GMC’s SUV Lineup: Which One Is Right for You?
Sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) have steadily risen in popularity over the past decade. And there are many reasons why a good portion of consumers are choosing an SUV over a sedan or pickup truck. For example, SUVs feel safer than a sedan on the road, they typically offer more cargo room, and they come with more capabilities. Also, SUVs can provide some of the same functions as a pickup truck, yet they often come with more passenger room in the cabin, are easier to drive, and are more fuel-efficient.
GMC manufactures three of the best vehicles in the burgeoning SUV market—a lineup that covers each class (compact, mid-size, and full-size). If you’re in the market for a new SUV this year, chances are GMC makes the perfect model for your needs. Let’s take a detailed look at the Terrain, Acadia, and Yukon models:
There’s no getting around it: The 2021 GMC Terrain is a handsome compact SUV. It also provides plenty of passenger and cargo space, an upscale cabin, and impressive fuel economy, among other notable qualities. MSRP ranges from $25,000 to 38,300.
The two-row Terrain can comfortably seat five passengers with well-cushioned seats and plenty of room to spread out. While cloth seats come standard, you can opt for leather upholstery, as well as power-adjustable, heated, and ventilated front seats to go with heated rear outboard seats and a heated steering wheel.
There are 63.3 cubic feet behind the first row and 29.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second. Plus, the front passenger seat folds flat, which makes it a cinch to tow around longer items. Each of the Terrain trims (SL, SLE, SLT, and Denali) feels all-around luxurious in the cabin, though the Denali is in a class of its own in this regard.
The 2021 GMC Terrain comes with the GMC Infotainment System, which is easy-to-use and feature-rich. Buyers of the base model (SL) will get a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, four USB ports, and a six-speaker sound system. The higher trims come with an eight-inch screen and built-in navigation. Satellite radio, HD radio, a DVD player, a rear-seat entertainment system, and a seven-speaker Bose sound system are optional.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2021 Terrain five out of five stars in overall safety. Coming standard on every trim is GMC’s Pro Safety Plus package, which includes:
- Forward collision warning
- Pedestrian detection
- Front automatic emergency braking
- Lane-keeping assist
- Automatic high beams
The Driver Alert Package I is available in SLE and SLT trims (and standard in the Denali), and it includes blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control is optional in every trim except for the SL.
There are two engines available on the 2021 Terrain, both of which are turbocharged and paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Every trim but the Denali comes with a 1.5-liter inline-four engine that pushes 170 horsepower. This engine provides plenty of pep for daily commuting. However, if you’re looking for something that accelerates quicker and handles higher speeds with ease, you might want to go with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s good for 252 horsepower, which comes in the Denali.
The Terrain comes standard with front-wheel-drive, though all-wheel-drive is optional on all trims. It handles with ease, stays composed around bends, and offers a smooth ride on rough pavement. The Denali trim uses a specially-tuned suspension that makes the ride even more cushioned.
The EPA has rated the 2021 GMC Terrain (FWD, base engine) at 25 mpg city, 30 mpg highway. Opt for all-wheel-drive, and it drops the highway rating to 28 mpg. The Denali’s larger engine provides 22/28 mpg when outfitted with FWD and 21/26 mpg for AWD models.
The 2021 GMC Acadia is as fine a mid-size SUV as you can find. It offers a luxurious ride, an efficient V-6 engine, and top-notch ride and handling. This is a no-brainer if you’re looking for a three-row SUV that seats seven passengers and falls on the smaller end of the SUV spectrum. It comes with an MSRP of $29,800 to $48,300.
All Acadia trims come with three rows of seats that can hold seven passengers, except for the two-row, five-passenger AT4. You can also opt for captain chairs in the second row, which drops the capacity to six passengers. The Acadia provides a comfortable ride for long trips in the first two rows, though the third row is best left for children (as with most three-row SUVs).
Inside the cabin, you’ll see lots of premium materials—even the base model hints at luxury and insulates passengers from external noise. With the third row up, the Acadia provides 12.8 cubic feet of cargo space, and that number rises to 41.7 cubic feet when the third-row seats are folded down. With both the third- and second-row seats folded down, you get 79 cubic feet of cargo space.
Every Acadia trim comes standard with the GMC Infotainment System, an eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, five USB ports, satellite radio, and a six-speaker sound system. For models above the base trim, you can opt for built-in navigation, an eight-inch gauge cluster display, and an eight-speaker Bose sound system.
Similar to the Terrain, the 2021 GMC Acadia received five stars from the NHTSA. All models come standard with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The GMC Pro Safety Plus suite (forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and automatic high beams) is standard on SLT trims and above, but you can opt for it on the SLE.
The 2021 GMC Acadia is available with three engines (all of which are matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission). Each engine is capable for most driving situations; the one that’s right for you will depend on how much power you’re after. The SL and SLE come standard with a 2.5-liter inline-four engine that produces 193 horsepower. There’s also a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine that pushes 230 horsepower and a 3.6-liter V-6 that yields 310 horsepower.
The Acadia offers a cushioned ride for daily commuters, as well as great overall maneuverability and drivability. Expect the SUV to stay poised around curves, and opt for the AT4 model if you plan on doing any activity off the beaten path.
The base model Acadia with FWD is near the top of its class at 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, and the turbo-four engine produces the same results. The city mpg drops slightly to 19 with the V-6 engine.
Now, to the biggest, most comfortable SUV that GMC offers—the 2021 Yukon. This full-size SUV can be had in a standard wheelbase or a long wheelbase. Other than the overall size, the Yukon is mechanically identical whichever iteration you choose. The standard Yukon ranges from $50,700 to $71,400 MSRP, while the Yukon XL comes in between $53,440 and $74,100.
The 2021 Yukon has three rows and seats up to eight individuals in its standard configuration, though you can get captain chairs in the second row, which brings that number to seven passengers. One thing that really sets the Yukon apart from other SUVs is that it provides more than enough head- and leg-room for eight adults to comfortably fit in the cabin. Even in large SUVs, the third row is often too cramped for adults to ride comfortably—but not in the Yukon.
When it comes to interior quality, the 2021 GMC Yukon has got it going on. In fact, many experts are touting it as the nicest in its class. Upscale materials and world-class seats bring the Yukon past rivals like the Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia, and Dodge Durango and into the luxury category that includes the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, and Infiniti QX80.
The 2021 Yukon is among the best in class for cargo space. The standard Yukon provides 25.5 cubic feet of space behind the third-row seats; with the third-row seats folded down, it makes for 72.6 cubic feet, and you get 122.9 cubic feet of cargo space when both the third and second rows are folded down. As for the Yukon XL, well, it provides even more room for cargo-haulers: 41.5 cubic feet with third-row seats up, 93.8 cubic feet with third-row seats folded, and 144.7 cubic feet with the third and second-row seats folded. In other words, the Yukon XL is pretty much a van that’s easier to drive and better to look at!
The Yukon and Yukon XL come with the GMC Infotainment System. And, despite the extra-spacious cabin, it’s still easy to reach the 10.2-inch touchscreen and eight-inch gauge cluster display, both of which come standard. Buyers also get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration to go with Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD radio, a Wi-Fi hotspot, six USB ports, and a nine-speaker Bose sound system. If you opt for the Denali trim, you get a rear-seat entertainment system, built-in navigation, a Bose 14-speaker surround sound system, and a head-up display.
The GMC Pro Safety Plus suite is standard in all 2021 Yukon models. The long list of safety features in this package includes:
- Forward collision warning
- Pedestrian detection
- Automatic emergency braking
- Lane-keeping assist
- Automatic high beams
- Following distance indicator
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Lane departure warning
Buyers of the Denali trim will get rear pedestrian detection, or it can be had in the SLT trim (with the SLT luxury package). If you get the Advanced Technology Package on the Denali, you’ll gain adaptive cruise control and enhanced automatic emergency braking.
As of now, the 2021 Yukon comes with two different V-8 engines. The SLT comes with a 5.3-liter that pushes 355 horsepower. The Denali has a 6.2-liter that’s good for 420 horses. Both engines are paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six engine is expected to be available on the Yukon later in the model year.
The 2021 GMC Yukon is, in a word, smooth. It handles great, remains poised on turns, and is surprisingly easy to maneuver.
Fuel efficiency is typical for the Yukon and Yukon XL in regards to large SUVs. Drivers can expect about 16 mpg city and 20 mpg highway with the 5.3-liter V-8 engine. There’s a nominal drop in fuel efficiency for the 6.2-liter V-8 engine.
If you want a practical vehicle that looks the part, going with an SUV could be your best option. And GMC probably has the exact model and trim that you’re looking for. Whether the 2021 Terrain, 2021 Acadia, or 2021 Yukon/Yukon XL is right for you really comes down to the size and function you prefer. All of them are top-notch vehicles in their own right, which is what can be expected from the GMC lineup! If you’d like to compare these models yourself, give Liberty Buick GMC a call to schedule some test drives!