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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
The same towing and payload capacity as the Frontier, you can lug up to 6500 pounds
Steering feels weighty and direct, but is slow to react in tight turns and parking spots
Traction is plenty good enough for a sensible driver to crawl around, uphill and down
The 2009 Suzuki Equator is a capable tower and off-roader when equipped with the available V-6 engine, but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the four-cylinder engine significantly changes the character of the Suzuki 2009 Equator.
Motor Trend reviewers state that the 2009 Suzuki Equator is available with a "choice of a 2.5-liter four or a 4.0-liter V-6." The former puts out 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, while the latter offers 261 hp and 281 pound-feet of twisting power. With the V-6, Consumer Guide says that the Equator is "strong from a stop and around town," while Cars.com claims that the engine "provides good, if not great, acceleration and passing power." Autoblog is impressed that "maximum trailer towing capacity is 6,500 pounds for the V6 2WD model," which compares nicely with the Suzuki Equator's competitors. Few reviews of the four-cylinder are available, but based on reports, it is rather underpowered for the Suzuki Equator's stated goal of conquering off-road terrain with ease.
The 2009 Suzuki Equator offers a pair of transmission options for the four-cylinder engine, which Consumer Guide lists as either "a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission," although the V-6 comes exclusively with the automatic. Motor Trend also points out that the Suzuki 2009 Equator is offered in either "two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive" configurations. The automatic transmission on the Suzuki Equator rates well with reviewers, as Consumer Guide praises the fact that it "kicks down quickly for good midrange passing punch." Cars.com adds that "the transmission kicks down and the engine gets louder" when you punch the throttle, "but it still takes a moment for rpm to build enough to deliver real passing power."
One of the major advantages of a mid-size pickup is that a V-6 engine can provide adequate power while still offering fuel economy numbers that won't have the Sierra Club chasing you down. In the case of the 2009 Suzuki Equator, the EPA estimates that the V-6 will get 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway when mated with the two-wheel-drive transmission, and it drops only 1 mpg on the highway in four-wheel-drive mode. For the four-cylinder, which is only available as a two-wheel drive, the EPA estimates that the manual transmission will return 19 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, while the automatic takes a hit and registers 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
For a pickup truck, the Suzuki 2009 Equator surprises with its respectable handling. Consumer Guide reports that the steering is "nicely balanced for a pickup truck," noting that it "feels weighty and direct, but is slow to react in tight turns and parking spots." Motor Trend comments that “there's nothing that can be done about its 43.6-foot turning circle," which makes it not much more maneuverable than full-size trucks.
The brakes win favor with Cars.com reviewers, who say that "they're easy to modulate at the top of the pedal, with a consistent gain in stopping power as you apply them." Cars.com is also impressed with the overall handling of the Suzuki Equator, finding in their test that "steering is based on an engine-speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion setup that lent itself to carving corners."
The available V-6 engine for the 2009 Suzuki Equator will cost you more upfront and at the pump, but in return it will give you a much more capable machine.