This is not to say the Equator is not a capable and competent small truck. It is. With a range that includes extended- and crew-cab versions, short and long beds, four- and six-cylinder engines, five-speed manual and automatic trannnies, and noteworthy abilities both on- and off-road, the Equator is a solid option for compact-truck buyers. Case in point: the Crew Cab RMZ-4. With an electric rear locking differential, rugged Dana 44 axles, Bilstein high-performance dampers, skidplates, and BFGoodrich tires, this off-road-bent Equator is an outdoor enthusiast's dream rig.

On pavement? Not too shabby, either. The RMZ-4 romps from 0 to 60 in 7.8 seconds and through the quarter mile in 16.0 at 85.3 mph. Only V-8 versions of the Ram and F-150 were quicker. And if you can't fit the recreational toys in the bed, throw them on a trailer; the RMZ-4 tows up to 6100 pounds.

But are it and other Equators superior to today's lot of compact trucks? Not to the Frontier, at least, and not to the Tacoma, which won the title in 2005. Plus, in making an Equator out of the Frontier, Suzuki made only minor changes to the Nissan, swapping badges, grilles, and appliques rather than extensively tweaking sheetmetal, suspensions, interiors, or powertrains.

Significant? Perhaps to Suzuki as a brand, but not to the truck segment, as the Equator enters a class in which it more or less already existed. Value? Well, sort of. As this issue goes to bed, Suzuki hasn't released final pricing, but it's safe to assume it'll mirror that of the Frontier, which ranges from $18,240 for a two-wheel-drive, four-cylinder extended cab to $29,970 for a four-wheel-drive, V-6 crew cab. Frontiers are generally priced below comparable Toyota Tacomas, so, based on that logic, the Suzuki does represent a level of value. But, again, it won't throw around any more dirt for the dollar than the Frontier.

Resident guru, Truck Trend editor Mark Williams, sums up his views of the Equator: "I actually like the SX4 and what it says about Suzuki's new direction, but I don't quite see how this Equator fits. It can only be part of an expansion plan, but whose mind is it designed to change? Truck people aren't interested in Suzuki, and Suzuki's motorcycle buyers have chosen a pretty pricey and time-consuming hobby, so most will likely be shopping for a truck based on price, which means the Equator has to represent strong value. My hope would be that Suzuki can come up with a few creative paint schemes or option packages to separate its pickup from the crowd. Until that happens, I don't see what makes the Equator a more desirable purchase than the Frontier."

Given that the Equator fails to move the needle within our criteria, the best it gets here is an honorable mention.
- Ron Kiino



2009 Suzuki Equator
Base price range $17,995-$29,900
Models tested Extended Cab Premium Crew Cab RMZ-4
Price as tested $21,000 (est) $31,494
Vehicle layout Front engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door pickup Front engine, 4WD, 4-pass, 4-door pickup
Engine 2.5L/152-hp/171-lb-ft DOHC 16V I-4 4.0L/261-hp/281-lb-ft DOHC 24V V-6
Transmission 5-speed automatic 5-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 3881 lb (54/46%) 4546 lb (56/44%)
Wheelbase 125.9 in 125.9 in
Length x width x height 206.6 x 72.8 x 68.7 in 206.6 x 72.8 x 70.1 in
Actual payload capacity 809 lb 1054 lb
Max towing capacity 3500 lb 6100 lb
0-60 mph 10.2/21.3 sec* 7.8/17.1 sec*
Quarter mile 17.5 sec @ 77.2 mph/21.9 sec @ 60.6 mph* 16.0 sec @ 85.3 mph/21.7 sec @ 65.6 mph*
Braking, 60-0 mph 137 ft ** 141 ft **
Lateral acceleration 0.71 g (avg) 0.65 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy econ 17/22 mpg 15/19 mpg
CO2 emmisions 1.02 lb/mile 1.17 lb/mile
RATINGS
Engineering ***
Design **
Interior ***
Performance ***
Hauling **
Safety ****
Value ****
BOTTOM LINE
Honest example of badge engineering, leads Suzuki into truck world - signifcant for Suzuki, not truck world.
*SAE Certified
**Towing 2600-lb (RWD) or 4600-lb (4WD) trailer