- Rugged, fun styling
- Quality construction
- Handy pickup bed accessories
- Sometimes choppy ride quality
- 4WD model handling is lackluster
- Narrow cabin
The 2012 Suzuki Equator is a great choice for the weekend warrior, with useful and intelligent cargo solutions and solid off-road capability.
Stuck for ways to turn its huge two-wheeled fan base into four-wheeled Suzuki owners, the company was left with one clear path forward: use a re-badged Nissan Frontier as a pickup truck instead of spending billions to develop its own. The resulting product, the Suzuki Equator, offers many of Suzuki's quirky features with solid Nissan reliability.
For 2012, the Equator moves forward with no changes--just as it did in 2011. That's not all bad, however, as the underlying vehicle is a stout and capable mid-size pickup. Extended and Crew Cab models are available, as are short and long beds, and both rear-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations. Suzuki targets the Equator primarily toward off-road enthusiasts, though like the Frontier, it's a capable city truck as well--the tie-in simply plays on Suzuki's strengths on ATVs and dirt bikes.
With its more rugged exterior treatment, the Equator actually looks better than its Nissan basis to many eyes, though the only real differences are the grille, paint, and some Suzuki badging. Two engines are available, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a 4.0-liter V-6. The V-6 is the definite pick if you can afford it; it's much more powerful and almost on par with some smaller V-8s. The V-6 also doesn't give up much in fuel economy, and the four-cylinder isn't available with stability control at all--even as an option.
While the Extended Cab doesn't have five-passenger space like the Crew Cab, it does offer the long bed standard, which is much more useful for hauling full sheets of plywood and the like. Bed extenders are available for the shorter bed, however, so unless you're a frequent home improver or contractor, you might prefer the shorter bed for more cabin space. If you have to have both, Suzuki has the answer with the Crew Cab Sport long bed model, though you'll have to buy it with 4WD.
Capability is strong across the range: 6,500 pounds towing capacity in the 4x2, spray-in bedliners available, tie-downs and adjustable tracks as options, and Hill Hold and Descent Control in every model.
Depending on which trim you choose (four are available: Comfort, Premium, Sport, and RMZ-4) there are abundant upgrade features and options available. The RMZ-4 model shines with standard skid plates, leather-wrapped steering wheel, height-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support, a standard bed extender, and Bilstein high-performance shocks. Bluetooth phone connectivity, navigation, and audio upgrades are also available.
The 2012 Suzuki Equator scores top marks of "good" in all IIHS testing, while the NHTSA rates the Equator between three and four stars for rollover resistance, depending on the configuration chosen. The NHTSA hasn't performed crash testing on the 2012 Equator.