2009 Suzuki Equator Sport 4WD

For years, many foreign automakers looked longingly at the U.S. full-size pickup market, with its big sales volumes and hefty profit margins. But cracking that market hasn't been so easy - just ask Nissan and Toyota. So Suzuki, in its quest to give its dealers a pickup to sell, was wise to rebadge a mid-size truck like the Nissan Frontier, rather than something bigger. I'd argue that an even smaller, more economical pickup, like the kind Japanese automakers sold here successfully for years, would have been an even better choice for Suzuki - and closer to the brand's core competency - but nobody makes small pickups any more. At least not for our market.

As it is, the Frontier/Equator is a highly useful machine. I put it to work over the Thanksgiving weekend, carrying four adults in relative comfort, shuttling kids around without an arduous climb aboard, and filling the cargo bed, once with two bicycles, four mounted snow tires, and a smattering of firewood, and another time with two Adirondack chairs. I suspect that a midsize pickup like the Equator would easily meet the needs of most weekend truck guys, without the gigantism and general overkill of the true biggies ("Tows 14,500 pounds!"). Unfortunately, because Frontier/Equator uses the stout, and heavy, frame from the Titan, this V-6 powered mid-sizer doesn't save much fuel compared to a full-size truck.

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

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