2013 Suzuki Equator Review

Equator

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2013 Suzuki Equator Overview

Last year Suzuki made two decisions: 1) Produce a midsize pickup so all the company's faithful motorcycle and ATV followers will have something to haul their toys in. 2) Stop selling automobiles in the U.S.

To be fair, the latter of the two decisions was partially thrust upon the company, coming as part of a bankruptcy filing, but the first decision was a good one. And lest you get excited that you’ve found a loophole… Yes, trucks are part of the “no autos in the U.S.” decision.

It’s a shame, for Suzuki picked a great truck on which to base the Equator. The Nissan Frontier (otherwise known as the Navara in Asia) has won awards since its redesign for 2010, including safety awards from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as well as top recommendations from Edmunds and J.D Power.

All those awards are not enough to save Suzuki, apparently. Those paying attention to such trivialities will notice that the Equator looks very similar to the Frontier, with some grille changes encompassing the wealth of the difference. The trim levels have been reorganized for a more “fiscally conscious consumer” as well, but the real difference is in the warranty. With the Frontier, you get a substantial 5-year/60,000-mile protection package, but with the Equator that’s upped to 7 years and 100,000 miles. Now that’s an upgrade worth offsetting the abysmally sparse Suzuki dealer network. And if you’re worried that it might not be around for much longer, Suzuki has assured owners, "All parts and service will be provided to consumers through our planned continuation of a service and parts dealer network,” and claims it will continue to do so "as long as there is consumer demand, for a reasonable period of time beyond the warranty period."

That’s slightly reassuring, but let’s not forget the already low number of 246 national dealers had shrunk by almost 30 by the end of 2012. I shudder to think how much further that number has fallen in the ensuing 3 months.

But none of this takes away from what a capable truck the Equator is. Here, it’s available in five trims—Base, Comfort, Premium, Sport and RMZ-4—and a variety of beds, drivetrain and cab configurations. Powered by a 152-hp, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, the Equator offers a respectable 171 lb-ft of torque for your tugging needs. Set up in its most efficient configuration—a 2.5-liter engine, rear-wheel drive, Extended cab and automatic transmission—the Equator can manage 17 mpg city/22 highway. Opt for 4WD and the V6, and it’ll drop to 15/19. Given the extra utility and refinement of the 261-hp, 4.0-liter V6 with its 281 lb-ft of torque, it’s the better choice for a powerplant.

The Base trim gets you very little, including creature comforts like a center console, bucket seats and 15-inch steelies. It’s a stripper. Comfort adds just that, with a CD player and air conditioning, while the Premium gets fancy with 16-inch alloys, cruise, keyless entry, a full power package, a sliding rear window and (brace yourselves) upgraded cloth. Ooh-lala! Of course, both are stuck with the 2.5-liter engine, so keep that in mind.

The Sport shows up with the V6, upgraded brakes and 17-inch alloys, while the RMZ-4 is available only in 4WD and comes with Bilstein dampers, skid plates, off-road tires, foglamps, interior and exterior chrome, and a locking rear differential.

If none of those is wholly satisfying, you can start adding tech to your truck with options like Bluetooth, navigation and audio upgrades—those in the know understand that music always sounds better in a pickup.

In all, the Equator is a collection of great decisions culminating in a single disappointing one. Sadly, the disappointing one means you can’t get a 2013 Equator in the U.S. But if you were lucky enough to grab one in 2012, you know Suzuki has your back… at least until “consumer demand” runs out.

Updated
by

A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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