A roster of available active-safety equipment alerts drivers of potential crash threats, while an industry-first Rear Seat Reminder technology from GM prompts drivers to double check the rear seat for a forgotten child or valuables left in the open. It is a smart piece of technology that could save a family from a real tragedy and can be shut off easily if the owner chooses.

A hands-free power liftgate is standard on Denali models and is available on other trim levels. However, it seems a little finicky on models tested here.

Like its Chevy Equinox platform mate, the Terrain receives a lineup of turbocharged 4-cyl. engines new to the nameplate. Standard equipment is an all-new 170-hp 1.5L gasoline unit, which as previously tested in the Equinox does yeoman’s work, while the optional choice is a proven 252-hp 2.0L gasoline engine with the pull of a V-6.

Both engines are paired to a smooth, smart 9-speed automatic transmission. The only quibble with the 2.0L is a slight thrum from the transmission housing. The combination averaged 24.4 mpg (9.6 L/100 km) during mixed driving conditions.

The Terrain also offers for the first time a 1.6L turbodiesel with 137 hp and 240 lb.-ft. (325 Nm) of torque. GM went to great lengths to reduce the engine’s noise and vibration from its first application in the Chevy Cruze compact car. It also gets standard stop/start technology for the first time in the Terrain and Equinox to eliminate vibration at idle, a bugaboo of most small-displacement diesels. A quick sprint to the airport with the diesel Terrain returned just over 40 mpg (5.9 L/100 km), and dipping gently into the throttle at highway speeds delivers a short boost of torque to confidently overtake traffic.

Each model handles exceptionally well, regardless of the powertrain, thanks to a creative mix of lightweight materials GM has been employing on new and redesigned models across its lineup. Base models of the new Terrain are 343 lbs. (156 kg) lighter than its predecessor, but the body structure is 34% more rigid, even with the addition of a dual-pane panoramic sunroof.

The ’18 Terrain also gains maneuverability. It is 3 ins. (76 mm) shorter in overall length and wheelbase than the old model, slightly narrower and its height is down about 1.0 in. (25 mm). The turning circle curb-to-curb shrinks 3 ins.

Optional all-wheel drive further improves handling and includes Traction Select so drivers can pick a unique power mode to optimize items such as throttle control to match the conditions, or choose full-time AWD. An additional disconnect mode switches to front-wheel drive whenever possible to maximize fuel economy.

There is a relatively long list of available advanced driver-assistance systems employing cameras, radars and alerts to improve safety, although adaptive cruise control is not offered at any trim level.

As far as redesigns go, the new Terrain goes further than most, delivering a stylish, functional CUV ready to wear out of the box.

jamend@wardsauto.com