WARREN, MI – General Motors Corp. continues its downsizing strategy at the New York International Auto Show this week by introducing the all-new ’10 GMC Terrain midsize cross/utility vehicle.

GM shows the 5-passenger Terrain, which borrows design cues from the GMC Acadia large CUV, alongside the GMC Yukon Denali 2-Mode Hybrid.

The Denali hybrid represents the second application of GM’s 2-Mode Hybrid operating system on the Yukon, but the Denali trim level adds a heavy dose of luxury to the vehicle, as well.

The star of the GMC display is the Terrain. As with the ’10 Chevrolet Equinox midsize CUV, with which it shares its Theta Epsilon II platform and manufacturing location in Ingersoll, ON, Canada, the Terrain receives two all-new spark-ignition direct-injection gasoline engines.

A standard 2.4L 4-cyl. engine produces a peak 182 hp and 174 lb.-ft. (236 Nm) of torque. GM says its fuel-economy ratings reach 21-30 mpg (11.2-7.8 L/100 km) city/highway with front-wheel-drive and 20-27 mpg (11.8-8.7 L/100 km) city/highway with the auto maker’s newest all-wheel-drive system.

The Terrain’s optional 3.0L V-6 engine makes a maximum 264 hp and 222 lb.-ft. (301 Nm) of torque. It achieves 18-25 mpg (13.1-9.4 L/100 km) city/highway with FWD and 17-24 mpg (13.8-9.8 L/100 km) city/highway with AWD, GM says.

Both engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, but only models with the 4-cyl. mill receive a console-mounted “ECO” button that reduces the torque convertor’s lock-up speed to a lower rpm to save on fuel.

“This is going to be a compelling package from an operating-cost aspect,” Reuter says of the powertrain combinations during a recent sneak preview of the Terrain here.

GM estimates a bump of 1 mpg (0.4 km/L) while in ECO mode. Low-rolling resistance Michelin SA tires also will help the Terrain achieve its fuel-economy ratings.

GM expects 60% of the Terrain’s buyers to opt for a 4-cyl. model, although much depends on gasoline prices when the vehicle arrives at GMC dealers in late summer.

Towing capacity for V-6 models reaches 3,500 lbs. (1,588 kg) and 4-cyl. models can pull 1,500 lbs. (680 kg), regardless of the drivetrain.

One engineering trend adopted by the Terrain worth noting is the ZF Friedrichshafen AG rack-mounted electronic power-steering system GM includes on 4-cyl. models.

It’s the same system drawing raves for its application on the Volkswagen Passat and provides the Terrain with about a 0.5 mpg (0.2 km/L) bump in fuel economy without sacrificing steering feel. The system delivers an additional 11 miles (18 km) of range with each tank of gas, GM says.

“It’s got great road manners,” Reuter says.

Models with a 6-cyl. engine receive a traditional hydraulic setup.

The exterior design of the Terrain borrows heavily from the blocky, engineered look of its big brother, the Acadia.

Notable elements include big fender flares meant to give the Terrain a planted, muscular stance conveying its “SUV-ness.” A 3-piece grille bathed in chrome with the ruby-red GMC badge is bookended by large projector-beam headlights. An optional chrome roof rack provides additional bright work.

The Terrain rides on a 112.5-in. (285.8-cm) wheelbase with an independent suspension at the front and rear. GM makes 17- and 18-in. aluminum wheels available, as well as a 19-in. chrome variety.

The cabin of the Terrain reflects GM’s new focus on interiors. The auto maker promises a level of noise, vibration and harshness on par with the library-quiet levels recently achieved on the Chevy Malibu midsize passenger car and Buick Enclave CUV.

Expect such refinement at all four trim levels, GM says, as the auto maker uses models with the 4-cyl. engine to debut its active noise-cancellation system. The unit utilizes microphones to counteract sound waves through the speaker system.

“It works exactly like those Bose noise-cancelling headsets,” Reuter says of the Pioneer Electronics Ltd.-sourced system.

Triple door seals and acoustic glass surrounding the cabin’s first row also help tame the NVH.

GM designers carry the industrial precision styling of the exterior inside but contrast it with stitched materials, providing the CUV with a hint of luxury. A rear-vision camera comes standard and highlights a list of technology, such as Bluetooth and MP3 capability.

The Terrain also receives the same adjustable rear liftgate found on the Equinox, so it can accommodate almost any garage.

Interior designers placed a premium on storage capability, adding an oversized glove box and 2-tier storage in the doors, as well as a compartment above the center stack and under the center armrest. Second-row seats move fore and aft 8 ins. (20.3 cm) to open up 31.6 cu.-ft. (894 L) of rear cargo space.

The Terrain’s debut marks the end of production for the Pontiac Torrent. Key competitors include the Ford Edge, Mazda CX-7, Nissan Murano and Hyundai Sante Fe.

Pricing has not been determined, but as a GMC product with slightly more standard content than its Chevy stablemates, GM likely will add a premium to the $23,185 base price announced last week for the Equinox.

The Terrain follows the Equinox to market in GM’s plan calling for 22 of the auto maker’s 24 new-vehicle launches over the next three years to be passenger cars or CUVs.

jamend@wardsauto.com