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How Well Does A GMC Terrain Drive In Snow? (+Owner Reviews)

How does the Canadian/Mexican-made GMC Terrain perform in the snow? You’ve come to the right place if you’re thinking about purchasing a GMC Terrain, especially if you live in a snowy area. Let us start with a quick response:

Owners have a positive response about the car in good snowy conditions. The GMC Terrain has a height clearance of 6.9 – 7.9 inches, making it high enough for heavy snowfall. Furthermore, the Terrain has all-wheel drive and snow/ice mode available, which provide extra grip when driving in snowy conditions.

That, however, does not give the complete picture. We’ll begin with a selection of curated comments from owners about the GMC Terrain’s performance in wintry conditions. And after that, we’ll delve into the specifics of the vehicle, such as tires, drive systems, and electronic support systems. Finally, we’ll discuss ground clearance, weight distribution, and wheelbase.

Also read: How Many Miles Can A GMC Terrain Last? (Answered)

Experiences of GMC Terrain Owners

First and foremost, we believe it is critical to include some GMC Terrain owners in this discussion as we believe it ensures a clear picture before you make up your mind to purchase Terrain. For this, we browsed through several forums to see the overall opinion on this vehicle. Per our observations, the Terrain owners are pretty satisfied with its performance.

There was even a group of other owners who had balanced feelings. The overall opinion is to invest in a good set of snow tires, as this makes a big difference. Let us begin with a few captivating citations. And after that, we’ll delve deeper into what makes the Terrain a good or bad snow car.

“I really enjoy the Terrain. I was blown away at the get-up and go of the Terrain, pleasantly surprised at the safety features and options it comes with. After almost a month, we took some trips outside the city to the mountains and back. We are really happy with the purchase of the Terrain. Seven years warranty bumper to bumper, ten years on the powertrain. The true fuel economy really surprised me.”

Rainer from Calgary, Alberta Canada (2020 GMC Terrain) – Source

“Rides like a larger vehicle. It is extremely steady and road-worthy on the expressway. The Smooth Ride handles well. Good braking and a room with large cargo area with well-appointed interior.”

Jan P., MI (2017 GMC Terrain) – Source

“I’ve had the GMC Terrain SLE for only about a month now, but I have to say it’s a pretty solid vehicle. It has a comfortable ride, it has very good gas mileage, and it has surprisingly a lot of room between the backseat as well as the cargo area. I traded in a BMW X.3, so I knew I wasn’t getting a speed demon, However, it does have decent acceleration, either city driving or highway driving. The only fault I can see in this vehicle is it does have some massive blind spots, in the windshield pillars. Other than that it has all the functionality, technology, safety features I need. I am very happy with this SUV so far, I can see myself buying another one in the future.”

Joe B. Wan (2021 GMC Terrain) – Source

In the video below, you can also see how a Terrain behaves during off-roading in the winter. Overall, it seems to be a stable performance.

Also read: Types Of Gas A GMC Terrain Uses (All Generations)

Does GMC Terrain Have Snow Tires?

Every new GMC Terrain car is equipped with high-quality tires from a reputable tire manufacturer. All-season tires may be included with this car. These tires are made to operate well on various road surfaces and in a variety of weather conditions.

For the car, GM has created and matched the right tires. The original equipment tires were designed to meet the TPC Specs (Tyre Performance Criteria Specification) system rating set by General Motors. Genuine equipment tires molded to meet GM’s unique tire performance specifications have a TPC specification code embossed into the tires’ sidewall.  The second two characters of this TPC code, “MS,” will identify original equipment all-season tires.

The tires on this car are high-performance summer tires. These tires have a unique tread pattern and compound designed to perform well on dry and rainy roads. This specific tread and compound will perform poorly in cold temperatures and on ice and snow.

Winter tires should be installed if your car travels on snow or ice-covered roads frequently. All-season tires are acceptable for most winter driving situations, but on snow or ice-covered roads, they may not give the same traction or performance as winter tires.

Dry road traction may be reduced, road noise may be increased, and tread life may be reduced with winter tires. Be aware of vehicle handling and braking changes after switching to winter tires.

If you’re utilizing winter tires, make sure to:

  • Use tires with the same brand and tread type on all four-wheel positions.
  •  Replace the original equipment tires with radial ply tires of the same size, load range, and speed rating.

We recommend that you put on winter tires during December and remove them in April; if you live in the USA, the peak winter months for Europe are December till March.

Also read: The Exact Bolt Pattern Of A GMC Terrain

What Drive System Does A GMC Terrain Have?

The new GMC Terrain comes with the following drive modes:-

  • Tour – During normal driving circumstances, switch to Tour Mode. Tour Mode either puts the car in Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) for AWD vehicles or is the regular drive mode for FWD vehicles. It is the most fuel-efficient driving mode.
  • All-Wheel Drive (AWD) – All four wheels drive torque in AWD mode. Select AWD to improve traction and handling on slick road surfaces, including gravel, sand, wet pavement, snow, and ice.
  • Snow/Ice – Snow Mode boosts vehicle acceleration on snow and ice-covered roadways. Vehicles with all-wheel drive (AWD) are not eligible for Snow Mode.
  • Off-Road – For public off-road leisure driving, use Off-Road Mode. Only vehicles with all-wheel drive (AWD) can use Off-Road Mode.
  • Tow/Haul – When towing or lugging an enormous weight, Tow/Haul Mode can help. It alters the transmission shift patterns, activates AWD if available, and boosts trailer sway control help. Only vehicles equipped with the towing kit have Tow/ Haul Mode.

To pick a mode, turn the Driver Mode Control knob on the center console.

Turn the knob to go between the available options. When you pick a mode, the icon for that mode will light up on the knob, and a message will be shown in the Driver Information Center (DIC).

Also read: The Oil Type, Weight, And Capacity Of A GMC Terrain

What Electronic Systems Help GMC Terrain in the Snow?

The performance of electrical systems like anti-lock brakes, rollover airbags, traction control, electronic stability control, or all-wheel drive can further affect the whole of GMC Terrain whether it is on the regular road or snowy terrain.

Antilock Brake System (ABS) – While braking forcefully, the Antilock Brake System (ABS) helps prevent a brake skid and retain steering control.

In icy conditions, it lengthens stopping distances. Without ABS, locked tires dig into the snow and push the tire forward, forming a wedge in front of it. Even if the car slides, this wedge aids in bringing it to a halt. ABS prevents the wedge from forming and the skid from occurring. The driver may restore steering control, but with the ABS activated their stopping distance increases.

Traction Control/Electronic Stability Control – The Traction Control System (TCS) and StabiliTrak/Electronic Stability Control (ESC), an electronic stability control system, are standards on the GMC Terrain. These technologies assist the driver in keeping control, especially on snowy roads, by limiting wheel slip.

It will activate if TCS detects any of the drive wheels spinning or losing traction. TCS applies the brakes to the spinning wheels and reduces engine power to limit wheel spin.

When the vehicle detects a deviation between the anticipated course and the direction it is driving, StabiliTrak/ESC engages. StabiliTrak/ESC selectively delivers braking pressure to any of the vehicle’s wheel brakes to aid the driver in maintaining the vehicle’s desired course.

Airbags – Seat belts give some protection, but airbags are designed to enhance them. Even though today’s airbags are engineered to help lessen the risk of harm from the force of an inflated bag, all airbags must inflate very quickly to perform their function, which can be very useful in snowy terrains in case of avalanches.

The following airbags are installed in Terrain: 

  • The driver is protected with a frontal airbag. 
  • A frontal airbag protects the front outboard passenger. A driver’s seat-mounted side-impact airbag.
  • A seat-mounted side-impact airbag protects the front outboard passenger.
  • The driver and the passenger sitting directly behind the driver are both protected by a roof-rail airbag.
  • The driver and the passenger seated behind the driver are both protected by a roof-rail airbag.
  • The front outboard passenger and the person sitting directly behind the passenger are both protected by a roof-rail airbag.

All of the features were found in the owner’s manual of GMC Terrain.

Weight and Distribution

2021 GMC Terrain ModelCurb Weight (lbs.)
SLE (FWD) SLE (AWD)3,449 3,622
SLT (FWD) SLT (AWD)3,487 3,659
Denali (FWD) Denali (AWD)3,437 3,635

Although minimum information on weight distribution is provided, as per recent developments, GMC tried to keep the curb weight almost similar for all models (as per their official website). There are minute differences in overall weight distribution, but the features present in some models become a deciding factor for availability in the snowy terrain. SLT and Denali have Snow Driving Mode and AWD options, so they become much better for driving in snow. Also read: What’s The Difference Between SLT and SLT On A GMC?

Ground Clearance

For ground clearance in snowy terrain, a minimum of 7 to 8 inches is required for medium snow areas and a maximum of 10 inches for high snow areas.

2021 GMC Terrain ModelGround Clearance (inch)
SLE (FWD) SLE (AWD)6.9 6.9
SLT (FWD) SLT (AWD)7.9 7.9
Denali (FWD) Denali (AWD)7.9 7.9

So, SLT and Denali can be preferred for a medium snowy areas model. Overall, GMC Terrain can be chosen for medium snow situations.

The Wheelbase

Lastly, we’ll evaluate the wheelbase (the distance between the front and the rear tires). The wheelbase contributes to how readily an automobile might slip and lose control.

2021 GMC Terrain ModelWheel Base(inch)
SLE (FWD) SLE (AWD)107.3 107.3
SLT (FWD) SLT (AWD)107.3 107.3
Denali (FWD) Denali (AWD)107.3 107.3

The GMC terrain has a somewhat shorter wheelbase because of its compact size, so it is better to have an AWD system in medium snow conditions with the limitation of the wheelbase.

What Traction Devices Can You Use On GMC Terrain?

SNOW Mode (Available in SLT and Denali Models) – When this mode is enabled, it reduces wheel slippage in low-traction driving circumstances such as wet or slippery roads.

Other than this, you can install a tire chain at the front wheels, found here on Amazon. Also, check them with the manufacturer as some models do not support tire chains or forbid using them.