2018 GMC Terrain vs. 2018 GMC Acadia: Worth the Upgrade?

Terrain vs. Acadia: Which GMC SUV Is Right for You?

General Motors’ GMC brand has built a reputation on delivering comfortable, practical SUVs with upscale flair, including the GMC Acadia midsize SUV and the GMC Terrain compact SUV.

Redesigned for the 2018 model year, the Terrain places third in our ranking of compact SUVs. The well-rounded SUV also performed well in our rankings of crossover SUVs and SUVs with 2 rows.

The Acadia placed in the back half of our rankings of midsize SUVsSUVs with 3 rows, and crossover SUVs. Although it was refreshed last year, the Acadia has few attributes that help distinguish it in a competitive segment.

Read ahead to see how this pair of GMC SUVs compares in performance, fuel efficiency, and safety.

Price

Winner: 2018 GMC Terrain

At $24,995, the GMC Terrain has one of the highest starting prices in the compact SUV segment, but it also offers more features and has a nicer interior than rivals. The SLE and SLT trims start at $27,820 and $31,320, respectively. The top-of-the-line Denali starts at $37,520.

The Acadia’s base SL trim begins at $29,020. Starting prices for its mid-grade trims – the SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, and SLT-2 – range from $32,560 to $41,860. The Denali trim starts at $45,020.

Reliability

Winner: To Be Determined

Neither nameplate has been assigned a predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power and Associates for the 2018 model year. The 2017 Acadia received a rating of three out of five, which is about average. Since the 2018 Terrain has been redesigned, its previous model year’s score won’t be an accurate indicator of what its new score will be.

The Terrain and Acadia each come with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Seat Comfort

Winner: 2018 GMC Terrain

The five-passenger GMC Terrain features spacious seating in both rows. A $1,375 Driver Convenience package adds heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat, while the $1,250 Preferred package comes with a power-adjustable passenger seat and a heated steering wheel.

The Acadia seats up to seven passengers in its three rows, but the back row can feel cramped. An automatic heated steering wheel is available for 2018, but only in the Denali trim.

Cargo Space

Winner: 2018 GMC Terrain

The GMC Terrain is smaller than the Acadia, but it boasts more cargo space behind its back row. The Terrain has just under 30 cubic feet of room when all seats are in use, compared with the Acadia’s 13.

For longer vacations or shopping hauls, the three-row Acadia wins. When the Acadia’s second- and third-row seats are folded down, the midsize SUV offers 79 cubic feet of cargo space, compared with 63 cubic feet for the Terrain. However, the Terrain’s front passenger seat can fold flat as well, offering drivers up to 81 cubic feet of cargo space and giving it the win in this category. That’s impressive, considering the Terrain has a smaller exterior.

Interior Quality

Winner: 2018 GMC Terrain

Both SUVs feature the upscale interiors that distinguish GMC from competitors, but the Terrain – conceived as a luxury vehicle – packs more premium materials and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Interior Features

Winner: Tie

Both SUVs come loaded with Bluetooth, multiple USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Autosmartphone connectivity, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and GMC’s IntelliLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen. Buyers can upgrade to a more comprehensive infotainment system with navigation and an 8-inch touch screen.

Acceleration and Power

Winner: 2018 GMC Terrain

The Terrain offers a choice of three engines: a 170-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, a 252-horsepower turbo-four, and a 137-horsepower turbodiesel, which is unusual for the class.

The Acadia’s 193-horsepower four-cylinder base engine is adequate for daily driving, but the available 310-horsepower V6 is more muscular, helping the SUV accelerate, merge, and pass more powerfully.

The big Acadia’s weak base engine and the Terrain’s wider variety of options, including a torquey diesel, conspire to give the Terrain the win in this category, despite the Acadia’s powerful V6.

Fuel Economy

Winner: 2018 GMC Terrain

The GMC Terrain delivers 26 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway – better figures than many rival compact crossovers offer. Its turbodiesel engine gets an impressive 28/39 city/ highway.

The Acadia’s base engine achieves 21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, typical numbers for the class. The V6 gets 18/25 city/highway.

Ride Quality

Winner: 2018 GMC Acadia

Both SUVs deliver smooth, cushioned rides, but the larger Acadia edges the Terrain in performance, especially the top-of-the-line Denali, which comes with an adaptive suspension that adjusts to road conditions.

Handling

Winner: Tie

Though neither SUV boasts the athleticism of some competitors, they feel composed on most surfaces, maneuverable in tight spaces, and sturdy on winding roads.

Safety

Winner: To Be Determined

The 2018 GMC Terrain has not yet undergone crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). NHTSA awarded four stars to the 2018 Acadia’s front-wheel-drive models and five stars to the all-wheel-drive version.

The Terrain and the Acadia each come standard with a rearview camera and GM’s Teen Driver system, which lets you set speed and volume limits for other drivers. Available active safety features include rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and lane keep assist.

The Winner Is …

2018 GMC Terrain

GMC’s pair of SUVs strike a rare balance, managing to feel rugged, comfortable, and upscale at the same time. But how does the redesigned GMC Terrain stack up against its older, larger sibling?

The three-row Acadia has the edge when it comes to ride quality and passenger capacity, but the Terrain bests the larger Acadia in several areas, including comfort, interior quality, fuel economy, and price.