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A grey GMC terrain, which wins when comparing the 2019 GMC Terrain vs 2019 Toyota RAV4, is parked in front of a grey wooden barn.

The Battle of the SUVs: The 2019 GMC Terrain Versus the 2019 Toyota RAV4

Right now, the SUV is king, dominating almost every manufacturer’s lineup. While this may seem like a good thing for utility lovers, it can be a demanding issue for car designers. Nowadays, it’s difficult to have a standout SUV, and it is so easy to become lost in the ‘noise’ of SUVs being released. Two SUVs hope to stand out from the pack as true heavyweights in the industry, the 2019 GMC Terrain vs 2019 Toyota RAV4. Keep in mind, both of these SUVs are compact SUVs, meaning they are small but mighty, hoping to walk that ever-so-fine line of fuel efficiency, power, and spacing. So, between the two, which is the better standout? Well, we’ve stacked up both of these compact SUVs to see if either have what it takes to be one of the best compact SUVs on the market today.

Upon First Glance

When you first take a look at both of these SUVs, they seem as though they should be larger than they actually are. Take the 2019 GMC Terrain for instance, which has a stark resemblance to larger boxier SUVs of the past. The 2019 RAV4, on the other hand, adopts a more unique appearance with its quirky front grille and angular headlights. That said, both of these compact SUVs are lookers, presenting plenty of curb appeal no matter your favorite flavor of SUV.

Let’s talk pricing. The 2019 GMC Terrain starts out at $25,000 MSRP, which isn’t half bad for a fully fleshed out compact SUV. At the same time, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 starts out marginally higher at $25,650 MSRP. Both of these SUVs exist within similar ranges of affordability, which in this case means the value comes down to what each trim option offers.

With the 2019 GMC Terrain, you’ll find four different trim options, the SL, SLE, SLT, and the Denali, with options for a diesel engine instead of the standard. The 2019 Toyota RAV4 comes with five trim options the LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, and Limited. That is not to mention the hybrid option that Toyota offers, however for the sake of consistency; we’ll just look at the variants with a standard drivetrain.

While the exterior package and the price do matter, what truly determines the difference between a great compact SUV and one that’ll get lost in the noise, is performance. Real Customer comments and ratings can be found on Cars.com as well.

A grey 2019 GMC Terrain is parked in front of brick buildings on a city street.

The Muscle Beneath the Hood

When it comes to the compact SUV, we’ve come to expect a bit of compromise. To get the kind of fuel efficiency drivers have come to expect, they’ll have to invest in a much smaller, much more fuel-conscious engine. For the most part, that is hardly a problem; however, it is worth pointing out that if you’re looking for something with a truly robust engine profile, you’ll have to bite the bullet and purchase something larger.

The 2019 GMC Terrain comes as standard with a 170 horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, that provides 203 lb-ft worth of torque and 1,500 lbs of towing capacity. This solid four-cylinder engine may be small, but it offers quite a bit of fuel savings as the 2019 GMC Terrain earns a remarkable 26 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Fortunately, if the 170 horsepower isn’t enough to whet the appetite for performance, you can opt for a 252 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that brings things up a notch. Drivers who decide on an upgraded engine can enjoy 260 lb-ft worth of torque and a max towing capacity of 3,500 lbs, which is quite the step up. Standard versions of the 2019 GMC Terrain come with a front-wheel drivetrain, although if you’re looking for a little more capability, you can opt for an all-wheel-drivetrain instead. Continue reading the specs on Auto Blog.

The 2019 Toyota RAV4, on the other hand, sports a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that gets 203 horsepower and provides drivers with 184 lb-ft worth of torque. Towing capacity starts small at 1,500 lbs but if you purchase the torque upgraded engine found in the Adventure and Limited trim options you’ll be able to enjoy greater power from the wheels. Although apart from this marginal adjustment in power, you’re stuck to three options, the base engine, the marginally more powerful base engine, and the hybrid. While not a bad assortment of choices to have, the GMC Terrain steals the show with its option of three different engines, each with a marginal upgrade in power and towing capacity.

Interior Comforts

Another thing to consider before picking up a compact SUV is the level of space offered. Part of driving an SUV means having plenty of space for passengers and cargo, something that isn’t so easily found in vehicle body frames like sedans and coupes. So, how do the 2019 GMC Terrain and the 2019 Toyota RAV4 stack up in that regard?

This is another area where both SUVs stand to be neck and neck. The 2019 GMC Terrain offers as much as 29.6 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and when those rear seats are folded expands to roughly 63.3 cubic-feet. The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is the victor in this area giving drivers 37.6 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and 69.8 cubic-feet when those seats are folded.

That said, spacing isn’t the only factor involved in interior comforts. Infotainment and comfort features matter, even in a rugged, compact SUV. The 2019 GMC Terrain comes standard with quite an offering, giving drivers features like active noise cancellation, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fold-flat rear seats, keyless ignition and a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen that is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. Things only improve from there, and at the top drivers can expect a near-luxury level driving experience. Incredible features like leather upholstery, a power liftgate, LED headlights, parking sensors, blind spot monitors, a heated steering wheel, and an 8.0-inch infotainment screen make the 2019 GMC Terrain quite the contender.

The 2019 Toyota RAV4, on the other hand, comes out of the gate at a slow start. Base models can feel nearly bare, offering only cloth upholstery, a single USB port, power features, and a 7.0-inch infotainment screen that is only Apple CarPlay compatible. At the top trim option, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 competes well with the GMC Terrain, offering an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, keyless ignition, a hands-free power liftgate, and heated and cooled front seats. It is important to note, though, that base models of the Toyota RAV4 come with a far more robust safety package, which can be worthwhile for some drivers.

A full look at the light grey interior with all the seats down in a 2019 GMC Terrain.

Which is Superior?

Both the 2019 GMC Terrain and the 2019 Toyota RAV4 are certain to provide a great driving experience, and both manage to do a decent job at walking that fine line between fuel economy, power, and utility. That said, for the price, the GMC Terrain is the far better value. While the base model may not offer some of the futuristic safety features provided in the base Toyota RAV4, the GMC Terrain comes with base comfort features that are bound to satisfy. And with the option of a diesel engine, the GMC Terrain offers far greater configuration.

Although you shouldn’t just take our word for it, we always suggest that our readers visit a local dealership to see for themselves which car deserves your attention.

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