Suzuki To Finally Offer a Vehicle to Haul Its Bikes
By Chris Haak
Yesterday, Suzuki pulled the wraps off of its Equator midsize pickup. It doesn’t take a very sharp eye to see that the Equator is a Nissan Frontier with a different bumper, grille, and headlights. The interior looks exactly the same as a Frontier’s, except the horn button has a circle that says “Suzuki” on it rather than “Nissan.” (However, the steering wheel itself is identical). The photo to the left is the so-called Quay Equator concept, which is the closest to production-spec shown in Chicago. The olive green truck below, called the Equator Quad, is built to resemble a Suzuki QuadRunner ATV, and is pretty mean looking to my eyes.
Powertrain choices are identical to the Frontier’s; the base engine is a 2.5 liter four cylinder that produces 152 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque, and the optional engine is a 4.0 liter V6 producing 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. A five speed automatic is optional with either engine, and a five speed manual is available with the I4 and a six speed manual is available with the V6.
Suzuki’s sales have actually increased about 75% over the past several years, not necessarily on the strength of its products, but on the increased size of its lineup. With consumer concern about fuel economy and gas prices, its small car-heavy lineup should be a recipe for success, but even though midsize pickup sales haven’t done well in the US for the past few years, Suzuki still sees an opportunity.
The press release (reprinted below) does not hide the truck’s obvious Nissan origins (which may not be a bad idea, since Nissan has been building small pickups with a solid reputation for a while) and also clearly stated that the headline of this post is not in jest; they really are marketing the truck to Suzukiphiles who want a truck to haul their Suzuki motorcycles and ATVs.
Below is the press release:
SUZUKI DEBUTS ALL-NEW EQUATOR MIDSIZE PICKUP TRUCK AT 2008 CHICAGO AUTO SHOW
– 2009 Suzuki Equator makes global debut in Windy City
– Striking activity-oriented Equator concept trucks communicate “Way of Life” brand spirit
– New pickup adds automotive offering for cross-divisional Suzuki product aficionados
CHICAGO (Feb. 6, 2008) – To bolster its versatile and dynamic product line, enhance the company’s bold and adventurous brand identity and further expand the growing line of products marketed by approximately 500 Suzuki dealers nationwide, American Suzuki Motor Corp. debuts its all-new 2009 Equator midsize pickup truck at this year’s Chicago Auto Show. The introduction of the Equator marks Suzuki’s first entry into the midsize pickup truck market and expands the company’s offering of activity-oriented cars and trucks.
Leveraging Suzuki’s credibility as a maker of lifestyle-oriented, fun-to-use products, the Equator offers the perfect blend of style, utility and off-road capability that truck buyers – many of whom are current Suzuki motorcycle, ATV and marine product owners, loyalists and ambassadors – demand and enjoy. Developed as a joint effort with Nissan North America, Inc., and based on the Nissan Frontier, the 2009 Equator will be available in both Extended Cab and Crew Cab body styles and rear-wheel and four-wheel-drive configurations. The all-new 2009 Suzuki Equator pickup truck is scheduled to go on sale in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2008. Pricing has not yet been announced.
“Since Suzuki has continued to strengthen its brand equity among outdoor enthusiasts, we thought now was the right time to produce a vehicle that meets the additional needs many of these people have,” said Mark Harano, president American Suzuki Automotive Operations. “Truck buyers are a particularly good fit for Suzuki since they’re likely to participate in motorcycle riding, power boating and other lifestyle-oriented activities that fit with our brand identity and our product portfolio. The Equator provides Suzuki with an opportunity to build an authentic connection with a group of consumers who are familiar with our brand and, in many circumstances, own other Suzuki products.”
To introduce the Equator, Suzuki is unveiling three separate representations of the truck during its Chicago Auto Show press conference. The three concepts, coined the RMZ-4 for off-road enthusiasts, Quad for outdoor adventurers and Quay for boating and watersports aficionados, showcase Suzuki’s diverse brand spirit, while illustrating the capability and flexibility of the all-new Suzuki Equator.
In addition to Chicago’s global reveal of the all-new Equator, Suzuki will showcase the SXForce, a sportbike-inspired concept reinforcing the link between the company’s rich motorcycle heritage and versatile line of fun-to-drive automobiles, as well as a range of outdoor and performance-oriented motorcycles and ATVs, including the KingQuad 450, LT-R450 QuadRacer and all-new Hayabusa sportbike, to name a few.
2009 Suzuki Equator
Performance and Functionality
Built at Nissan’s manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tenn., the 2009 Equator features a fuel efficient 2.5-liter DOHC inline four with 152 horsepower and 171 lb.-ft. of torque or an optional 4.0-liter, V6 DOHC engine producing a class-leading 261 hp with 281 lb.-ft. of torque. Designed for outstanding performance and durability, the Equator’s V6 engine incorporates an aluminum block with cast iron cylinder liners, forged steel crankshaft, microfinished crankshaft and camshafts, Teflon®-coated pistons, variable valve timing and a silent two-stage timing chain.
The Equator is matched to either a five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission (I4 and V6), five-speed manual transmission (I4) or six-speed manual transmission (V6), and offers an available shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system with an electronically controlled part-time two-speed transfer case. For enhanced off-road capability, the rugged Equator offers a comprehensive off-road traction system, including four-wheel limited slip, electronic locking rear differential, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), hill descent control and hill start assist.
The Equator’s strong, fully boxed frame anchors a long 125.9-inch wheelbase (Extended Cab or Crew Cab/regular bed), enhancing driver and passenger comfort and stability, while its overall length of 205.5 inches (Extended Cab or Crew Cab/regular bed) provides the perfect balance of utility, maneuverability and composure for a midsize pickup truck. The 2009 Equator features an all-steel double-wishbone front suspension and solid axle rear suspension with overslung leaf springs and a long suspension stroke for optimized off-road dynamics. Maximum towing capacity is rated at 6,500 pounds. EPA fuel economy estimates are still preliminary.
Other Equator powertrain components include engine-speed-sensitive power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering for responsiveness and good on-center feel and standard four-wheel disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD). Equator also features a variety of available wheel and tire packages, including 16-inch off-road style wheels with rugged 265/75R16 tires and 17-inch wheels with 265/65R17 tires.
Styling and Utility
The all-new Equator features a contemporary exterior design with a number of unique Suzuki elements, including hood, front fenders, grille, bumpers, front fascia and tailgate. Both Equator Extended Cab and Crew Cab models offer an available high-utility bed that includes a factory-applied spray-on bedliner and an extensive tie-down system with adjustable tracks, providing ultimate cargo hauling flexibility through the use of five special “C” cross-section rails mounted in the bed (two channels in the bed floor and one each on the bed side rails and the bed header panel). Removable utility cleats slide into the channels, providing a wide range of attachment points for securing cargo – including Suzuki motorcycles or ATVs. Suzuki also will offer specialized bed accessories that make loading, securing and transporting a motorcycle or ATV easier than in many competitive trucks. To further satisfy the needs of active lifestyles, Suzuki will offer its customers a full range of more traditional accessories for use with the channel system, including bed dividers, sliding cargo trays and modular storage units. Crew Cab models will offer an available roof rack.
The Suzuki Equator offers the driver and up to four passengers a functional interior that combines versatility, cargo utility, comfort and convenience. Both Extended Cab and Crew Cab body styles feature flip-up rear seats, a fold-flat front passenger seat and removable storage boxes tucked beneath the rear seats to provide additional cargo capacity. The Equator offers additional convenience features such as a dual glove box with lock, damper and lamp, center console storage and one-liter bottle storage integrated into the front doors. A host of cupholders and power points are standard throughout the truck. Equator Crew Cab also will offer available leather-appointed seats, including a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated seats, heated mirrors and a factory-installed moonroof. Additional available interior amenities include a Bluetooth® hands-free phone system, Rockford Fosgate-powered audio system with six-disc in-dash CD audio system, optional satellite radio and MP3 capability and MP3 player aux-in jack.
Safety and Packages
The all-new Equator includes a comprehensive list of standard safety equipment, including zone body construction with front and rear crumple zones, dual-stage front supplemental air bags with seat belt sensors and a front occupant classification sensor, three-point front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters and Tire Pressure Monitoring System. To make the safety story even stronger, the Equator comes equipped with supplemental front seat side-impact air bags and standard supplemental curtain air bags for side impact and rollover protection for front and rear outboard passengers. Additionally, Extended Cab and Crew Cab models provide three-point seat belts for all rear seat occupants, including the center position for the Crew Cab. The LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat anchor system is provided in the rear seat of the Crew Cab model.
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