Calling it the "Swiss army knife" of cars for an average family, 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 recently.
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 percent improvement over the current model. A 3-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 Equinox, with its 3.4-liter six-cylinder, 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 that such engines will be available in 38 of its 2010 models, up from 18 in the 2009 model year.
The Equinox 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 Equinox has an electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission; GM's OnStar service and XM Satellite Radio are standard; and there's a remote-starting system that can activate the heater or air conditioner and optional heated seats.
The rear row of seats in the five-passenger vehicle can move forward and back nearly eight inches to improve legroom and 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 the Ford Escape and Hyundai Santa Fe. Pricing has not been disclosed.
GM also plans to unveil a 2010 Cadillac SRX midsize luxury crossover and a redesigned 2010 Buick LaCrosse sedan at the Detroit auto show.