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Without a way to develop its own pickup truck--a vehicle right in the wheelhouse of its loyal motorcycle and ATV owners--Suzuki did what any smart company would do. It turned to the company making the best mid-size truck on the market today.
The result: the Suzuki Equator, a rebadged version of the Nissan Frontier, restyled and offered in a few pared-down trim lines compared to the wide-ranging Frontier lineup. The Equator has its own look, which we like, and some of its own features and omitted features, which we're more mixed on.
The Equator marches into 2013 with no changes, but that's fine, as the Frontier prepares to move production from Nissan's Tennessee plant to its newer factory outside Jackson, Mississippi. The Equator remains available in two body styles, an extended cab with a pair of jump seats behind the usual front buckets, and a crew-cab model with a full bench behind the front buckets. Short and long pickup beds are offered, as are manual and automatic transmissions, four- and six-cylinder engines, and rear- and four-wheel-drive configurations.
Some of us think the Equator's actually the better-looking of the two sibling pickups. The differences don't amount to much more than a grille and some badges, but the grille really does give the truck a different character that still complements the truck's stance and proportions. The interior's not made from the best plastics on earth, but it's laid out well.
The powertrain choices start with either Nissan's 2.5-liter four-cylinder or its strong 4.0-liter V-6. We'd take the V-6 if it's affordable, in every case, for towing as much as for its smooth power delivery, almost as strong as a V-8. Gas mileage is almost as good as the four-cylinder, too.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 stnadard 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 Suzuki Equator has scored top marks of "good" in IIHS testing, while the NHTSA has rated the Equator between three and four stars for rollover resistance, depending on the configuration chosen. Neither have performed crash testing on the 2013 Equator just yet, though.
For more coverage of this pickup truck in slightly different aero drag, see our 2013 Nissan Frontier review.
- Distinctive looks
- Built well
- Clever cargo accessories
- Off-roading gets e-help
- Ride can get choppy
- Four-wheel-drive handling is rough
- Cabin feels tight
- Extended Cab jump seats aren't useful