The new gear shifter in the 2018 GMC Terrain AWD Denali is a major topic of debate. GM has gone for a row of buttons on the center stack of the instrument panel, freeing the space in the center console for side-by-side cupholders to avoid any confusion as to which latte is the driver’s.
The new shifter requires different finger skills: pushbuttons for neutral, park, or low, but if you want to go forward or reverse, you pull the toggle switch. That is to avoid accidentally slipping into a moving gear. And if you are searching for a Sport mode, the closest option is Low.
Some of the Motor Trend staff appreciate the effort to do something different. “It’s different for the sake of being different, but it’s intuitive enough to use easily,” said features editor Christian Seabaugh.
Others were dead against it. Associate editor Scott Evans and executive editor Mark Rechtin called it a deal breaker against buying an otherwise much-improved vehicle, and Evans predicts it won’t make it past the midcycle refresh.
GM has one of the better infotainment systems on the market today with crisp, clean graphics and easy integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The base price of the 2018 Terrain is $40,245, and our tester was not substantially higher at $43,900. The question is whether it is worth $7,000 more than its more plebian cousin, the Chevrolet Equinox. Many will find the more responsive chassis, quieter and more luxurious cabin, and available nine-speed, even with a base 1.5-liter engine, to be worth it.
Because the test surface we used for this review is a mere month old (and still curing), our braking and handling results show longer stopping distances and less grip than we typically record and report. With that in mind, this vehicle’s numbers are not necessarily comparable with previous or future test results.