I've sat in traffic for hours behind full-size trucks thinking how much I'd love to get into a truck again. The only problem is, full-size trucks are just too much truck for me. When it comes to the midsize segment, the pickings are slim, so when I heard of Suzuki's introduction of the Equator earlier this year, I got a little excited. The Equator is smaller, but with just enough substance to satisfy my pickup appetite.

The Equator is a restyled, rebadged Nissan Frontier that shares the same chassis and the standard 2.5L, I-4 DOHC engine from Nissan. Our Equator was equipped with the optional 4.0L, V-6 DOHC powerplant that produces 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque. The V-6 uses an aluminum block with cast-iron cylinder liners, forged-steel crankshaft, microfinished crankshaft and camshafts, Teflon-coated pistons, variable valve timing, and a silent two-stage timing chain.

The engine provides plenty of power when accelerating on the highway, and it didn't skip a beat as I drove through San Bernardino Mountains. The five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission shifted nicely while I romped on the accelerator. I found driving the Nissan...uh, Suzuki, very enjoyable on the road aided by greater visibility and less rear wheelhop associated with most full-size trucks. And the fun wasn't limited to the asphalt. I took the Equator down dirt roads and up rounded hills. Its fully boxed frame remained firm on uneven paths with ease, which is impressive considering this is the two-wheel-drive version of the truck.

The exterior lines are similar to the Frontier's even though the hood, front fenders, grille, bumpers, front fascia, and tailgate were replaced with Suzuki-designed sheetmetal. I prefer the restyled front grille over the Frontier's. Suzuki offers an Extended Cab and Crew Cab with the standard regular bed. Our Crew Cab was the perfect fit for my two-year-old nephew and me. The rear seats provided more than enough room to contain him and his child safety seat for the ride to day care. The safety latches are easy to reach and made installing the child seat a painless task. For a Crew Cab, the interior space isn't overwhelming. The hard plastic dash is pleasant looking with all the creature comfort controls arranged nice and neat.

It's a truck, and I want it to look like a truck. I don't need fancy soft plastic or foamy-feeling interior gizmos. I don't need to tow a 5000-lb boat, but the towing capacity of 6500 lb is nice to have. I'm like most average drivers. I just want the right size truck to get me from point A to point B during the week and have fun on the weekends. The 2009 Suzuki Equator fits the bill.

How Much: Pricing has not been announced, but check back soon!

What's Hot: It's the size that counts. The power matches the size and works in the right places.

What's Not: The stigma of being a rebadged Nissan Frontier. Will it be accepted by consumers?

Like This? Try These: Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado.

Bottom Line: It's a real truck. Just smaller.


2009 Suzuki Equator Crew Cab V-6
Body type Crew Cab
Chassis Type Body on frame (ladder type) - Fully boxed frame
Engine 4.0-liter DOHC V6
Drive system 2WD
Transmission Automatic
Maximum output 261 @ 5,600 rpm
Maximum torque 281 @ 4,000 rpm
Maximum engine RPM 6000 rpm
Gear ratios (:1)
1st 3.842
2nd 2.353
3rd 1.529
4th 1.000
5th 0.839
Reverse 2.764
FUEL CONSUMPTION City/highway 15/20

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