"A repeat visit to a remote campsite on the shores of Nevada's East Walker River had me choosing my transport wisely," says senior photographer Brian Vance. "Last year, I drove this 30-mile dirt road with our long-term 2008 Tundra and found that truck too wide and long for the final five miles, which consist of a steep, twisting, washed-out Jeep trail descending into the river canyon."

How'd the Suzuki do? "The Equator RMZ-4 provides low- and high-range 4WD, beefy BFGoodrich tires, Bilstein shocks, a locking Dana 44 rear axle, and bash plates for the oil pan, transfer case, and fuel tank, all of which combine with the short bed and compact width to make this rig a credible alternative to a Wrangler. I had no trouble exploring the Jeep trails nestled amid these arid mountains."


2009 Suzuki Equator RMZ-4 Sport
Months/miles in service4/11,679
Avg econ/CO216.4 mpg/1.18 lb/mile
Unresolved problemsNone
Maintenance cost$29.17 (oil change/inspection/rotate tires)
Normal-wear cost$0