2010 Chevrolet Equinox Gets Direct Injection

December 18, 2008
It looks like the car guys are getting their way over the bean counters at GM. Direct-injection engines have been trickling into GM's lineup, bestowing every car they land in with superior efficiency, cleaner exhaust right from the combustion chamber (25 percent cleaner on startup), and more power to boot. Joining the Pontiac Solstice GXP, Saturn Sky Red Line, Cadillac CTS, Cadillac STS, and GM's Lambda Crossovers, Chevrolet's once lowly Equinox SUV gets two direct-injected engines for its next-gen debut on what is likely to be Saturn's VUE platform.

Fitment of the 2.4-liter EcoTec direct-injected four will give the Equinox an estimated 30 mpg highway, impressive numbers even for a small SUV (and this platform is more like a mid-size at least in terms of weight). The powerplant will yield 180 hp and 172 pound-feet of torque due to an 11.4:1 compression ratio and special dished pistons.

The Equinox will also feature a 3.0-liter direct-injected V-6, based on the 3.6-liter "high feature" V-6 powering Cadillacs and crossovers. This unit cranks out 255 hp and 217 pound-feet, but GM has not yet provided estimates for its fuel efficiency.

2.4-liter EcoTec direct-injection

2.4-liter EcoTec direct-injection

Enlarge Photo
Take a look at the image at the left. That's a piston from the 2.4-liter direct-injected engine. The funky little tube curling under the piston shoots pressurized, cooled oil through a channel cast into each piston to keep temperatures down in the high-compression, high-performance engine. Piston-cooling oil jets are common on German and high-performance Japanese engines, not on Detroit iron.

Why do I make an issue of this? Because this is expensive, arguably unnecessary technology, the kind that GM bean counters have been poo-pooing for decades in search of higher profits. I think it's significant that they are replacing the old Equinox powerplant, an entirely adequate -- yet antediluvian -- push-rod V-6, with this thoroughly modern powerplant that simply blows it away on every level. GM draws 180 horses, only five less, from a package that is over 40 percent percent smaller than the outgoing V-6. It will also beat the outgoing model by a whopping 6 mpg on the highway.

Investment in technology and good products, not smoke and mirrors badge engineering, will hopefully take GM through the dark night of this economy. Kudos, and keep it up.

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