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The Terrain Denali: Ditch the Soccer Mom Hair and Hop into some razor cut Style.

I had the pleasure of taking the Terrain Denali out for a spin through the streets and highways of Dallas. To say I was surprised by the performance and the phenomenal creature comforts would be an understatement.  

 The exterior of the Terrain Denali is the perfect balance of aggressive styling and sophistication while not being in your face pretentious.  The subtlety of the satin chrome accents combined with the 19 inch rims and honeycomb grille, will make you feel as comfortable driving through the gate of your country club as you will loading up at the local farmer’s market deep in the heart of the city. 

The interior is just this side of opulent, especially for a machine that is priced at under $40k. Starting with the Premium Soft Touch Jet Black leather appointed seats, with red contrast stitching, reminiscent of the Aston Martin DB9 interior and down to the eight way drivers and passenger seats, the design team has created an interior that is sporty, modern and what might be described as sharp “European” styling.

The center console is easy to use and straightforward. The dedicated buttons are clearly marked and easy to access. Frequently used functions can be accessed from the steering wheel itself allowing you to maintain your focus on the road.  Obligatory features at this level include, Bluetooth connectivity for your mobile phones, iPod/MP3 and USB docking stations. All are easily accessible and straightforward in design. While many car companies haven’t fully created a system that is “Flashing 12:00” friendly, the full color touch screen IntelliLink powered infotainment system makes using the entertainment and optional navigation systems intuitive to use for even the novice techy in training. 

With all of these design forward details, what impressed me the most are the safety and comfort features that are available on the Terrain Denali. While I do not consider myself to have a lead foot, I did learn how to drive in the bustling city of Tokyo, so I am not shy when it comes to quick moves, aggressive lane changes and a heavy combination of gas and brake action. The Forward Collision Alert system was a nice feature, however the real standouts are the Lane Departure Notifications, the Denali exclusive Side Blind Zone Alert and the ever-impressive Rear Cross Traffic Alert.  

As a driver hauling precious cargo of all kinds, being provided with safety alerts that are literally not visible to me makes me feel a level of confidence that is incomparable. The blind spots have been replaced with eyes in the form of high tech gadgetry. Gone are those moments when we cross our fingers as we inch our way out of a parking spot, hoping that no one is going to t-bone our trunks or worse the passenger seats. This warning system even sends a tone through the speakers that gives an audio queue as to what direction the hazard is coming from;  right rear speaker, right rear side of the car. 

Now that’s what I call a must have! 

For me a car can have all the tech, power train and style of my dreams but if it lacks good gas mileage it is no longer in the running. Here the Terrain Denali again, doesn’t disappoint. The reported 17 City/ 24 Highway MPG turned out to be less than what I actually achieved in city. After driving in various street and highway combinations, think your daily routine, I was averaging a very respectable 27 mpg; quite impressive given the flexibility and performance of this Compact SUV.   


Style         ★★★★★

Easy of Tech Use ★★★★

Gas Mileage ★★★★

Safety ★★★★★

“Schlepability”* ★★★★★

Value  ★★★★

Overall Experience ★★★★★ 

Priced as Test Driven:  $ 38,090

EPA Fuel Economy:  17 CITY/ 24 HWY

MPG as Tested:  27 Combined

* volume of people, animals and stuff you can haul around without looking like a pack mule. 


Reviewed by Zac Campbell







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