First Look

First Look: Suzuki Equator

Suzuki has an excellent history with offroad vehicles, whether you're talking about their dirt bikes, ATVs, or the 1000hp Escudo Pikes Peak, all are formidable machines. Suzuki knows that the same people who buy their ATVs and dirt bikes also usually have pickup trucks. In fact, Suzuki's research says that these customers are 50 percent more likely to own a pickup, so it's no surprise that Suzuki decided to offer a compact pickup with good offroad capabilities.

What is surprising is how they went about doing it. The Equator is essentially a Nissan Frontier with different badges, and while the Frontier is a highly capable truck, Suzuki seems more than able to make a truck of their own. That said, even though Suzuki doesn't get exclusive bragging rights on this truck, it is still quite a good compact pickup. That is to say, it's a good truck if you intend to use it the way Suzuki depicts it in their promotional material, going offroad and towing smaller Suzuki offroad vehicles. If you're looking for a compact pickup that you'll also be driving to work during the week, then you'd be much better off with a Toyota Tacoma.

The Equator is a more focused off-roader, but it lacks the all-purpose ability of the Tacoma. A lot of this comes down to the interior, which isn't what you'd call nice. That's fine if it's just going to get caked in mud, but it can get to be a drag when you're sitting in traffic jams. Two engines are offered, with the base being a 152 horsepower turbo four, and an optional 261 horsepower V6. The Equator has a towing capacity of just 3,500 pounds with the four-cylinder, but the V6 pulls a much more respectable 6,300 pounds. Base models come with an Extended Cab and 6.1-foot bed.

Although the Extended Cab technically has four doors, the back doors do not open independently of the front doors, and seating in the back is cramped and uncomfortable. There is a Crew Cab option for those who want to actually put people in the back. The $6,500 price difference between the Extended Cab and the Crew Cab can come as a bit of a shock, but keep in mind that the V6 comes standard with the Crew Cab, and this makes up most of that difference itself. The Crew Cab also comes with a 5-foot bed, but there is an option to get the 6.1-foot bed instead.

Four wheel discs with ABS are standard, and Suzuki offers such helpful things as Electronic Brake Distribution, Vehicle Dynamic Control, Hill Hold Control, Hill Descent Control and a limited-slip differential. Altogether, it's a capable vehicle at a reasonable price, just so long as you have another vehicle. The way to think of this truck is as another toy for the weekends, which shouldn't be difficult, since there's a pretty good chance that all of them have badges that say Suzuki.

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