone into the vehicle so that hand-held phones may be safely stowed while driving.”
“With Text Messaging Alerts, the driver can be alerted to new messages and can have them read aloud, view and respond to them (functionality depends on the smartphone). Siri Eyes Free enables iPhone4S and iPhone 5 users to access Siri via the steering wheel controls and check calendar entries, have text messages read and respond to them, place calls or call up music.”
If all of this keeps drivers from texting while driving, so much the better but I am concerned that even voice-controlled phone use can still be a distraction.
Voice commands may be used to initiate phone calls, pick radio stations or stream music from smartphones. Music can be played from flash memory devices through a USB connection. Pandora and Stitcher SmartRadio are also available.
Storage bins are numerous, including one atop the center stack and one under the center armrest that is large enough for a laptop computer. There are four power outlets.
One drawback is that the rear cargo area is a bit narrow, and the low roof means some large items, such as a bicycle, may not fit easily.
Active noise cancellation uses an in-cabin microphone that detects unwanted engine sounds and sends counteracting sound waves through the audio speakers. This kind of attention to minor details makes the Terrain feel expensive.
The test vehicle was an all-wheel drive Denali. Base price was $38,165. Options included the 3.6-liter V-6, rear seat entertainment center, cargo net, navigation with IntelliLink and the trailering package. The sticker price was $43,505.
Three years or 36,000 miles with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Scheduled maintenance is free for two years or 24,000 miles.
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2015 GMC Terrain Denali AWD
Engine: 3.6-liter, 301-horsepower V-6
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 112.5 inches
Curb weight: 4,204 pounds
Base prices: $38,165
As driven: $43,505
MPG rating: 16 in the city, 23 on the highway
At A Glance
Point: The Denali version of the Terrain has a nicer interior and a few exterior tweaks. The optional V-6 delivers solid performance, and all-wheel drive is the best choice for winter climes. The back seat can be moved fore and aft as needs determine.
Counterpoint: Fuel economy is not great but on par with others in this segment. The narrowness of the rear cargo area limits what will fit.