Instead of reinventing the pickup truck, Suzuki teamed with Nissan to update the Frontier. The result is the Suzuki Equator, which has a fresh front-end appearance, six standard airbags, a more comprehensive warranty, and a different (read: cheaper though not yet finalized) price.
The husky midsize Equator's chassis and powertrain are identical to the Nissan Frontier's, which in turn shares lots of equipment with the full-size Nissan Titan. The notable exception is a V-8 engine. Maximum power in the Equator comes from a 261-hp 4.0-liter V-6 teamed with a standard five-speed automatic, a combo that's tow rated for 6,300 pounds with two-wheel drive. To test this rating, I hitched up a 20' Triton bass boat -- powered by a Suzuki DF 250 outboard, naturally -- and headed north out of San Antonio, Texas.
My first observation was that the 4.0-liter V-6 works hard but had no difficulty hustling our 3,230-pound payload through traffic and up hills. Although it's more frenetic than a V-8, it's also less thirsty. Our pump stops yielded an average 11 mpg, which is not great, but a mile or two better than a big engine can do.
Unfortunately, the Equator inherited a mushy-feeling brake pedal from the Frontier, but I experienced no difficulty during emergency stopping tests from lazy or overheated brakes. Any stop from 60 mph in less than 200' indicates strong performance, and the Equator beat that distance with nearly the length of our tow rig to spare.
Equator's crew cab, available whether you choose the 5'-, or 6'- long, bed, seats five with a bit of scrunching. The rear area is readily converted to a secure hauling space by either lifting the bottom cushions or by folding the backrests. A split seat lets you haul a mix of cargo and passengers in back.
A sprayed bedliner, a C-track tie-down system, and bed tie-down cleats are convenient cargo hauling standards. With all this, the Suzuki Equator just may see the same rabid enthusiasm fans of the brand show for its outboards, ATVs, and dirt bikes.
MSRP: As tested - $25,000
Contact: 800.934.0934 www.suzukiauto.com