Suzuki Equator Concept

Like its Frontier cousin, the extended-cab Equator will come with a 6.1-ft cargo bed, while the crew cab offers either a 6.1-foot or a 5-foot bed. Front side airbags, curtain side airbags, and an antiskid system are optional.

Suzuki Equator Concept
Suzuki Equator Concept Quad

Suzuki hopes to capture the "active-lifestyle" set with Equator--the customer that also purchases the company's motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and outboard motors. Sales are projected at 15,000 per year--a mere fraction of Frontier's volume, but a significant bump to Suzuki's 100,000 total annual sales figure.

It's no secret that Suzuki plans to add a pickup truck to its lineup for 2009. To give the public a taste of what it's planning, Suzuki showed off three concept versions of the Equator at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show.

On the stage were the Quad, the Quay, and the RMZ-4, each focused at appealing to different types of Suzuki customers. The Quad, with its large, wide, knobby tires is aimed at ATV owners. The Quay is designed to tow, specifically boats, with 281 lb-ft of torque and a 6,500-pound towing capacity. The RMZ-4 is a desert runner built to carry sport bikes in the pickup bed. It comes with a locking rear differential and hill descent control.

Suzuki Equator Concept
Suzuki Equator Concept RMZ-4

The production-model Equator, set to go on sale later this year as a 2009 model, will be built for Suzuki by Nissan and is based on the compact Frontier pickup. It should come in extended- and crew-cab body styles with either a 154-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a 265-horsepower 4.0-liter V6.

Expect the four-cylinder to come with a 5-speed manual transmission or 5-speed automatic transmission. The V6 should be paired with either the automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard and part-time 4WD will be optional.