The 2014 Chevrolet Equinox is likely to add a version of the fuel-saving “eAssist” hybrid system that’s currently available in the Chevy Malibu and the Buick Regal and LaCrosse midsize sedans. As in those models, a 15-kW electric motor/generator and compact 115-volt lithium ion battery pack should augment a 2.4-liter 182-hp four-cylinder gasoline engine as needed, particularly adding a boost under full-throttle acceleration, with the engine automatically de-powering while at idle to help preserve fuel. This is a so-called “mild hybrid” system in that the motor never actually powers the vehicle on its own, as it would in a “full” hybrid system. Though fuel economy gains are expected to be modest, they’ll likely come a lower added cost than with a full hybrid system, which should come to about $2,000.
In the Chevrolet Malibu, eAssist helps the car net an estimated 25/37/29 mpg city/highway/combined (versus 22/34/26 with the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine). We expect the Equinox with eAssist to post similar numbers. It’s not certain yet whether eAssist will become the standard powertrain (as it is with the Buick models), be included with a special “Eco” version (as in the Malibu) or be offered as a standalone option. It’s likely to be offered only in a front-wheel-drive configuration.