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Can The GMC Terrain Tow a Camper Trailer?

Can The GMC Terrain Tow a Camper Trailer? 

Are you looking at the GMC Terrain and wondering if you can take it on that family camping trip?

Today we wanted to dive into the specs of this compact SUV and see if it can handle towing a camper trailer.

Let’s see!

GMC Terrain Towing Capacity

The GMC Terrain is engineered to be a compact SUV first and not specifically a towing vehicle. The standard 4-cylinder 1.5-liter engine allows for a minuscule 1500 pounds of towing capacity. The only way to get a more respectable towing capacity from the Terrain is by upgrading the engine.

When customers add the more powerful 2.0-liter turbo, it pushes the Terrain’s towing capacity to 3500 pounds. This would allow the Terrain to tow extremely light pop-up campers and not much more.

The Terrain hits another hurdle when looking at the less than 1200 pounds of payload capacity. This payload capacity would be eaten up quickly with the weight of passengers and cargo. Adding additional weight for a trailer would most likely push the Terrain up against or over towing limits.

Red GMC terrain product photo.
The GMC Terrain is a compact SUV and not primarily made to be a towing vehicle.

Other Terrain Specs & Features

The Terrain is a value-level SUV made by GMC with limited features to separate it from the pack. The hands-free programmable power liftgate is a great feature when your hands are full. The Terrain rolls down the road on 17” silver-painted aluminum wheels but can be upgraded to 19” black aluminum wheels.

The Denali model is set to release in late 2021 and is the light at the end of a long tunnel of underperformance. The Denali model promises an upgraded engine for more horsepower and added suspension for a more comfortable ride.

Pro Tip: Unsure what size towing vehicle you need to accommodate your RV? Check out: What RV Towing Truck Size Do You Need?

Can the GMC Terrain Tow a Camper Trailer?

Individuals looking to tow a camper trailer with the GMC Terrain will struggle. It is not impossible, but it definitely is not the most tow-friendly vehicle in its class. The Terrain finds itself working against two important numbers, towing capacity and payload capacity. Both of these numbers limit the Terrain when it comes to towing campers.

With only 1500 pounds of towing capacity, the Terrain rules out a large percentage of towable RVs. There are a decent amount of pop-up campers and compact campers under 1500 pounds, but leave little room for cargo and camping supplies.

The GMC Terrain also has an incredibly low payload capacity just shy of 1200 pounds. The payload capacity, the maximum amount of weight to be put on the axles of the vehicle, would easily be eaten up by passengers and any cargo placed in the Terrain.

What Kind of Campers Can Be Towed With the GMC Terrain?

The GMC Terrain will be forced to look at very light pop-up campers like the very light Sylvan Sport or even the Getaway. These are both incredibly compact and lightweight pop-up campers.

Finding a camper that will sleep more than one or two people and is towable by the GMC Terrain will prove to be a difficult task. The Terrain was most definitely not designed with towing, especially a camper, in mind.

Pro Tip: Take your GMC Terrain out camping by using a pop-up camper. We found the 5 Best Small Pop-Up Campers for you.

RV tow not attached to a vehicle.
The GMC Terrain struggles with towing due to a low payload and towing capacity.

Is the Terrain a Good Car for Towing?

Due to extremely low payload capacity and towing capacity, the Terrain struggles when it comes to towing. Towing with the GMC Terrain practically requires a degree in Accounting or Mathematics because you’ll be constantly calculating your towing numbers. The best hope for bolstering the GMC Terrain’s towing numbers will come in late 2021 when the Denali trim-level is released.

How Much Is a GMC Terrain?

The GMC Terrain is a pricy compact SUV considering the amenities and compared to others in its class. The Terrain starts at $26,195, but if you’re looking to make any upgrades, including paint color, be ready to pay for it. For example, choosing any color other than white adds $500. It seems there are more add-on options than amenities with this SUV and you get a bit of a feeling like you’re being nickel and dimed when shopping.

Woman getting keys after buying a GMC Terrain.
The GMC Terrain starts in the 26,000 dollar range.

Is the GMC Terrain Reliable?

Consumer Reports gives the GMC Terrain 4 out of 5 when it comes to reliability. The history of the Terrain is not good. There are reports of major transmission issues, climate systems, and high oil usage. Luckily it looks like the GMC Terrain is improving and major issues are becoming reported fewer and far between.

Maybe Not the Best Tow Vehicle

We have no doubt the GMC Terrain is a great vehicle if you’re planning to drive on highways or to and from the grocery store. Would we recommend towing a camper with it? Probably not. While being on top of your towing numbers is extremely important in any tow vehicle, the Terrain puts drivers too close for comfort. Have you had a good or bad experience with the GMC Terrain?

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