The Inside

SUV fans should find plenty of familiar goodies: a high seating position, excellent forward sightlines — albeit a hefty blind spot in back — and room to stretch out. I found our tester's leather seats reasonably comfortable, and they sit high enough off the floor to afford ample thigh support. There's also plenty of common-sense functionality, from a speedometer marked in 10-mph increments — easier to tell your speed on the fly than the usual 20-mph markers — to a number of large storage areas and a user-friendly stereo.

Interior quality is midpack for this class. Cabin materials look good, but padded surfaces in areas you regularly touch — door panels, for instance — are in short supply, and too many buttons among the center controls have the brittle, uneven quality GM has finally banished in other models. What's more, storage cubbies along our tester's doors had sharp, unfinished ridges across their inside surfaces. That's the sort of thing GM could iron out down the line, so be sure to check during your test drive.

The backseat has plenty of room. It's adjustable forward and back, with a nifty plastic panel that keeps the cargo floor gap-free no matter where you position the seat. Like the Equinox, the Terrain posts middling cargo volume: 31.6 cubic feet behind the second row and 63.9 cubic feet with the seats folded. Here's how those figures compare:

In real-world use, the problem with the cargo area is how narrow it is. "I tried to empty out my storage area and I could only fit one large plastic bin in the back with the rear seats up," Thomas said. "My wife was pretty blunt in her assessment: 'What good is an SUV if it can't fit anything big in the back?' "

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