We just returned from a couple of days in the West Texas hill country near San Antonio, where we wheeled Suzuki's newest incarnation of the Grand Vitara, as well as its new Equator pickup. Long story short: one behaved on the trail exactly as we expected, while the other was a pleasant surprise.
The top-line Equator gets Rockford-Fosgate tuneage, XM satellite, and Bluetooth connectivi
We also testdrove the new Suzuki Equator pickup-and if you've spent any time in a Nissan Frontier lately, you know in advance what a capable truck it is. While the Equator does sport some Suzuki-unique styling cues--to the grille, interior componentry, side airbags, and a cool detachable pop-up-from-the-dash Nav system that you can carry with you-most of its mechanicals and underpinnings are shared with the Frontier: 261hp 4.0L V-6, five-speed automatic trans (though there's no six-speed available-bummer), two-speed transfer case, and an off-road package ("RMZ-4," in Suzuki-speak) that gives you the same full skidplating, BFGoodrich Rugged Trail tires, Bilstein shocks, and (yee-hee!) rear locker that you get with the Nissan Pro-4x package. We piloted the Equator through the same off-road course we took the Grand Vitara through, and it wasn't the least bit challenged-not surprising, given the RMZ-4 package, and the fact that the Frontier it's based off is arguably the most capable pound-for-pound midsize pickup truck on the market these days. The timing may not be optimal to launch a new truck in the U.S. market, but Suzuki has chosen wisely and well in its partnership with Nissan. We'll have both a Grand Vitara and an Equator in our 2009 Four Wheeler and Pickup Truck of the Year tests, which we'll feature in the February and March 2009 issues, respectively. Stay tuned for more details.
Bilstein shocks, BFG Rugged Trails, full skidplating, rear locker
What, no six-speed grindbox?
The best pound-for-pound midsize pickup makes a great platform for Suzuki's entry into the U.S. truck market.
The Equator's bed uses the same cleat-actuated UtiliTrack cargo retention system found on
Vehicle/model: 2009 Suzuki Equator RMZ-4
Base price: TBA
Engine (tested): 4.0L DOHC V-6
Max hp & torque (lb-ft): 261/281
Transmission(s): Five-speed auto
Transfer case(s): Part-time two-speed
Low-range ratio: 2.63:1
Frame type: Steel ladder
Suspension, f/r: IFS, double wishbone/Dana 44, leaf springs
Ring and pinion: 3.357:1
Max crawl ratio: 42.3:1
Steering: Power rack-and-pinion
Brakes, f/r: 11.1-inch vented disc/11.7-inch vented disc
Wheels (tested): 16-inch alloy
Tires (tested): 265/75R16 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A
Wheelbase (in): 125.9
Length (in): 205.5
Height (in): 69.7
Base curb weight (lb): 4,355
Max approach/departure angles (deg): 33/23
Minimum ground clearance (in): 8.9
GVWR (lb): 5,600
Max payload (lb): 1,245
Max towing capacity (lb): 6,300
EPA mileage figures, city/hwy (mpg): 15/19
Fuel capacity (gal): 21.1