Full 2010 Suzuki Equator Review
What's New for 2010
As the Suzuki Equator enters its second year of production, changes are light for 2010. A removable Garmin navigation unit is available on RMZ models and stability control is now standard for V6 models.
The 2010 Suzuki Equator is one of the more capable and powerful pickups on the market. It's so good, in fact, that we rank it up there with the best midsize trucks on the market. But some explanation on the Suzuki's strong showing is probably in order. Other than some altered styling, the Equator is basically a rebadged version of the Nissan Frontier, which also happens to be a top pick of ours. Open the Suzuki's hood and you'll actually find traces of Nissan labeling.
So why would anyone buy the Suzuki instead of the Nissan? Glad you asked. In terms of exterior styling, the Suzuki Equator has a more traditional truck look to it, and some of us find it more appealing than the Frontier's more chunky and angular style. Then there's the Suzuki's drivetrain warranty that spans seven years or 100,000 miles -- compare that to the Nissan's five-year/60,000-mile warranty. However, it's also important to note that all warranty work must be performed at Suzuki dealers, which are pretty scarce compared to Nissan's dealer network.
Purchasing an Equator will naturally give you all of the advantages and drawbacks that come with the Nissan Frontier. In the plus column, the 2010 Suzuki Equator can count on a strong optional V6 engine, a manageable size, relatively nimble handling, respectable off-road performance and sturdy construction. On the downside, though, the Suzuki has the same cramped crew cab rear quarters and lack of a standard cab model that the Nissan does.
For 2010, Suzuki has sweetened the deal, but only slightly. A removable Garmin navigation unit is available on RMZ models and stability control is now standard for all V6-powered Equators. These improvements aren't huge, but given how highly we rank the Equator, they're welcome additions, nonetheless. In terms of competition, the Toyota Tacoma is the only other truck you'll likely want to look at; it has a bigger cabin with nicer materials, though it comes at the expense of some drivability. All things considered, though, Suzuki's Equator should suit midsize truck buyers quite nicely.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Suzuki Equator is a midsize pickup truck that is available in extended- and crew-cab body styles. Extended cabs are available in base, Comfort, Premium and Sport trims, and all come with a 6-foot bed. Crew cabs are available in Sport and RMZ trims. The Sport comes with either a 5-foot or 6-foot bed, while the RMZ has the short bed only. All trims are rear-wheel drive except the Sport (which can be either rear- or four-wheel drive) and RMZs, which are 4WD only.
The entry-level base Equator features 15-inch steel wheels and bucket seats with a console, but little else. Buyers who desire air-conditioning will have to spring for the Comfort trim, which also includes a four-speaker stereo with a CD player. The Premium adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a sliding rear window, a tilt steering wheel, keyless entry, full power accessories and upgraded cloth upholstery. Opting for the Sport gets you 17-inch alloy wheels, a spray-in bedliner and movable tie-down cleats in the bed.
The RMZ adds chrome exterior trim, heavy-duty axles, an electric locking rear differential, Bilstein shocks, skid plates, hill descent and hold control, 16-inch alloy wheels, off-road-oriented tires, foglamps, unique upholstery, height and lumbar adjustments for the driver seat and metallic cabin accents. A removable Garmin navigation system is optional on the RMZ crew cab.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Suzuki Equator comes with a choice of two engines -- a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, or a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 261 hp and 281 lb-ft. The V6 is the only engine available for crew cabs and 4WD variants, while the four-cylinder is available only in the lower-trim extended-cab models. The four-cylinder is matched to either a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic (standard on the Premium). The V6 is equipped with a five-speed automatic only.
Properly equipped, the Equator can tow up to 6,500 pounds. Fuel economy estimates range from 19 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined for the rear-drive, four-cylinder extended cab down to 15/19/16 for a 4WD V6 crew cab.
In a recent test of a V6-powered Sport model, the Equator accelerated from zero to 60 mph in only 8.0 seconds -- a time that we're more accustomed to seeing out of a more powerful V8-powered pickup.
Antilock brakes, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on all trims. Traction control is standard on Sport models, while stability control is standard on V6-powered Equators.
In government crash testing, the Equator crew cab received four stars (out of five) in frontal tests for both driver and passenger and five stars for side impact protection. The extended cab garnered four stars for driver protection in frontal impacts and five stars for frontal-impact passenger protection and driver protection in side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded its highest score of "Good" for frontal-offset testing.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2010 Suzuki Equator extended cab utilizes small reverse-opening doors to allow rear passenger access to the fold-up jump seats. As expected, accommodations in these are cramped and meant only to be used in a pinch. The crew cab employs conventional rear doors along with a larger rear cabin, but passengers will still find less room in back than in the Dodge Dakota or Toyota Tacoma. Otherwise, the cabin is attractively designed, with intuitive controls and comfortable front seats. The various plastics are hard, but so are those found in all compact/midsize pickups -- therefore, the Equator isn't great, but it could be worse.
Anyone planning on a fair amount of cargo hauling would be well advised to spring for the Sport trim, which includes the sprayed-in bedliner and movable tie-down system. Using two "C" cross-section channels running the length of the bed floor (one on each side bed rail and one mounted on the rear of the cab), the system employs removable cleats and a host of accessories like dividers, trays, storage bins and bike racks, providing a very flexible cargo storage solution.
The 2010 Suzuki Equator four-cylinder model makes for a good choice as an inexpensive light-duty work truck, especially considering its higher fuel efficiency. However, for those who plan on using the truck for more than just basic transportation, the V6 is the only choice.
Providing an abundance of low-end torque, six-cylinder models are up to almost any task, with a competent automatic transmission delivering well-timed shifts whether you're tearing up the sand dunes, hauling supplies to a work site or navigating a morning commute. Steering is heavy but precise, with ample feedback, and ride quality is unexpectedly pleasant for a pickup truck (although the RMZ's off-road suspension makes that model's ride a little more rough-and-tumble).
The 4WD models are capable off-roaders, thanks to a maximum ground clearance of 10 inches and an abundance of suspension travel. For those seeking an even more heavy-duty off-roader, the RMZ model is definitely the pick of the litter. For the vast majority of truck owners who keep to the pavement, the Sport model will be a wiser choice, with its quieter tires and more compliant suspension.