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GMC Terrain Years To Avoid (and The Best Years)

When you start thinking about buying a new vehicle, whether it’s brand new or used, there are a lot of factors to consider, like the price, fuel economy and reputation of the car.

The GMC Terrain is widely regarded as a reliable vehicle, but this isn’t true for every model or year of the car.

There are definitely GMC Terrain years to avoid, especially if you don’t want to deal with lots of problems.

Some GMC Terrain models simply aren’t as reliable or as good as others, and you want to avoid them to ensure that you get the best deal when you’re looking for the right Crossover SUV.

Not knowing which GMC Terrain years to avoid can lead to hefty bills and frustration with your new vehicle, and it might end up costing as much, if not more, than buying a brand new, top-of-the-range car.

Worst GMC Terrain Years

2023 gmc terrain

When looking at GMC Terrain years to avoid, most of the first generation makes it onto the list for continuing problems from one model year to the next.

The early GMC Terrain years saw many recurring problems that meant this car spent more time at the mechanics than it did with its owner.

The most common problems with this set of GMC Terrain SUVs are quite pricey to fix; engine problems, like stalling and low engine power, and transmission issues, like total transmission failure or a jerky transmission and trouble shifting gears.

There were also other common issues like faulty airbags and HVAC malfunctions when the heater would blow cold air.

Here are some of the GMC Terrain years to avoid, and all their specific issues in each year:

2010 GMC Terrain

As is the case with most first cars, this GMC Terrain model year is one of the worst in the line.

Some common complaints about this model included that it had excessive oil consumption and total transmission failure.

These issues made for a rough and bumpy driving experience, with some cars not even making it from point A to point B.

2011 GMC Terrain

This GMC Terrain model year is the most complained about in GMC’s range of vehicles.

Excessive oil consumption remained a problem that not only led to more frequent oil changes, but also sped up the wear and tear of the engine.

Owners also reported stalling while they were driving,indicating a faulty engine, as well as a total transmission failure.

Most reports of transmission failure happened around the 88 000-mile mark, while others reported that after struggling with jerking, lagging, and hard shifts for a while, it would suddenly fail with no warning.

Replacing a failed transmission can cost upwards of $3000, and some owners had to replace their transmissions multiple times.

Another problem that was common with this model and the 2010 model year was an engine light that was always on.

Another complaint for this model year was more cosmetic than mechanical, with the paint peeling after not much use.

This GMC Terrain is the least reliable vehicle of the line and should be avoided at all costs.

2012 GMC Terrain

This GMC Terrain model year has fewer complaints than the year before, but that isn’t really a ringing endorsement for it, as it still had quite a few complaints.

Transmission failure wasn’t a problem with this model, but it was reported that the car would make a clunking sound whenever drivers changed gears.

Excessive oil consumption was still a problem, as was engine stalling while the car was idling.

This GMC Terrain vehicle also faced electrical issues, such as an inaccurate navigation system and faulty power seats.

There were also complaints about the radio not working.

2013 GMC Terrain

This GMC Terrain model year has all the problems of previous vehicles, like excessive oil consumption and transmission issues, as well as some new ones, like buggy Bluetooth, water leakage into the cabin and poor noise isolation.

Owners reported that while there wasn’t transmission failure, they experienced a lot of vibration while driving.

Most of the car complaints for this model were engine problems, such as severe engine damage, low engine power, and having the engine lose power for no discernible reason.

This problem typically revealed itself at the 52,000-mile mark or the 108,000-mile mark.

While some reported that their check engine light was constantly on, some reported that their engines blew out with absolutely no warning at all.

2014 GMC Terrain

While this GMC terrain is not the worst on the list, it has still had its fair share of problems that were seen in earlier models.

It still had the issue of excessive oil consumption, which leads to engine failure if not addressed in time.

It also had other engine issues, such as randomly shutting down while driving and accelerating uncontrollably.

Electrical issues were also present in this model year, causing the radio to stop working, as well as the windshield wipers malfunctioning during rainy weather.

The infotainment system was also affected by these electrical faults.

A widely reported problem with this year was the HVAC, with many owners reporting that their heater would expel cold air. GMC had to release multiple bulletins to address other HVAC issues like water leaks, weird odors and cooling failures.

Most of these reports happened around the 61,000-mile mark.

2015 GMC Terrain

The faulty engine troubles seen in previous GMC Terrains continued in this model year, with users still reporting their cars randomly losing power on the road.

Users also still reported transmission failure as well as other transmission issues.

This GMC Terrain also came with an electronic stability control system, StabiliTrak, but many car owners reported that the system was quite buggy and negatively affected the performance of the car.

Some of the issues caused by the StabiliTrak were engine stalling, trouble accelerating and jerky driving.

Another problem with this GMC Terrain is that it didn’t have a good fuel economy on top of also having excessive oil consumption.

There were also reports of faulty airbags and seatbelts that would lock after the faulty airbags had failed.

GMC Terrain vehicles from this year were also recalled for windshield wiper problems which reduced visibility when driving.

Best GMC Terrain Years

So, is any GMC Terrain reliable? Is a GMC Terrain worth all the hype?

The answer is yes!

GMC figured out how to address the issues reported by drivers, transforming the vehicle into a reliable SUV.

When talking about compact SUVs, the GMC Terrain is considered one of the best and most reliable for a number of reasons.

With the GMC Terrain years to avoid out of the way, let’s take a look at the GMC Terrain models that deserve your attention:

2016 GMC Terrain

General Motors gave the GMC Terrain a facelift in 2016 by changing up the exterior with a power dome hood and a chrome-accented grille.

The 2016 GMC Terrain is a great ride with a roomy and comfortable interior with spacious seating.

The car seats five people and comes in four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive with a 4-cylinder 2.4L and 6-speed automatic transmission, as well as an 18-gallon fuel capacity.

The size of the engine gives it only moderate power, but you can choose a V6 engine.

It gets about 22 miles per gallon in the city and 32 miles per gallon on the highway.

This GMC Terrain doesn’t have as much cargo volume as some of the competing compact SUVs, at only 32 cubic feet.

It also has standard safety features like a low tire pressure indicator and parking distance sensors.

2017 GMC Terrain

While this is one of the better GMC Terrain model years, it still has the major defect of faulty safety features, namely airbags that don’t deploy in the event of an accident.

This is particularly worrying because many owners reported that there was no indication that their airbags were faulty until they didn’t deploy in the moment of need.

If you buy this model, it’s best to have it inspected for faulty airbags as soon as possible.

This GMC Terrain has a beautiful, spacious and quiet interior with more than enough room for passengers in the rear.

It has ample cargo space and a strong towing capacity (1500lb).

It has a 4-cylinder, 2.4L engine, and is available as an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

The 2017 model also offers a 6-speed automatic transmission and gets up to 31 miles per gallon with an 18-gallon fuel capacity.

This vehicle also has standard safety features like a dusk sensor on the headlights, a low tire pressure indicator and parking distance sensors with a rear vision camera.

2018 GMC Terrain

This model year was a total overhaul from the previous years and the manufacturers addressed all prior issues.

With this GMC Terrain, they revised the engine, so this model has a 4-cylinder, 1.5L turbo engine and a 9-speed automatic transmission.

Other new features include an engine start button and a key card that allows you to access the car passively.

The new exterior design for the GMC Terrain includes a new grille, new tail lamps and new headlamps.

The trim on the most basic model has 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, heated power mirrors and LED daytime lights.

You can get a GMT Terrain with enough seats for five or seven passengers, with the back seat being a 60/40 split-folding seat with cloth upholstery.

There is an optional package with an infotainment system for the rear seats, including an audio system and display screen.

Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, park assist for the front and rear, and a rearview camera.

There’s also a new infotainment system that has a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth and a 6-speaker sound system.

2020 GMC Terrain

The interior of this GMC Terrain is fitting for a luxury vehicle, with the leather and alloy trim on the steering wheel, doors, console and instrument panel.

It also features carpet and floor mats and the passenger and cargo area.

The 2020 model also has an illuminated vanity mirror for the driver and front seat passenger.

Due to electronic noise reduction, the cabin also has a quiet interior.

The engine start button and a key card that allows you to access the car passively are also standard with this model.

Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, park assist for the front and rear, and a rearview camera.

You can get this GMC Terrain in all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive; you’ll get about 28 miles per gallon with the all-wheel drive and up to 30 miles per gallon on the highway with front-wheel drive.

The front-wheel drive also has a descent system and comes with a 4-cylinder, 1.5L turbo engine and a 9-speed automatic transmission.

It has a 1500lb towing capacity and a 14.9-gallon fuel capacity.

2021 GMC Terrain

This GMC Terrain has a roomy and spacious interior, and the infotainment system includes a multi-function 3.5-inch display screen, Bluetooth, WiFi, and it allows connection to external entertainment devices.

The seats in this model have been upgraded, and the upholstery is velour; it still seats the standard five people.

The front passenger and driver seats are 4-way power bucket seats, and the rear seats split and fold.

It has two 12v power outlets, one in the front and one in the ample cargo area.

This compact SUV is an all-terrain vehicle that gets up to 25 miles per gallon in the city and about 30 miles per gallon on the highway.

It has a 14.9 gallon fuel capacity and comes with the standard 4-cylinder, 1.5L turbo engine with a 9-speed automatic transmission.

This GMC Terrain has all the standard safety features like automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, park assist for the front and rear, and forward collision alert.

2022 GMC Terrain

This latest GMC Terrain comes with a variety of optional safety and infotainment packages.

It also comes with optional aesthetic packages to make the car look even more luxurious.

The interior has electric noise reduction and is spacious and comfortable, with the seats upholstered in velour; color options of jet black or ash grey are available.

The interior has alloy trim on the console, doors, shift knob and instrument panels, as well as carpet in the passenger and cargo areas.

All the lights, interior and exterior, are LED.

Some of the options that one can add to this GMC Terrain are as follows: automatic climate control, 10-way power adjustable bucket seat, heated seats, remote engine starter, side blind zone alert, overtaking sensor, four USB charging ports in the rear seats, a 4.2-inch multi-function display screen, a rear infotainment system that includes DVD and an 8-inch screen.

These are just some of the options that are available if you want to customize your GMC Terrain.

The 2022 model still has the standard 4-cylinder 1.5L turbo engine, front-wheel drive with descent control system and 9-speed transmission with a standard 30 miles per gallon and 14.9-gallon fuel capacity, and it also comes in a wider variety of colors.

It has a 1500lb towing capacity and a trailer stability program.

The GMC infotainment system includes satellite radio with a color multi-touch screen, six speakers and remote audio control for added ease.

It has all the standard safety features, including; automatic emergency braking, a lane departure system, a low tire pressure indicator, a dusk sensor for the headlights, a forward collision alert system, seatbelt warning, park assist for the front and rear and a rearview camera.

Final Thoughts

While there are still a few worrying issues present in some of the GMC Terrain models, the GMC Terrains at the end of the first generation and in the new generation are all wonderful investments, whether you’re looking to buy a used or new car.

The earlier GMC Terrain models might be more affordable now, but they also come with costly issues like engine problems, so it’s a much wiser investment to get one of the newer ones rather than one of the older ones.