Already Forgotten? The Suzuki Equator is One of America's Rarest Modern Pickups
By and large one of the biggest traits of today's auto industry is car companies working to make things as simplified and streamlined as possible. Fat is trimmed whenever possible, and if a vehicle isn't successful, companies are quick to move on.
So it's strange to look back less than a decade to a time when rebadging was quite common across the American auto industry. We are talking about when "new" models were borrowed from other automakers simply to occupy dealerships.
And of the last, and best, examples of this happened in the late 2000s and early 2010s with Nissan and Suzuki in America. As a brand that was already on life support without ever gathering a mainstream following in America, Suzuki was desperate to offer a pickup truck in its dealerships, so they struck a deal with Nissan.
The result was the Suzuki Equator, which as you can clearly see is a lightly made over second generation Nissan Frontier, built at Nissan's factory in Tennessee. (Frontier pictured below).
Aside from a new front end, a rebadged steering wheel and the name change—the Equator was identical to the Frontier it was based on.
The powertrains were identical to the Frontier was well, with a standard four-cylinder engine and a more common 4.0L V6 which could be optioned with four-wheel-drive.
Like the Frontier, the Equator was solid midsize pickup with good off-road capability. And to help build interest shortly after its debut Suzuki rolled out a trio of modified Equators for the 2008 SEMA Show.
Power Sports Themes
Building on the Suzuki brand's reputation as motorcycle builder, each of the trucks was inspired by one of Suzuki's power sports offerings.
Suzuki Equator Quay Concept
There was the Quay Concept, which was inspired by Suzuki's jetskis and marine products, shown complete with a boat trailer in tow.
The Quad Concept
Then there was the Quad Concept, which as its name suggests was inspired by Suzuki's ATVs and was fitted with a variety of off-road upgrades.
Finally there was the Equator RMZ-4, which was also built for off-road adventuring and sported graphics to tie in with Suzuki's dirt bikes.
Reasons for Rarity
While the Frontier has always been a successful product for Nissan, the Suzuki Equator, not surprisingly, never caught on. Even in 2009, the future of the brand in the US was shaky and there weren't many who wanted a rebadged Nissan from a brand with a tiny dealership network and minimal name recognition.
The Equator turned out to be short-lived as Suzuki's automobile division announced it would be pulling out of the US market completely in late 2012. Less than 6,000 Equators were sold during its run.
Today it's probably more common to see a Ferrari on the road than a Suzuki Equator, but there is something to be said for that funky factor. If you are in the market for a used midsize pickup, don't forget to include this strange Suzuki in your search.
Because aside from the funny branding and the unusual story it's still just a solid, dependable Nissan pickup in a different suit.
More From Driving Line
- Amazingly, the second gen Nissan Frontier that the Equator was based on is just now being replaced with an all-new Frontier for 2022.