As For 4x4 of The Year?
In our Feb. '09 issue we crowned the Suzuki Equator as the 4x4 of the Year, and we have never regretted it. True to its character, the tenacious little truck proved its mettle in a yearlong, 24,000-mile, long-term test. It's the perfect truck for many uses: It is a comfortable, economical, and right-sized commuter. It's also the handyman truck for hauling engines, axles, plywood, and stuff you never thought of, such as trees and furniture. The four doors make it great for stashing gear out of sight and for those pesky people who know you have a functional rear seat. For couples camping, it can't be beat: It has plenty of room in the bed for a dog, a keg, and a bag while the important one stays up front.
As for 4x4 of the Year? Yes, it can wheel all day long with a supple suspension, fairly good body clearance, and an engine with plenty of power, although we'd love a bit more low-end torque. The rear locker makes the difference in tough terrain, and the long wheelbase only detracts in the worst scenarios.
While a lift, tires, bumpers, and armor weren't in the cards for our long-term tester, we made a second Equator more of a backcountry beater, and it has also performed flawlessly. Averaging 18 mpg overall, the handy truck did everything it was asked to do and never faltered. Even the seats are comfortable for more than an hour at a time, which is important when you consider we commute longer than that!
The Equator is no doubt a basic truck, with manually adjusting seats and rearview mirror dimmer. The beauty is that these features allow for reliability, comfort, and convenience, rather than 47 electronically adjusted positions, of which none is truly right. Suzuki did its homework. While the truck is based on the Nissan Frontier, the special Suzuki touches make for a near-perfect truck that we've enjoyed from beginning to end. We'll miss this one in our fleet and look forward to the next Equator iteration.
|Model||Equator Crew Cab RMZ-4|
|Price as Tested||$31,494|
|Options as Tested||Floor mats|
|($119), Sport Package ($2,050; includes VDC, HDC, HSA, sunroof, Rockford-Fosgate premium audio w/ Bluetooth, XM, steering wheel controls), destination ($775)|
|Bore & Stroke (in)||3.76x3.62|
|Fuel Req. (octane)/ Capacity (gal)||87/21.1|
|SAE Peak Horsepower||261 @ 5,600 rpm|
|SAE Peak Torque (lb-ft)||281 @ 4,000 rpm|
|Ratios||First: 3.84:1; Second: 2.35:1;|
|Third: 1.53:1; Fourth: 1.00:1;|
|Fifth: 0.84:1; Reverse: 2.76:1|