Suzuki has taken their King Quad brand name and extended it to the fastest growing segment of the utility ATV market. Mid-sized 4x4s (400-450cc) are selling like hotcakes, and this class has become the newest focal point of competition among the major players in the ATV business. In this cost-conscious, and feature-driven class of vehicles, the competition has never been more intense. Suzuki has raised the stakes with the introduction of a scaled-down version of their King Quad 700 4x4, the new King Quad 450.
WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT? Like its 700 cousin, it also has an engine cylinder that is pitched forward at a 48-degree angle. This allows for an improved and lower center-or-gravity, which enhances the handling traits of the machine. It has a 454cc, liquid-cooled, single cylinder, four-stroke engine, with a compact SOHC, four-valve cylinder head. The newest King Quad also comes with Suzuki’s high tech fuel-injection system. This system calculates injection volume using two three-dimensional fuel maps. One tracks injection volume with air pressure and engine rpm. Another follows injection volume with throttle opening and engine rpm. The system tracks intake air temperature, atmospheric pressure, and engine coolant temperature. This helps keep the throttle feel and response consistent, even at higher elevations and various temperatures. It also uses a straight downdraft style intake on the 38mm throttle body for improved performance. To help keep water out of the system it has a high air intake.
TRANSMISSION The shaft drivetrain has an easy- to-use, sealed, fully automatic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). It comes with an engine brake system that Suzuki claims minimizes free-wheeling downhill. It is engaged by a left-hand automotive style drive selector with High, Low, Neutral and Reverse gear ranges. Another neat feature is that full power can be accessed by using the handle bar mounted override button while in reverse gear. A torque-sensing limited slip differential is up front, which is engaged by a three-way pushbutton 2WD/4WD control and a simple differential lock selector lever, located on the handlebars. When diff-lock is in the on position, the diff-lock limiter works, and full power can be had by using the handlebar-mounted override button in either high or low range.
SUSPENSION The King 450 comes with fully independent double A-arm front suspension with 7.1 inches of wheel travel. The shocks have five-way spring pre-load adjustment as well. On the rear end, there is a fully independent Rear Suspension (IRS) with 8.1 inches of wheel travel. It also has a five-way spring pre-load adjustment and uses a lightweight single I-beam upper A-arm with a stabilizer bar.
With a simple-to-use 2WD,4WD system, and a peppy 4-stroke powerplant, the King Quad 450 is agile and easy to slide. It will smoke the Eiger 400 in any drag race.
MORE BITS & PIECES Suzuki’s King Quad also comes with plastic skid plate protection, which provides front-to-rear underside protection and allows for smooth roll-over of track obstacles with minimal resistance. All mounting points on the skids are located at 90 degrees from the bottom to ensure nothing hangs up or snags on them while they are gliding over rocks. It’s another neat feature we like. Unlike the King 700, the 400 comes with steel wheels instead of aluminum. It has a winch-ready chassis, with lightweight conduit tubing available for installing the wiring on your winch. There is also a winch relay mounting area located under the seat.
COMFORT AND STORAGE Seating comfort on the new King is also first rate. Suzuki incorporated their unique T-shaped seat, designed for increased rider mobility on the machine. It also has a low seat height of 33.9 inches and fender-integrated floorboards, with raised motorcycle style footpegs. The floorboards also have large drain holes to allow mud and water to get out. For storage, there is a roomy, easy-to-open rider access (2.8 liter) water-resistant front storage compartment, as well as a large, water-resistant rear storage area. The machine comes with dual 35W multi-reflector halogen headlights with high/low beam and a brake/tail light.
MORE GOODIES The newest King Quad also comes with attractive high-capacity wrinkle-finish steel racks, fore and aft, a built-in trailer hitch, and a handy, easy-to-read LCD instrument display which has a speedometer, odometer, twin trip meters, hour meter, clock, fuel gauge, drive range (H, L, N, R), drive mode (2WD, 4WD, 4WD Lock), and LED indicators (neutral, reverse, FI/water temp warning). There is also a 12V automotive style outlet that fits a wide range of electrical accessories. A large 4.6-gallon fuel tank resides under the seat for low center of gravity and a ratchet style fuel cap and fuel gauge are also standard equipment.
RIDE REVIEW We put the newest King Quad 450 4x4 through its paces at an ATV riding area called Highland Park, close to where the machines are built in Rome, Georgia. This location features lots of hills and trails, with tree-lined, slightly muddy Georgia clay and rock. It even had extremely fun water bar jumps where we could air out the 450 to see how well the suspension works. The SOHC, liquid-cooled, four-stroke engine fires up easily, without having to choke the motor. Thanks to the fuel injection system, which allows it to adjust for colder or warmer temperatures and different altitude, it starts easily in almost any condition. There is also a backup pull starter in case the battery goes down. One of the first things you notice about the new King Quad 450 4x4 is its smoothness. Throttle response is very good, and the engine pulls smoothly and with amazing torque from the very bottom. Acceleration is brisk and we found we could run it in high range for almost any situation we encountered on the trail. Low range is very low and good for towing or steep climbs, but other than that, you could keep it in high all day long. We liked how well the machine sits and feels at high and low speeds on the trail. It is extremely easy to move around on with secure perches on the footpeg/floorboards. The comfortable T-shaped seat also helps facilitate moving around on the machine. In sticky, muddy situations the 2WD/4WD and differential lock button is easy to access and we found we could engage the diff to get over obstacles or in deep mud quite easily. The torque-sensing limited slip front differential works well, and with the diff lock engaged, we could get our machine to pull up and over logs or up slick hills with ease.
Splash protection was first rate on the new Suzuki and it remained water-tight for the entire length of our test.
NOT SCARY DOWNHILLS To our relief, the King Quad 450 did not display any of the twitchy characteristics that its bigger brother, the King Quad 700, has on steep and rocky downhills. Even though the machines share similar frames, independent front and rear suspension systems and even weigh about the same (601 pounds dry) they do not handle similarly. The 450 King has a sure and steady feel to it and responds off of jumps like a sport quad. It turns and steers effortlessly, yet doesn’t feel like it wants to veer off the trail under a load going downhill. The overall handling is first rate and makes the 450 nimble and responsive out on the trail.
SOFT RIDE The independent front (7.1 inches) and rear (8.1 inches) suspension handles shock absorption extremely well. You can hit jumps wide open, traverse whoops, or creep up a rocky switchback trail with ease. Our only complaint with the suspension is that it is a bit soft for overly aggressive trail riding, but you have the option of increasing the shock pre-load on either end with the five-way pre-load adjustable shocks.
STOP AND GO Another first rate feature on the King Quad 450 was the excellent braking. With dual disc brakes up front and a three-plate, sealed disc brake on the back end, the 450 King has plenty of stopping power. Throw in an excellent engine braking system and you have what looks to be the premier brakes on a mid-sized 4x4. We also liked the full plastic skids found underneath the machine. They greatly aid its ability to glide over obstacles on the trail.
OVERALL CONCLUSIONS We like the total package that the King Quad 450 Suzuki 4x4 represents. The combination of performance features you get for its retail price of $6499 ($1000 less than the King Quad 700) is impressive. It features independent suspension front and back, a state-of-the-art fuel injection system, a peppy liquid-cooled, SOHC four-stroke powerplant, CVT transmission with diff lock, built-in engine braking, with dual front discs and a fully enclosed wet-brake rear brake. The King Quad 450 handles extremely well, is responsive and quick, and we feel it will be a top contender in the mid-sized 4x4 shootout we plan on doing. All in all, it’s good to go. Suzuki also manufacturer’s all the King Quads (700s and 450s) as well as the Vinson and Eiger series ATVs, at their Georgia plant to help facilitate their plans to expand worldwide production of these units.
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. Console Login