Discover Worst GMC Terrain Years to Avoid and Reliable Terrain Best Year Models!

Patrick Oziegbe
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Shopping for a used GMC Terrain is always a good decision as this compact SUV comes with a sleek design, reliability and fine interior features, which makes it a top choice for many families.

As you read this guide, you’ll discover those GMC Terrain years that have recorded the worst problems you must avoid.

Please note that most problematic GMC Terrain models come from the vehicle’s first generation, experiencing issues such as oil leaks and transmission faults.

However, the parent company GMC has churned out vastly improved models, design, and reliability.

Worst GMC Terrain Years to Avoid

GMC Terrain Years to Avoid
©Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

There are several worst years you be aware of when considering a used GMC Terrain, so you’ll learn more about worst years and reasons why they may not be the best choice for your next vehicle purchase.

2010 GMC Terrain

  • The 2010 model was the first year for the Terrain, and as is often the case with new models, it experienced some issues. Drivers reported problems with oil leaks and transmission failures, making it one of the most problematic years for the Terrain.

2011 GMC Terrain

  • Just like its predecessor, the 2011 model year also experienced numerous issues. This model is considered the worst year of the GMC Terrain, with a range of problems reported by drivers. Issues included engine troubles and excessive oil consumption.

2012 GMC Terrain

  • The problems persisted in the 2012 model year, with drivers encountering similar issues as those reported for the 2010 and 2011 Terrains, including oil leaks and transmission failures. This makes the 2012 GMC Terrain another year to avoid when searching for a used vehicle.

2013-2015 GMC Terrain

  • While the issues were slightly less severe during the 2013 to 2015 model years, it is still recommended to avoid these years when considering a used GMC Terrain. Problems continued to be reported with engines and oil consumption, although at a lower frequency than in the earlier model years.

The worst GMC Terrain model years to avoid are 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. By steering clear of these years, potential buyers can avoid the most problematic Terrains and ensure they get the best value for their money.

Major Problems

Engine Issues

One of the major problems reported by GMC Terrain owners is engine-related issues. Excessive oil consumption has been a common problem in the 2010, 2011, and 2012 models.

Engine stalling or suddenly stopping on the road, check engine lights remaining active for prolonged periods, and engines shutting down while driving have also been reported in 2010 and 2011 GMC Terrain vehicles.

Some contributing factors to these engine problems include:

  • Faulty piston rings
  • Low-quality engine parts
  • Manufacturing defects in the engine components

Transmission Issues

Another significant issue with specific GMC Terrain years is transmission failure. The first-generation models, specifically the 2010 to 2013 models, had several transmission-related complaints. The symptoms of these transmission issues include:

  • Rough shifting
  • Transmission slipping
  • Transmission locking up or refusing to shift gears
  • Complete transmission failure, requiring expensive repairs or replacements

These transmission issues are often attributed to faulty components or manufacturing defects in the transmission systems of these vehicles.

Faulty Airbags

Airbag-related problems are another key concern with the 2010 to 2015 GMC Terrain models.

These issues involve airbags not deploying when needed or malfunctioning airbag systems, posing significant safety risks for drivers and passengers. Some of the primary reasons reported for these faulty airbags include:

  • Sensor failures
  • Wiring problems
  • Manufacturing defects in airbag modules

Awareness of the model years associated with these significant problems is essential. Avoiding the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 model years can save you from potential difficulties and costly repairs in the long run.

Reliability and Life Expectancy

In shopping for a reliable vehicle in the used car market, you must consider ratings for each model.

The 2022 GMC Terrain, for example, is predicted to have a reliability score of 83 / 100. The J.D. Power indicated reliability score considers a rating between 91-100 as the best, 81-90 as outstanding, 70-80 as average, and 0-69 as fair or below average.

In terms of life expectancy, a well-maintained GMC Terrain can have a good chance of reaching or exceeding the 200,000-mile mark.

However, factors such as driving habits, maintenance records, and the severity score of any issues faced during the vehicle’s lifespan can influence life expectancy.

  • The best years to consider in the used car market are likely those with higher reliability ratings, such as the 2022 model.
  • Contrastingly, avoid years associated with issues like oil leaks, transmission faults, and poor fuel economy – notably the 2010 and 2011 models.
  • Life expectancy can be influenced by maintenance, driving habits, and severity scores, so keep these in mind when evaluating a potential vehicle.

Best GMC Terrain Years to Consider

Are there any reliable GMC Terrain years? Now let’s share the exact best years according to owners, drivers, and independent automobile platforms review:

2017 Terrain

The 2017 GMC Terrain marked a significant improvement over its predecessors. The model received fewer complaints and showed more durability. The standard tech features were updated, making it a popular choice for GMC enthusiasts.


The complete redesign of the 2018 GMC Terrain brought a fresh look and modernized features, contributing to its appeal. Owners observed that the 2018 model had fewer problems and, overall, drove better than previous versions.


Continuing the improvements made in previous years, the 2019 GMC Terrain maintained its level of quality and garnered positive reviews from its users. It boasted a comfortable, spacious cabin with an efficient engine and low road noise.


The 2020 GMC Terrain kept up with the trend of better-received models. It featured advanced safety technologies and well-balanced handling. The infotainment system was also user-friendly, and the cabin offered high comfort.


The most recent model, the 2021 GMC Terrain, continued to impress with its classy design and performance. It received praise for its fuel efficiency and quiet ride. The cargo space was versatile and could easily accommodate more oversized items.

Comparisons with Other SUVs

GMC Acadia

The GMC Acadia is a larger SUV from General Motors, capable of seating up to 7 people compared to the GMC Terrain’s 5-passenger capacity.

With the additional 3rd-row seating, the Acadia is more prolonged and taller than the Terrain. As a result, the Acadia requires a more powerful engine and can deliver up to 310 hp, compared to the GMC Terrain’s 252 hp.

However, remember that this increased size and power may result in a slight trade-off in fuel efficiency.

Chevrolet Equinox

Another General Motors offering, the Chevrolet Equinox, is a popular competitor to the GMC Terrain.

Both are categorized as compact SUVs, and they share many similarities in terms of design and features. The Chevy Equinox is praised for its comfortable ride and ample cargo space.

When choosing between Terrain and Equinox, it would be helpful to consider factors such as aesthetics, brand preference, and available trims.

Honda CR-V

Moving away from General Motors, the Honda CR-V is often considered one of the best cars in the compact SUV segment.

Known for its excellent fuel efficiency, reliability, and impressive safety features, the CRV is a strong competitor against the GMC Terrain.

While both offer comfortable interiors and ample cargo space, the CR-V has a slight edge regarding the resale value and overall reliability ratings.

Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is another highly-regarded option among small SUVs. Like the Honda CR-V, the RAV4 excels in fuel efficiency, safety, and reliability.

With a reputation for long-lasting performance, the Toyota RAV4 can be a more dependable choice than specific GMC Terrain models.

When comparing the RAV4 to the Terrain, you should weigh each vehicle’s RAV4 cons and pros, considering the years to avoid the Terrain.

Generations and Models

First Generation

The first generation of the GMC Terrain was in production from 2010 to 2017. This generation is generally considered more problematic than the second one, with the worst model years being 2010, 2011, and 2012.

These early years had issues with serious oil leaks and transmission failures, making them years to avoid for potential Terrain buyers.

Within the first generation were three main GMC Terrain models: Terrain SLE, Terrain SLT, and the upscale Terrain Denali. Each model offered varying levels of features and options:

  • Terrain SLE: This model came with a standard set of features, such as a color touch radio, rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, and more. It was the most affordable option and suited those looking for a reliable and comfortable SUV.
  • Terrain SLT: The SLT model offered additional luxury and convenience features, such as leather upholstery, upgraded sound systems, larger wheels, and more advanced safety features.
  • Terrain Denali: As the luxury model, the Denali version had an exclusive chrome grille, more advanced safety technology, and premium interior materials. It was the top-of-the-line choice for those wanting a more luxurious driving experience.

Second Generation

The GMC Terrain’s second generation started in 2018 and is still in production. This generation brought significant improvements, with fewer reported issues than its predecessor, making the 2016 facelift onwards generally more reliable vehicles.

In addition to the Terrain SLE, SLT, and Denali models continuing in this generation, GMC introduced the new off-road-focused Terrain AT4 model:

  • Terrain AT4: This model caters to outdoor enthusiasts, featuring off-road-ready suspension, all-terrain tires, and a unique exterior design that sets it apart from other Terrain models. It’s designed for drivers who want more rugged capability in their SUVs.

Features and Options

The GMC Terrain offers a variety of features and options that cater to the different needs of drivers. Some notable safety features include Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Warning.

These features assist drivers during long trips by adjusting the vehicle’s speed and providing warnings if the car drifts out of its lane.

The Terrain also offers Lane Keep Assist, which helps keep the vehicle within its designated lane by gently steering it back on track when needed.

In addition to safety features, the Terrain offers a suite of modern convenience options.

For instance, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration allows drivers to connect their smartphones to the vehicle’s infotainment system, providing access to music, apps, and navigation.

Moreover, those who appreciate extra comfort can opt for a heated steering wheel, ensuring a cosy driving experience in colder weather.

Another helpful feature is the keyless entry system, which allows drivers to unlock their vehicles without reaching for their keys.

Regarding driver assistance, the Terrain offers Forward Collision Alert, alerting the driver if there is a potential collision with a vehicle ahead.

Lastly, the Terrain offers the availability of a Head-Up Display (HUD), projecting essential information onto the windshield so that drivers can keep their eyes on the road while monitoring crucial vehicle data such as speed and navigation instructions.

Space and Comfort

Across model years, the GMC Terrain offers plenty of space for passengers and cargo, making it a suitable choice for families or those needing extra room.

One of the strengths of the Terrain’s interior is its rear seats. They generally offer ample legroom, allowing passengers to sit comfortably during long rides. In addition, the back seat is roomy, ensuring that even taller passengers do not feel cramped.

Drivers and passengers can also expect a comfortable experience moving to the front seats. Many Terrain models have the option of leather seats or upholstery, adding a touch of luxury to the spacious interior.

Moreover, the fold-flat front passenger seat provides flexibility for carrying more oversized items, maximizing the available cubic feet inside the vehicle.

Easier access is another aspect the GMC Terrain offers, as the vehicle sports wider doors and convenient entry points. This feature simplifies getting in and out of the front and rear seating areas for passengers of all ages.

Fuel Economy and Costs

Some problematic years for GMC Terrain have been reported to have poor fuel economy performance and excessive fuel consumption issues.

For example, the 2022 GMC Terrain AWD is reported to have an annual fuel cost of $2,100, with a price to drive 25 miles of $3.52 and a fee to fill the tank at $57.

The tank size is 15.6 gallons. Comparing this to the older GMC Terrain models from the years to avoid, one may notice a difference in fuel costs due to the excessive fuel consumption problems.

In addition to fuel economy and costs, you must consider other expenses like monthly payments, insurance, and warranty coverage.

Monthly payments and insurance costs vary widely depending on factors such as credit score, driving history, and location. It is always wise to shop for insurance to find the best possible rates.

Regarding warranty coverage, be cautious with the earlier GMC Terrain models mentioned. These models may no longer have an existing warranty, or the warranty might not cover common issues like excessive oil consumption and transmission problems.

Safety Ratings and Concerns

A vehicle’s safety ratings are vital to its overall reliability and desirability. The GMC Terrain has received various ratings and evaluations from organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The 2020 GMC Terrain was recently awarded a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA and a “good” rating (the highest possible rating) for crashworthiness by the IIHS.

This indicates that the Terrain has demonstrated strong safety performance in recent years.

Buying a Used GMC Terrain

Buying used GMC Terrain can be economical as you look for a reliable crossover SUV. However, be sure to focus on the 2016 and later models, as these have fewer reported issues and offer improved reliability, using these steps:

  • Investigate the vehicle’s history and maintenance records to ensure it has been appropriately maintained.
  • Inspect the car for any obvious signs of wear and tear or damage.
  • Seek an expert opinion, such as from a trusted mechanic, to assess the vehicle’s overall condition.
  • Test drive the GMC Terrain to ensure it meets personal preferences regarding handling, comfort, and performance.

Trim Levels and Special Editions

The GMC Terrain offers various trim levels and special editions to satisfy buyers’ needs and preferences. Each trim level uniquely combines features, performance, and style.

Terrain SLE: The base model, known as the Terrain SLE, includes standard features such as a 1.5L Turbocharged engine, front-wheel drive, and a suite of advanced safety technologies.

Terrain SLT: Upgrading to the Terrain SLT provides additional features, such as leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a more advanced infotainment system.

Terrain Denali: The GMC Terrain Denali is the top-tier trim level. With its distinctive styling, including a signature chrome grille and larger wheels, the Denali offers a more luxurious interior with upscale materials and advanced technology features.

In addition to the 2022 GMC SUV line-up, the Terrain Denali competes with the Acadia Denali, another popular model among GMC fans.

GMC offers the Terrain AWD for increased traction and control in challenging driving conditions. This all-wheel-drive variant is available across different trim levels, making it an attractive option for those who reside in areas with harsh weather conditions.


Which GMC Terrain years should I avoid?

The years include 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, which have been reported to have multiple issues and are considered some of the worst years for the GMC Terrain.

What are the common problems in GMC Terrain models from those years?

The GMC Terrain has faced various problems across different model years:

  • 2010 and 2011 models had numerous engine issues, such as engine stalling, check engine lights staying on, and engines shutting down while driving.
  • First-generation models, in general, were plagued with oil leaking into the cylinders and transmission faults.
  • The engine remained a concern in all GMC Terrain models from 2010 to the present, with issues ranging from cylinder head gasket problems to transmission malfunction.

What is the Overall GMC Terrain Best Year?

The 2018 GMC Terrain has proven to be the best year for the model, offering ample space, refined aesthetics, and an overall enjoyable driving experience.

It also offers a combination of a comfortable ride, and the maker introduced new power trains, offering turbocharged gas engines and a turbo-diesel option.

What is the life expectancy of GMC Terrain?

The life expectancy of a Terrain generally depends on its generation. The first gen models have been recorded to last up to 200,000 miles if the valve seal leaks are fixed.

However, the 2nd gen models are better, stronger and more reliable, delivering higher life expectancy up to 250,000 to 300,000 miles.


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