The cabin has weather- and stain-resistant RMZ-4 seats, a sunroof, and a nine-speaker AM/FM/CD Rockford Fosgate system. Add-ons included RMZ-4 moto-style bed extender and floormats; Garmin portable nav system; side window visors; and a set of front splash guards.

It was no surprise that the Equator was used right away for the daily commute, but what was surprising was how quickly staffers opted for the Suzuki for outdoor adventures. One took the Equator on a Jeep trail that had proved too narrow for a previous half-ton long-termer, and noted itssmaller size plus its excellent off-road equipment made the Equator "a credible alternative to a Wrangler." Another tester used the RMZ-4 on a camping and rock-climbing trip to Joshua Tree and was equally impressed with its abilities in the great outdoors. Another staffer went off-road in Johnson Valley. And, as is often the case with our long-term trucks, this compact was used for moving duty, where it offered generous space in a small package. We regretted not getting a hitch, because that meant we couldn't see how it did while lugging a trailer.

Many liked the Equator's comfortable freeway ride and enthusiastic acceleration, but we had some quibbles. For starters, the truck's turning radius took a little getting used to, sometimes making U-turns three-pointers. In addition, some interior amenities left drivers dissatisfied. They felt the faux wood trim looked especially faux. But many felt the exterior styling cues that separate the Suzuki from its Nissan sibling make the Equator more attractive than the Frontier.

The Equator went in for service twice, the first time for its 7500-mile service at 8787 miles. While at the dealer, the truck received an oil change, inspection, and tire rotation. Total cost: $29.17. The second dealer visit was for its 15,000-mile service (also late, at 16,114 miles)-and more. The truck had been broken into, and both rear windows were smashed to bits. The dealer replaced the two windows and performed the same servicing as at 7500 miles, as well as replacing the air filters in engine and cabin. This service, excluding the cost of the new windows, was $312.83.

Yes, the Equator is a Frontier in a lot of ways, and our review of this truck can also serve as a positive review of the Frontier. But the Equator does have its own personality and is a little bit different from the Nissan.

As we'd guessed when we first signed up for a year behind the wheel of Suzuki's Equator, compact trucks have become much more capable. For most buyers, this means the smaller trucks can easily handle the amount of towing, cargo, and people-hauling capabilities they need. Aside from a few quibbles, the Equator proved up to the task.

2009 Suzuki Equator RMZ-4 Sport
Price $32,638
Engine 4.0L/261-hp/281-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Miles 20,227
EPA city/hwy 15/19 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.17 lb/mile
Observed average mpg 16.3
Observed worst mpg 8.2
Observed best mpg 25.7
Average distance per fill-up 187.0
Average cost per gallon $3.39
Number of services 2
Overall cost $342