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4x4 TEST: 2009 Suzuki King Quad 450 AXi; Fuel-injected economy 4x4

 
(2/16/2009)


Suzuki’s ’09 KingQuad 450AXi has the features of their KingQuad 750 4x4 ($8699) only with a smaller, more affordable price point ($6699). This machine returns to the ’09 Suzuki ATV utility lineup basically unchanged from last year, and is one of the value priced machines in this increasingly popular mid-sized 4x4 category.

WHAT YOU GET FOR THE MONEY
With its slick King Quad styling, electronic fuel injection, independent rear suspension, locking front differential, and a host of other features, the KingQuad 450 AXi offers almost everything its bigger brother does, only at a much more affordable price point ($2000 less). The KingQuad 450 AXi does not have power steering as their 500 King does, and at 454cc is 38cc smaller than the 500 (actual displacement of 493cc.) It also sells for $900 less than the Suzuki KingQuad 500.
History majors might recall that the original Suzuki KingQuad was introduced way back in 1991. At the time, solid rear axles were commonplace, so Suzuki brought out their first independent rear suspension system model, with a locking front differential, to the ATV world. Even back then, Suzuki was ahead of the curve, offering a high, low and super-low gear range on the original KingQuad, which gave it an amazing (at the time) 15 gear drive options.

BACK TO THE FUTURE
Fast forward, and Suzuki continues to innovate with their latest line of King Quads, starting with a 454cc, SOHC, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled-four-stroke engine. The motor on the 450 King uses a canted cylinder design that helps lower the machine’s overall center of gravity by reducing engine height and lowering seat height.
Suzuki’s fuel injection system for the King Quad 450 borrows from their proven street bike heritage. It provides efficient throttle response, better fuel economy, and quicker engine starts under all climate conditions.
This is especially handy when changing altitudes or when faced with colder climes.
For the transmission, a Suzuki QuadMatic CVT-type fully automatic transmission is used. It features a fender-mounted gate-type shifter for smooth operation between high/low, plus neutral and reverse gear ranges.
An electric 2WD, 4WD and differential-lock 4WD system uses convenient handlebar-mounted pushbutton controls, to make shifting between ranges even easier. A compact torque-sensing, limited-slip front differential enables the King Quad to get traction while still offering a light, responsive steering effort on the front end.

OTHER NEAT STUFF
A high capacity aluminum radiator is standard on the King Quad 450 to help keep it operating cooler under adverse conditions. A T-shaped seat, with tapered design, helps improve rider mobility, plus it has thicker padding for even more support.
For suspension, the independent double A-arm front suspension offers up 7.1 inches of wheel travel and comes with shock absorbers that have five-way spring preload adjustments.
On the back end, a fully independent, lower A-arm lower I-beam suspension system is standard, with 7.9 inches of travel, and includes five-way preload adjustable shock absorbers and a large diameter rear sway-bar.
A multi-plate rear brake system, with a sealed, clutch-type design, provides increased durability, reduces unsprung weight, and should prove to be better protected than an exposed rear disc. An engine brake system on the King’s engine helps to minimize free-wheeling on steep downhills.


Suzuki’s King Quad 450 AXi 4x4 gets the styling, electronic fuel injection, and independent suspension of its bigger brother the King Quad 750 has, only with a lower sticker price of $6699. Russell Wayman shows the way around our local test area.


MORE GOOD THINGS
Suzuki has chosen to mount 25-inch Maxxis tires on lightweight aluminum-alloy wheels, to provide lighter, all terrain traction for serious off-road exploring.
A set of polyethylene plastic skid plates provides front-to-rear undercarriage protection. These units provide minimal resistance over rocks and rough terrain and have the ability to “glide” over obstacles on the trail. Durable plastic guards also help to protect the front and rear half shafts from external damage.
For extended rides, a large 4.6-gallon fuel tank is located in a low center-of-gravity position, and it includes a vacuum-operated petcock, ratchet-style fuel cap, and bar-type fuel gauge.
Durable steel-tube racks are mounted on the front and back end of the King Quad 450, and come with a wrinkle paint finish for improved durability and scratch-resistance. For internal storage, there is a 2.8-liter water-resistant front storage compartment for carrying extra gear on the machine with an easy-to-open screw-on cap.

RIDE REVIEW
As we mentioned last month, we had Suzuki’s newly crowned ATVA National Motocross champ, Dustin Wimmer, help us out on this test while he was on a visit to the Dixie National Forest in scenic southeastern Utah. Dustin was there for the annual Tucker Rocky dealer trail ride on a meet-and-greet mission.
Dustin was gracious enough to put the new King Quad 450 AXi to the test while riding with us during our evaluation of the ’09 Yamaha Camo Rhino UTV (Dirt Wheels, February 2009). We were able to sound him out about the performance of the machine during our test excursions in this rugged and beautiful mountain region.
Here is what Dustin had to say about the latest King Quad from Suzuki. “The independent rear suspension is great on this unit,” said Dustin. “It handles and steers very precisely, though I thought it was a bit down on power for me. I did like the fact that with the King Quad’s fuel injection system, we could ride it at altitudes of up to 9500 feet without having to re-jet. I’m used to having a lot more power on my LT-R450’s. So maybe that’s why it felt a bit down on horsepower,” he added, smiling. “The machine turns, jumps and handles pretty good. It also has extremely good brakes and you feel completely in control when riding it. It has good downhill engine braking, and the locking front diff is handy when the trail gets tight and technical.This is the first time I’ve actually ridden a 4x4 quad in these conditions. It’s a lot of fun.”
Our own test crew put our ’09 King Quad 450 though its paces on the trail, and back in California when we returned. We all agreed readily with Dustin’s pronouncements. The King Quad 450 AXi does indeed steer easily, and unlike its bigger brother, the King Quad 750 4x4, it does not have the twitchy feel that machine displays on steep and rugged downhill descents.
We also felt the power on the fuel injected engine was a bit down, even at the lower elevations we ran it at. It pulled cleanly, but it was just a bit flat  in the power department for our tastes.
Even so, we liked the locking front diff on the King 450 and the simple and easy way you can switch between 2WD and 4WD. We also liked the high and low ranges on the King Quad 450 and feel it is more versatile with this feature than rival quads that don’t have the high and low ranges on their CVT systems.


(Left) A handy storage container on the back of the King Quad 450 allows you to carry extra water or parts inside a rust-resistant area on your machine. (Right) The friendly floor boards are vented to let mud through but still offer a firm grip for your footsies.

PRICE AND VALUE
With its MSRP of $6699, the King Quad 450 AXi is $200 more expensive than the Yamaha Grizzly 450 4x4 at $6499. It has slightly more suspension travel than the Griz and uses fuel injection while the Grizzly 450 comes with a standard carb. Compared to the Honda Rancher 420 4x4 at $6999, the King is $300 less expensive. The Suzuki also has more suspension travel than the Honda Rancher 420’s at 6.3 inches, and comes with an independent rear suspension, while that particular Rancher uses a solid axle swingarm in the back.
Overall, the King Quad 450 AXi offers the prospective utility 4x4 buyer a solid package of excellent suspension, handy fuel injection, and decent overall handling. We will have to wait until we get our hands on all its counterparts for an exhaustive comparison in the near future to make a final call on this mid-sized category, but the King Quad 450 AXi looks likes it is up to the challenge.


We had Suzuki’s ATVA National motocross champ, Dustin Wimmer, come out for a test spin aboard a 450 AXi on our recent journey to Utah’s scenic Dixie National Forest. Dustin liked the overall handling, brakes, and ease of steering on the King Quad 450.


2009 KINGQUAD 450AXi 4x4



Topic: Tests

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WARNING: Much of the action de­pict­­ed in this magazine is potentially dan­gerous. Virtually all of the riders seen in our photos are experienced ex­­perts or professionals. Do not at­tempt to duplicate any stunts that are be­­yond your own capabilities. Always wear the appropriate safety gear.
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