2009 Suzuki Equator Preview
By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2008
- First midsize pickup truck from Suzuki
- Offspring of joint venture with Nissan
- Extended Cab and Crew Cab body styles
- Three concept versions appear at Chicago Auto Show
- Based on Nissan's Frontier pickup
- Scheduled for sale in late 2008
Rather than develop and manufacture a midsize pickup truck on its own, Suzuki has gone into a joint venture with Nissan for a new model based upon Nissan's Frontier. First launched as a 1998 model, the Frontier has competed against such midrange pickups as the Dodge Dakota and Toyota Tacoma. Signature Suzuki touches may be seen on the hood, front fenders, grille, bumpers and tailgate. Seating will be available for up to 5 passengers. Suzuki has offered an expanding line of compact and midsize sport utility vehicles, including the current Grand Vitara and XL7, but pickups are a new venture for the Japan-based company. Suzuki is best known for motorcycles, and many of those two-wheelers are hauled on trucks. Therefore, Suzuki would like to offer customers a pickup of the same brand. Like the Frontier, Suzuki's new Equator is built on a fully boxed frame, and will be manufactured in Smyrna, TN.
Suzuki has not yet released detailed information on the 2009 Equator models that will be issued when the pickup goes on sale, during the fourth quarter of 2008. At the Chicago Auto Show in February 2008, Suzuki unveiled three versions of the Equator, but in concept form rather than as production-intended trucks. Like the production models, the concept trucks come in Extended Cab and Crew Cab configurations.
Aiming at off-road enthusiasts, the RMZ-4 was designed to match Suzuki's RM Series motorcross motorcycles. Wearing a Crew Cab body, the RMZ-4 flaunts eye-catching graphics, special Luzlab headlights, 18-inch black chrome wheels, and a bed extender provided by Amp Research. A custom built-in bike mount is installed.Built with an Extended Cab and long cargo bed, the Quay concept aims at boating and watersports aficionados. Custom paint aims to instill visions of Suzuki's marine engines. Inside, a Visteon "nav-control" head provides satellite radio and MP3 operation, as well as navigation assistance. Special 20-inch wheels are mounted, as is a matching, locking hard tonneau cover. For boating enthusiasts, Mitsubishi promotes the Equator's 6500-pound towing capacity.
Concept number three, the Quad, targets "outdoor adventurers." Created to resemble Suzuki's Quad Runner ATV, it has a Crew Cab and what Suzuki calls a "military" look. The front end is raised 2.5 inches. Added features include 500-series fog lamps, a safari-style front bumper, front skid plate, and tubular rocker guards. Yokohama Geolander tires are mounted on 17-inch aluminum wheels.
In production form, both Extended Cab and Crew Cab Suzuki Equator models will contain flip-up rear seats and a fold-flat front passenger seat. Removable storage boxes fit beneath the rear seats. Standard features will include a locking dual glovebox and one-liter bottle holders integrated into the front doors. Leather-appointed seats will be offered, along with a power driver's seat, heated seats, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, and Rockford Fosgate audio.
Suzuki will offer a cargo bed that includes a factory-applied spray-on bedliner, plus a tie-down system with adjustable tracks. Five "C" cross-section rails are mounted in the bed, and removable utility cleats slide into the channels. Because Suzuki also manufactures motorcycles, special accessories will be available for transporting two-wheelers and ATVs.
Like Nissan with its Frontier, Suzuki will offer two engines for the 2009 Equator. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine develops 152 hp and 171 lb.-ft. of torque. Optional is a 4.0-liter V-6 engine that generates 261 hp and 281 lb.-ft. of torque. A 5-speed manual transmission is provided for 4-cylinder models, a 6-speed manual transmission for Equators with a V-6 engine, and a 5-speed automatic transmission for either engine. As expected, nearly all engine technology is borrowed from Nissan. The available V-6 engine features an aluminum block with cast iron cylinder liners, a forged steel crankshaft, Teflon-coated pistons, and variable valve timing.
Rear-wheel-drive and 4-wheel-drive Equators will be available. The latter is a part-time system with a 2-speed transfer case. Suzuki claims a peak towing capacity of 6500 pounds. Traction assistance may be provided with the help of a 4-wheel limited-slip setup, an electronic locking rear differential, and Vehicle Dynamic Control. For off-road applications, the Equator can be equipped with hill descent control and hill-start assist.
Equators are built with a fully boxed frame. Extended Cab models and Crew Cab editions with a regular-size cargo bed ride on a relatively long (125.9-inch) wheelbase and measure 205.5 inches overall. A double-wishbone suspension is installed up front, with a solid axle and overslung leaf springs at the rear. Either 16- or 17-inch wheels and tires may be mounted. Crew Cab models may be fitted with a roof rack.
Anti-lock all-disc braking will be standard, with electronic brake-force distribution. Dual-stage front air bags include seat belt sensors. Seat-mounted side-impact air bags are standard, along with curtain-type air bags that protect both front and rear outboard occupants. Crew Cab models include 3-point seat belts for all back-seat occupants.