2012 GMC Terrain Peppy and Responsive>

So shoot me – I like the rugged and almost Lego-like looks of the 2012 GMC Terrain AWD SLT-2. Terrain is not too big, not too small, but Goldilocks-right for Leah the hearing dog and me. While its mileage isn’t exactly in Chevy Volt territory at 16/23, the comfort level is spot on and this SUV can hold its own in the luxury derby.

This particular silver Terrain has GMC’s upgraded 3-liter 6-cylinder SIDI engine which features direct injection, adding power and mileage from a standard port-injected engine. Horsepower is up to 264 at 6950 rpm while GMC’s 2.4-liter four has only 182 HP at 6700. Even with curb weight of 3881 the Terrain is peppy and responsive and has a real connection to the driver.

The SLT-2 version of the GMC Terrain is top of the line and is priced at $38,015 from a base of $32,930. For this extra five grand one gets the engine upgrade – and there’s a six-speed automatic transmission, truly intuitive navigation, rear entertainment unit, a trailering package with heavy-duty cooling and a cargo package. It was all very well integrated.

I drove this machine in Florida, staying in Melbourne and driving each day to Daytona Beach to cover the Rolex 24 at Daytona. I appreciated the heated front seats, satellite radio, rear camera, light dip for signals, express down windows (but not up, what’s with that in 2012?), one-touch sunroof, an excellent trip computer and wonderful cubbies for hiding anything of value.

The 2012 GMC Terrain feels safe as houses and even Ms Leah the Chihuahua can climb into her seat easily with two jumps. The hatch is an easy reach for little me (not always the case with SUVs) there’s plenty of 12-volt outlets available.

I liked the fact that the engine was only turning 2000 rpm at 80 mph (and we were getting passed by everyone), that Terrain dismissed all road imperfections and that neither the steering nor brakes were vague. During our many trips on I-95 we averaged about 21 mpg using the excellent cruise control that can be reset to any speed on the fly.

Although the 2012 GMC Terrain isn’t nearly as aggressive as it looks, it’s still one of the nicer mid-size SUV’s on the market, easy to drive and luxurious enough to please anyone looking for a vehicle that stands out from the crowd.

Written by: Anne Proffit HerHighway Contributor with HerHighway Editor Christina Selter