What's New for 2012
Stability control is now standard on all 2012 Suzuki Equator models.
When it comes to pickups, full-size trucks are definitely the most popular choice. For those who don't necessarily need industrial-strength capabilities and behemoth dimensions, midsize pickup trucks fill that "just enough" niche. Within that group, the 2012 Suzuki Equator doesn't immediately come to mind, but is certainly one capable pickup.
While Suzuki is better known for compact cars and motorcycles, it's important to note that the Equator is essentially a Nissan Frontier underneath a slightly revised body. It stands to reason that both of these pickups share the same strengths. Of these, we count a very capable V6 engine option, secure handling, ease of maneuverability, sturdy construction and respectable off-road prowess. Likewise, both trucks share the drawback of cramped quarters in the rear of the crew cab.
The 2012 Suzuki Equator does best the Frontier with a seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty (Nissan offers a five-year/60,000 mile warranty). There is a hitch, though, as warranty work must be performed at Suzuki dealerships, which are few and far between compared to Nissan dealers. The Equator also lacks the Nissan's available standard cab body style and higher-end luxury features such as a premium sound system and leather seating.
Competition is sparse in the midsize pickup market, and besides the nearly identical Nissan Frontier, the Toyota Tacoma represents the only real rival, with comparable capabilities and amenities. The Chevrolet Colorado is sadly outdated and outclassed in terms of refinement and interior space. If you happen to have a Suzuki dealer conveniently close to you, the 2012 Equator is certainly worth consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Suzuki Equator is a midsize pickup truck that is available in extended- and crew cab body styles. Extended cabs are available in base, Comfort package, Premium and Sport trims, and all come with a 6-foot bed. Crew cabs are available in Sport and RMZ-4 trims. The Sport comes with either a 5-foot or 6-foot bed, while the RMZ-4 has the short bed only. Rear-wheel drive is standard for the Comfort and Premium trim in the extended cab, while the Sport extended cab and crew cab can be had with either rear or four-wheel drive. Finally, the RMZ-4 crew cab with its short bed is only available with four-wheel drive.
The base Equator comes with 15-inch steel wheels, bucket seats, a center console and rear under-seat storage. The Comfort adds air-conditioning and a four-speaker audio system with a CD player. The Premium adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a sliding rear window, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, keyless entry, full power accessories and upgraded cloth upholstery. Opting for the Sport gets you 17-inch alloy wheels, a more powerful V6 engine, hill hold and descent control and bigger brakes. The Crew Cab Sport adds a spray-in liner and movable tie-down cleats for the cargo bed, but hill hold and descent control are not available on the short bed model.
The RMZ-4 adds chrome exterior trim, a locking rear differential, Bilstein dampers, skid plates, hill descent and hold control, 16-inch alloy wheels, off-road-oriented tires, foglamps, unique upholstery, metallic interior accents and a driver seat with height and lumbar adjustment. A bed extender is optional for the RMZ-4 crew cab.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 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 and a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 261 hp and 281 lb-ft. The V6 is only available for crew cabs and 4WD variants, while the four-cylinder is available only in the lower-trim extended-cab models. The base and Comfort package trims with the four-cylinder are matched to a five-speed manual transmission, while a five-speed automatic is standard on all other models.
Properly equipped, the Equator can tow up to 6,300 pounds. Fuel economy estimates range from 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined for the rear-drive extended cab with the inline-4 engine and automatic transmission to 15/19/16 mpg for the 4WD crew cab with its V6.
In a recent Edmunds test of a V6-powered Sport model, the Equator accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds, a suitably quick time for a midsize pickup.
Antilock disc brakes, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags and stability control are standard on all 2012 Suzuki Equator models. Traction control is standard on V6 models. Hill hold and descent control are standard on the four-cylinder Sport and V6-powered long bed and RMZ-4 models.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Equator its highest score of "Good" for frontal-offset, side impact and roof strength tests. In Edmunds brake testing, a crew cab Equator Sport model came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet. It's an admirably short distance, but the soft pedal was far from confidence-inspiring, and sometimes it went all the way to the floor under heavy pressure.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2012 Suzuki Equator makes use of small reverse-opening doors for extended cab models to provide rear passenger access to the fold-up jump seats. As you would expect, rear-seat passenger space is quite cramped. The crew cab has conventional rear doors and a larger rear cabin, but rear cabin space is still smaller than that of a Dodge Dakota or Toyota Tacoma. To the Equator's credit, its cabin features an attractive design, intuitive controls and comfortable front seats. There is an abundance of hard plastic surfaces, but no more than you'll find in other compact/midsize pickups.
Those who frequently haul cargo should consider the Sport trim, which includes the spray-in bedliner and movable tie-down system. Using two C-type 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 inexpensive 2012 Suzuki Equator four-cylinder model is well-suited for light-duty work. The models with the hearty Nissan-built V6 with its plentiful low-end torque are worthy of more demanding tasks, whether it's tearing up sand dunes, hauling supplies to a work site or navigating a morning commute -- all while the competent automatic transmission delivers well-timed shifts.
The Equator steers precisely with ample feedback, though effort is a bit on the heavy side. The Equator's ride quality is unexpectedly pleasant for a pickup truck, although the RMZ-4's off-road suspension has a tendency to be too busy on pavement. Understandably, the RMZ model is a prime candidate for drivers with a penchant for serious off-roading. But 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.