Suzuki may now be #2 in the mini truck sales race, but for many decades, there they were at #1, so they clearly know a thing or two about making kei trucks that people love. Just like their arch rival, Daihatsu, Suzuki’s most popular variant is the pickup-style Carry model with the regular cab and fixed bed. Now, just like the Hijet, the regular cab Carry also comes in a dump variant (check out one of those at the top right of this page) and a van body style (called the Every), but we’ve got other pages to go into both of those models, so let’s stick with the bread-and-butter regular pick up model Carry here.
Suzuki Carry Regular Cabs: A Brief History
Well, this is going to be a fairly brief history. After all, if you’re after a Japanese mini truck to actually use, rather than put in a museum, then there’s no way you’ll want to know a whole lot about the original 1961 FB-type model. But you will be interested to know that Suzuki Carrys have been in production for over 60 years now. These Suzuki guys must be doing something right. With that much experience and customer feedback over the years, that’s a lot of redesigning and refining that you can benefit from if you buy a Suzuki Carry today.
Check out how the design has evolved over the decades:
The Carry is currently on its 11th generation iteration, and these generations tend to last quite a long time. So going back to when the last generation started takes us way back to 1999, and this version — the DA52T / DB52T model.
It was cute, but it was definitely a child of the 90s, and its looks are looking really dated now. After all, this model was the last Carry to come with a carburetor engine — and even this didn’t last very long, as changing exhaust gas regulations meant that this version was phased out in November 1999, only 10 months since it went on sale. Anyway, this gives you an idea of where the Carry has been, but we’re going to largely skip over this generation as you won’t find any of these mini trucks for sale here at Mini Truck Depot.
By September 2001, having already been through another couple of minor changes, the latest all-aluminum KA6 fuel-injected engine came out and so this latest model had its designation bumped up DA62T. OK, there’s no photo of the DA62T, and that’s because, to the untrained eye, it still looked like the DA52T version. But under that skin, that new engine was a major step forward and kept the Carry at the top of the sales charts.
And you would think that, after all these changes in just a few years, Suzuki would have let that DA62T bed in and rake in the sales for a while before they decided to make any further changes. But you’d be wrong. Just over 6 months after the launch of the DA62T in May 2002, a major upgrade landed in the form of the DA63T:
Put on a lift and more rugged wheels and tires, such as you’ll find on many of the Suzuki Carrys for sale here, and you get a beast like this:
Or take it further, and look how far it can be pushed …
In addition to its very obvious change in looks, one of the major innovations of this new model was the detachable load bed. Now, don’t worry, this doesn’t mean the bed can fall off at any moment. No, the point of this feature was to make maintenance and repair both easier and more cost-effective: A wrecked load bed wouldn’t mean having to scrap the whole truck. Equally, a pristine load bed could be rescued from a wrecked truck to replace one on a different truck. All a very clever, practical and sensible approach — and the first time this innovation had appeared on a mini truck.
After this initial flurry of changes, this is how the Carry remained, with only very minor changes (such a the addition of a seat-back pocket, for example) until near the end of 2005, when the DA65T was launched.
This DA65T was aimed at a very specific market — Japanese farmers, who have to traverse narrow tracks between rice fields, and who require maneuverability to get around those tight corners. Suzuki’s solution was simple. The DA65T is the short-wheelbase version. As such, it has a turning circle of 11ft 9.5in (on its regular factory tires), which also just happens to be the same as the Daihatsu Hijet regular cab model. Of course, the larger tires our dealers put on these mini trucks may change this slightly, but still, that’s a tight turning circle and will get you out of some tricky off-road situations. Another off-roading benefit was the addition of a diff lock to the Farming model. And fror the driver? Well the elimination of intrusive wheel wells gave the cab more space.
Here’s a DA65T. Can you spot the difference between it and the DA63T version? Good luck with that!
To bring things up to date, in August 2013, almost 15 years since the DA52T 10th generation Carry was launched, Suzuki completely overhauled the model range with the latest 11th generation model, the DA16T.
Since we were just looking at the difference between the DA63T and DA65T in 10th generation model cycle, we should mention that for the 11th generation model DA16T, there were no longer two different versions one with a longer wheelbase than the other. This was a major change, but with a turning circle of 11ft 9.5in, the latest DA16T not only matched the DA65T short-wheelbase model’s record, but also kept pace with that of its great rival, the Daihatsu Hijet.
The other big news was the new RA06 engine. Combined with the use of better strengthened steel in the body saving 110lbs in weight (a decent proportion of an already light vehicle), this new engine brought in much better gas mileage than the outgoing model. There were numerous other changes as well — such as comfort improvements like the seat slide adjuster being given 14 separate steps, or in driving ability such as the approach angle (with the original wheels and tires) improving from 20 degrees to 23 degrees.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. You see, Daihatsu’s Hijet had stolen Suzuki’s sales crown in 2009 after 39 consecutive years of unrivaled dominance, and Suzuki was desperate to use the DA16T to get it back. The thing is, although the Carry had (and still has) many fans, Daihatsu has held onto that crown ever since.
So what did this latest version look like. Well, first here’s a Japan-spec DA16T:
But check out how this mild-mannered Clark Kent DA16T changes with a few “minor” tweaks for the US market. Of course, it looks a lot better in navy blue metallic paint anyway, but add to that the more aggressive off-road stance, and you have a pretty impressive-looking machine.
Suzuki Carry Pickup Regular Cab Body Colors
Okay, enough of the different looks you can squeeze out of a DA16T Carry. Let’s move on to body colors. Well, that fact that you can get it in white’s a given. And the navy blue metallic, as you can see above, is a particularly classy color. But what are your other choices?
So they’re not quite as brash as some of the Daihatsu Hijet regular cab model colors. There’s no metallic orange, and there’s certainly no polarizing shade like the Ice Green of the latest Hijets. But, still, it shows that the Carry doesn’t have to be boring old white. In fact, you could say that this is a more mature color selection, with the green metallic and navy blue metallic sure to be favorites.
Suzuki Carry Pickup Regular Cab Interior
In many ways, it’s not so much how your mini truck looks on the outside, as how it looks after you on the inside that’s important. After all, if you’re going to be spending hours every week driving around your ranch in one of these, you want that interior to be both comfortable and practical. Well, with decades serving Japan’s farmers, you can be sure the Carry lives up to the needs of working men and women like you.
As you can see, it’s a well thought out space. Much more similar to the cab of your pick up than to a UTV or golf cart. At the same time, it’s designed with practicality in mind, with hard-wearing, durable plastics, and tough waterproof fabric seat covers. And talking of seats, did you know that the driver’s seat base can be adjusted fore and aft through 5.5 inches in 14 increments? With that kind of fine tuning possible, you’re sure to be able to find a good position to get comfortable.
You will also appreciate the width of the body. Even though it has a tough steel safety shell, the Suzuki Carry is just like any mini truck in that it doesn’t have intrusive steel piping frames that you find on less sophisticated off-road only vehicles like UTVs. This means that Suzuki is able to maximize the space available for you and your passenger, while the steel safety shell provides an excellent level of protection.
Now, it’s true that the door-to-door width is very slightly less than the Daihatsu Hijet, which has a class-leading 4 feet 5 inches of width in the newest model, but in all honesty, are you really going to feel any difference when there’s just 1.5 inches in it? If you do choose the Daihatsu over this Suzuki Carry, then it’s surely going to be for reasons other than those missing millimeters.
Here are some more features that will make your Suzuki Carry a massive step up from a UTV:
- UV-cutting window glass all around.
- Adjustable AC and heat.
- Some models have power windows (and the rest have manual wind-up ones).
- 10 places to store things around the cabin, not just in the glove compartment. Need somewhere for your phone? Check. Make sure your keys are safely stored where you can find them? Check.
- And if you’re taking a bottle of water with you, or you’re coffee mug, there’s a cup holder for that.
Suzuki Carry Regular Cab Engine And Transmission
So you’ve got a great place to use as your “office” as you go off-road around your farm but, of course, how you get around is important. And that’s down to the engine and transmission in your Suzuki Carry mini truck. Of course, just like the Daihatsu Hijets, these Carry mini trucks are limited by the same strict rules that govern all kei trucks built in Japan. But let’s get more into the details here, starting first with the engine.
The engine is the same engine you find in both the Carry and Super Carry models. It’s Suzuki’s R06A-type 3-cylinder water-cooled engine with electronic fuel injection and variable valve timing, producing its maximum power at 5,700 rpm, but with max torque coming in at a lower 3,500 rpm. Both the R06A in these Carrys, and the KF engines in the Daihatsu Hijets hit their power peaks at 5,700 rpm, but the Suzuki engine hits the top of the torque curve 500 rpm lower than Daiahtsu’s KF engine. We’re not talking about axle-bending hypercars here, but even so, having max torque arrive just that bit earlier is one area in which the Suzuki beats out the Hijet. Either way, both still have lots of good pulling power to keep you moving and hauling over difficult terrain.
The R06A engines in these Carry mini trucks are also a significant step up from their predecessor K6A engines, having 10% less internal friction. They were also the first kei vehicle engines to have VVT (variable valve timing), and were the lightest in the class when launched. However, with the DA16T now almost a decade old, this R06A engine has found itself outdone by the latest Hijet engine, with that engine’s fuel-saving start-stop technology. It remains to be seen how Suzuki answers that when the DA16T is inevitably replaced in the near future.
Since these engines are designed for road-going vehicles (although mini trucks are sold for off-road use only in the US under Federal law), they are built to the NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness) standards you would expect for such a vehicle. It’s not something you will notice all the time, but a smooth, quiet engine means less fatigue when you’re out and about working on your property all day.
Having said that, they are pretty easy to maintain. Need to fill up with gas? They take your normal regular gasoline. Need to replace air or oil filters? No problem, the parts are readily available and fitting them isn’t difficult. Have particularly cold winters? Make sure you use anti-freeze just as you do with any of your other vehicles. These Hijets aren’t some kind of thoroughbred Ferrari for rich people, so you’ll find that it isn’t rocket science and you can do all the regular maintenance yourself.
And where is the engine? Well, as you may have been able to guess from the body style, the engine is under the cab, mounted low just below the seats, giving the Carry an excellent low center of gravity, perfect for an off-road vehicle. The seats are easy to remove and, once you’ve done this, you have easy access to the engine if you need to change the oil or work on it. This photo shows what you see if you remove the front passenger seat, but you can do the same with the driver’s seat as well.
It’s hard to appreciate the engine in all its glory when it’s hidden inside the chassis and body like that. So let’s see what it looks like on its own. It’s no V12 but, in its own way, it’s quite the engineering marvel — it’s just so compact!
While Daihatsu has two different transmission options (automatic or manual), Suzuki actually has three — automatic, manual, and an odd hybrid of these two called “5AGS” — more on that later).
The Carry mini trucks with manual transmission have 5-speeds, just like those from Daihatsu. And some of these models also have the hi-lo switchable range that is referred to as the Farming Package. But you will notice a slight difference between the Carry hi-lo range lever, and the simpler one in the Hijet. See if you can spot it:
That’s right, you’ve got these extra settings labeled “4L”, “4H” and “2H”. So what’s that all about? At the end of the day, it’s to give you extra flexibility as you use your mini truck:
- 4L – the Carry is in 4WD mode and “Low” range. Perfect for climbing a steep slope, for example.
- 4H – the Carry is in 4WD mode and “High” range. For example, if you’re driving down a snowy track, but it’s not particularly steep or slow going.
- 2H – the Carry is in 2WD model and “High” range. Best for if you’re in something like more normal road conditions, such as driving down a flat dirt road.
The DA16T current Carry iteration has a traditional 3-speed automatic, as the older Daihatsu Hijet models used to. Daihatsu has since (at the end of 2021) replaced the traditional automatic option with a CVT option. It remains to be seen what Suzuki does to counter this, but in the Hijet, the CVT gives significantly better fuel economy, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Suzuki took that leap in the future as well. We don’t know when a new Suzuki Carry mini truck will launch, but the DA16T is getting pretty long in the tooth now, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a replacement soon … and to find that it also has CVT instead of a traditional auto.
5AGS automatic transmission
These Japanese and their acronyms, right? 5AGS? What on earth’s that? Well, first I’ll tell you about the “AGS” part. That stands for “Auto Gear Shift”. Ah, maybe it’s becoming clearer now? And the “5”? That refers to the number of gears. So, the easiest way to think of it is that it’s a 5-speed manual transmission which can shift automatically, which means it gets significantly better fuel economy than the regular auto, without sacrificing the convenience, plus with the flexibility of true manual shifting as well.
Well that makes sense … but what does it mean in real world driving? Well, you can choose between the different modes. Go full auto or full manual, it’s up to you. The only thing you will want to bear in mind is that, unlike the true manual transmission models, the 5AGS models can’t be built with the hi-lo range, or with diff lock.
Sounds complex? Well, yes, it is:
Before going any further, it’s probably worth reiterating that all the Japanese mini trucks for sale at our independent dealers are for off-road use only. So, they all have 4WD, even though 2WD mini trucks are sold in Japan. Just like the Hijets, Suzuki Carrys are also available in both 2WD and 4WD format, but the ones you find our dealers selling are all 4×4.
Just like the previous Hijets, the DA16T Suzuki Carrys have a button with which you can select either 2WD or 4WD. Most of the time, you can just leave it in 4WD as you move around your property. But sometimes it’s going to make sense to switch it into 2WD to save some gas, simply because that extra grip from the 4WD system isn’t needed — for example, if you have a paved road, or a packed, dry dirt track. The 4WD button gives you the option of making that saving.
But where Suzuki has been a little left in the dust, so to speak, is in automating this. Daihatsu’s late 2021 new model release coincided with a new 2WD / 4WD switchable system that basically leaves the vehicle in charge of making this decision. So the mini truck would only be in 4WD for the times the conditions really warranted it. Obviously, this arrangement is a lot easier than reaching for the button to make the change manually, so it definitely helps the latest Hijet optimize for fuel economy. Again, it remains to be seen what Suzuki intends to to do match or better this.
Anyway, this is where you can find that 4WD button in the DA16T Suzuki Carry models that have this feature:
Suzuki Carry Regular Cab Load Bed
At 6 feet 8 inches in length, the floor of the Suzuki Carry regular cab load bed is the longest of any mini truck … just as the Daihatsu Hijet’s is. Yes, that’s right, they’re both #1 because they’re both the same. This floor is just over 2 feet off the ground, and the sides walls which are 11 inches deep all fold down. So, it’s not just at the rear, but at the sides as well, making this Carry mini truck a cinch to load and unload. And what a lot you can load. 1700lbs, in fact. That’s a lot of stuff of all sorts of sizes you can shift.
Here are those folding sides in action:
And if it’s dark out there, don’t worry. You can still get things done with the load area lamp turned on. That’s it on the rear of the cab. A quick flip of the switch and the rear bed lighting gives you a clear view of whatever you need to do back there.
Don’t be surprised at how many practical features these Suzuki mini trucks have. You can’t sell vehicles by their millions over decades to working people throughout Japan and not keep your customers happy with the most useful features to help them do their work.
Buying A Regular Cab Suzuki Carry Mini Truck
Even though Suzuki Carrys don’t seem to be quite as popular as Daihatsu Hijets in the US, they still have quite a following, and you can be sure you can always find some for sale from our independent mini truck dealers here at Mini Truck Depot.
Although we have been focusing exclusively on these models with the fixed load bed here, the same model with the same regular cab is also available with a dump bed. So, if you’re interested in dump mini trucks click here to learn more about your choices.