By KBB.com Editors
Considering Suzuki's long history of selling capable yet affordable off-road vehicles, its new mid-size Equator pickup truck seems like a logical addition to the brand's lineup. Interestingly, the decision to sell the Equator was driven largely by the needs of Suzuki's motorcycle and ATV riders and not pent-up demand by automotive buyers. From Suzuki's perspective, fans of the company's dirt bikes and ATVs should get to haul their toys with a Suzuki-branded truck. Rather than building one from the ground up, Suzuki achieved its goal by partnering with experienced truck builder Nissan. The end result is the Suzuki Equator, a clone of the Nissan Frontier sporting a lightly revised exterior, expanded warranty, lower purchase price and those all-important Suzuki badges.
The 2009 Suzuki Equator is every bit as capable, comfortable and solidly built as the Nissan Frontier we like so much. If you like the Frontier – and plan on keeping your next pickup for a long time – you'd be wise to consider the Equator and its longer warranty.
If you have so many Suzuki off-road machines that you need V8 power to pull them all, the Equator won't meet your needs.
Suzuki has modest sales expectations for their truck but hopes enough Suzuki motorcycle fans want a Suzuki-branded truck to make it worth their while. Helping to bolster the case for the Equator, buyers also enjoy a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty and reduced purchase prices compared to the nearly identical Nissan Frontier.
Driving Impressions Like most trucks, the 2009 Suzuki Equator compromises precise handling in the name of functionality. The body leans in the corners, the steering ratio is slow and the brakes feel...a bit soft, shortcomings that are easily forgiven when towing up to 6,500 pounds or making use of the Equator's nearly 10 inches of ground clearance while traveling off-road. And while it's not as comfortable as a car, the Equator actually proves quite livable on long freeway journeys where other less refined pickups require more tolerance from passengers. The Suzuki Equator offers the raised seating position expected of a pickup truck, providing a good view of the road ahead. When that road ends, the available four-wheel drive system can be engaged without bringing the vehicle to a stop. Off-road the Suzuki Equator impresses, doubly so in RMZ-4 guise, crawling over rocks, fording streams and deftly climbing up and over daunting hills.
Suzuki borrows the RMZ-4 moniker from its range of off-road motorcycles for this highly capable four-wheeler. Skid plates, off-road tires, Bilstein shocks, and an electric locking rear differential make the RMZ-4 an impressively competent off-roader.
Adjustable Tie-down System
Anyone who has ever tried loading a motorcycle into the bed of a pickup truck will appreciate the adjustable tie-down points included on Crew Cab and Sport Extended Cab models. Rather than struggling to reach fixed anchor points, channels built into the Equator's bed let you slide the anchor points to right where they are needed.
Favoring function over luxury, the interior of the Suzuki Equator offers a simplified dash layout, big buttons and knobs and a wealth of storage nooks. Interior surfaces are largely composed of hard plastic but soft material in the right places makes the Equator's cabin feel adequately inviting. Those in the front seats enjoy plenty of room to stretch out, but back seat passengers may complain about the nearly vertical seatback found in the five-passenger Crew Cab or the extremely tight quarters of the rear jump seats found in the four-passenger Extended Cab.Exterior
Stylistically speaking, the 2009 Suzuki Equator hits all the right notes for a mid-size pickup truck. Big flared fenders, recessed side glass, a towering grille and a solid stance give the Equator a suitably masculine appearance. The Suzuki Equator is offered in two cab styles and two bed lengths. The Equator Extended Cab features rear hinged mini-doors for access to the rear jump seats, while the Crew Cab offers four conventional doors. A five-foot bed is standard with a six-foot bed available exclusively for Crew Cab Sport trims.
The least-expensive 2009 Suzuki Equator Extended Cab comes modestly equipped with fabric seating, a pair of 12-volt power outlets and not much else. The larger Equator Crew Cab is similarly sparse in base form but includes essentials like air conditioning, a CD audio system and tilt steering wheel. Buyers who opt for the Extended Cab Premium or Crew Cab Sport are treated to such 20th-century advancements as power windows, mirrors and door locks, cruise control and remote keyless entry. Standard safety features found on all Equator trims include anti-lock brakes, a tire pressure monitoring system and six airbags.
There are only a few optional features available for the Suzuki Equator, many of which are tied to specific trims. A power sunroof, Bluetooth phone connectivity, steering wheel audio controls and stability control are offered exclusively for the RMZ-4 trim while a six-foot bed is available only for the Crew Cab Sport. A Class-3 tow hitch is also offered for all Crew Cab trims and the Extended Cab Sport trims. Also available is a navigation system featuring real-time traffic, weather, movie times and more, but only for Crew Cab Equators.
There are two engines available for the 2009 Suzuki Equator; a 152-horsepower four-cylinder (included only in Extended Cab base and Premium trims) and a 261-horsepower V6. All trims feature a five-speed automatic transmission with the exception of the base Equator Extended Cab, which comes equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. Shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive is also offered on the Crew Cab Sport (optional) and on the top-of-the-line RMZ-4 trim (standard).
2.5-liter in-line 4
152 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
171 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/23 (manual), 17/22 (automatic)
261 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
281 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 (2WD), 15/19 (4WD)
By chucky on Monday, February 02, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 91,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Was very fun to drive especially off road"
Cons: "Horrible fuel drinker, off road acted out"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Great truck was a good deal. The fuel economy is horrible drinks fuel like a v10 but has some torque and power."
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Turbo on Saturday, August 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "On Off Road, comfortable, reliable, versatile"
Cons: "not so great gas mileage, no option for leather"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Comfortable, but not fancy. Excellent performance at the cost of fuel economy. Which would be my only complaint, gas mileage should NOT be your first concern if buying this truck. Although it improved quite a bit since new, it still only gets appx. 18 mpg overall IIRC. Very versatile hauling and towing capabilities. I love this truck after almost 2 years of ownership."
14 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By Foxster68 on Tuesday, March 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Suzuki RMZ-4 equals Nissan Pro-4X enough said."
Cons: "No 6-speed, leather, or sunroof option!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I Purchased this truck new in the RMZ-4 trim which included a V-6 and 5 speed automatic. I had to take it on a trip immediatley, so it's just over 3 weeks old and I have 2,200 miles on it. I am suprized at the over all quietness in the cabin, a reflection of the quality build. The overall mileage average was 19 mpg. for the entire trip, which was mostly interstate. The engine has plenty of get-up-and-go. The view from the cabin is perfect, neither to high nor to low. The ride quality was excellent. I would recommend this vehicle before their gone, It's a Nissan Frontier for heavens sake...a wolf in sheeps clothing. Suzuki is offering great incentives, mine was $5000.00 off sticker."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Mike O on Thursday, March 07, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, love to drive, power of motor"
Cons: "Interior a little plain, gas mileage is so so"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this truck in November and so far I have no complaints. My favorite part about the truck has to be the motor. It has a lot of get up and go. I used to have a Sport Trac and don't quite have all of the interior features I had with that, but am thrilled with the power, it's ease of driving in winter conditions and am looking forward to the large towing capacity this summer."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By John on Thursday, November 01, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this truck new off the lot. Have been looking for a mid size pick up. I previously owned a Chevy Colorado Z71 Crew Cab inline 5, great on gas, but no 4wd or posi, just plain old limited slip (no good). I paid 19,000 used for that one and well i thought it was time to get a new one since i've driven it for 5 years plus my son was getting his license so decided to give him that one. I searched for many Mid size trucks. Noticed that alot of people had the Toyota Tacom, Nissan Frontier, Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, Ford Ranger, but no Suzuki. I looked it up on pickuptrucks.com and found it for 26,800, Crew Cab, RMZ4, 4wd, locking rear diff (it is a DANA axle also comes in the Nissan Frontier Pro-4x), Blisten Shocks, Came with Garmin GPS(removable, but hard to find them with it), 10year warranty(no other manufacture gives that much), Sweet bf goodwrich allterrain tires, lacks on fuel economy but hey if you have the money to buy it then it wont bother you! Now tell me are you going to go to chevy and buy a colorado for 29,000, 4wd, no locking rear diff, no 5 star crash test, no 10 year warranty??? I would chose the equator over any other company. The motor is AMERICAN but the transmission is Japenes. Shifts good, has plenty of storage, easy to clean interior. Test drive it. Oh yeah i drove it in a 2ft deep pond with thick mud/clay didnt get stuck at all. My buddy with a Suzki Samurai started spinning tires! With bigger size tires. and my other buddy with a chevy colorado that was 4wd had got it stuck. So go SUZUKI!"
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By joe on Tuesday, August 28, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "get up and go leaves all other trucks behine"
Cons: "see notes"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"great gas mileage, powerful get up and go, comfortable ride needs turning lights on mirrows, larger back up light on cab, close up side mirrows, radio volume control on wheel, full power seats in front,"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful