Downsizing just sounds ominous, like something the big bosses in that tower a thousand miles away might do with our paychecks.
“Hey, your pants will fit better with less cash in your wallet.”
Pardon my cynicism. For better or worse, I arrived with linebacker’s blood in a punter’s body, and I’m still wondering where the rest of me went.
It sort of lowers my expectations.
So, I didn’t have high hopes for the 2018 GMC Terrain Denali, formerly a large, square-cut compact crossover that shrunk to a size closer to the smaller end of the segment.
Moreover, the General decided to leave the former Terrain’s V-6 engine on the factory floor and replace it with a four-cylinder.
I think that’s what the pinstripes call doing more with less – as in 10-hour days with “occasional” Saturday overtime.
Could we maybe do less with more instead?
I have to admit the white all-wheel-drive Terrain I had recently didn’t look particularly diminished or overworked.
Now about 3-inches shorter and 350 pounds lighter, the Terrain still stands fairly tall and proud, flashing a shiny signature oversized grille for all to see – particularly lesser SUVs.
The bold grille was fashioned of silver strands that kind of resembled a polished fence and was flanked by U-shaped headlamps.
It shouted GMC – a tall, blunt front topped by a flat, fairly long hood.
Square-shaped wheel-openings reinforced the rough-and-ready urban-warrior vibe, filled reasonably well by 235/50 tires on slotted 19-inch wheels.
However, that was about the only element left from the square, slightly militaristic-looking 2017 Terrain.
The new truck’s mostly smooth sides, for example, carried a gentle curve in them stretched lightly by character lines above the door-handles and rocker-panels.
Someone, though, must have decided that the more refined-looking Terrain needed a flourish or two, slapping an abrupt Nissan-style rise atop the rear fenders that compressed the rear side-window into a useless slot.
But, hey, from certain angles it kind of resembled the fin on a ‘57 Chevy, giving the truck an unintended dash of family retro.
In back, the Terrain’s push for distinction was focused on odd U-shaped tail lamps that were, uh, different.
Still, the styling worked pretty well.
My concern with the new Terrain was a four-cylinder engine in a stout crossover weighing more than 3,800 pounds.
Fortunately, my well-equipped Denali model got the optional turbocharged 2-liter 4-banger with 252 horsepower twisting a nine-speed automatic. (Besides the 2-liter, the Terrain offers a basic 1.5-liter four and a 1.6-liter diesel.)
It was the biggest surprise in GMC’s fresh new trucklet.
Smooth and fairly strong around town, the 2-liter – which has 260 lb.-ft. of torque – jumped up to speed with ease, hitting 60 mph in a swift 6.4 seconds, according to Car and Driver.
That is just 0.1 of a second slower than the ’17 Terrain with a V-6, and the new motor gets 21 miles per gallon in town and 26 on the highway, compared with 17/24 in the V-6.
Although I occasionally noticed a faint touch of turbo lag, the Terrain generally responded with a solid surge, even chirping the front tires once when I really hit it hard.
In addition, the steering felt reasonably quick with decent road feel, and the Terrain even handled moderate-speed curves and corners confidently.
While I had anticipated a fairly busy ride from the all-wheel-drive, what I got was pleasantly firm with little bounce – another unexpected smile.
Hang on to those. GMC obviously spent most of its development budget on the Terrain’s platform, suspension and engine – not the interior.
The black interior in my Terrain wasn’t bad. It just didn’t fit a pricey, $44,000 compact crossover.
A deep, heavily plastic dashboard, for instance, slid over a large, slightly dated center-stack topped by an 8-inch display screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
Happily, it included buttons and knobs for the climate-control and stereo, as well as somewhat strange switches at the base of the center-stack for the transmission (p,r,n and d).
Shades of the Edsel and ’64 Plymouth Fury, I guess.
Likewise, the black plastic door-panels didn’t look particularly high-end, though they contained wood trim around the door-handles and padded armrests.
Smooth black leather seats with excellent leg- and head-room in back were the highlights of the interior, offering sectioned centers with white piping on the edges.
Meanwhile, the options on my Terrain included a power sunroof ($1,495); a safety package with automatic parking assist and surround vision ($745); a driver-alert package ($495); and trailering equipment ($450).
The new Terrain is unquestionably better overall and more economical than the old one, but at what price? The heavy-hitting Honda CR-V costs roughly $10,000 less.
I guess we’ll see if GMC’s perceived cachet is worth it.