The 2009 Suzuki Equator is a simple-looking compact pickup truck. There aren't a lot of buttons, gadgets or thingamajigs. My test Equator was equipped with the RMZ-4 offroad package, but the truck was all about the basics. I'm on the fence as to whether I adore basic. A five-carat princess-cut diamond solitaire ring is basic and classy with its clean lines and simple elegance, but there's another kind of basic that might remind you more of the ring your kids pull out of a Cracker Jack box. See what I'm sayin'? The question is, where does the Suzuki Equator fall on that scale?
As a solid four-wheel-drive pickup with plenty of room, great visibility and a fairly comfortable ride, the compact Suzuki Equator provides truck lovers with great usability at an affordable price. It has plenty of power with its V-6 engine, but only gets 15/19 mpg city/highway. While it may not be all glammed out like a diamond solitaire, the Equator holds its own.
The first and second rows were open, roomy and comfortable. This is important because in my 2009 Suzuki SX4 review, I pointed out my dissatisfaction with the seating quality. Somehow, Suzuki has it figured out with the Equator. While the cloth seats had to be manually adjusted, at least I could adjust the height and add a little lumbar support. That's a big improvement over the SX4 I tested.
When I first looked at the Equator, I saw big, bulky take-on-the-world tires, chrome door handles and an overzealous "RMZ-4 Off Road Sport" moniker. I'll take the first two and scrap the last; I prefer my rides to be tattoo-free.
Another thing you'll notice right away in this truck - or any truck for that matter - is that you might need a running start to get into it. My Equator had a grab bar on the driver's side, but even that was too high for me to reach, so I grabbed the steering wheel to help me get into the Equator. A steering wheel isn't the best choice here because, you guessed it, it moves! Needless to say, getting in and out of this truck could take some practice. If I were to purchase the Equator, I'd add a step to simplify the entry process. My kids, on the other hand, had no problem jumping in hands-free because they're like real, live pogo-sticks with heads!
Even with the crew cab, there was plenty of room in the truck bed to load up on various goodies (antique-store finds, mulch, topsoil, plants, luggage, etc.). For day-to-day use, I kept wishing there was a tonneau cover to keep my groceries safe from the freezing rain and wind. My husband owns a pickup, and he recently took it through the car wash with my fully-loaded suitcase in the pickup bed. This wasn't a pretty picture, folks! I've been scarred for life. For this reason, I think all pickups should come with standard covers because everyone screws up every once in a while.
The height of the truck bed was good, and I had no trouble opening the tailgate and stowing my gear. What I would have loved to have had was a cargo net to secure groceries to the rear of the bed to prevent them from rolling around. This plus a tonneau cover would greatly increase the Equator's usability for mommy-types.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
I was incredibly happy to see and feel the differences in seating the Equator provides over the Suzuki SX4. There was plenty of support, and the seats were easy to adjust. Thank you, designers! Oh, and thanks for the snazzy red stitching that's part of the RMZ-4 offroad package, too.
Another seating detail I found impressive was the Equator's easy-to-clean cloth upholstery. This comes in handy when you're hauling kids in the backseat. Simply grab a wipe, and it's as good as new. I also liked the skid-proof cubbies in and under the center stack; they were perfect for holding my phone, sunglasses, Chap Stick and other necessities.
Once I was settled and driving down the road, I never felt that the Equator was too big for me. From the radio controls to the pedals to my cup of chai tea, everything was well within reach for me. The backseat, however, was large enough to keep my two backseaters out of each others' reach.
In the second row, a seatback pocket came in handy for the kids' stuff, and there were plenty of cupholders that were easy for them to reach. I was surprised to find the second row's floor was almost completely flat - no hump. This meant that if someone were brave enough to sit between my kids, at least their legs would be comfy. The storage cubbies in the doors could also be useful on long trips.
The Latch connectors were difficult for my wimpy fingers to finagle because they were recessed and hidden with fabric. I prefer huge connectors that you can see from a mile away. Hidden connectors can leave you with boo-boos, and before you know it, you're out in public with a Superman or SpongeBob bandage on your finger! Not that I know this from experience or anything, I'm just sayin'.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
I felt safe and in control of the Equator; of course, I drove in four-wheel drive the entire time I had the pickup because I've had too many bad experiences using rear-wheel drive in other cars. The visibility in the Equator was great all around; there were no problematic blind spots.
The Equator has six standard airbags, including front, side and side curtain. It also has standard antilock brakes and an available electronic stability system, which is part of the Sport Package. If you opt for the Sport Package, you also get Hill Descent Control, which helps the driver keep a steady speed down steep hills, and Hill Hold Control, which keeps the truck from rolling backward on a steep hill when the driver moves her foot from the brake pedal to the gas pedal.
In Diapers: There's enough room for a rear-facing infant seat, but you might want to invest in a tonneau cover to keep all the baby gear dry in the pickup's bed.
In School: The rear seat was spacious enough to keep my two boys from touching each other. Love it!
Teens: The four-wheel drive and optional electronic stability system will help teen drivers stay safe on slippery roads.
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