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2009 Suzuki Equator Overview
It must have burned Suzuki to watch all its motorcycle, ATV, and watersports equipment users haul their equipment in other automakers' pickup trucks. To ease their pain and keep Suzuki customers in the Suzuki fold, the new Equator pickup debuts late in 2008 as a 2009 model. Almost a carbon copy of the Nissan Frontier, the 2009 Equator distinguishes itself by its large upright trapezoidal grille and square front end.
Aimed squarely at Suzuki's adventure-leaning demographic, the 2009 Equator was exhibited in three trims as a concept car at the Chicago Auto Show, though the RMX-4 may be be the only version available for now. This trim focuses on off-road performance, equipped with a long 6-foot bed, a locking rear differential, Bilstein shocks, skid plates, and heavy-duty axles. The Quad and Quay round out the concept lineup. All trims come in Extended or Crew Cab formation, both with two rows of seats for five passengers. Extended Cabs feature three-quarter reverse-hinged rear doors and a 5-foot cargo bed, while the Crew Cabs have full-size rear doors and a choice of a 5- or 6-foot bed.
The cargo bed is all about function, equipped with adjustable side tracks, removable cleats, and a spray-on bedliner. Options add storage compartments, a sliding cargo tray, a bed divider, a second row of tiedowns, and a flip-over canted bed extender to better fit motorbikes. The utility spreads to the interior as well, with removable storage units under the rear seats, a tiered glove box, and a fold-flat passenger seat to accommodate longer objects.
Two engine choices power the 2009 Equator. A 2.5-liter DOHC inline four delivers 152 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque, while a 4.0-liter DOHC V6 puts out 261 hp and 284 lb-ft. Transmission choices include a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission, both of which offer fuel economy in the high teens. Towing capacity maxes out at 6,500 pounds with the standard Class 3 tow hitch, though early test drives say actual capacity hovers around 5,000 pounds and the Equator is not meant to haul really heavy items. The 2009 Equator can be configured in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. The part-time AWD has three selectable modes (2WD, 4Hi and 4Lo) and features low-range gearing. Standard safety equipment includes ABS brakes, dual front-side and side curtain airbags, rollover sensors, and traction and stability control, with the option to add Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control.
Early reviews find the Equator rugged and capable on many different types and angles of terrain, with a firm suspension and good cornering, and quiet and smooth on paved roads. Criticisms point out the V6's noise and effort during highway passing, and the difficult transfer from AWD back to 2WD.