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A white 2021 GMC Terrain is shown from the front at an angle.

Choosing the Perfect GMC SUV: The Terrain vs The Acadia

SUVs are a staple on American roadways, with more automakers trimming the sedans from their lineups in exchange for efficient crossovers and family-friendly SUVs that promise the best of both worlds. Any visit to a GMC dealer near me proves that American automotive pioneers like GMC are readily on board to meet and exceed our expectations of what it means to drive an SUV.

In the GMC lineup, “big, bigger, and biggest” is the mantra, with models like the Terrain, Acadia, and Yukon offering something for every driving need, from an agile fuel-sipping road warrior to a full-size SUV fit for every family. How do you know which GMC SUV is the right fit for you? Here’s a closer look at why the Terrain and the Acadia are such popular models and how they differentiate themselves in the GMC lineup.

GMC Terrain

The Terrain is a compact SUV and the smallest option in the GMC fleet. It’s designed for agility and efficiency, with GMC offering efficient powertrains that blend performance with capability. As a result, the Terrain is a capable road warrior that can provide reliable power while sipping fuel and delivering an incredibly smooth ride.


Redesigned in 2018 as a compact SUV, the Terrain has a relatively small footprint and sits on a 107.3-inch wheelbase. It measures 182.3 inches long, 72.4 inches wide, and 65.4 inches tall. Top-tier trims like the AT4 and Denali offer a higher ground clearance of 7.9 inches, a one-inch increase over the standard model.

The Terrain’s broad stance makes for a surprisingly spacious cabin. Offering 103.2 cu.ft. of passenger space, the Terrain has two rows of seating with ample head, leg, and cargo room. You and your copilot will enjoy 40 inches of headroom and 40.9 inches of legroom, while second-row passengers have 38.5 inches and 39.7 inches, respectively. When the second row is in use, the 29.6 cu.ft. of trunk space can handle groceries and a few pieces of luggage. If more room is needed, you can fold the second row down and take full advantage of the Terrain’s total cargo capacity of 63.3 cubic feet.


The Terrain does something impressive by using its size to its advantage. GMC accomplishes as much by equipping the 2023 model with a standard 1.5L turbocharged engine that delivers 175 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque. However, this remarkably efficient engine sips fuel to the tune of 24 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway.

From 2018 to 2020, a powerful 2.0L turbocharged engine was also available, making the Terrain more engaging to drive by delivering 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The 2.0L engine also boosts the Terrain’s towing capacity to 3,500 lbs, making it an option worth looking for if you are shopping for a used SUV.

Notable Features

As you shop for a GMC Terrain, look for options like Terrain Elevation Edition Package or the Denali Premium Package. The Terrain Elevation Edition outfits the SUV with 19-inch gloss black aluminum wheels, black exterior badging, black mirror caps, and other black accents for a stealthy aesthetic. On the other hand, the Denali Premium Package adds comforts like ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and advanced safety features like Adaptive Cruise Control, HD Surround Vision, and Automatic Parking Assist.

A white 2020 GMC Acadia is shown from the front at an angle while parked off-road.

GMC Acadia

The Acadia is the next step in the GMC lineup and is the perfect middle-ground between the two-row Terrain and the full-size Yukon. The Acadia‘s footprint makes it easy and engaging to handle, while its spacious cabin can comfortably meet all your passenger and cargo needs. Likewise, its multi-engine lineup gives the Acadia an edge in the segment and a trailering capability of up to 4,000 lbs.


As a three-row SUV, the Acadia is significantly larger than the Terrain and sits on a 112.5-inch wheelbase. It stretches 193.4 inches long, 75.4 inches wide, and 66.7 inches tall. In addition, the Acadia’s 7.2-inch ground clearance is higher than the Terrain’s base trim. But how do these measurements affect the Acadia’s passenger and cargo volume?

The larger Acadia has an advantage over the Terrain because of its extra row of seating. However, this third row can feel cramped for taller individuals, making the Acadia ideal for families with younger passengers that can take full advantage of the third row. For example, headroom in the three rows measures 40 inches in the front, 39.6 inches in the second, and 37.2 inches in the rear. Legroom also decreases as you move to the back of the vehicle, with the front row offering 41 inches, the second row 39.7 inches, and the third row 29.7 inches.

The Acadia’s large cargo capacity makes it ideal for individuals and couples who need extra room to haul their gear, from luggage and camping equipment to small furniture, tools, and other items. GMC guarantees the Acadia has plenty of space with a total cargo capacity of 79 cu.ft. With all three rows in use, you can easily fit an ice chest and other small items in the 12.8 cu.ft. of trunk space, or you can fold the third row down to triple the capacity to 41.7 cu.ft.


Although it’s a three-row SUV, the Acadia is far more agile and engaging than most in the segment. GMC guarantees as much by outfitting the Acadia with several exceptional powertrains and a quick-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission. What can you expect from the SUV?

The 2.5L engine that came standard from 2017 to 2021 is a staple in the GMC lineup and gives the Acadia a balanced output of 193 hp and 188 lb-ft of torque. For 2020, GMC introduced a second option with a 2.0L turbocharged engine that produces 230 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Since 2022, this has been the Acadia’s standard engine. You can also enjoy a broader range of power and responsiveness with the available 3.6L V6 engine. The powerhouse delivers 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque for outstanding acceleration and handling in any condition.

A white 2020 GMC Acadia AT4 is shown from the rear at an angle after leaving a GMC dealer near me.

Notable Features

GMC made many improvements to the Acadia in 2020, including introducing the first Acadia AT4 trim. Designed for adventurous families, the AT4 is ready to explore the unknown. It distinguishes itself with its exclusive black chrome-accented grille, 17-inch wheels, all-terrain tires, and black exterior badging. It also has a unique Active Torque Control all-wheel drive system and the beefier 3.6L V6 engine, ensuring the AT4 has the necessary power to venture off the pavement.

Beyond the Acadia AT4, you’ll find many other notable features in the Acadia’s lineup. GMC has upgraded the Acadia’s exterior with standard LED lighting and a host of new and improved technologies. For example, the infotainment system is centralized in a seven-inch or eight-inch touchscreen that offers personal profiles for customization, a more intuitive navigation system, a High-Definition Rear Vision Camera, and seamless smartphone integration. You’ll also find top-tier trims with GMC’s advanced head-up display and rear camera mirror.

Big or Bigger: Which GMC SUV Will You Choose?

The Yukon stands alone in the lineup as GMC’s full-size SUV, forcing the Terrain and Acadia to share the spotlight for crossover SUV drivers. However, a closer inspection proves that the Terrain and the Acadia have their own unique advantages, and both deserve shoppers’ consideration. Where the Terrain’s smaller footprint contributes to its agility and maneuverability, the Acadia offers more passenger and cargo room. So, what SUV suits your needs better? Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong with any model that bears the GMC name.