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2012 Suzuki Equator

Car Review: 2012 Suzuki Equator Crew Cab

by on February 13, 2012

The 2012 Suzuki Equator Crew Cab Review

Full Review by Andy: On the Shoulders of Giants

The Suzuki Equator Crew Cab is a not a pickup, but a ploy. After realizing that many of its boat-lugging, motorcycle-riding and mountain-climbing demographic used a pickup truck to tote about other Suzuki products, Suzuki decided to get in on the action and turn out its own truck, effectively carving out a monopoly niche for itself as a one-stop-shop. So Suzuki borrowed a truck from Nissan, tweaked it a little, and called it the Equator.

Wonder of wonders – it looks kind of like the Nissan Frontier. The overall body shape is nearly identical to the Nissan, but Suzuki reworked the grille to include their logo and revised a few other angles. As trucks go, the Equator is handsome, brawny but not overblown. Customers may choose between a five-foot bed and a six-foot bed.

If you clone a Nissan, you get a Nissan. Short of a few rearranged controls, miniscule cosmetic differences, and a few material alterations, the Equator has the same utilitarian and archetypical masculine interior as its Japanese sibling. The industrial aesthetic is not ungainly, but no one is going to take out a smartphone and start snapping pictures.

Packin’ a Powertrain
Down to the powerband range, the 2012 Suzuki Equator Crew Cab has the same engine as its Nissan compatriot. The 4.0-liter V6 unleashes 261 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque mated to a quintic robotized gear mechanism, also known as a five-speed automatic transmission. Selecting 4WD lowers highway fuel economy from 20 mpg to 19 mpg.

Driveline Performance
In motorcycle terms, a vocabulary Suzuki is quite familiar with, the Equator pickup is a dual-sport truck. Civilized on-road and rugged off-road, the Equator offers small truck buyers the perfect blend of tough chops and tender coziness. Sound like a sales pitch? It’s not. While no Lexus, the Equator offers a tolerable pavement experience. Properly equipped, RWD Equator Crew Cabs can pull up to 3,600 pounds and can haul up to 1,471 pounds. Four-wheel drive and long-bed versions exhibit less payload capacity and a few hundred pounds less towing ability. For those more interesting in slickrock than tarmac, there is the Equator Crew Cab RMZ-4, only available as a short-bed 4×4. It adds a locking rear differential, Bilstein dampers, hill descent, hold control, skid plates, alloy 16-inch wheels, and off-road tires, making it a formidable rock-crawling machine.

Safety Information
For 2012, stability control is now standard across the Equator lineup. Full-length side-curtain airbags, traction control, ABS, and ventilated disc brakes are also standard. Slushy, spongy brake feel may be a concern. The RMZ-4 adds a vehicle security system and front foglamps. The 2012 Equator won admirable crash test scores from the IIHS and NHTSA.

Comfort & Cargo
The Equator Crew Cab has room for five surly occupants or four happy ones. As is typical for small trucks, the front seats received most of the designer’s attention, being both supportive and comfortable. On the other hand, one suspects the designers stuck a piano bench in the rear and called it good. Interior storage is several steps above par. But why rehash? The same pros and cons that apply to the Nissan Frontier apply to the Suzuki Equator.

Feature Highlights
The 2012 Suzuki Frontier Crew Cab– er, Equator – is available in two trims: Sport ($25,699) and RMZ-4 ($29,550).

With the exception of more utilitarian upholstery, an upgraded adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a few other fobs, the RMZ-4’s interior is equipped almost identically to the base Sport. While it’s certainly no F-150 King Ranch, the Equator Sport Crew Cab is well-outfitted, offering full power accessories, air-conditioning, a six-speaker sound system, keyless entry, etc. Sybaritic? Not in the least, but it beats an Augustinian monastery, and that’s saying something for a compact pickup.

Tidbit Trio:
1. For 2011, the Equator saw a 49 percent sales increase with 1,963 units sold through December.
2. Suzuki sells more motorcycles and ATVs than cars in the US.
3. A bed extender is optional for the RMZ-4.

Why purchase the Equator over the Frontier? There are two main reasons: The Equator offers a seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, far better than Nissans five-year/60,000-mile warranty, and the Equator has the bullish RMZ-4. However, Nissan counters with that Suzuki’s warranty must be exercised at a Suzuki dealership, of which there are few. So let’s make this simple. If you already dwell in the Suzuki camp, make your life easy and buy the Equator. If not, then consider the Frontier.

Engine: 4.0-liter V6
Horsepower & Torque: 261 hp @5,600 rpm, 281 lb-ft of torque @4,000 rpm
Transmission: five-speed automatic
Drivetrain: RWD/4WD
Fuel Economy: 15/20 mpg
Base MSRP: $25,699

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