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STYLING | 8 out of 10
A mid-sized pickup truck based on the Nissan Frontier
A front clip that is distinctly Suzuki, with a trapezoidal grille and a high-tech light cluster
Simple, handy layout. All controls are within easy reach
Shoppers generally don't look too favorably upon badge engineering—when an automaker takes one of its vehicles and rebrands it with another of its logos (turning a Ford into a Mercury, for example)—but for some reason, it doesn't seem quite so bad when two competing automakers share a design. Such is the case with the new 2009 Suzuki Equator, which is essentially a Nissan Frontier with a few new styling pieces and some different options packages.
From the outside, the Suzuki Equator and Nissan Frontier are similar, but certainly not identical. In fact, and probably to Nissan's dismay, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com tend to favor the Suzuki 2009 Equator's styling over that of the Frontier. Automobile Magazine, for example, thinks that the Suzuki Equator "looks better than the Frontier," thanks to what Cars.com terms "a front clip that is distinctly Suzuki, with a trapezoidal grille and a high-tech light cluster." Autoblog reviewers also "prefer the looks of the Suzuki [Equator], which definitely has that square-jawed truck look that seems to be popular these days." Available trim levels are somewhat different than those found on the Frontier though, as Consumer Guide reports that "Extended Cab and Crew Cab body styles are available, each with four doors," and while "Extended Cabs come in Base, Comfort, Premium, or Sport trim levels," the "Crew Cabs come only with the V6 in Base, Sport, and off-road-oriented RMZ-4 trim levels."
The interior of the 2009 Suzuki Equator, though minimalist, is at least well planned. Consumer Guide reviewers mention the "simple, handy layout" as one of the Suzuki 2009 Equator's strengths, while also noting that "all controls are within easy reach." Cars.com reports that "the center storage box, while small, is well-organized and at just the right height for our elbow to rest on it." Autoblog says that an "easy-to-read gauge cluster sits behind a familiar Nissan-sped steering wheel and switchgear." Overall, while not a class standout, the 2009 Suzuki Equator is practical and won't cause any major styling concerns.
The 2009 Suzuki Equator uses a Nissan base to carve out its own niche in the mid-size pickup market.