- The Washington Times - Friday, December 11, 2009

With the introduction of the 360cc Jimny in 1970, Suzuki became the first Japanese automaker to enthusiastically embrace the consumer side of four-wheel drive.

Suzuki built on that landmark introduction - and its versatile and dynamic product line - with the 2009 introduction of the Equator, marking the company’s first entry into the midsize pickup truck market.

In 2010, the Suzuki Equator continues to offer a well-rounded combination of style, utility, comfort and off-road capability. In fact, it was that combination of attributes, in a model year marked by the introduction of two all-new pickups into the U.S. marketplace, which the editors at 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine cited as instrumental in making the Equator its collective choice as their “4X4 of the Year.”

Developed as a joint effort with Nissan North America, Inc., the 2010 Equator remains available in both extended cab and crew cab body styles, and rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive (4WD) configurations. To accommodate loads ranging from Suzuki’s ATVs to motorcycles, Suzuki offers crew cab variants in both short-bed and long-bed configurations. In addition, the Equator continues to incorporate class-leading standard safety features into the truck, including standard roof-mounted curtain side-impact and rollover supplemental air bags and seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags, as well as standard stability control on V6 models.

As with all retail 2010 Suzuki automobiles and light trucks, the Equator, the most recent addition to a 4X4 product lineup poised for unique discoveries, is backed by America’s #1 Warranty: a 100,000-mile/seven-year, fully transferable, zero-deductible powertrain limited warranty.

Power and traction

Built at Nissan’s manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tenn., the 2010 Equator offers a standard 2.5-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine with 152 horsepower and 171 lb.-ft. of torque or an available 4.0-liter, V6 DOHC engine producing an unbeatable 261 horsepower with 281 lb.-ft. of torque. Designed for outstanding performance and durability, the Equator’s V6 engine features an aluminum block with cast-iron cylinder liners, Teflon-coated pistons, micro-finished forged steel crankshaft, micro-finished camshafts driven by a silent two-stage timing chain and variable valve timing.

The Equator comes equipped with either a five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission or five-speed manual transmission (available only on four-cylinder models), and offers an available shift-on-the-fly 4WD system that features an electronically controlled part-time two-speed transfer case. For enhanced off-road capability, the rugged Equator offers a comprehensive off-road traction system, including four-wheel active limited slip traction control, electronic locking rear differential, vehicle dynamic control, hill descent control and hill hold control.

Big truck capability

The Equator’s right-sized packaging suits both the work and recreational needs of many pickup truck customers. Though smaller than full-size, the Equator is built with big-truck toughness and capability. The strong, fully-boxed frame uses a design fully appropriate to the full-size segment - and full-size needs. It is largely constructed of high tensile strength steel, which is both stronger and lighter than conventional steel.

The Equator’s 125.9-inch wheelbase (extended cab or crew cab/standard bed) provides outstanding driving stability and comfort, while its overall length of 206.6 inches (extended cab or crew cab/standard bed) provides the perfect balance of utility, maneuverability and composure. Its all-steel double-wishbone front suspension balances rugged capability with everyday driving comfort. In the rear, a solid axle configuration uses overslung leaf springs with anti-windup bars and a long suspension travel for a proven combination of on- and off-road capability and cargo capacity. Moreover, the go-anywhere Equator has all the qualifications to expand a customer’s weekend adventures with a maximum towing capacity rated at 6,500 pounds (V6 2WD Sport Package) to haul Suzuki motorcycles, ATVs and/or a boat with a four-stroke Suzuki engine of up to 300 hp.

Additional Equator chassis features include engine-speed-sensitive power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering for responsiveness and good on-center feel and standard four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system and electronic brake-force distribution for optimal stopping performance in all conditions. Equator also features a variety of available wheel and tire packages, including 16-inch off-road-style wheels with BFGoodrich rugged trail P265/75R16 tires and 17-inch wheels with BFGoodrich long trail P265/65R17 tires.

Rugged style

The Equator features a contemporary exterior design with a number of signature Suzuki elements, including the prominent hood, front fenders, grille, bumpers, front fascia and tailgate. A large Suzuki “S” over the honeycomb mesh grille proudly conveys Suzuki’s dynamic spirit - and off-road history.

Both extended cab and crew cab Equators offer an available high-utility bed that includes a factory-applied spray-on bedliner and an innovative tie-down system with adjustable tracks, extending cargo-hauling versatility for active and spontaneous lifestyles. The tie-down system employs five special “C” cross-section rails mounted in the bed (two channels in the bed floor and one each on the bed side rails and the bed header panel). Removable utility cleats slide into the channels, providing a wide range of attachment points for securing cargo. A full range of accessories are also available for use with the channel system, along with specialized bed accessories that make securing and transporting a motorcycle or ATV easier than in most competitive trucks.

Care-free cruising

The Equator’s interior strikes a balance between pickup truck function and sedan-type comfort, with both extended cab and crew cab body styles featuring flip-up rear seats, a fold-flat front passenger seat and removable storage boxes tucked beneath the rear seats to provide additional cargo capacity. Additional convenience features include a dual glove box with locking lower compartment and center console storage with power outlet. A number of power points and cupholders, including 1-liter bottle storage in the front doors, are standard throughout the truck. The Premium, Sport and RMZ-4 packages include standard power mirrors, door locks and windows, cruise control and remote keyless entry.

Equator Crew Cab RMZ-4 with the Sport package takes it one step farther with a factory-installed moonroof. A bed extender increases cargo room, and off-road capability is enhanced with the addition of vehicle dynamic control, hill descent control and hill hold Control. On the inside, the Sport upgrade adds a 380-watt Rockford-Fosgate AM/FM/6CD/XM Satellite Radio with eight high-performance speakers plus subwoofer, an auxiliary input jack and Bluetooth capability. Bluetooth and audio controls are located on the steering wheel so drivers can keep their eyes on the road or trail.

Safe ride

The Equator boasts a comprehensive list of standard safety equipment, including front and rear crumple zones, dual-stage front supplemental airbags with seat-belt sensors and a front occupant classification sensor, three-point front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters and tire pressure monitoring system and standard stability control for all V6 models.

Putting Equator at the head of its class in safety, all Equator models also come equipped with supplemental front seat side-impact air bags and supplemental curtain air bags for side impact and rollover protection for front and rear outboard passengers. Additionally, both extended cab and crew cab models provide three-point seat belts for all rear-seat occupants, including the center position for the crew cab. The LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) child-seat anchor system is provided in the rear seat of the crew cab model.

Many choices

Pickup truck buyers traditionally demand a wide array of vehicle configurations and powertrain/driveline choices to meet their multi-tasking needs. Equator extended cab models are available with a four-cylinder engine and 2WD in Base and Premium trim lines, with Base receiving a five-speed manual transmission and Premium a five-speed automatic, plus additional amenities. The Sport trim line combines the 4-liter V6 with five-speed automatic transmission and either 2WD or 4WD and adds a number of additional features and amenities.

The Equator crew cab offers three trim levels, all powered by the V6 with five-speed automatic transmission. The crew cab Base model is 2WD, while the Sport offers the choice of 2WD or 4WD. For off-road enthusiasts with a “confident explorer” attitude and appetite, Suzuki offers an RMZ-4 take on the all-new Equator. A name synonymous with Suzuki’s class-leading motocross bikes, the RMZ-4 production model comes ready to kick sand or get muddy; it’s fully equipped with Dana 44 axles, electric rear locking differential, Bilstein high-performance shocks, skid plates and BFGoodrich Rugged Trail P265/75R16 tires.

Fog lamps, chrome mirrors and door handles and a bed extender to accommodate motorcycles enhance the outside, while unique RMZ-4 seat material with red stitching, chrome instrument cluster and vent trim, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel further enhance the interior. The numerous champions who have ridden Suzuki’s motorcycles to victory would be proud, and Equator’s owners will be, too.

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