The 2018 GMC Terrain is going to be a very important vehicle for the brand when it arrives at dealerships this summer. As the market yearns for crossovers and utility vehicles, GMC will offer up a more posh alternative to the typical compact CUV.
The final product didn’t come without its hurdles, though. Automobile sat down with Mark Cieslak, chief engineer for the 2018 Terrain, who described a few of the challenges his team overcame in the development process.
Foremost was safety. Downsizing the Terrain to become a compact crossover meant safety needed to be reexamined. Cieslak describes lightweighting as one of the primary goals with the Terrain, but urged his team to never compromise.
Getting the platform right from a safety perspective, is one. Again, we wanted to pull mass out of the vehicle. The easy way, the convenient way to sort the safety requirements is to add mass back in. That’s not creative engineering,” he said.
“It’s one thing to pull out 400 pounds but I told engineering not to come back to me with proposals to add more metal here and there. We tortured ourselves as far as some very solid engineering. Necessity is the mother of invention. We did not relinquish the mass target, which was the necessity for creativity and invention.”
Then, there was the noise and vibrations challenge from the new 1.6-liter turbocharged diesel engine to be offered with the 2018 GMC Terrain.
“Of course, we had to deal with the normal diesel NVH issues. We worked hard for a very refined integration, not just hitting the fuel economy goal. We call this diesel the Whisper Diesel inside GM. The guys in Torino (GM Powertrain Torino, Italy) did a very good job.”
Last but not least, and likely the most controversial move with the 2018 Terrain, was the placement of the Electronic Precision Shift’s push buttons. Cieslak stated engineers and his team looked at various placements, including a vertical orientation or off to the side. But, in the end, designers and engineers alike thought freeing up the center console was the best move.
“We looked at the back of the console. It came down to getting rid of the shifter and maximizing that (center console) area.”
GMC thinks it has done enough to really differentiate the Terrain from its 2018 Chevrolet Equinox sibling, but consumers will be the real judge when they begin cross shopping both later this year.