GM reveals more fuel-efficient 2010 Equinox

General Motors Corp. revealed details Sunday about the redesigned 2010 Chevrolet Equinox crossover sport-utility vehicle that will debut at next month's North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Calling it the "Swiss army knife" of cars for an average family, because it can serve a variety of needs, GM has moved away from the boxier style of the earlier Equinox, which debuted in 2004. The new design draws from the Chevrolet Malibu sedan, which has been one of GM's best-selling vehicles, and the Traverse, a larger crossover that went on sale this fall.

The 2010 Equinox offers direct-injection engines. GM said the 2.4-liter, four-cylinder model is expected to get 30 miles per gallon on the highway and 21 mpg in the city — a 25% improvement over the previous model. A 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine increases horsepower from 182 to 255 and gets an estimated 25 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg in the city.

The current version of the Equinox, with its 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine, gets 24 mpg on the highway and up to 17 in the city, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates.

Direct-injection engines put fuel directly into the engine's cylinder, rather than mixing it with air first, making the engine more powerful and efficient. GM said last week that such engines will be available in 38 of its 2010 models, up from 18 models in the 2009 model year.

The 2010 Equinox also has an electric power steering system that improves fuel efficiency enough to give drivers an extra 11 miles on each tank of gas, GM said. The new exterior adds other fuel-efficiency improvements, including a windshield whose base is about 3 inches farther forward for a sleeker profile.

The Equinox has an electronically controlled six-speed transmission. GM's OnStar service and XM Satellite Radio come standard, and there's a remote-starting system that can also activate the heater or air conditioner and the optional heated seats.

The rear row of seats in the five-passenger vehicle can move forward and back nearly 8 inches to improve legroom but also expand the rear storage to 31.4 cubic feet when the back row is pushed completely forward.

The Equinox will be available in mid-2009 to compete against vehicles like the Ford Escape and Hyundai Santa Fe. Pricing has not been disclosed.

GM also plans to unveil a new 2010 Cadillac SRX midsize luxury crossover and a redesigned 2010 Buick LaCrosse sedan at the Detroit auto show.