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2013 GMC Terrain Denali AWD V6 Review & Test Drive

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2013 GMC Terrain Denali AWD Beauty Right Up Bet Done Small


If you are looking for a uniquely styled, performance-driven, luxury and very safe compact crossover sport utility vehicle than look no further than the GMC Terrain ‘Denali’.  GMC adds its signature Denali luxury trim to the 2013 Terrain with distinctive exterior styling, interior luxury and convenience features plus offering the more powerful 3.6 liter direct-injected CVVT V6 engine that generates 301 hp.  This new V6 engine is larger than the previous 3.0 liter V6 but delivers 14% more horsepower and 22% more torque yet gives back the same EPA estimated fuel economy of 16 mpg/city and 23 mpg/highway.

The new Terrain Denali’s bold look is augmented with the signature cues that distinguish GMC’s premium ‘Denali’ sub-brand including its unique bullet-hole chrome grille, specific front and rear lamp clusters, and a lower air-intake with round projector beam foglamps at the sides.  There are satin chrome accents on top of the grille, body-color fascias and rocker panel moldings.  Also at the side are muscular fender flares stuffed with 19X8 inch alloy wheels, a chrome strip around the greenhouse, chrome pull-out door handles, separate chrome bars at the bottom of the doors, a chrome finished roofrack, and chrome at the bottom of the power-remote/heated sideview mirrors.  The rear shows a spoiler at the top of the power liftgate, a thick chrome bar attaching the lamp clusters and down below is a wide chrome bar attaching the dual chrome-finish exhaust outlets.  Lots of bling as seen in the bigger Denali’s, but with a larger, more powerful engine to back up this compact CUV.  It has an athletic stance with angular surfacing yet is refined with a strong front-end appearance that features its squared-off edges accented with chrome.  No other compact CUV has this commanding look all around.

2013 GMC Terrain Denali AWD Engine Done Small

The more powerful 3.6 liter all-aluminum V6 is mated to a smooth-shifting 6T70 six-speed automatic electronically controlled with electronic range select.  Torque is channeled to each wheel through an electronically controlled limited-slip differential.  Standard StabiliTrak and Traction Control help keep the wheels turning as needed and limiting the amount of excessive wheel-spin during severe driving situations.

Terrain is built on a body-integral structure with single-piece body side stampings and targeted applications of high-strength steel.  These elements create a solid, quiet driving experience.  The strong structure supports a fully independent suspension that is unique and gives a smooth ride over all surfaces and is very responsive to driver inputs.  The long, 112.5 inch wheelbase and wide front and rear tracks-contribute to car-like ride and handling traits.  The long wheelbase and wide tracks reduce body roll for a more stable driving experience.

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The independent front is a strut type setup with tuned coil springs, direct active stabilizer bar and hydraulic ride bushings.  The independent rear features a four-link setup with coil springs, trailing arms, stabilizer bar and hydraulic link bushings.  The new Dual Flow gas-charged shocks are at each wheel and give the truck a smoother, more controlled ride by controlling suspension damping across a broader range of driving situations.  Standard hydraulic power rack & pinion steering is featured on the 3.6 liter Denali and gives you a solid feel for the road with quick response to your inputs and a very good on-center feel.

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Big, four-wheel power-assisted, vented steel disc brakes safely and quickly bring the GMC Terrain Denali down from speed.  Up front are 12.6 inch discs clamped with dual-piston calipers, and 11.9 inch rear discs are clamped with single-piston calipers.  Standard ABS, StabiliTrak and Traction control all work together to keep the wheel turning during severe braking situations thus giving you more control over your direction.  Big 19X8 inch chrome clad aluminum wheels are wrapped with 235/55R19 inch all-season radials for a smooth and quiet ride.

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Inside is very inviting with the latest in comfort, convenient, luxury, infotainment and safety systems.  I first noticed the soft-touch Jet Black leather which lines the dashboard, dash pad, seats and doors with red contrast stitching.  Red accent lighting gives the interior a unique look.  More interior detail includes leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel with smoked mahogany wood accents, embossed Denali logos on the front seatbacks, smoked mahogany wood trim, Denali illuminated front sill plates, eight-way driver/passenger bucket seats, and a standard sunroof.  The power liftgate is programmable so at the touch of a button you can access the vehicle’s 63.9 cu.ft. of cargo space (behind the first row) while a memory function stops the liftgate at a chosen height to help shorter owners or to accommodate low garage heights.  Inside options include a color touch navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system with screens behind the front headrests.  The premium interior is influenced by industrial sculpture, with its contrasting stitching and fine materials that create a structured look throughout the cabin.  A ‘floating’ center stack is highlighted by warm ambient lighting and houses ergonomic comfort and convenience controls.  The standard and segment-exclusive Multi-Flex sliding rear seat can be moved fore or aft nearly eight inches providing increased passenger comfort or great cargo capacity, while the 60/40-split rear seatback offers additional configurations for passengers and cargo.  It also features a pull-down armrest with dual cupholders.  The rear cargo area offers 31.6 cu.ft. of storage, as well as one of the Terrain’s four auxiliary power outlets.

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GMC IntelliLink combines with OnStar to bring segment-exclusive infotainment technology at a time more and more consumers are buying smartphones.  IntelliLink 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.  IntelliLink features: Enhanced hands-free voice control system by Nuance, which allows simple voice commands to initiate phone calls and select radio stations or media from portable MP3 players and smart phones: PANDORA Internet radio and Stitcher SmartRadio allow users to create personalized radio stations based on favorite artists or genres, IntelliLink integrates control of both apps for a driver-directed listening experience: Gracenote identifies the music collection on the driver’s USB device, MP3 player or smartphone and presents information such as artists name, genres, and album cover art on the IntelliLink screen: Upgraded USB connectivity adds the ability to play music files directly from flash memory devices and gives you the ability to update IntelliLink with future enhancements.

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Standard features inside not mentioned above includes automatic climate control, color touch radio with seven-inch screen display, premium Pioneer sound system with eight speakers, a subwoofer and amplifier, heated driver/front passenger seat, universal home remote, grab handles above each passenger door, rear parking assist/rear camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated outside mirrors, power windows/door locks with front express down, leather appointed seats, dual map lights, dual lighted vanity mirrors, floor mats front/rear, memory settings for driver’s seat/outside mirrors, cruise control, center console with dual cupholders/deep storage bin/armrest, and variable speed wipers/washers/rear wiper/washer.  The cargo package includes convenience net, cargo cover, rear security and luggage rack center rails.

2013 GMC Terrain Denali AWD Rear Seats Done Small

Standard safety features include forward collision alert, lane departure warning, side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, dual front airbags, side impact airbags, driver/front passenger head curtain airbags, side airbags with rollover protection for all rows, tire pressure monitoring, trip computer, Child LATCH system, power child security rear doors, remote keyless entry, theft deterrent system, daytime running lights, OnStar crash response.

If you are looking for a premium, compact crossover utility vehicle with all of the personal and safety goodies, plus plenty of power, performance, comfort and convenience, then do not overlook testing out the new 2013 GMC Terrain Denali.



  • Price: Base Terrain FWD $26,235 / Terrain Denali AWD V6 $39,000 estimated*
  • Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6 301 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm / 272 ft-lbs. torque @ 4,800 rpm
  • Turning circle: 42.6 ft.
  • Total length: 187.8 inches
  • Total width: 72.8 inches
  • Total height: 66.3 inches
  • Track: f/r-62.9/62.1 inches
  • Approach angle: 15.2
  • Departure angle: 23.5
  • Breakover angle: 16.7
  • Ground clearance: 6.9 inches
  • Headroom: f/r-39.8/39.2 inches
  • Legroom: f/r-41.2/37.2 inches
  • EPA interior volume: 127.2 cu.ft.
  • Passenger volume: 99.6 cu.ft.
  • Cargo volume: 31.1-behind rear seat/63.9 cu.ft. behind front seat, rear seat folded
  • Curb weight: 4,204 pounds
  • Trailer towing: 3,500 pounds
  • Fuel tank: 20.9 gallons

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