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Suzuki King Quad 400

 
(10/13/2010)
What will $5500 buy you these days? Well, if you shop at the Suzuki dealer, the KingQuad 400 4X4 can be yours. The KingQuad started life as the Eiger 400 and was a great machine back then. With its new badge and bodywork, this compact utility quad can handle the chores just as well as it can rip up the local trails.

Powering the smallest KingQuad, you will find a fairly compact yet peppy, 375cc, single-overhead cam, four-valve, air-cooled four-stroke engine. You can get this KingQuad outfitted with an auto-clutch, five-speed ($5349) or a fully automatic ($5499) CVT transmission. Our test unit is the auto model and, as you can see, is red. Green is also available without a price increase. Camo and black models fetch an additional $300. Those prices are in line with the Polaris Sportsman 400 H.O. ($5699) and the Yamaha Grizzly 350 ($5499) and are much cheaper than Kawasaki’s Prairie 360 at $6049 or the Yamaha Big Bear 400 at $6299.


Suzuki’s KingQuad-style bodywork provides decent splash protection to the rider. When things get really nasty, deep footwells and steel footpegs provide a solid platform for the rider to stay in control. Yamaha, Polaris and Kawasaki all have small footpegs that get a little slippery when wet.

The KingQuad’s engine is electric starting and fires easy thanks to a manual choke lever and finely tuned 32mm Keihin carburetor. If the battery dies, there is a recoil backup starter. The saddle is compact but by no means cramped. We had some pretty big cowboys using this machine on the farm with no complaints. The no-frills layout helps keeps costs down but does not skimp on the necessities. You can still read fuel levels, speed and miles driven as you ride. A neutral, reverse and oil temperature warning light are also visible in the cockpit.

Under the seat, a small storage area is provided with room for a couple of water bottles, spare gloves or a tow rope. The big hauling chores can be handled by steel front and rear racks with capacity ratings of 66 and 132 pounds, respectively. Even fully loaded, the engine does not struggle nor does the suspension bottom out or wallow.

The straight-axle, rear suspension components contribute to the little KingQuad’s stability. Two shocks in the rear travel 6.7 inches and are not adjustable. More features out back include a sealed-drum brake system that is tucked away inside the right rear wheel. This setup, along with a maintenance-free shaft-drive system, allows for an incredible 9.8 inches of ground clearance measured below the rear diff. A tow hitch comes standard on this machine.

Up front, a typical dual A-arm suspension setup provides an additional 6.7 inches of wheel travel. Again, the shocks are not adjustable, probably contributing to the low sticker price of the machine. Suzuki did not skimp on tires. They installed four 25-inch Maxxis meats mounted on steel wheels that provide excellent traction and have proven to be very durable. Dual-hydraulic disc brakes are located within the front two wheels and provide great stopping power for the 628-pound machine.


A bulletproof, air-cooled engine along with a dual-(hi-low)range transmission will provide plenty of muscle for light-duty chores or the needed ponies for trail riding excitement.

MORE RIDE TIME
Thanks to a large 3.5-gallon tank, we could get two 50-mile test rides and a two-hour photo shoot in before we had to replenish the gas tank.

The KingQuad gets excellent mileage, and the motor doesn’t seem to be handicapped by it. While the foot-shift model feels slightly sportier, the auto tranny has enough torque to lay the rubber down and offer an exciting ride. A dual-range transmission helps the little ’Zuk climb the steepest of hills without smoking the CVT belt. When things get really nasty, you can flip the handlebar-mounted 4WD lever to engage the limited slip front-end.


Suzuki provides 6.7 inches of wheel travel at both ends of this machine. On the trail, the shocks are on the stiff side and, unfortunately, they are not adjustable. On the positive side, 9.8 inches of ground clearance is available, thanks to the rear drum brake being tucked into the right wheel.

Steering gets a little heavy in four-wheel-drive mode, but that is to be expected from a machine without power steering. Plus, if the steering stays light in 4WD, it may mean that the limited-slip clutch in the front differential is set too light. This would disengage the all-wheel-drive activity if one of the front wheels got hung up. We never got the front end to fail during our testing. We chugged though deep mud, over gnarly rock sections and up every hill in our test area with no hesitations. We never even needed to reach for a diff lock lever or button. Good thing, because there isn’t one. For comparison, Honda’s smaller 4x4’s don’t have front diff lock, either. In fact, none of Honda’s 4x4’s have locking front differentials. Polaris and Kawasaki have a front diff lock on their compact 4x4’s.

The start-in-gear feature makes things convenient whether you are working on the farm or out on the trails. On our trail rides, we stop constantly and shut the engines off, to discuss how our tests are going. On the KingQuad, grab a brake lever, hit the starter button and you are back up and running. About the only complaint we had with the little King is that the suspension was a bit on the stiff side. Loaded or unloaded around the farm, it’s not a bother. It’s when you are on the trails that the stiff shocks really stick out. The shocks are not adjustable, so all you can do is stand up to avoids the bigger bumps. The stiff setting is good if riding aggressively, but most 400-class machines aren’t meant to do so. We would rather have shocks that are a hair too soft than ones that you can’t find the limits of.


A no-frills layout helps keep the cost down but does not skimp on the necessities. There is even a small storage compartment under the seat for the extras you need to bring along. The steel cargo racks have big limits, like 132 pounds on this rear unit.

CONCLUSION
Price-wise, Suzuki’s KingQuad is a good value. It’s great for handling the chores and can provide a little excitement when they are through. The large gas tank, smooth power and good mileage make this machine excellent for occasional trail use. A little extra storage under the seat is a plus as well. This machine has never let us down and rarely leaves us begging for more. At $5500, you sure get a lot for your money. Sure, this machine does not have electronic power steering, independent suspension or a 75 mph engine, but it did take us on all of the trails we like to ride. And it did it for almost half the cost.

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.
Copyright 2008 Hi-Torque Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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