First Look: 2009 Suzuki Equator Revealed in Chicago
By: Mike Levine Posted: 02-06-08 13:05 ET
© 2008

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OK, now it’s official. Suzuki has introduced the all-new 2009 Equator midsize pickup, based on Nissan’s Frontier.

The growing automotive import brand believes that buyers of its motorcycles and ATVs will be attracted to a Suzuki-badged pickup to haul their toys with.

Steve Younan, Suzuki’s director of product planning in North America, says, “the Equator is about Suzuki reaching out to attract buyers of its motorcycles, ATVs, and marine products – weekend warriors. We want to partner with them not just on the weekends but also during the week with a truck like this.”

Suzuki has sold over 1-million of its motorcycles and ATVs to U.S. customers in the past five years. It’s a large potential customer base to pursue to achieve annual sales goals of approximately 7,000 to 9,000 trucks per year, about 10% of total Frontier production.

Since the Equator is based on the Frontier, it shares the Frontier’s cab and powertrain configurations too.

Extended cab models will be available in two-wheel and four-wheel-drive with one bed length (6-ft, 1-in) and a choice of a standard inline four cylinder 2.5-liter DOHC motor, rated at 152-horsepower / 171 pound-feet of torque engine, or an optional 4.0-liter DOHC V6, rated at 261-hp and 281 lb-ft or torque.

The crew cab version will be available in two-wheel and four-wheel-drive with two bed lengths – standard 5-ft short box or optional 6-ft, 1-in long bed. The engine choices will be the same as the extended cab pickup, I4 or V6.

Mr. Younan thinks Suzuki motorcyclists and ATV’ers will gravitate to an Equator configuration that lines up with the types of bikes they ride.

“Younger GSX-R owners will probably want an Equator extended cab with a six foot bed, while older riders in their 40s who have (Touring) Cruiser bikes will probably want a crew cab with long bed. And for off-roaders we’ll have an off-road truck,” explains Mr. Younan.

Because the Frontier’s ‘F-Alpha’ chassis is a derivative of the Nissan Titan full size pickup, the Equator shares some of the Titan’s structural DNA. The frame is fully boxed and the running gear is an all-steel double wishbone suspension up front and a solid live axle in the back.

Suzuki’s design offices in Japan were responsible for differentiating the Equator from the Frontier. The performed many months of research in the midsize truck category, looking at target customers and competitors to figure out what people want and don’t want. Mr. Younan credits the truck’s rugged looks and prominent grille to the design team having a good understanding of the market. Other unique Suzuki elements include the Equator’s hood, front fenders, grille, bumpers, front fascia and tailgate.

To show off the new truck’s lines and capabilities, Suzuki commissioned three special versions of it for the Chicago Auto Show.

The RMZ-4 is a purpose-built, wild looking off-roader. It features an Amp Research bed extender, 18-inch black chrome wheels, and specialty Luzlab headlights.  Inside there’s an Alpine HD-Radio unit connected to Rockford Fosgate amp and speaker components.

The Quay (pronounced 'key') concept is built to attract Suzuki’s marine customers. It has a custom paint job that reflects the look of Suzuki’s line of marine engines. It’s geared for heavier towing duties with its extended cab long bed configuration. The truck also is equipped with a state-of-the-art Visteon nav-control head unit that provides satellite radio, MP3 and navigation capabilities, plus Rockford Fosgate amp and speaker components.  The Quay also sports special 20-inch wheels and a matching locking hard tonneau cover.

The last project truck is built to resemble a Suzuki Quad Runner ATV. It’s configured as a crew cab with a military “look and feel.”  In addition to a custom paint job and a two-and-a-half inch front end lift, the exterior of the truck has been modified with a set of 500 series fog lamps, a safari-style front bumper, front skid plate and tubular rocker guards.  To enhance the vehicle’s overall appearance and performance, the Quad is equipped with Yokohama Geolander tires that ride on 17-inch custom aluminum wheels and features Rockford Fosgate amp and speaker components.

The Suzuki Equator is expected to go on sale in December.

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