GMC Terrain Vs. Toyota Highlander: Which Should You Choose?

In the world of mid-sized SUVs, few vehicles spark as much debate as the GMC Terrain and the Toyota Highlander. Both command respect on the road for a slew of reasons, but which one takes the crown? 

Dive in as we dissect these two titans in terms of their pros, cons, and how they stack up against the competition.

A Brief Comparison Table

Feature/SpecificationGMC TerrainToyota Highlander
ClassCompact SUVMid-sized SUV
SeatingUp to 5 passengersUp to 8 passengers
Towing CapacityLower (adequate for compact SUV)Higher
Fuel EfficiencyHigherModerate
InfotainmentApple CarPlay, Android AutoSimilar + Possibly more refined interface
Safety FeaturesComprehensive, including lane-keeping assistExtended with Toyota Safety Sense suite
Price PointGenerally LowerHigher, given its offerings

GMC Terrain: An Overview

GMC Terrain
GMC Terrain

The GMC Terrain is like that reliable friend who’s always there when you need them. It’s designed for those who appreciate a blend of comfort and functionality.

Pros of GMC Terrain:

  • Compact Size for Easier Handling: 

Its smaller footprint makes it nimble, particularly in urban areas where parking is a premium.

  • Fuel Efficiency: 

Compared to other SUVs in its category, the Terrain is known to sip fuel a tad more judiciously.

  • Up-to-date Tech Features: 

Think Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a comprehensive infotainment system.

  • Stylish Interiors: 

Its interiors pack a punch with premium materials and a well-laid-out design.

Cons of GMC Terrain:

  • Smaller Cargo Space: 

Because of its compact size, it may not be suitable for larger families or those who require ample cargo space.

  • Tighter Rear Seats: 

Tall passengers might find the back seat a little snug.

  • Towing Capacity: 

Not the best option if you’re looking to haul heavy loads.

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Toyota Highlander: More Than Meets The Eye

Toyota Highlander
Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander is akin to the jack of all trades. From family vacations to daily commutes, it’s designed to cater to a wide array of needs.

Pros of Toyota Highlander:

  • Spacious: 

With its three-row seating, there’s space aplenty for passengers and their stuff.

  • Strong Performance

Equipped with a robust V6 engine, it ensures a responsive and enjoyable driving experience.

  • Reputation for Reliability: 

Toyota’s legacy ensures that the Highlander is built to last.

  • Advanced Safety Features: 

Comes equipped with Toyota’s Safety Sense suite which includes features like lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.

Cons of Toyota Highlander:

  • Size can be a Deterrent: 

Maneuvering in tight spots can be challenging.

  • Fuel Efficiency: 

Not the best in its class, especially when compared to smaller SUVs.

  • Higher Base Price: 

The initial investment is a tad higher than some competitors.

Head to Head: GMC Terrain and Toyota Highlander

While both SUVs have their unique strengths, your decision might boil down to what you prioritize more – a compact, fuel-efficient drive or a spacious family SUV with strong performance. If city commutes and fuel efficiency are your top concerns, GMC Terrain might be your pick. 

On the other hand, if you’re searching for space, power, and reliability, Toyota Highlander could be your companion.

Key Differences Between GMC Terrain and Toyota Highlander

When choosing between the GMC Terrain and the Toyota Highlander, it’s vital to understand their key differences. Each SUV is designed with a specific target audience in mind, and while there might be some overlaps in features, their individual strengths make them unique. Here, we’ll delve into the significant contrasts that set them apart.

Size and Seating

GMC Terrain: The Terrain is categorized under compact SUVs. Typically seating up to five passengers, the Terrain is best suited for smaller families or individuals looking for space without the bulkiness of larger SUVs.

Toyota Highlander: Highlander, being a mid-sized SUV, has an edge in terms of space. With three-row seating, it can comfortably accommodate up to eight passengers, making it ideal for larger families.

Performance and Drive

GMC Terrain: Equipped with a four-cylinder engine, the Terrain is tuned more for city driving and efficiency. It offers a smooth drive but might lack the robust acceleration some enthusiasts crave.

Toyota Highlander: With its V6 engine, the Highlander promises not just a responsive drive but also a certain level of thrill. Its powertrain ensures you have the needed grunt for highway overtakes and more rugged terrains.

Towing Capacity

GMC Terrain: While adequate for its category, the Terrain’s towing capacity isn’t its standout feature. You might find it lacking if you’re looking to pull heavier trailers or boats.

Toyota Highlander: Built with more robust capabilities, the Highlander boasts a superior towing capacity. This makes it suitable for weekend getaways with trailers or small boats in tow.

Fuel Efficiency

GMC Terrain: Here’s where the Terrain shines. Its smaller stature combined with a well-tuned engine ensures that it’s among the top in its category for fuel efficiency.

Toyota Highlander: Due to its size and a more powerful engine, the Highlander lags behind in this category. While not the most fuel-efficient, it compensates with its performance and space.

Infotainment and Tech

GMC Terrain: Packed with the latest tech features, Terrain ensures you remain connected. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a comprehensive infotainment system are all standard.

Toyota Highlander: Toyota isn’t far behind either. While offering similar connectivity features, the Highlander might have a slight edge in terms of the refinement of its infotainment system.

Safety Features

GMC Terrain: The Terrain packs in an array of safety features, including automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and a forward collision alert system.

Toyota Highlander: Highlander takes safety up a notch. Along with the features found in Terrain, Toyota’s Safety Sense suite in the Highlander adds adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection.

Price Point

GMC Terrain: Generally, the Terrain is priced lower, making it more accessible to those on a tighter budget.

Toyota Highlander: Being larger and packed with a punchier powertrain, the Highlander comes with a heftier price tag. However, given its offerings, many find the cost justified.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the GMC Terrain comparable to?

The GMC Terrain is often compared to SUVs like the Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox, and Ford Escape due to its size and features.

What SUV is bigger than a GMC Terrain?

Many SUVs are larger than the GMC Terrain, such as the Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer, and Honda Pilot, to name a few.

Is GMC Terrain a good choice?

Absolutely! For those valuing compactness, fuel efficiency, and modern tech features, the GMC Terrain can be an excellent choice.

Are GMC Terrains good SUVs?

Yes, GMC Terrains have garnered respect for their blend of comfort, tech features, and drive quality.

Is GMC Terrain a luxury car?

While the GMC Terrain offers several upscale features, especially in its Denali trim, it’s not typically classified as a luxury vehicle when compared to brands like Mercedes or Lexus.

Is GMC Terrain a car or SUV?

The GMC Terrain is an SUV, specifically in the compact SUV category.


In conclusion, whether you’re team GMC Terrain or Toyota Highlander, you’re in for a treat. Each has carved its niche, and your personal preferences will play a pivotal role in the final decision. Here’s to the many adventures ahead, no matter which one you choose!

Your choice between the GMC Terrain and Toyota Highlander will largely depend on your requirements and preferences. Do you value compactness and fuel efficiency? The Terrain is a strong contender. On the other hand, if space, performance, and advanced safety features are non-negotiable for you, the Highlander might just be your pick.

Clayton S. Johnson

Well, I am Clayton who writes, manages, and does overall stuff for this website. I live somewhere in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and used to have a full-time job. But the pandemic taught me to do more do with my life. So, I quit my job and travel a lot! Since I have tons of time now, I write about all the stuff I have done, used, and have first-hand experiences.

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