The GMC Terrain is a crossover SUV produced by General Motors. It shares a platform with the Chevrolet Equinox and took the place of the Pontiac Torrent when it hit the streets in 2010 and GM decided to drop the Pontiac brand. The GMC SUV is the smallest from the brand, sitting just below the Acadia. Since it was first introduced, GMC has sold more than 1.1 million Terrain models, with the most popular years occurring in 2014-2015 and 2018-2019.
You don’t want to purchase a used GMC Terrain without first making sure it’s reliable. Otherwise, you may face unwanted repair expenses that could’ve been avoided. We want to help, so we’ve gathered tons of data and put it together for a complete picture of each model. This information can be used to guide you during the buying or selling process.
The majority of our data is sourced from thousands of FIXD car scanners installed by Terrain owners. We graph this information together with the results of a survey sent to Terrain owners. Furthermore, we use the NHTSA recalls, average maintenance and repair estimates, safety scores, KBB used car values, and fuel economy ratings to ensure you choose the best SUV possible.
GMC Terrain Engine Reliability Score, Safety Ratings, MPG, and Value v.s. Maintenance & Repair Costs – Year by Year
To make your research easier, we’ve put all of the available GMC Terrain data together in handy charts and explanations. Before you make a decision, this information proves invaluable, especially if you want the best possible Terrain model. Our reviews include safety ratings, fuel economy scores, reliability rankings, owner satisfaction, and an average cost for repairs and maintenance.
If you are curious about comparable models, consider looking at the Chevrolet Equinox, which is a rebadged version of the GMC Terrain. We also recommend the Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V models before making any decisions.
If you’re in the market for a car, take a look at our article on the USA’s most reliable and cheapest to repair cars in the U.S. Don’t get stuck with a lemon, use our data to help you shop.
Engine Reliability Score – Over The Years
Once you look at the Terrain reliability set out in a chart, it helps to see what models exceed expectations and which fall short. Our graph looks at two different data points:
- The FIXD Reliability score (Green line) – this score is determined by how many check engine lights were set by GMC Terrain SUVs, weighted by mileage as it was reported by owners using the FIXD app.
- The Owner Reliability score (Gray line) – this score comes from the answers left by GMC Terrain owners who responded to our survey.
With a reliability score landing between 1 and 10 with every GMC Terrain model year, you know which ones are the most dependable. Scores of 10 mean that the rating is the best, while a 1 would indicate that there’s a lack of reliability. Average scores end up around 5.
Based on our data, the most reliable Terrain models are the newer options. However, we had to remove the 2021 model year from our rankings because we didn’t get enough data from users to make accurate judgments. If a few more consumers had responded with this model, we would have a clearer picture.
Before moving on, stop and read the most common reasons for the Check Engine Light on GMC Terrain models. With this information, you’ll know what could occur with your GMC SUV.
NHTSA Safety Score – Over The Years
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) was created to protect Americans from unsafe vehicles. The government agency orchestrates crash tests on most of today’s vehicles. A score is then provided to show the safety of each vehicle. This score is vital to understanding if the vehicle is worth putting your family in.
To find the safest Terrain models, take a look at the chart above. The green line reveals the scores that the GMC Terrain received. Compare this to the gray line, which gives you the average of all the vehicles we’ve charted. Unfortunately, the 2015-2018 Terrain models don’t even reach the averages. Yet, the newest lineup has excellent safety scores that exceed expectations.
Crash test scores are vital to ensuring you get cheap car insurance rates. The better the safety scores are, the lower you can expect your rates to be.
If you live in one of the states listed below, we can show you the cheapest vehicles to insure in yours.
|What Used Cars Are the Cheapest To Insure In:|
MPG – Over The Years
For most of its life, the GMC Terrain has only been sold as a gas-powered SUV. The exception to that rule is for the 2018 and 2019 model years when it was also offered as a diesel-powered vehicle.
Whichever powertrain you prefer, you want to know which models are going to provide the best fuel economy. Our graph shows the average mpg score for each Terrain model across all of the trim levels. The green line reveals the gas-powered ratings and the gray line is for diesel. All of this information comes directly from fueleconomy.gov.
Based on this data, the best fuel economy comes from the 2021-2022 gas-powered models (27 mpg) or the 2018-2019 diesel models (32 mpg).
Current Market Value of All GMC Terrain Years & Cost Per Year to Repair and Maintain Each
Because the GMC Terrain is a smaller SUV, the price isn’t over the top. Many of the used models can now be found for less than $15,000, making it a great bargain. As the SUV gets older, it’s going to naturally lose resale value, but this becomes even more apparent when the Terrain has a lot of miles on the odometer. The average resale value relies on the model year, trim level, features, and mileage. That’s why you should run a KBB value report before you buy or sell a Terrain.
The bulk of Terrain SUVs are also reasonable to maintain or repair. There are some models that tend to cost a little more, so you may want to avoid those, especially if there are mechanical issues tied to the expenses. You can take information from current owners to help make your decision.
When the choice comes down to two Terrain model years, we have some advice. Most of the time, the newer option with fewer miles makes more sense if it’s a reliable year. The newer model should give you more miles in the future and the features are closer to what’s included with the newer lineup, giving you a good value.
When shopping for a used GMC Terrain, it’s important to keep in mind that not all vehicles are cared for equally. To protect yourself from lemons, take along a FIXD Sensor on your test drive. FIXD connects to a free app on your smartphone to tell you more about the vehicle you’re checking out, including check engine lights and other hidden issues that the owner or dealership may be attempting to hide. Click here to learn more and get FIXD for only $19.99 (regular price $59)!
Important Features Timeline
2010: Brand-new crossover SUV released
2011: Improved OnStar voice recognition
2012: Standard touchscreen audio interface released to pair with Bluetooth audio streaming and Internet-based services, forward collision alert and lane departure warning become available
2013: Stronger, larger V6 engine released, updated touchscreen audio interface debuts, Denali becomes the top trim level
2014: New wheel options emerge, SLE-2 trim offers an available Chrome package with an all-weather cargo mat
2015: Standard 4G WiFi hotspot released
2016: Trim levels shuffled and renamed, newly available blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning available on some trims, CD player dropped from the lineup and replaced with a storage compartment, revised styling includes LED daytime running lights on some trim levels
2017: Standard 18” alloy wheels released, new black-trimmed Nightfall appearance package added
2018: Completely redesigned for 2nd generation, includes a new diesel powertrain, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto become standard features
2019: Models with 8” touchscreen receive a new rearview camera, updated appearance packages released
2020: Diesel engine discontinued, Denali models include an updated suspension
2021: Previously optional turbocharged 2.0L engine dropped from the lineup
2022: Revised exterior styling, base SL trim dropped, AT4 off-road trim level added
The Best Years of the GMC Terrain
To determine the best GMC Terrain models, we combined the FIXD Reliability Ratings and the Owner Survey Scores. We also looked at trouble code data, safety rankings, fuel economy ratings, and average ownership costs. Plus, we couldn’t overlook the open recalls with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Our Best & Worst GMC Terrain list does exclude the 2021 model year because we don’t have enough data to make an accurate ranking at this time. If you are set on getting this model, you may be able to determine an average ranking based on the models most similar to it (2020), especially since they are part of the same generation.
FIXD Reliability Score: 8-10/10
Owner Reliability Score: 7-9/10
KBB Value: $15,708-$23,012
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg (gas), 32 mpg (diesel)
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250-$500
Safety Rating: 4.4-4.8/5
The start of the 2nd generation began with the 2018 model year and these three Terrain SUVs are considered among the best in reliability.
The Owner Reliability score of the 2018 and 2019 GMC Terrain is 9 out of 10, with the 2020 Terrain model earning 7 out of 10. With the FIXD Reliability score, the 2018 earns 9 out of 10, while the 2020 GMC Terrain gets a rating of 8 out of 10, and the 2019 Terrain earns a perfect 10 out of 10.
The NHTSA crash test scores for the 2018 GMC Terrain are lower than the other two models at 4.4 (out of 5), which is slightly below average. However, both the 2019 and 2020 GMC Terrain earned a rating of 4.8 (out of 5).
All three GMC Terrain models have a gas-powered fuel economy rating of 25 mpg. With the 2018 and 2019 Terrain models, there was also a diesel powertrain option, with an average rating of 32 mpg.
The 2020 GMC Terrain has the lowest cost of ownership at $250 a year, possibly because these models are still covered by the 3-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. In comparison, the 2018 Terrain averages $438 a year, while the 2019 model is rated at $500 each year. Still, minimal mechanical issues are being reported, with our survey results only showing a slight increase in brake repairs for the 2019 GMC Terrain.
The most prevalent DTC with all three Terrain models is the MAF Sensor out of Self Test Range (P1101) code. 2018 diesel-powered Terrains may also deal with the Particulate Matter Sensor Temperature Not Plausible (P118b) code. Additionally, both the 2019 and 2020 GMC Terrains tend to show the System Too Lean Bank 1 (P0171) code and the Turbo Underboost Condition (P0299) code. If the vehicle is still covered under the warranty, these repairs may not cost you anything out of pocket.
FIXD Reliability Score: 9/10
Owner Reliability Score: 9/10
KBB Value: $12,376
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg (gas)
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $350
Safety Rating: 4.4/5
The final model in the 1st generation was among the best of those before 2018. It features great reliability scores and a low cost of ownership, mainly because there are minimal mechanical issues.
The Owner Reliability score of the 2017 GMC Terrain is 9 out of 10. With the FIXD Reliability score, it earns 9 out of 10.
As far as the NHTSA crash test scores, the 2017 GMC Terrain only earned a 4.4 (out of 5) rating. While this is slightly below average, it’s still a decent score overall.
The 2017 GMC Terrain was only available as a gas-powered configuration. It averages 22 mpg across the various trim levels.
What’s most impressive about the 2017 Terrain is that the annual maintenance and repair average is just $350. This SUV is out of warranty and the cost remains low. As far as expensive repairs go, the only indication from our surveys was a slight risk of transmission and fuel system problems, but it’s not enough to worry about.
Looking at the most common trouble codes with the 2017 GMC Terrain, we see both the Intake Camshaft Timing- Over-Advanced Bank 1 (P0011) DTC and the Intake Camshaft Actuator Circuit Open/Short Bank 1 (P0010) DTC. For both of these faults, an Intake Camshaft Position (CMP) Actuator Solenoid may be needed, costing between $1,016 and $1,531. There’s also a chance for the EVAP Flow During a Non-Purge Condition (P0496) code.
The 2017 GMC Terrain only has one recall from the NHTSA.
FIXD Reliability Score: 6-8/10
Owner Reliability Score: 7/10
KBB Value: $6,902-$7,157
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg (gas)
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $646-$808
Safety Rating: 4.4/5
The 2013 and 2014 GMC Terrain would be a good option for anyone needing a low-cost SUV without sacrificing too much reliability. They continue to get good scores and earn decent fuel economy ratings.
The Owner Reliability score of both the 2013 and 2014 GMC Terrain is 7 out of 10. With the FIXD Reliability score, the 2013 Terrain earns 6 out of 10, while the 2014 GMC SUV gets an 8 out of 10.
As far as the NHTSA crash test scores, the 2013 and 2014 GMC Terrain only earned a 4.4 (out of 5) rating. Even though this score seems on the lower side, it’s above average for these years.
The 2013 and 2014 GMC Terrain were only available with a gas-powered configuration. It averages 22 mpg across both of the trims.
The 2013 GMC Terrain averages a yearly cost of $808, while the 2014 GMC Terrain may only cost $646. Both models receive a slightly elevated chance of fuel system troubles, while you also have to watch out for minor transmission issues with the 2014 GMC.
The 2013 and 2014 GMC Terrain both deal with similar trouble code issues. First, you may notice the Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (P0420) code. There’s also a chance for the Exhaust “B” Camshaft Position Actuator Circuit/Open Bank 1 (P0013) and Camshaft Position B – Timing Over-Advanced or System Performance Bank 1 (P0014) codes. Because these could turn out to be serious codes, you want a mechanic to take a look if you aren’t sure what to do with them.
The Worst Years of the GMC Terrain
After evaluating the best GMC Terrain models, it’s time to look at those that would be labeled the worst. The same information is used to determine these rankings as we did above, starting with the Terrain models that should be avoided at all costs.
FIXD Reliability Score: 2-5/10
Owner Reliability Score: 6-8/10
KBB Value: $5,281-$6,043
Fuel Economy: 21-22 mpg (gas)
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $583-$1,000
Safety Rating: 4.4-4.67/5
The very first GMC Terrain models should be avoided because there are clear mechanical issues that could easily make this cheap SUV a member of the local junkyard.
The Owner Reliability score of the 2010 GMC Terrain is 6 out of 10, while the 2011 GMC model is rated at 7 out of 10, and the 2012 Terrain earns 8 out of 10. With the FIXD Reliability score, the 2010 Terrain earns 2 out of 10, while the 2011 and 2012 GMC SUV gets 5 out of 10.
With the NHTSA crash test scores, the 2010 GMC Terrain earned a 4.67 (out of 5) rating. The 2011 and 2012 Terrain get a score of 4.4 (out of 5), but all of them are above average for the model years.
Both the 2010 and 2012 Terrain models have an average fuel economy rating of 22 mpg, but the 2011 GMC SUV earns 21 mpg. With all three models, you can only choose a gas-powered engine.
The repair and maintenance costs could get high with these older models, which isn’t good considering the lower resale value. The 2010 GMC Terrain averages $1,000 a year, while the 2011 model is rated at $583. Additionally, we show an average of $833 a year on the 2012 GMC Terrain. Sadly, the 2011 GMC Terrain is susceptible to engine trouble, while the 2010 may struggle with the transmission. All three models show issues with the fuel system, plus the 2010 and 2012 Terrain models may have brake trouble.
There are also some expensive trouble codes that occur. With all three models, you may see the Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (P0420) code. To fix this, you may need a new catalytic converter, costing $1,538 to $2,041. The 2010 GMC Terrain model may also struggle with the Crankshaft Position – Camshaft Position Correlation Bank 1 Sensor B (P0017) code. This issue may require a new timing chain, costing an average of $1,046 to $1,615. Both the 2011 and 2012 Terrain also deal with the Camshaft Position B – Timing Over-Advanced or System Performance Bank 1 (P0014) code, which may require a new Exhaust Camshaft Actuator Solenoid ($1,016-$1,531), or the Multiple Misfire Detected (P0300) DTC, possibly needing a high-pressure fuel pump ($909-$1,351). Any of these repairs could easily drain your savings account.
FIXD Reliability Score: 8/10
Owner Reliability Score: 8-9/10
KBB Value: $7,718-$10,277
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg (gas)
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $607-$711
Safety Rating: 4.4/5
The 2015 and 2016 Terrain models also make our worst list because of the mechanical problems, even though the ratings still remain good.
The Owner Reliability score of the 2015 GMC Terrain is 9 out of 10, while the 2016 GMC model is rated at 8 out of 10. With the FIXD Reliability score, both Terrain models earn 8 out of 10.
With the NHTSA crash test scores, both Terrain models earn a 4.4 (out of 5) rating. These ratings are considered below average, which is another reason to overlook them.
Both the 2015 and 2016 Terrain models have an average fuel economy rating of 23 mpg. You can only choose a gas-powered engine with these SUVs.
On average, the 2015 GMC Terrain costs $711 a year to maintain and repair. In comparison, the 2016 model is rated at $607 a year. Yet, both seem to struggle with engine problems. Plus, the 2015 Terrain shows a higher chance of brake and fuel system repairs.
The biggest fault with the 2015 GMC Terrain is the possibility of the Camshaft Position B – Timing Over-Advanced or System Performance Bank 1 (P0014) code, which may require a new Exhaust Camshaft Actuator Solenoid, costing $1,016-$1,531. Both the 2015 and 2016 Terrain models seem to deal with the EVAP Flow During a Non-Purge Condition (P0496) code. Plus, 2016 Terrain SUVs can also show the Exhaust “B” Camshaft Position Actuator Circuit/Open Bank 1 (P0013). You also have to watch out for the System Too Rich Bank 1 (P0172) code with the 2015 models. This fix could require a new high-pressure fuel pump, costing $909 to $1,351.
According to our data, the 2011 and 2015-2016 models deal with more expensive engine repairs that could cost more than $500 each. There’s also a higher instance of transmission repairs with the 2010, 2014, and 2017 Terrain models.
Because the GMC Terrain has only been around since 2010, it’s difficult to determine how long it will last. Right now, there are plenty of models still on the road, many of which don’t have a lot of miles yet. However, if you want the Terrain to last as long as possible, it’s best to keep up with regular maintenance and repairs.
Based on our data at this point, a high-mileage GMC Terrain could be considered anything over 100,000 miles.
The 2011 GMC Terrain SUVs have the highest mileage in our surveys at 150,000. We expect that the mileage is going to surpass these numbers in a few years, giving us a better picture of what the reliability actually looks like.
GMC makes several SUVs worth considering. The GMC Acadia is slightly larger, plus there’s the GMC Yukon, and Yukon XL if you are looking for something larger. You could also check out one of the trucks for more capability, such as the GMC Canyon, Sierra 1500, or Sierra HD. Don’t forget to also check out the Chevrolet Equinox, which is a rebadged version of the GMC Terrain.
Aside from this brand, you may consider the Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V models, which all have something to offer. Otherwise, you may prefer the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Bronco Sport, Mazda CX-50, Kia Sportage, Jeep Cherokee, Mitsubishi Outlander, or Jeep Compass.
What owners of the GMC Terrain like to use their car for:
Percent based x/5-star: 0-10% = 1, 11-20% = 2, 21-30% = 3, 31-40% = 4, 41%+ = 5
|Frequent Use Categories:||How Useful? (Out of 5 Stars)|
|Lots of Driving (travel/long commute)||****|
|Office on Wheels||*|
A Note About Data and Information Sources
This article has many details about GMC Terrain’s reliability; here’s what we used for our assumptions and recommendations.
- FIXD Reliability Score & Data: Engine reliability information is captured via the FIXD App.
The FIXD Reliability Score is calculated using the number of DTCs per year, weighted by mileage. This is then turned into a scale of 1-10 for easy graphing.
This is an objective score.
- Owner Reliability Score & Data: This data is the result of surveying GMC Terrain owners who use FIXD.
The Owner Reliability Score comes straight from owners of the GMC Terrain.
This is a subjective score.
To determine the Owner Reliability Score we ask each car owner:
How reliable would you say your GMC Terrain is?
a. Just point A to point B driving
b. A Daily Commuter
c. Good for a 100-mile road trip
d. Good for a 500-mile road trip
e. I could take a cross-country road trip, no problem
From here we translate their answers into the Owner Reliability Score:
a. = 2
b. = 4
c. = 6
d. = 8
e. = 10
Keep in mind, owners may think their car is more or less reliable than it actually is.
One potential problem is that people often buy the same make or model they are used to when they go car shopping, just a newer year.
Ford, for instance, has a number of consumer loyalty awards for the Ford F-Series, Ford Mustang, and Ford Expedition.
Car owners may be so loyal to the make or model they currently own that they would have trouble accurately comparing their cars’ reliability to others.
It’s for this reason that we ask car owners a question that is relative to mileage rather than relative to other cars.
Still, be mindful of the accuracy of these Owner Reliability Scores, people’s perceptions and unconscious blindspots can skew data.
We suggest looking at both the FIXD Reliability Score and the Owner Reliability Score for this reason.
- KBB Value: Average private-seller valuations as supplied by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), based on a GMC Terrain with typical mileage for that respective model year.
- Fuel Economy: Mileage-per-gallon estimates according to the EPA MPG on Fueleconomy.gov
- Annual Maintenance/Repair: Upkeep expenses as reported by surveyed GMC Terrain owners
- Safety Rating: Crash test data collected and reported by NHTSA. We average all ratings for each year to come up with a simplified, average safety score. This makes it easier to look at on a graph.
- GMC Terrain, wikipedia.org. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GMC_Terrain
- GMC Terrain reviews, edmunds.com. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from https://www.edmunds.com/gmc/terrain/
- GMC Vehicle Warranty and Protection Plans, gmc.com. Retrieved September 26, 2023, from https://www.gmc.com/owners/warranty-protection-plans
Brian Jones owns a used car dealership outside of Dallas, Texas. He has also worked for decades as an ASE Certified Master Technician for a variety of new car dealerships. Now he spends his time consulting dealerships and writing for some renowned publications, such as Motor1 (https://www.motor1.com/info/team/brian-jones/). When he’s not working, he’s tinkering around with pickup trucks and traveling with his family.