The Car Connection Suzuki Equator Overview
The Suzuki Equator is a compact to mid-size pickup truck that's essentially a rebadged version of the Nissan Frontier. With a choice of four-cylinder and V-6 engines, the Equator currently takes on the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Toyota Tacoma, and Honda Ridgeline; the now-discontinued Ford Ranger was another good compact-truck alternative.
The Equator, which made its debut for the 2009 model year and has changed very little since, comes in a narrower range of models and trims than the Frontier, is offered in the U.S. in Extended Cab or Crew Cab layouts, with the latter offering seating for up to five. Both can be had in either rear-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations, and there's a choice between a 171-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a 261-hp, 4.0-liter V-6.
Compared to the Frontier, the Suzuki Equator is focused a bit more toward the off-roading crowd—and the kinds of customers who would be fans of Suzuki's ATVs and dirt bikes. Altogether, towing capability is strong—up to 6,500 pounds in rear-wheel-drive V-6 models. And as with the Nissan version, the Equator comes with some innovative cargo-bed solutions, with adjustable tracks and cargo tie-downs. A spray-in bedliner is available.
The Equator hasn't been a safety standout in some respects, as it didn't get standard electronic stability control until 2011, when it was required on all models. But on the other hand it, and the nearly identical Frontier, get one of the best ratings among compact or mid-size trucks for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety roof strength test—especially important in rollover-prone compact trucks. It achieves 'good' ratings as well in the other test categories.
Four trim levels of the Equator are offered (that's actually a small number compared to nearly all other pickups): Comfort, Premium, Sport, and RMZ-4). The top-of-the-line RMZ-4 is the pick for off-road enthusiasts, with skid plates, hill descent control, and Bilstein performance shocks included, along with a bed extender. Navigation and audio upgrades are available, but even on top models Bluetooth connectivity remains optional.
One notable benefit of the Equator over an equivalent Nissan Frontier is the Suzuki's superior powertrain warranty—seven years or 100,000 miles for powertrain. On the other hand, whatever luster the Suzuki brand was building up is fading due to a dwindling dealership network.
The only significant change to the lineup in recent years is the addition of a Crew Cab Sport model that combines the roomier cabin layout with a long cargo bed.