Alex Nunez, Forecast Earth Correspondent
Direct-injected gasoline engines are about to become much more prevalent in American cars, and next month's Detroit Auto Show will place a spotlight on the tech, with new engines set to be unveiled under the hoods of some of the 2010 models being rolled onstage. Over at GM, the next-gen Chevy Equinox gets an all-new engine lineup, with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder making a 180 horsepower that should give the crossover utility vehicle highway fuel economy of 30 mpg. This will replace the current base engine, a 3.4L V6 that makes only 4 horsepower more than the incoming 4-banger. This is good progress.
The new Equinox's step-up engine also gets upgraded. Out goes the current 3.6L V6 that makes 264 horses. In comes a new 3.0L direct-injected V6 producing 255 horsepower. Direct injection allows automakers to run engines at a higher compression ratio, which translates into increased power and better efficiency, and cleaner emissions.
Ford's in the game, too. With a new, turbocharged, direct-injected V6 headed for a number of vehicles, beginning with the Lincoln MKS. The addition of turbocharging allows the engine to make big, V8-style power without the gas guzzling nature of the larger engines. At Detroit, the automaker is widely expected to announce details surrounding a 4-cylinder turbo DI motor that should offer V6-level power with 4-cylinder fuel economy. The key here with gasoline direct-injected engines is that they help reduce weight, cut fuel consumption, and improve emissions without sacrificing the levels of power we're all accustomed to. It won't be long before this becomes the norm.
Alex Nunez is associate editor of Autoblog.com.