2009 Suzuki Equator Crew Cab SportPosted on March 2nd, 2009
Big truck; bigger value
By Nina Russin
The name, Equator, conjures up images of a truck much bigger than the actual product. Suzuki’s midsized truck shares underpinnings with the Nissan Frontier. While Nissan uses the Frontier to offer certain Titan features on a downsized platform, the Equator is the first vehicle to bring big truck capability into Suzuki‘s showrooms.
Because Suzuki has such a loyal base of motorcycle, ATV and marine customers in the United States, it makes sense to sell a light duty truck capable of hauling these vehicles around. That’s where the Equator comes in.
When Suzuki introduced the Equator at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show, the manufacturer produced three custom trucks styled to appeal to its bike, quad and marine customers, with appropriate cargo upfitting.
A lot can change in a year. While producing a truck to sell to existing Suzuki customers might have made good business sense in a strong economy, that same product has to reach beyond this market to remain viable today. The question becomes: why should someone buy the Equator rather than the Frontier?
The answer is that the Equator is a better value. To start, it comes with Suzuki’s seven year/100,000 mile fully-transferable warranty: an industry leader. The base Equator costs about two hundred dollars less than the base Frontier: $ $17,220 for the two-wheel drive extended cab with manual transmission versus $17,460 for the Frontier king cab.
In addition, Suzuki includes some important standard safety features that cost extra on the Frontier. Side and side curtain airbags, a $550 option on the Nissan, are standard on the V6 Suzuki test truck. So is an active limited slip differential.
V-6 power, four-wheel drive, and five passenger capability
The test truck is the crew cab sport, that comes with a 261-horsepower V6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission. Suzuki claims that the crew cab seats up to five passengers. Having tried the back seat I’d say three-across is a squeeze. The floor console cuts into the middle passenger’s legroom. But there’s enough room for a short trip. On longer trips, two in back will be quite comfortable.
The aluminum block engine has all of the accoutrements to make it durable: cast iron cylinder liners, a forged steel crankshaft, and a timing chain in place of a belt. The chain eliminates an expensive timing belt replacement at about 60,000 miles.
Towing capability is 6500 pounds: well in excess of our minimum ALV standards. The four-liter engine produces 281 lbs.-ft. of torque, giving it the power to haul large boats up a ramp, or tow a trailer up a grade. A solid rear axle produces a less compliant ride than an independent suspension, but is better suited for towing.
A two-speed transfer case on the four-wheel drive model produces the extreme low gears necessary for uneven off-road trails. Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock braking stop the truck in firm linear fashion, even on wet or snowy roads.
Practical platform for city driving
While it has the capability to haul large cargo, the Equator is small enough to work well as a city car. The shortbed version tested fits easily into the standard home garage or parking space. I really like the fact that the truck is relatively low to the ground: it’s much easier to get in and out of than some of its competitors. Grab handles on the A and B pillars ease access and egress for smaller passengers.
The engine has plenty of power for the urban commuter’s needs: twenty-to-fifty mile-per-hour acceleration is excellent. Steering feedback is pretty good, considering that the truck has a solid rear axle, and the ride is compliant enough to not beat up the passengers.
Four-wheel disc brakes are a big asset in wet weather and for towing a trailer.
Fuel economy is not particularly good: no surprise considering the size of the engine and four-wheel drive, that always eats up gas. The other downside to the truck is rear visibility. I’m not sure why designers made the bottom of the rear pillars thicker, but doing so makes it difficult to see the rear corners of the truck. The B pillar is also thicker than it needs to be.
The passenger cabin is quiet, with no obvious road noise or wind noise around the windshield or side mirrors.
Well equipped passenger cabin
Both rows of seats are quite spacious for a mid-sized truck. Audio and temperature controls in the center stack are logically arranged, and easy to reach from either front seating position.
Black gauges with white numbers are attractive and easy to read. Cruise controls are on the steering wheel where they minimize confusion. The steering wheel is low enough so that it doesn’t interfere with the driver’s forward view.
The cloth upholstery on the test truck is attractive and more practical for active types than leather. The seats are firm and have adequate lower back support. A dead pedal makes driving on long trips much more comfortable.
An overhead console up front has a sunglass holder and two reading lamps: a dome lamp serves rear passengers. A cargo lamp makes it easier to load up the back after dark.
Front passengers have access to two powerpoints: in the center stack and inside the center console. A slotted shelf in the center console bin holds portable electronic devices, while a deeper area is perfect for compact discs.
A two-piece glovebox makes it easy to keep the registration papers and other small items organized.
The rear seats have plenty of head and hip room. Rear passengers have a better-than-average forward view. Cupholders that fold out of the center console service passengers in the back.
The seatbacks fold flat, or the seat bottoms will fold up when not in use to create a large rear storage area with bins for smaller items inside the seat attachments.
User-friendly cargo bed
Because it sits relatively low, the Equator’s cargo bed is especially user friendly. Liftover height is very reasonable: a step pad in the rear bumper makes it easy to climb inside the bed.
Two cargo tracks in the floor and two on the sides with tie-down attachments make it easy to load large items in back, and secure them so that they don’t shift around.
Base price on the test truck is $27,320. An option package that includes navigation and Bluetooth compatibility, plus a $775 delivery charge bring the MSRP to $29,590. The Suzuki Equator is built alongside the Nissan Frontier at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee assembly plant.
Likes: A mid-sized truck with the power to haul big cargo, and true off-road capability. Flip-up rear seats give the crew cab a large interior cargo space. Suzuki’s seven-year, fully-transferable warranty is an industry leader.
Dislikes: Poor fuel economy. Thick rear pillars make it hard to see the back corners of the truck.
Model: Equator Crew Cab Sport V6 4X4
Base price: $27,320
As tested: $29,590
Horsepower: 261 Hp @ 5100 rpm
Torque: 281 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 15/19 mpg city/highway
One response to “2009 Suzuki Equator Crew Cab Sport”
Interesting article, i have bookmarked your site for future referrence
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