Yep, the Suzuki Equator is the automotive world's latest example of the time-honored practice of badge engineering. You know all those bright and shiny Suzuki dealerships that have been popping up on the suburban landscape over the past few years? The owners of those dealerships wanted a truck to sell. Suzuki Motor Corporation struck a deal with Nissan, which had extra capacity at its Frontier plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, and the result is the Equator pickup which my colleague Evan McCausland already has described.
This is a stout, old-fashioned mid-size pickup that makes few attempts at refinement, and that's just fine. It's stiff-legged, with a rigid but not back-breaking ride and a rudimentary four-wheel-drive system with low range - there's no leaving this in four-wheel drive on dry pavement unless you are a fan of axle binding in corners. But the Equator's powertrain - a 4.0-liter V-6 and a five-speed automatic - is strong and well-integrated. No complaints there at all.
I noted that our test vehicle has the requisite cargo tie-down channels in the bed and what I presume is a factory-sprayed bedliner; Nissan pioneered that technology when it introduced the Frontier's big brother, the Titan. Its advantages over plastic drop-in liners are said to include a less slippery surface; no opportunity for water to collect between metal and plastic; and supposed durability on par with molded plastic liners. It also looks quite good with its matte black finish.
If you're shopping for a mid-size pickup and you happen to like your local Suzuki dealership, the Equator is worth a test-drive.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor