What Changed for 2009:
- First midsize pickup truck from Suzuki
- Offspring of joint venture with Nissan; based on Frontier pickup
- Extended Cab and Crew Cab body styles
- 4-cylinder or V-6 engine
- Manual shift standard with 4-cylinder; V-6 is automatic-only
- Premium, Sport and RMZ-4 packages available
- Suzuki promises ample off-road capability with 4WD models
- Ready for sale in fall of 2008
In recent years, Suzuki has offered an expanding line of compact and midsize sport utility vehicles, including the current Grand Vitara and XL7. However, Suzuki is best known for motorcycles, and many of those two-wheelers are hauled on trucks. Therefore, Suzuki wanted to offer customers a pickup of the same brand. Rather than develop and manufacture a midsize pickup truck on its own, Suzuki has entered a joint venture with Nissan for a new model based upon that automaker's Frontier.
Signature Suzuki touches may be seen on the hood, front fenders, grille, bumpers and tailgate, and seating is available for up to 5 passengers. Like the Frontier, Suzuki's new Equator is built on a fully boxed frame and is manufactured in Smyrna, TN. Extended Cab models and Crew Cab editions with a regular-size cargo bed ride on a relatively long (125.9-inch) wheelbase and measure 206.6 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 selected.
The 2009 Suzuki Equator is offered in Base, Sport, Premium and RMZ-4 trim. Extended cab versions of the Equator with a 4-cylinder engine and 2WD are available with Base or Premium trim. Base models contain a standard 5-speed manual gearbox, while the Premium is automatic-only. Sport trim adds a V-6 engine and 5-speed automatic transmission with either 2WD or 4WD. Crew Cab models come in all three trim levels, each with the V-6 and an automatic.
Suzuki's RMZ-4 edition includes Dana 44 axles, an electric rear locking differential, Bilstein high-performance shocks, skid plates, and B.F. Goodrich Rugged Trail P265/75R16 tires. Fog lamps, chrome mirrors and door handles, and a bed extender that allows the Equator to accommodate a motorcycle are also part of the package. The Equator RMZ-4 features red-stitched seats complemented by chrome instrument cluster and vent trim, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
All Suzuki Equators contain flip-up rear seats and a fold-flat front passenger seat. Removable storage boxes fit beneath the rear seats. Standard features include a locking dual glovebox and one-liter bottle holders integrated into the front door panels. Leather-appointed seats are optional, along with a power driver's seat, heated seats, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, and Rockford Fosgate audio system.
Suzuki offers two Nissan-supplied 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 5-speed automatic transmission is available for the 4-cylinder and standard with the V-6. The available V-6 engine features an aluminum block with cast iron cylinder liners, a micro-finished forged steel crankshaft, Teflon-coated pistons, and variable valve timing.
Equators with 4WD include a \"shift-on-the-fly\" part-time system with a 2-speed transfer case. Suzuki claims a peak towing capacity of 6500 pounds with the extended cab, 2WD Sport model. Traction assistance may be provided with the help of a 4-wheel limited-slip setup and an electronic locking rear differential. Vehicle Dynamic Control is available, for stability enhancement, but only for the RMZ-4 model. The EPA estimates fuel economy of the 4-cylinder 2WD Equator with manual shift at 19 mpg city/23 mpg highway. With automatic transmission, that model gets an estimate of 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway. The V-6 Equator earns an EPA estimate of 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway with 2WD, and 15 mpg city/19 mpg highway with 4WD.
Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS come standard on the 2009 Suzuki Equator, and include electronic brake-force distribution. Dual-stage front air bags include seat belt sensors. Seat-mounted side-impact air bags are also standard, along with side curtain air bags that protect both front and rear outboard occupants. Three-point front seat belts have pre-tensioners and load limiters, and the Crew Cab models include 3-point seat belts for all back-seat occupants. A tire-pressure monitor is also standard.
In frontal crash-testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Equator extended cab model earned a 4-star rating for the driver and a 5-star rating for the front passenger. The Crew Cab model scored a 4-star rating for both positions. As of November 2008, side-impact testing had not yet been done by the NHTSA. In its own crash-testing program, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Equator a \"Good\" rating for frontal impact, but had not tested the model for side-impact protection.
To enhance the Suzuki Equator's off-road capability, the available off-road traction system includes 4-wheel active limited-slip traction control and an electronic locking rear differential. Vehicle Dynamic Control (stability control) is offered only on the RMZ-4 model. In addition, Hill Descent Control limits speed on off-road downgrades, while Hill Hold Control helps the Equator start off from a standstill on an uphill slope. Aside from systems designed to improve the Equator's off-road prowess, Suzuki offers 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 are available for transporting two-wheelers and ATVs.