Suzuki Equato Crew Cab

Weighing in at 4,491 pounds (lightest of the test) with a 261hp 4.0L V-6 engine for an overall power-to-weight ratio of 1 hp to every 17.2 pounds, in this corner is the '09 Suzuki Equator 4x4 Crew Cab RMZ-4. Suzuki is known for making off-road vehicles, though most of them are bikes and quads that fit in the bed of a truck. Suzuki's customer base is pretty dedicated, and when they asked Suzuki, who makes SUVs like the Grand Vitara, to make a truck they could haul their bikes in, Suzuki listened. Suzuki thought long and hard about the request and decided that outsourcing its truck would make the best business sense. The company came home with a midsize truck based on the Nissan Frontier but kitted up in unique Suzuki body skins and features. The big dimpled grille and standard side-curtain airbags give this truck a look and standard safety rating different from the Frontier.

Underneath the Equator, we found a vulnerable aluminum driveshaft; adequate skid-plates on the engine, transfer case and fuel tank; and only one front tow hook. We did notice the Bilstein shocks, but we wondered why the rear axle vent didn't have a hose running up to a higher location.

From the driver seat the truck was described as basic and straightforward with no extra frills and nothing extraneous. Unlike some magazines, we applaud trucks for being so dirt-simple. Judges liked the e-brake handle in the center console where it should be, and some wished that Suzuki would have chosen the manual transmission rather than only offering the four-wheel-drive version with the auto. Cargo ability was also great due to the in-bed tie-down system and sprayin bedliner.

On the road the Equator had drivers losing years off their age. It turned grown men

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