HEELS ON WHEELS: 2009 SUZUKI EQUATOR REVIEW



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SEE ALSO: Suzuki Specs and Prices-Suzuki Buters Guide

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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE EQUATOR VEHICLE
Taking cue from Honda's Ridgeline idea – to create a car that can carry more brand-specific product in the form of ATVs and dirt bikes – comes Suzuki's all-new smaller pickup, the Equator. Trucks offer functions not available in a crossover or SUV and are great for the outdoorsy types, like myself.

I drove a four-door 2009 Suzuki Equator with the crew cab, the 261-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 engine and the RMZ-4 (4WD off-road package). Starting price is $28,550, but price gets easily bumped up to mid-$30k when you add all the wonderful features that made this truck standout, like a moonroof, Bluetooth capability, a Rocksford Fosgate 6-disc CD audio system or the Suzuki TRIP Navi System. Seating is for five.

Other Suzuki vehicles I have driven recently include the Suzuki Grand Vitara and the SX4 crossover. I have been pleasantly surprised and satisfied with the capability of all three vehicles.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Air quality control is very precise; no need for constant extreme dial turning. Suzuki's TRIP or touch-screen navigation system can be removed from the vehicle. A Rocksford Fosgate stereo is one of the best audio systems you can get. The Equator offers a nicely designed flexible synthetic covering – it looks great, it feels great and it's a sensible alternative to leather.

Reliability & Safety Factor: Suzuki offers an outstanding 100,000-mile/7-year warranty. The Equator does have the LATCH System (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) along with lots of modern safety features such as Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), Hill Descent Control (HDC), and Hill Start Assist (HSA).

Cost Issues: $28,550 seems affordable until you add on the necessary extras in order to love and appreciate your car. You'll experience the same pricing dilemma with both the Nissan Frontier and Dodge Dakota (the Frontier and Equator have a nicer bed).

Activity & Performance Ability: The Equator is essentially the Nissan Frontier, providing strong passing acceleration and an even, smooth ride. Editor Fred Williams at Peterson's 4Wheel & Off-Road Magazine named it the "4x4 of the Year," beating out many big-named competitors. The bed features a textured spray-on bedliner with four in-bed tie-down cleats for cargo; we fit an oak table, leaf and four chairs comfortably with room for more (and no scratch or scoff marks). Tailgate can be removed. My truck bed was rather short; the extended bed offers better space off-road vehicle owners. I noticed a rattling sound in the front and concluded it was from the front fascia or bumper (another reviewer also cited this sound).

The Green Concern: With 15-mpg city and 20-mpg city, you're getting what a larger truck gets. You can choose the smaller 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine for 19-mpg city and 23-mpg highway, but don't expect to tow as much bed weight.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
When an esteemed off-road editor like Fred Williams tests, compares and endorses a vehicle above all else, the truck is excellent. After a week of driving, I was as comfortable as I am inside a crossover – the truck bed bringing additional benefits, of course.

Katrina's Car Tips For Women Drivers
2010 and 2009 Model Reviews
2008 Model Reviews

2008 Katrina Ramser

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