In an unsteady economy with
strangely fluctuating gas prices, the only thing consumers can count on is that
it's best to be prepared for the worst. That means buying fuel-efficient,
durable and practical transportation. Trucks and SUVs generally don't meet all
those requirements. The new breed of car-based SUVs, which we like to call
crossovers, is trying to change that by focusing heavily on fuel-economy
improvements. The results speak for themselves.
The GMC Terrain is based on the
Chevrolet Equinox, but looks nothing like it. It's a 5-passenger crossover with
bold styling, and it's available with fwd or awd. Making it unique is its base
182-bhp direct-injected 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that is tuned for the best
possible fuel economy. GMC anticipates an EPA rating of 21/30 mpg. That's quite
close to the 32 mpg highway rating of the Saturn Vue Hybrid, and 5 mpg better
than the 2009 Chevrolet Equinox's city rating.
But don't expect great
performance; to achieve these fuel-sipper numbers requires a special
driver-selectable "ECO" mode that results in a low-rpm torque
converter lockup of the 6-speed automatic and likely a sluggish throttle map.
The 4-cylinder also has electric-assist power steering to help maximize