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2009 Suzuki Equator Mid-Sized Pickup Truck

Suzuki introduced the 2009 Equator as the manufacturer's first mid-size pickup truck. It is part of the Japanese company's effort to expand its product line in order to bring in customers who would not consider purchasing a Suzuki product in the past. Equator offers a combination of contemporary style, utility, comfort and Suzuki's famous off-road capability - which many truck buyers want. As- many are already Suzuki motorcycle, ATV and marine products owners and loyalists, the company hopes a pickup truck in its line will motivate more interest.

The Suzuki Equator is already winning awards. It has been named 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine's "4X4 of the Year," for 2009.

The 2009 Equator was developed as a joint venture with Suzuki and Nissan North America. It is built at Nissan's Smyrna, Tennessee truck plant. Equator shares its platform with the popular Nissan Frontier pickup truck and the Xterra Sport Utility Vehicle.

2009 Equator is available in both 2-door Extended Cab and four-door Crew Cab body styles with either rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive (4WD) power train configurations. Both short and long payload beds are available.

There are two engine options, a standard 2.5-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine with 152 horsepower and 171 lb.-ft. of torque, or an optional 4.0-liter, V6 DOHC engine producing 261 horsepower with 281 lb.-ft. of torque.

Exterior Styling

There is little about the styling of the Suzuki Equator that separates it from the Nissan Frontier. The only real styling differences between them is Equator's large, honeycomb, front grille with the large Suzuki "S" logo in the center-front bumper, and the headlight treatment and tailgate details. The styling is more utilitarian, than high fashion, which is appropriate for a working vehicle. It looks big for its class, and gives the impression of being strong and rugged - something important to truck buyers.

The 2009 Suzuki Equator's versatile cargo bed has a factory-applied, sprayed-on bed liner, and an innovative tie-down cargo system. The tie-down system employs five special "C" cross-section rails mounted in the bed. (There are two channels in the bed floor, one on each of the bed's side rails and another in the bed header panel.) Removable utility cleats slide into the channels, providing a wide range of attachment points for securing cargo. A full range of accessories are available for use with the channel system, along with specialized bed accessories that make securing and transporting a motorcycle or ATV easier than in many competitive trucks. This is a big selling point for those who need to secure heavy, or awkward, loads in their trucks.

Interior Styling

The 2009 Suzuki Equator's interior is very similar to its Nissan Frontier sibling's. The Instrument Panels in the Equator and Frontier are virtually identical. The Instrument Cluster features a fuel gauge on the left, followed by a large tachometer, speedometer and water temperature gauge.

The Center Stack contains the controls for the entertainment system as well as for the heating and air-conditioning system. Below are the switches for selecting drive wheels, locking the differential, optional (VDC) Vehicle Dynamic Control as well as Hill Descent Control and Hill Hold Control. The center console features the gearshift selector, storage, and two large cup holders for thirsty workers or hard-playing adventurers. There are more cup holders in the doors, and those can hold a 1-liter bottle.

The Premium, Sport and RMZ-4 packages include standard cruise control, power mirrors, door locks and windows, and remote keyless entry which adds a bit of luxury to a real work truck. The Sport package also adds a Rockford-Fosgate AM/FM/6CD/XM Satellite Radio with eight, high-performance speakers and a subwoofer, an auxiliary input jack and Bluetooth capability. Bluetooth and audio controls are located on the steering wheel so drivers can keep their eyes on the road, or the trail, at all times.


The 2009 Suzuki Equator benefits from two Nissan-built engine options. Standard is a 2.5-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine with 152 horsepower and 171 lb.-ft. of torque. For those wishing a bit more grunt from the engine there is an optional 4.0-liter, V6 DOHC engine producing an unbeatable 261 horsepower with 281 lb.-ft. of torque.

The Nissan V6 is one of the best engines on the market. It features an aluminum block with cast-iron cylinder liners, Teflon-coated pistons, micro-finished forged steel crankshaft, micro-finished camshafts driven by a silent two-stage timing chain and variable valve timing. Acceleration is quick and smooth.

There are two transmission options on the 2009 Suzuki Equator. The 2.5 liter four-cylinder comes equipped with either a five-speed electronically controlled automatic, or five-speed manual, transmission. The V6 powered Suzuki Equator is only available with an automatic transmission.

Ride and Handling

The 2009 Suzuki Equator rides like a truck, and handles like a truck. Which it should, because it is a truck. The turning radius was wide making it a little difficult to maneuver in the narrow streets near our offices. The ride was bumpy over rough roads. However this is normal for trucks, especially those with serious off-road capabilities. If you are looking for a car-like ride this vehicle is not for you. It you are looking for a capable truck, this is one to consider.

Suzuki Equator features engine-speed-sensitive, power-assisted, rack-and-pinion steering for responsiveness and good on-center feel. Four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system and electronic brake-force distribution for optimal stopping performance in all conditions are standard. Suzuki offers a variety of available wheel and tire packages for the Equator, including 16-inch off-road-style wheels with BFGoodrich rugged trail P265/75R16 tires and 17-inch wheels with BFGoodrich long trail P265/65R17 tires.

Equator offers an available shift-on-the-fly 4WD system that features an electronically controlled part-time, two-speed transfer case. For enhanced off-road capability, Equator offers a comprehensive off-road, traction system which includes four-wheel active limited slip traction control, electronic locking rear differential, Vehicle Dynamic Control, Hill Descent Control and Hill Hold Control.

We did not get a chance to drive the Equator off road, but have driven some of its Nissan siblings off pavement, and they are as good as any on the market. The Hill Descent Control and Hill Hold Controls are similar to systems offered on much more expensive vehicles from companies like Land Rover.


Suzuki Equator comes equipped with a comprehensive list of standard safety equipment with front and rear crumple zones, dual-stage front supplemental airbags with seat belt sensors and a front passenger sensor, three-point front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

All Suzuki Equator models come equipped with supplemental front-seat side-impact airbags and supplemental curtain airbags for side-impact and -rollover protection for front and rear outboard passengers. Additionally, Extended Cab and Crew Cab models provide three-point seat belts for all rear-seat occupants, including the center position in the Crew Cab. The LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) child seat anchor system is provided in the rear seat of the Crew Cab model.


The 2009 Suzuki Equator is good addition to the manufacturer's lineup expanding its appeal. The Equator's price ranges from $17,220 for a base four-cylinder Extended Cab model, to $30,600 for a top-of-the-line RMZ-4 V6 powered Crew Cab. The Suzuki Equator is actually a little more expensive than the Nissan it is based on.

Gas mileage is good for a truck with a combined mileage of 21 MPG for the four-cylinder, and 16 for the V6.

All Suzuki automobiles and light trucks are backed by a 100,000-mile/seven-year, fully transferable, zero-deductible powertrain limited warranty. Making reliability not an issue.

This is a good truck and we hope that this is the first in a series of collaborations with Nissan.

Pros: Good value and a great move by Suzuki to partner with Nissan.

Cons: Turning radius makes it a little difficult to maneuver in tight places. And the ride can be a bit rough on streets and highways.


  • Style: 8
  • Performance: 8
  • Price: 8
  • Handling: 8
  • Ride: 7
  • Comfort: 7
  • Quality: 8
  • Overall: 7.7