"The equator was my ride to Joshua Tree for a camping and rock-climbing expedition," logs assistant Web producer Kirill Ougarov. "It was easy to maneuver, drive, and park, though the V-6’s fuel economy isn’t much better than that of our long-term V-8 F-150. I subjected the Equator to some light off-roading on a dirt road, which it handled without a problem. Also, the Suzuki-spec looks better than the Frontier on which it’s based." Additional likes? "Suzuki’s quick-rig Garmin navigation setup is simple, cheap, works well, and allows you to enter an address while driving, you just have to undock the unit first. What I don’t dig is the year-2000-spec base stereo. No MP3 capability? No aux jack? No satellite radio? Really? A base-model Cobalt has all these."

Our vehicle
Months/miles in service 8/14,957
Avg econ/CO2 15.9 mpg/1.22 lb/mi
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $29.17 (oil change/inspection/rotate tires)
Normal-wear cost $0

Long Term Update 3: 2009 Suzuki Equator RMZ-4 Sport
4 Months and 11,679 Miles: A Credible Alternative to a Wrangler

Long Term Update 2: 2009 Suzuki Equator RMZ-4 Sport
2 Months and 8743 Miles - "This truck is just the right size for freeway or around town driving," notes managing editor Rusty Kurtz.

Long Term Intro: 2009 Suzuki Equator RMZ-4 Sport
New arrival - 6656 miles: For many, a compact truck will provide all the capability they'd need. It can tow a good-size boat or trailer, lug half a ton of payload, and, as a plus, fit in most garages and provide decent fuel economy while doing it. What's not to like? .