To test this reworked Equator, I trekked to the quaint ski town of Big Bear City, about a hundred miles outside of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino Mountains. How did the Equator ARB handle road trip duties? Read on to find out.
Adding a Touch of Testosterone to the Equator Truck
ARB's influence starts with an angular, industrial looking front bumper ($946) that's partially finished in black powder coat, and comes ready for winch installation. IPF Xtreme Sport Series lights ($285) offer added illumination, and side rails protect the truck's corners from brush or other offroad hazards. Lower sills facilitate stepping into the cab, while the ARB rear bumper ($766) enables an integrated towing option.
Manufactured in Australia, ARB's Old Man Emu customized suspension ($1,260) offers between 1.5" and 2" of lift. Each suspension setup is individually adjusted to compensate for bumper, winch, and bed combinations; factory rake (ie, a taller rear setup to enable loads) is preserved on all lifted ARB suspensions.
Sitting on a Thule rack ($544) is an ARB tent ($1,500) that sleeps two comfortably with luggage at the foot. Unfurled, the tent measures roughly 8 feet in length, and is about as wide as a queen-sized bed.
Finally, the ARB Equator rests on Walker Evans Wheels shod with BFGoodrich All Terrain tires; the rims have simulated beadlocks, since actual beadlocks aren't street legal in most states.
The Suzuki Equator 4X4 Crew Cab Sport starts at $30,900, and achieves an estimated 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway. ARB add-ons on our test truck totaled less than $5,000.
Trail Ready, Highway Comfortable
But once you hit the road and accelerate into traffic, you'll find the lifted suspension is actually tuned for ride quality, not just altitude: freeway expansion joints and potholes don't do too much to disturb this Suzuki's smooth road presence. Time spent on the road enables you to appreciate the cabin's nicer points, like the leather wrapped steering wheel and the comfortable seats. However, the tent assembly does reduce rear mirror visibility to little more than a thin horizontal slit.
The Equator's V6 engine torque allows for decent acceleration and enough oomph for aggressive passing at highway speeds, though true leadfoots might miss the mighty V8 power offered in more upmarket pickups. The ARB add-ons supplement the Equator's 4,491 lb curb weight, and though the truck's handling felt capable on the roads snaking up the San Bernardino Mountains, we wouldn't necessarily pick the ARB Equator for autocross duty… but once I explored a few tight, ice-covered uphill stretches of tarmac in Big Bear City, the Equator traversed the traction-challenged sections with ease.
My urban (and extra-urban) exposure to the hopped-up Equator revealed it to be a civilized driver and a comfortable companion over the long haul, despite its rugged accoutrement. Based on its build sheet, the ARB Equator looks like it would have likely been a willing and able offroader; but based solely on its on-road comfort and its straightforward functionality, Suzuki's tweaked pickup proves that even if you don't plan on venturing into the brush, you can enjoy a large portion of what this rig has to offer.