According to GMInsideNews the plan to hybridize the two crossovers was initially scheduled to be included in the 2014 model change, but has now been pushed up, meaning we’ll see the high-mpg versions before then.
The reason for the about-face is reportedly due to a desire to keep eAssist production healthy. With the Malibu Eco (the eAssist model) launching first, GM fears the introduction of a cheaper non-hybrid 2.5-liter 4-cylinder version will drastically reduce demand for the eAssist-equipped model. In order to avoid any lull in production, the eAssist-equipped Equinox and Terrain will be set into production early.
In the Malibu Eco, the eAssist system uses a 15-hp electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack mated to a 180-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine to deliver 26-mpg in the city and 38-mpg on the highway. A similar system fitted to either crossover could produce numbers that are close.
Expected to arrive in 2013 as 2014 model year vehicles, look for the eAssist-equipped Equinox to wear the Equinox ‘Eco’ badge.