2009 Equator New Car Test Drive
The new 2009 Suzuki Equator is a mid-size pickup truck aimed squarely at active outdoor sports enthusiasts. The Equator is Suzuki's version of the newly redesigned 2009 Nissan Frontier. Equator is visually differentiated from the Frontier by its unique front styling.
The Equator differs from the Frontier principally in that certain options become standard equipment on the Equator, so it might be better set up for the kind of adventurous outdoor enthusiast customer that already enjoys Suzuki motorcycles, marine engines, or ATVs. These include enhanced safety equipment as standard, a unique GPS system, and their own warranty, a 100,000-mile, seven-year zero-deductible powertrain warranty that is fully transferable.
Suzuki sold more than 3 million motorcycles and ATVs in 2007, and most of those owners require a pickup truck to enjoy transport those products. The Equator is one of the few mid-size pickups available in Crew Cab/long-bed configuration. That's a good setup when hauling a lot of recreational gear and some friends.
Inside, the Equator is easy to operate. It comes with cloth upholstery. It's designed as a functional workhorse. Leather and luxury trim is not available. We found the seats comfortable during a full day of driving.
The 2009 Suzuki Equator is available in a wide variety of configurations. These include short-beds or long-beds, in 2WD or 4WD, with Crew Cab or Extended Cab. No factory receiver hitch is available, however, meaning you'll need an aftermarket receiver installed to tow.
Two engines are available. Standard is a 2.5-liter DOHC inline-4 that makes 152 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The optional 4.0-liter V6 makes 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque.
We found the Equator cruises nicely with the V6 engine, and it's reasonably quiet in most situations. It's not real powerful, but it gets the job done. It steers well, stops well, and ride quality is comfortable by empty pickup standards.
Off-road, the Equator RMZ-4 manages rugged terrain via low-range gears, a locking rear differential, BF Goodrich tires, generous ground clearance, and three skid plates.
Most pickups are driven empty most of the time. Given that reality, mid-size pickups with four-cylinder and V6 engines can be a smart choice for those who do not require the heavy hauling capabilities of a full-size, V8-equipped pickup. The new midsize Suzuki Equator is exactly that kind of truck, designed to be easier to own, easier to drive, and easier to live with than the average full-size pickup. It accomplishes that efficiency without giving up much capability, for those times when it must function as a workhorse.
Competition for the Equator includes the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Dodge Dakota, Chevy Colorado, and Honda Ridgeline.
Suzuki Equator Extended Cab ($17,220) comes standard with cloth upholstery, urethane steering wheel, and fixed headrests, and P235/75R15 General Grabber tires mounted on 15x7 styled steel wheels. Options include air conditioning, AM/FM/CD player, vanity-mirror sun visors, and metallic paint. All Equators are equipped with the same interior storage packages, including overhead lamp, dual glove box, front door pockets with bottle holder, rear door pocket, and center console storage box with lid. A full-size, conventional spare is included.
Premium grade adds air conditioning, tilt steering, cruise control, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, and P265/70R16 BFG tires on 16x7 steel wheels.
The Crew Cab ($23,210) base model comes standard with air conditioning, premium cloth seats, 60/40 folding rear seats, manual tilt steering column, AM/FM/CD player with front tweeters, enhanced storage pocket systems, and a front map lamp. A 4WD model is available.
The Sport trim package comes standard with the V6 and five-speed automatic, traction control, 3.133:1 final drive ratio, P265/65R17 tires on 17-inch alloy wheels, and a cargo-tie down system. The Sport is available in Crew Cab 2WD ($24,375) and 4WD ($27,320) versions. Options include long bed, and rear bumper hitch ball.
RMZ-4 ($28,550) is the top-of-the-line Equator, and comes with features aimed to improve performance for the off-road user. These include Bilstein shocks, three skid plates, BFG Rugged Trail P265/75R16 tires on 16-inch alloy wheels and a rear locking differential. The RMZ-4 also includes fog lamps, chrome mirrors and door handles, and a bed extender to accommodate motorcycles. Interior standard equipment includes unique RMZ-4 seat material with red stitching, chrome instrument cluster and vent trim, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. When ordered with the Sport package $2,050), RMZ Equators also get a power tilt-and-slide sunroof as standard equipment, and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Hill Hold Control (HHC) and Hill Descent Control (HDC), and audio controls mounted on the steering wheel. The audio system gains an additional subwoofer, XM satellite capability, and Bluetooth hands-free system. All RMZ-4 models come with 3.357 axle ratios.
Safety equipment includes six airbags: two front, two curtain airbags, and two side-impact airbags. All come with height-adjusting three-point front seatbelts with pretensioners.