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A white 2022 GMC Terrain AT4 is shown from the front off-roading through a mud puddle.

GMC Throws in the Off-Road Sink with the New AT4 Terrain

There’s a lot to like about the 2022 GMC Terrain. A concerted effort has been made on the part of GMC to differentiate the Terrain from its cousin, the Chevrolet Equinox. In a market flooded with compact/midsize crossovers and SUVs, the refreshed Terrain is a breath of fresh air for the segment.

The single most notable change to the lineup this year is the addition of the AT4 trim level. This is GMC’s answer to the question of compact quasi-offroaders. There is, however, much more to the AT4 than its off-road capability. Enhanced styling, chassis work, and onboard technology all blend together in a package that’s excellent for its price point (MSRP for AT4 is about $34,000) and stands out amongst its competitors.

The AT4 Package

Introduced in 2019 with the Sierra, the AT4 trim was made available across all GMC models in early 2020. Aimed at younger, more affluent buyers who seek adventure (but enjoy their creature comforts), the AT4 was designed to offer an off-road package with premium technology and more rugged looks.

According to GMC, they saw a 14% increase in Sierra sales with the introduction of the AT4, and thus decided to make it a universal option. The Terrain is the latest of the lineup to be granted the honor of the AT4 package. GMC is throwing in the kitchen sink here, loading the AT4 Terrain with all the tech and refinement they can in the hopes of making it one of their top sellers in a crowded market. They’re riding on the ticket of “premium”—a word tossed about regularly in the GMC pressroom.

Let’s see if the 2022 Terrain AT4 meets the criteria.

Exterior Styling

In terms of outward appearance, the 2022 Terrain certainly seems more rough and ready. New, wrap-around, C-shaped, LED, matching head and tail lights stand out against a bolder, black chrome grille. The black chrome accents extend around the vehicle, including on the gloss-black, 17” aluminum wheels.

Sport Terrain tires come standard, as do the undercarriage skid plates protecting the transmission and drivetrain. Raised roof rails run the length of the roof, as does the panoramic sunroof exclusive to the AT4 and Denali trim levels. So, the AT4 is ready to hit the trails right out of the showroom.

Overall, a rugged and athletic exterior provides an “off-road” feel—while still exuding mild refinement and light touches of finesse. It’s a vast improvement over previous iterations of the GMC Terrain.

A white 2022 GMC Terrain AT4 is shown from the front driving on a snow covered road.

Power and Capability

It’s all well and good for the Terrain to look like it’s ready to conquer the mountainside, but what’s going on underneath the hood is what’s really going to matter when the going gets tough. Powering the Terrain is a 1.5-L turbocharged and direct-injected 4-cylinder with variable valve timing mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain produces 170 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque. This is minimal when compared to the AT4 trims of the Sierra and Canyon. But, while the Terrain is not geared strictly at the V6 performance crowd, this modest power output places it squarely within its own segment.

What the AT4 does have over its competitors is GMC’s AWD Traction Select System. As all AT4’s come standard with AWD, the Traction Select System is where the power to take the Terrain off the beaten path really lies. There are three levels in this system:

  1. FWD Only – This mode disconnects the rear axle, which powers the AWD drivetrain, allowing for less drag and marginally improving fuel economy. This is the standard driving mode and should be used in normal, everyday driving conditions.
  2. AWD Activation – Activating AWD reconnects the rear axle and sends power to all four wheels, creating improved traction for hazardous conditions. Think rain, snow, and ice.
  3. Off-Road Traction – Then we come to the off-road condition selection. You have your choice of 3 modes: dirt, gravel, or sand. The AWD adjusts accordingly, changing the driving dynamics to improve traction and stability while off-road.

The Traction Select System is controlled via a rotary dial integrated into the center console. Drive mode selections are clearly labeled: x2 for FWD, x4 for AWD, and a mountain icon for off-roading. Additionally, next to the rotary dial is the Hill Descent Control button. When activated, this system takes control of the antilock brakes, sending power to all four to create a relatively smooth descent down steep terrain.

Custom Interior

Features like Traction Select System are becoming more and more standard as automakers create off-road capable trim levels for familiar models. However, few offer the premium, off-road-inspired interior found on the AT4 Terrain.

Upon opening the door, you’ll notice the AT4 logo in bold, red and gray stitching—embossed onto the headrests of the front seats. The bi-color stitching continues along the heated leather seats, in which the driver gets an 8-way power seat with 2 settings of lumbar support. This makes going over an errant rock much more comfortable.

And, don’t think your hands are going to get cold while you’re driving. The steering wheel is heated, and also finds all of your typical Bluetooth and media adjustments programmed in as well. What’s available for upgrade on the SLT and AT4, but standard on Denali trims, is the heads-up display, which comes in the form of a futuristic, almost hologram-style translucent screen that sits perched atop the dash. This allows for unobstructed views of the road or trail, and is customizable to show speed, elevation, live tire pressure, oil life, or whatever else you may want to keep track of.

The AT4 can also be outfitted with the SkyScape Sunroof, which runs the length of the Terrain. You know, to bring the outdoors in. As if they weren’t already “in” enough with this model.

The black interior of 2022 GMC Terrain shows the steering wheel and infotainment screen.

Tech, Tech, Tech

GMC is marketing the AT4 Terrain as a high-tech off-roader, and it’s easy to see why. Built into the center is a 7” driver-oriented, multicolor, infotainment touchscreen that’s available with integrated navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon’s Alexa. Wireless charging for your smartphone and WiFi HotSpot connectivity for you and your passengers are also optional. It’s all pretty standard for a vehicle in this segment.

What’s not standard is the presence of High Definition Surround Vision+. Usually, you find this on larger SUVs and off-roaders, but GMC has made it available for the Terrain. Essentially, multiple cameras placed at strategic points around the vehicle create a 360-degree view of your surroundings. Helpful in a parking lot, for sure, but when you’re off-road and you cannot see what’s ahead of you or on your flanks, having the ability to select cameras that see what you cannot is invaluable.

Size Matters…Kinda

One final thing to note here is the illusion of size. The 2022 GMC Terrain is not really much bigger than your standard compact SUV, with an overall length of 182.3’’. However, the exterior styling provides the illusion of a larger SUV.

And yet, when it comes to cargo, the Terrain is at the top of the competition in terms of capacity. Seating for up to 5 is typical, but the rear seats fold flat, opening up 63.3 cu.ft. of storage space. Not only that, but GMC claims that you can fit something 8’ long inside the cabin—and still be able to close the tailgate, no problem. That’s approaching pickup truck capability. And, that’s certainly enough room for camping, fishing, or any other outdoor activity you might be interested in.

A Promising Offering

We can all remember the GMC truck our dads or grandpas had. There’s a little more memory in older, established brands, and it’s nice to see GMC begin to come into its own for the modern era—instead of just being a “fancy” Chevy.

This refresh of the Terrain has gotten a lot of people excited. It’s been a while since GMC made a true competitor for the likes of the Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V, and Ford Escape. What we have in the new Terrain AT4 is a semi-luxurious off-roader, catered to a refined crowd that doesn’t mind getting their boots dirty on the weekends. It’s an effort we should applaud them for, and we should look for more like it in the future.

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