When people think of pickups, they probably don't think of Suzuki. Even though the brand has been selling vehicles in the United States under its own name since the 1980s, it's never offered a real pickup for the U.S. market. The Suzuki Equator changed all that, but just because it now offers a pickup, doesn't mean it builds one.
You see, the Equator is essentially a clone of Nissan's midsize Frontier pickup, with the only significant differences related to exterior styling and features. This really isn't a bad thing, since the Frontier is a highly regarded pickup with a stout V6 engine, lots of versatility and substantial off-road capability. Therefore, like its twin, the Suzuki Equator pickup can handle just about anything thrown at it, short of the kind of major duty that a full-size truck would be better suited to. Fans of Suzuki's offbeat portfolio and beefy warranties will want to take a look, as should other midsize pickup truck shoppers.
Current Suzuki Equator
The Suzuki Equator midsize pickup truck is offered in two styles: a basic extended cab and a crew cab. Extended cabs are available in base, Comfort package, Premium and Sport trims, and all come with a 6-foot bed. Crew cabs are available in Sport and RMZ-4 trims -- the former can be had with either a 5- or 6-foot bed, while the RMZ-4 is 5-foot-only.
The Equator comes with a choice of two engines -- a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, or a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 261 hp and 281 lb-ft. The V6 is the only engine available for crew cabs and 4WD variants, while the four-cylinder is available only in the lower-trim extended-cab models. The base and Comfort trims with the four-cylinder are matched to a five-speed manual transmission, while a five-speed automatic is standard on all other models. The V6 is equipped with a five-speed automatic only.
Inside, the Equator is comfortable but far from luxurious. There is no leather seating option. Instruments are no-nonsense but easy to read. The crew cab provides a nice list of features, including a cleated "C-track" tie-down system, with various storage compartments and a spray-on bedliner for the Sport version. The RMZ-4 is an off-road-oriented truck with heavy-duty axles, an electric locking rear differential, Bilstein shocks, skid plates, hill descent and hold control, 16-inch alloy wheels, off-road-oriented tires and foglamps.
On the options roster are a removable Garmin navigation system (for RMZ models only), Bluetooth, a satellite-radio-ready audio system and a sunroof. Safety features are extensive and include side curtain airbags, antilock brakes and stability control on all Equators.
Driving dynamics are impressive for a midsize pickup. The steering is precise with ample feedback, the brakes are reasonably responsive and the suspension soaks up the bumps adequately, even for the 4WD-equipped trim when it's taken off-road. In fact, the specialized Equator RMZ-4, with its dedicated off-road-biased hardware, is especially appealing as a vehicle that can tackle the great outdoors. The four-cylinder engine provides superior fuel economy, but we suspect most buyers will be happier with the less economical V6.
In all, the Suzuki Equator is a solid truck that, while not outstanding in any one particular area (except for its seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty), can stand up admirably against its far better known competition. It's a good daily driver, with the only significant drawbacks being the absence of a regular cab option and limited availability of certain features.
Used Suzuki Equator Models
The Suzuki Equator debuted in the 2009 model year. For 2010, the removable Garmin navigation unit was made available only on the RMZ-4, whereas before, it was only offered on crew-cab Equators. In the first two years, there was also an RMZ-4 Sport trim, which included hill descent and hold control, plus luxuries like a sunroof, Bluetooth and an upgraded stereo.
Stability control was only available on the RMZ-4 for 2009. It became standard on all V6-powered models the following year, and it became standard on every Equator starting in 2012.