General Motors’ completely redesigned 2010 Chevrolet Equinox made its world debut at the 2009 NAIAS in Detroit, boasting major improvements in fuel efficiency and NVH reduction compared with its predecessor. Production starts this spring at the CAMI joint venture plant that GM shares with Suzuki in Ingersoll, Ontario.
The new Equinox is based on GM’s Theta architecture. The five-passenger, five-door crossover utility vehicle is available in front- or all-wheel-drive configurations. Curb weight of the base fwd model is 3770 lb (1710 kg).
Powering the vehicle is the 2.4-L LAF, the latest member of GM’s Ecotec global I4 engine family. The new long-stroke—88 x 98 mm (3.46 x 3.86 in)—powerplant features variable valve timing and gasoline direct fuel injection, enabling the base front-wheel-drive version of the vehicle to achieve a projected 30-mpg highway and 21-mpg city fuel economy—a 25% improvement over the previous Equinox.
Mated to the optional all-wheel-drive system, the 2.4-L Equinox is estimated to achieve 27 mpg highway and 20 mpg city. Chief Engineer Tim Herrick expects about 66% of buyers will choose the 2.4-L model.
The new Equinox rides on the same 112.5-in (2857-mm) wheelbase as its predecessor, but at 187.8 in (4771 mm) long overall it’s about 1 in (25 mm) shorter. It’s also 1 in wider, at 72.5 in (1842 mm). Its wider front track of 62.5 in (1587 mm) improves ride and handling, said Herrick.
Equinox’s all-steel body structure features one-piece body sides and increased applications of HSS (high-strength steel) alloys in the underbody and rockers. “We spent a lot of time with our FEA guys to create a stiffer body-in-white,” Herrick explained. “This gave us a really solid foundation for improving ride quality and vehicle dynamic performance, and reducing NVH.” Use of liquid-applied sound deadener (LASD), pioneered on the T900 truck program, was increased in the floor and bulkheads.
The program also focused on improved aerodynamic performance. The base of the windshield was moved forward about 3.0 in (75 mm) compared with the ’09 model for a slicker profile—Cd is 0.36. The windshield itself is now flush fitting to help reduce wind noise.
Other body-design changes include rocker panels integrated into the doors, creating a narrower step-over for improved ingress and egress. This also helps keep driver and passenger trousers and skirts from brushing against dirty rockers.
Suspension is by MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar in front, and a four-link independent setup with trailing arms in the rear. Equinox gains a steering-rack-mounted electric power steering system. Compared with the previous power-sapping hydraulic power steering setup, the more efficient EPS is expected to save the equivalent of one tank of gasoline per vehicle annually, according to GM.
Estimated rated output (final SAE certification was not completed at time of publication) of the 2.4-L engine is expected to be 180 hp (134 kW) at 6700 rpm, and 172 lb·ft (232 N·m) at 4900 rpm. While the LAF’s basic architecture is shared with other GM global inline fours, including sand-cast aluminum cylinder block, nodular-iron crankshaft and forged-steel con rods, it features an 11.4:1 compression ratio and application-specific pistons and fuel injectors.
Herrick said GM benchmarked the best noise attenuation applications to provide quiet operation. Solutions included isolated injector mounting and foam-based radiated-noise isolators around the intake manifold.
An equally new 3.0-L DOHC direct-injected V6 with variable intake and exhaust valve timing is optional. It is expected to deliver 25 mpg highway and 18 mpg city—up to 10% improvement versus the 3.4-L V6 used previously. (EPA certification for both new engines was pending at time of publication.) Known as the LF1, it is a member of GM’s “high-feature” DOHC V6 family that also includes the direct-injected 3.6-L variant in the Chevrolet Traverse and Cadillac CTS.
GM projects rated output to be 255 hp (190 kW) and 214 lb·ft (290 N·m), pending SAE certification. The LF1 features rubber-isolated fuel injectors and fuel rail that quiet the injector pulses and eliminate metal-to-metal contact that would otherwise transmit noise and vibration from the high-pressure fuel system. Other engine-NVH countermeasures include an acoustically damped front cover, isolated cam covers, and a foam-type intake manifold radiated noise absorber.
The 2010 Equinox will be available in three trim packages. The 130.5 ft³ (3695 L) interior has been fully redesigned but retains its MultiFlex rear-seat capability, which allows the seat to be moved fore or aft nearly 8 in (203 mm) for claimed best-in-class legroom. With the 60/40-split-back rear seat in its most forward position, the vehicle offers 31.4 ft³ (889 L) of cargo volume.
Equinox’s safety package includes a standard array of six airbags including pelvic/thorax seat-mounted side bags. There is also an optional rear-vision camera system, with display in the rearview mirror or in the 7-in navigation screen.
Convenience amenities include standard OnStar telematics and XM Satellite radio; a “smart” remote starting system that also activates the HVAC system and optional heated seats depending on the outside temperature; a power-programmable rear liftgate; Bluetooth phone connectivity; and DVD-based rear-seat entertainment system with two independent screens.