SHOOTOUT: Can-Am Outlander L 500 vs. Suzuki KingQuad 400ASi

We pitted the $6499 Suzuki KingQuad 400ASi against the $6999 Can-Am Outlander 500L to see if an older straight-axle machine can still hang with a modern-day ATV with independent rear suspension. The two contestants are a lot closer in price than they are in design. The Suzuki KingQuad 400ASi is Suzuki’s lowest-priced 4×4, while Can-Am does have one model cheaper in the 450L, which only sells for $6399. So if power or speed is of no concern, the 450 might be a closer comparison, and it comes in the same chassis as the 500.

PROPER POWER
Can-Am continues to step up their game in the ATV industry. Their Outlander L line not only offers more features at an easy expense, they are well-made and perform the same. The Outlander L 500 starts at $6999, which is the model we tested. The L 450 costs less at $6399, yet still has a strong powerplant. The Can-Am carries an electric-starting, liquid-cooled, 499cc, SOHC, four-stroke V-twin engine in its frame. Holding the throttle wide open from a standstill doesn’t provide the results we expected. Can-Am seems to have designed their EFI mapping to have a hesitation in power off the bottom, which can be smooth for crawling over rocks and up hills, but doesn’t please riders who like instant torque. The Outlander L does have a strong engine that pulls hard through the rest of the power range. An automatic CVT transmission helps move the Can-Am’s two- and four-wheeldrive system. Suzuki’s KingQuad 400ASi sports an air-cooled, 376cc, SOHC, four-stroke, single-cylinder engine. It comes stock with EFI and an electric starter. The power is enough to easily get you around for work duties as well as out on the trails. Torque is there, but not instant when you stab the throttle, and it won’t leave you white-knuckled and sliding backwards off the seat by any means. The automatic CVT transmission is smooth, and changing gears between high, low, neutral and reverse is easy. The KingQuad has a 4×4 system that can be switched into two-wheel drive with the flip of the handlebar-mounted lever. Like the Can-Am, the 400ASi doesn’t have a manual diff-lock in the front end, so tackling steep hills and climbing over rocks and rough terrain can still be tricky in 4×4 mode.

HANDLING DEPARTMENT
The Outlander L 500 has a fully independent suspension set up in the front and rear of the machine. The front of the Can-Am has double A-arms that sports 9 inches of smooth-riding travel. In the rear are torsion trailing arms that use shocks measuring 8.8 inches of suspension travel. There is no doubt that the ride of the 500 is smooth over most terrain, yet in some situations it could be a bit too soft in the front end. The KingQuad 400ASi doesn’t have as smooth or comfortable of a ride that the Outlander does. The reasons are simple. The 400 uses 6.7 inches of front suspension travel with its double-A-arm setup, and the solid rear axle utilizes two shocks with the same travel measurements. This key reason as to why the Suzuki doesn’t handle as smoothly as the Can-Am is due to its solid rear axle.

Pitting a fully independent-suspension ATV against one of its competitors that has a straight rear axle provided interesting results. The Outlander has a ground clearance of 10.5 inches, while the KingQuad has 9.8 inches of clearance. Through rocky and rough terrain, the Suzuki’s solid rear axle would cause it to get stuck more often and, in some situations, wouldn’t have enough traction since one rear wheel would occasionally be off the ground. You had to put in more effort to ride the same trails as the Outlander. The Can-Am could climb over terrain smoother and easier in a lot of situations due to the IRS. The rear wouldn’t bounce \around or slide sideways as easily. Since the rear wheels could rest at different angles over rocks, the CanAm had more traction. Riding around on flatter trails, the Suzuki had better traction and felt decently stable, but the ride is rough compared to the couch-like comfort of the Outlander L.

Both machines come without EPS, which we figured wouldn’t be a big deal since they aren’t as heavy as big-bore utility ATVs. In the case of the Can-Am, we were right. Our Can-Am did have the option; steering is light and smooth, but also felt twitchy and would occasionally jerk you around if you weren’t careful. We would have rather not had it on this machine and saved some money. In the case of the Suzuki, we wished it came with EPS. It rides a bit rough, and the steering is tight. At times, the 400ASi felt unpredictable and gave us an arm workout at all speeds.

WORK AND PLAY
Choosing between the similarly priced straight-axle Suzuki over the Can-Am is simple if you want to use it for recreational riding. The Outlander L will win out every time due to its better ride performance, easier handling and stronger powerplant. The same can also be said for the Can-Am in the working world. Can-Am’s Outlander L 500 can tow up to 1300 pounds and has a max cargo-rack capacity of 360 pounds. There is a 2.9-gallon storage container in the rear of the machine, and, as far as fuel consumption goes, it holds 5.4 gallons in its tank. However, since the engine is bigger than the Suzuki 400ASi, it runs at an average of 15 mpg. The Suzuki can tow up to 992 pounds and has a max rack capacity of 198 pounds. We figured since the KingQuad has a straight axle, it would tow and hold more weight, but that wasn’t the case. The gas tank holds 4.2 gallons, but since the engine is smaller than the Outlander’s, it runs at an average of 20 mpg and doesn’t need to hold as much fuel as the Can-Am to go similar distances.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The Can-Am Outlander L 500 and the Suzuki KingQuad 400ASi are both well-made utility 4x4s that are fun to ride and quite capable. However, when it comes to choosing which machine is worth its price, the Outlander L takes the cake and eats it too. The 450 version of the Can-Am is $500 cheaper than the $6499 Suzuki and left us feeling like the KingQuad needed an update in technology or a serious price drop. If Suzuki incorporated independent suspension with longer suspension on all four corners of the 400 ASi, beefed up the motor by 50cc, and sold it at the same price it goes for at the moment, then it would be a close call against the Outlander L. At this point, we will just have to patiently wait for such things and hope they make it happen soon! It’s machines like this Can-Am Outlander L 500 and the Polaris Sportsman 570 that will make old air-cooled, straight-axle 4x4s from Suzuki and Honda obsolete. This style of machine has already disappeared from Yamaha’s and Kawasaki’s lineups, and it’s for good reason. They simply do not provide the same level of comfort and control that a fully independent-suspension 4×4 ATV does. For more information on the CanAm Outlander L 500, you can go to www.canamoffroad.com or call (888) 272-9222. If you want to check out Suzuki’s KingQuad 400ASi, go to www.suzuki.com.

SPECS
2015 CAN-AM 2015 SUZUKI
OUTLANDER L 500 KINGQUAD 400ASi
Engine type………………499cc, SOHC, 4-stroke, …..376cc, SOHC, air-cooled,
liquid-cooled, V-twin 4-stroke single cylinder
Bore x stroke……………..82mm x 47mm…………………82mm x 71.2mm
Fuel system……………….EFI…………………………………..EFI
Fuel capacity……………5.4 gal……………………………..4.2 gal.
Starting system…………Electric……………………………Electric
Transmission…………….Automatic CVT w/………….Automatic CVT w/
H, L, N and R H, L, N and R
Final drive………………..Shaft……………………………….Shaft
Suspension/wheel travel:
Front………………………..Double A-arm/9″…………….Double A-arm/6.7″
Rear………………………..Independent torsional……Swingarm/6.7 in
trailing arm/8.8″
Tires:
Front………………………..25×8-12″…………………………..25×8-12″
Rear………………………..25×10-12″…………………………25×10-12″
Brakes:
Front………………………..Hydraulic disc………………..Hydraulic disc
Rear………………………..Hydraulic disc………………..Drum
Wheelbase………………..51″……………………………………50″
Length/width/height…83″/46″/49″………………………..81″/45.1″/48″
Ground clearance…….10.5″…………………………………9.8″
Seat height……………….33.8″…………………………………33.1″
Total rack capacity…..360 lb………………………………198 lb.
Towing capacity……….1300 lb…………………………….992 lb.
Curb weight……………..703 lb………………………………628 lb.
Colors……………………….. Yellow, silver, camo………Flame Red, Terra Green
Base price…………………$5999 (450), $6999 (500)……$6499

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