2020 GMC Terrain vs. 2019 Lexus NX Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the GMC Terrain’s rear seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Lexus NX Series doesn’t offer comfort guides on its rear seat belts.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Terrain are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The NX Series doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Automatic Emergency Braking optional in the Terrain as “Superior.” The NX Series scores only 4 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

Compared to metal, the Terrain’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Lexus NX Series has a metal gas tank.

Both the Terrain and the NX Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the GMC Terrain is safer than the Lexus NX Series:

Terrain

NX Series

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

159

209

Neck Injury Risk

17%

46%

Neck Stress

190 lbs.

509 lbs.

Neck Compression

10 lbs.

24 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

363/349 lbs.

480/609 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

26%

42%

Neck Stress

153 lbs.

295 lbs.

Neck Compression

51 lbs.

70 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

264/236 lbs.

442/307 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the GMC Terrain is safer than the Lexus NX Series:

Terrain

NX Series

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

109

192

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

288

317

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

15 inches

HIC

377

542

Hip Force

730 lbs.

828 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

There are over 7 times as many GMC dealers as there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Terrain’s warranty.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Terrain has a standard 700-amp battery. The NX Series’ 580-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

Engine

The Terrain’s optional 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 58 more horsepower (252 vs. 194) and 61 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 199) than the NX 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl. hybrid.

As tested in Consumer Reports the GMC Terrain 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. is faster than the NX 300 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.:

Terrain

NX Series

Zero to 30 MPH

2.8 sec

3 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.2 sec

7.5 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.7 sec

5 sec

Quarter Mile

15.6 sec

15.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

93 MPH

91.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

Regardless of its engine, the Terrain’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Lexus only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the NX Series 300h.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the GMC Terrain uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended with the 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. engine for maximum performance). The NX 300 requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Terrain has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The NX Series doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the GMC Terrain, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the NX Series.

Brakes and Stopping

The Terrain stops shorter than the NX Series:

Terrain

NX Series

60 to 0 MPH

128 feet

136 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

136 feet

142 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

The Terrain’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the NX Series F Sport’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Terrain offers optional 19-inch wheels. The NX Series’ largest wheels are only 18-inches.

The Terrain has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The NX Series doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Terrain’s wheelbase is 2.6 inches longer than on the NX Series (107.3 inches vs. 104.7 inches).

The Terrain Denali AWD handles at .79 G’s, while the NX 300 pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For greater off-road capability the Terrain SLE has a greater minimum ground clearance than the NX 300h (6.9 vs. 6.7 inches), allowing the Terrain to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The Terrain SLT/Denali’s minimum ground clearance is 1 inch higher than on the NX 300 (7.9 vs. 6.9 inches).

Chassis

The GMC Terrain may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 400 to 500 pounds less than the Lexus NX Series.

The front grille of the Terrain uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The NX Series doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Terrain uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The NX Series doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Terrain has 31.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the NX Series (103.2 vs. 71.6).

The Terrain has 2.6 inches more front headroom, .5 inches more rear headroom, 3.6 inches more rear legroom and .3 inches more rear shoulder room than the NX Series.

Cargo Capacity

The Terrain has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the NX Series with its rear seat up (29.6 vs. 17.7 cubic feet). The Terrain has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the NX Series with its rear seat folded (63.3 vs. 54.6 cubic feet).

Towing

The Terrain’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the NX Series’ (1500 vs. 0 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Lexus NX 300h AWD is only 2000 pounds. The Terrain offers up to a 3500 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The Terrain has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The NX Series doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

Both the Terrain and the NX Series offer available heated front seats. The Terrain Denali also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the NX Series.

The Terrain (except SL) offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The NX Series doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

The Terrain Denali’s optional Automatic Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The NX Series doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Terrain owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Terrain will cost $710 to $1815 less than the NX Series over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Terrain is less expensive to operate than the NX Series because it costs $154 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Terrain than the NX Series, including $57 less for a water pump, $128 less for a starter, $122 less for fuel injection, $80 less for front struts and $504 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The GMC Terrain outsold the Lexus NX Series by 84% during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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