Good news for frazzled parents busy juggling rowdy schoolchildren, ballet practice, a missed dentist appointment, and the remains of their Panera Frontega Chicken panini: The family-friendly 2012 GMC Terrain (and its Chevrolet Equinox twin) now comes with active collision alert, which can alert the driver to a potential insurance settlement up front.
The systemconsists of a camera mounted in the center of the windshield, and a series of lights above the optional navigation system. The camera keeps an eye out for lane markings and other cars on the road. If the driver veers out of lane, the Terrain displays a warning light. If the driver changes lanes without signaling, the Terrain will sternly admonish him like a Catholic schoolmarm; it’s a system that should be mandatory for East Coast drivers. And if the driver has lost all concentration and is barreling at speed into the potential whiplash patient in front, the Terrain can prime the brakes for maximum stopping potential, all while warning the bejeezus out of the driver with a barrage of chimes.
The Terrain’s camera-based system differs from radar-guided cruise control units found on high-end cars like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Those systems will actively slow a car down from a certain speed if it detects a sudden lane change, but as both Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have found out, sometimes they don’t work too well. But the Terrain’s warning-only system keeps it simple, being offered on the 2012 Terrain and Equinox for the low, low price of $295, or about two month’s worth of grande Frappucinos.