Click above for a high-res gallery of the customized Suzuki Equators

At last year's Chicago Auto Show, Suzuki showed off three versions of the Nissan Frontier Equator. Those three concepts were the RMZ-4, Quad and Quay, each designed to haul a superbike, a quad and a boat, respectively. Since then, we've driven an Equator and heard that the production truck will sell for $17,995, but we still haven't seen any on the road (Suzuki America's Chris Brown noted that the Equator just started arriving in dealerships). Flash forward to the 2009 Chicago Auto Show and we're looking at three more Equator "concept" trucks, as Suzuki tries to prove that this is the most tuner-friendly truck on the planet.

To be fair, these are less concept and more custom, having undergone some restyling and tweaking by the likes of 4-Wheel & Off-Road, Off-Road and Truckin' magazines. The three "Hill/Street Hues" customs are apparently a play on the Hill Street Blues. We don't get it either.

Although the U.S. might not even realize that Suzuki is still in the car and truck business, Brown wanted us to know that they are committed to this market. After all, Suzuki is the 11th largest vehicle maker worldwide, and America does love trucks. Hit the jump for the press release.

Related GalleryChicago 2009: Suzuki shows three Equator customs

Live photos copyright ©2009 Frank Filipponio / Weblogs, Inc.


Press Release:

SUZUKI GOES TRUCKIN' WITH HILL/STREET HUES
  • Suzuki debuts three eye-catching, fully accessorized Equator pickup trucks.
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road, Off-Road and Truckin' magazines communicate vibrant brand identity.
CHICAGO (Feb. 11, 2009) – One year after introducing its all-new Equator at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show, American Suzuki Motor Corp. returns to the Windy City to unveil three attention-grabbing customized trucks in collaboration with popular enthusiast publications 4-Wheel & Off-Road, Off-Road and Truckin'. To further highlight the Equator's exceptional capability and flexibility, Suzuki supplied each publication with, in essence, a 'blank canvas' for its specific mechanical and cosmetic pursuits. While the off-road magazines took a predictably dirt-laden path, Truckin' looked to the pavement and track-day access with a massaged four-cylinder under the hood and 750ccs of GSX-R sportbike in the bed. Suzuki will unveil the three variations of its all-new production Equator during its 2009 Chicago Auto Show press conference.

"With the arrival of the all-new Equator, we were presented with a tremendous opportunity to extend the awareness of our adventurous brand spirit to a new group of vehicle enthusiasts," said Gene Brown, vice president of marketing, PR and product planning, American Suzuki Automotive Operations. "The three custom trucks Suzuki unveils in Chicago allow us a similar opportunity to creatively extend our relationship with the editorial teams that help us communicate that very message."

4-Wheel & Off-Road Builds Its Own 4X4 of the Year
Not long after 4-Wheel & Off-Road's Editor-in-Chief Rick Pewe announced the Equator as the magazine's "4X4 of the Year," plans were afoot to build an ultimate off-road variant of the production-based winner.

In a 4-Wheel & Off-Road article previewing the project, executive editor Kevin McNulty noted the Equator's capability in box-stock form, having successfully negotiated "a good amount of rocky trails, sand dunes, steep inclines and a few river crossings." The editors' need for 'extreme capability' leads to an off-road mixture whose ingredients come from a host of top-tier suppliers. The main areas of vehicle and editorial focus include suspension lift, aggressive tires and the addition of appropriate body armor, better to match the gnarly off-road targets.

Allied Wheel has supplied a set of custom aluminum beadlock wheels, fitted with new Hankook Dynapro MT Tires. Shrockworks is building a custom front bumper, supplying a notable improvement in the Equator's already-respectable approach angle, and reducing the need for the bumper-mounted Warn winch. Holding driver and front seat passenger in place is a pair of Master Craft RS Camelback seats, while the rear bench is reupholstered to match.

The end result takes a proven "4X4 of the Year" package and enhances it in a bare-to-the-bones, albeit recreational, manner.

Off-Road Supplies Urban/Suburban Adventure
The Equator's right-sized packaging suits the diverse needs of many pickup truck customers. Though smaller than the full-sizers, the Equator is nevertheless built with big-truck toughness. The strong, fully boxed ladder frame provides full-size strength – and 6,500 lbs of towing capacity – in a more maneuverable, midsize platform.

Using the Equator's overbuilt structure as a starting point, the editors at Off-Road built an Equator displaying the full range of the midsizer's capability. Dubbed Project Two Face, the build project conveys – in the words of editor Jordan May – two distinct capabilities with the vehicle. "We wanted to show our readers that you can create the best of both worlds – adventure 4WD and high-speed 2WD – in one machine."

Off-road pursuits – and in-town parallel parking – are made easier with the addition of a custom front bumper from Randy Ellis Design. KC HiLites provides a day-and-night difference with its all-new Carbon Fiber HID lights, while stock RMZ-4 wheels are matched to BFGoodrich's ATKO tires.

Truckin' Goes Trackin'
As the "world's leading truck publication," Truckin' delivers an editorial breadth as broad as its billing. To that end, its staff might have gone in any direction with the donor vehicle, an extended cab Equator with 2WD. The opportunity to build a lighter, lower Equator was deemed too good to pass up, and with an assist from a handful of well-regarded vendors, Truckin' embarked on an Equator as tied to the pavement as a center stripe. Its in-house moniker – Street Shark – speaks to both its agility and bite.

With an emphasis on 'hauling' rather than towing, the Equator's 2.5-liter four-cylinder offers – in stock form – an optimal combination of responsiveness and efficiency. However, it doesn't provide the aural satisfaction appropriate for a car or bike enthusiast. That gratification is achieved with the addition of a MagnaFlow performance exhaust. Improved intake and exhaust means more aggressive performance and that suggests the need for better braking. Bringing that improved performance to a stop are Stillen performance rotors spinning within powder-coated calipers.

Bringing observers to a halt is paint – supplied by Summit Racing and applied by L&G Enterprises – fully capturing the mojo that is Suzuki's championship-winning GSX-R sportbike. A custom one-piece grille serves as a centerpiece outside, while Classic Soft Trim applies a liberal dose of leather to the inside. Polk Audio provides a 'shout out' with three 12-inch subwoofers, three amps and 1,800 watts of audio upgrade. The completed package is set closer to terra firma with AIM Industries' custom lowering kit, and its stance widened with Nitto tires (265/35R22) surrounding Giovanna (22X9-inch) wheels.

While all three vehicles exhibit an out-of-the-box approach, none conceal the essential goodness supplied by a box-stock Equator. In the tradition of Suzuki vehicles since the company's inception, the seemingly ordinary quickly can quickly become the unseemly and extraordinary.

About Suzuki
The Brea, Calif.-based Automotive Operations of American Suzuki Motor Corporation was founded in 1985 by parent company Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) and currently markets its vehicles in the United States through a network of approximately 500 automotive dealerships in 49 states. Based in Hamamatsu, Japan, SMC is a diversified worldwide automobile, motorcycle and outboard motor manufacturer with sales of more than two million new automobiles annually. Founded in 1909 and incorporated in 1920, SMC has operations in 187 countries.