Shopping for a new Suzuki Equator?
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Steering feels weighty and direct, but is slow to react in tight turns and parking spots
The same towing and payload capacity as the Frontier, you can lug up to 6500 pounds
Traction is plenty good enough for a sensible driver to crawl around, uphill and down
The Equator's base engine is Nissan's 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder with 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, available with a five-speed manual or a five-speed, electronically controlled automatic, but the engine feels hard-pressed in the Equator and won't be much better for fuel efficiency in everyday driving. Optional (and standard on Crew Cab models) is Nissan's excellent 4.0-liter DOHC V-6, offered only with the five-speed automatic and featuring 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque. With the V-6, ConsumerGuide 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."
Two-wheel drive is standard on all Equators, with shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive optional. With the V-6, the Equator is rated at 15 mpg city, 19 highway with 4WD and 15/20 mpg with 2WD. 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 automatic transmission on the Suzuki Equator rates well with reviewers, as ConsumerGuide 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."
The 2010 Suzuki Equator has a true body-on-frame design, which allows an impressive degree of toughness for off-roading and towing, but it has its costs. As such, the cabin is narrow, the ride rather busy, and the interior not so free of road noise. These same detriments become benefits when it's time for off-roading and towing, where a tough live axle, leaf springs, and a ladder frame shoulder extra weight with ease. Optional Hill-Descent Control (HDC) and Hill Start Assist (HSA) make crawling even the steepest trails a cinch. In 2WD, V-6 guise, the Equator happily tows 6,500 pounds.
As with most pickups, the Equator can feel quite different depending on how you appoint it. Base Extended Cab models feel quite sprightly and handle well, but Extended Cab models—particularly with 4WD—feel ponderous. ConsumerGuide 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." 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." But Motor Trend comments that “there's nothing that can be done about its 43.6-foot turning circle" on their 4WD test vehicle, 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."
The 2010 Suzuki Equator performs satisfactorily on the road—and very well for the times when you need true truck capability.