ATV SHOOTOUT: SUZUKI KINGQUAD 750 AXi 4×4 vs KAWASAKI BRUTE FORCE 750 4x4i
Power meets finesse By the staff of Dirt Wheels
It can be tough proving which machine is the best between two highly acclaimed 4×4 ATVs from two of the top Japanese manufacturers. Kawasaki has had great success with their hefty Brute Force 750 4x4i powerhouse. It hasn’t been upgraded in quite a while, but Suzuki performed a full makeover on the KingQuad 750AXi 4×4 in 2018. It was refaced, reworked, strengthened and tuned to be a better version of its previous self.
We jumped, crawled, clawed, submerged and ripped the Brute Force and KingQuad through almost every type of terrain we could find. The specs are similar, they run in the same class and both machines are a blast to ride. Kawasaki’s Brute may not be the latest style, but maybe it hasn’t changed because it doesn’t need to yet. Let’s find out!
The Kawi really is the brute in the motor department. A 749cc, V-twin cylinder, liquid-cooled four-stroke engine pumps out a healthy amount of power and a forceful amount of torque. Its 5-gallon fuel tank holds almost a 1/2 gallon more than the Suzuki does. Planning ahead for how thirsty the powerplant tends to be, we aren’t ashamed to admit that a lot of the Brute’s fuel-consumption issues stem from riders enjoying the sound and acceleration of the playful power delivery. We believe that Team Green built the Force to feel like you have a motocross bike’s power, range and feel.
Suzuki’s KingQuad is tame in comparison. Suzuki wanted a motor that was reliable, and durable enough to last a lifetime. Not a powerhouse that turns trails into a blur. A dual overhead camshaft, 722cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine provides smooth and subtle output. This KQ model weighs in at 758-pounds, which is 59 pounds heavier than the Kawi. Don’t let the calm demeanor of the Suzuki fool you. Our test riders were able to keep up with the Brute pretty well. The smooth output lets you find traction, where the Kawasaki wants to spin tires.
Both competitors in this shootout have fully automatic continuously variable transmissions with high, low, neutral and reverse gearing. Both work well, and we never had any issues with them. At the moment, only Honda offers a big 4×4 with a mechanical transmission, and its engine size leaves the outdated Rincon on the sidelines for this shootout.
Both 4×4 systems are fully shaft-driven. The machines are operable in two- and four-wheel drive, and they both come with a lockable front differential. However, the Brute Force relies on a lever that activates the front diff only while the trigger-style lever is held in. Suzuki has a switch on the throttle housing that lets you activate the front diff and leave your digits to control the brakes, throttle and direction you are traveling. An upside to the Kawasaki’s pull-in lever? Well, if you can remember to slightly pull in the front diff lever during spirited riding, it can act like a steering stabilizer for the front end. This was rarely performed by our test riders, because it is something you have to concentrate on doing while already focusing on the trail obstacles ahead.
Fully independent front and rear suspension has become a staple in the utility 4×4 industry. These machines weigh a lot, have big engines and can be tough to tame on technical trails. A straight axle will only make piloting them more challenging. Comfort is also very important to consumers that utilize these cargo-capable quads for ranch work and hunting. The Kawasaki and Suzuki both have independent rear suspension. The Suzuki has 7.7 inches of rear-wheel travel, which is a touch more than the Brute’s 7.5 inches. Each dual-A-arm front end has 6.7 inches of wheel travel, and spring preload-adjustable shocks come on all four corners of each model.
Similarities continue in the stopping category. The front brakes on the Brute Force and KingQuad are dual hydraulic discs, and the rear brake on each is a sealed multi-disc setup. There is a lever to control the front brakes on the right side of each handlebar. The rear brake is operated with a lever on the left side of the bar and is connected to a foot pedal on the right side of each quad.
We chose the Kawasaki and Suzuki models that come equipped with electronic power steering. If price isn’t a big factor in your decision, get an upgraded model with EPS. We have ridden each of these machines without EPS and can tell you that they both need it. EPS lets you ignore a lot of the chop and bumps that can upset the direction you want to travel.
CARGO & COCKPIT
Suzuki sent us the KingQuad 750AXi 4×4 EPS model with the Rugged Package included. This edition comes equipped with heavy duty front and rear bumpers and a 10-inch LED light bar as a standard feature. The Suzuki we have came with steel wheels, but there are versions with aluminum ones. Suzuki offers special edition models, SE+ versions and base models of the KQ with Rugged variations in the mix. The base model, without EPS, starts at a price tag of $8,849, while this version goes for $10,349.
Kawasaki offers the Brute Force 750 4x4i in three variations with differing color schemes included. We had the 750 4x4i EPS model that comes with cast aluminum wheels standard. The pricing runs from $9,999–$10,599 for this version, depending on which color option you chose. Kawi’s base model of the Brute starts at $8,999. The Suzuki and Kawasaki seem quite evenly matched between their subtle differences.
The cockpit, fit and finish, and cargo hauling ability see plenty of differences though. The BF holds onto an older body design. We are more or less patiently awaiting an overhaul. The plastics are sturdy, but we managed to cause some damage to the floorboard and fenders in the exact same terrain that the Suzuki exited unscathed.
The KingQuad is slimmer between the knees and legs. Both machines have raised footpegs and roomy footwells, but the fuel tank and V-twin engine on the Brute means the knee area had to be widened. Each seat offers plush comfort, but the Kawi’s has a bit more couch feeling. We would gladly take the handlebar bend of the BF as well. Suzuki designed the KingQuad’s bar to have a comfortable reward sweep, but also a downward sweep that is not as welcome while standing.
Each machine has front and rear steel cargo racks designed to easily strap items down. Kawasaki’s capacity rating for each rack out performs its competition. However, the KingQuad can tow up to 1322 pounds via a rear 2-inch hitch receiver, while the Force can only manage 1250 pounds from a fixed ball mount. Storage options are more plentiful on the KQ as well. The front fender has a water-resistant 2.8-liter compartment. The rear holds a centrally mounted 4.0-liter compartment, with another 4.0-liter compartment adjacent to the exhaust.
Kawasaki has a reasonably sized storage compartment in the center of the front cargo rack, but that can only be accessed if there are no items on the rack. They included a small netted cargo area on the left front fender and a sealed option on the right front fender. We do see the room to add more storage in the rear of the machine, but apparently the designers didn’t include it.
PICK A WINNER
We spent a few days testing the strengths and weaknesses between the Suzuki KingQuad 750AXi 4×4 and the Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i. We drowned each machine in muddy water, crawled through fender wrenching boulders, slid sandy and hard-packed corners and cruised them around the ranch. It truly was difficult to pick a winner in this shootout, but we had to give the refined and civilized Suzuki top honors!
The KingQuad may not pack the fun punch the Brute Force does in the engine department, but it’s single-cylinder big bore is sprightly enough to have fun with. Its output is linear and smooth, suited for any of our test riders to handle. Less experienced 4×4 operators struggled with the Brute’s massive torque in technical sections and found the front differential-lock lever tricky to use at times. Suzuki’s system is more intuitive. You press and forget, until you don’t need the front differential lock engaged, which lightens up the steering again.
Suzuki designed the steering geometry to enhance oversteer, which makes turning in tight areas much easier. This means that high speed stability is lessened and the machine feels less planted at speed. A version without EPS is even more difficult to operate. The Brute Force feels more similar to the KQ model without EPS though. The power steering system works well, but the Brute has quite a bit of bump-steer at faster speeds and feels like it has a stiff central zone and loose side zones. Suzuki’s KingQuad’s steering feels light from lock to lock.
Suspension performance was pretty similar between the competitors. The KingQuad offered a bit more comfort, but generally both steeds had a nice plush ride until you pushed their limits. The Suzuki’s 10.2-inch ground clearance was obvious in ruts, mud and rocks. The Brute hung up on a lot more obstacles with its 9.4 inches of clearance. Suzuki also made the suspension connection points match up with the frame height, as where Kawasaki has the connections above the bottom frame rails.
If you take into account the additional handlebar-mounted headlight, more storage options and bodywork that lasted longer in the rough stuff, it became clear that the KingQuad was outfitted better. A stronger engine, softer seat and larger cargo rack capacity are the only factors the Brute bested the Suzuki on.
LONG LIVE THE KING
We awarded the “king” title to the Suzuki for this shootout, because it performed every task we asked of it, either smoother or with less hassle. The bodywork held up better to abuse, and there is more storage on the machine. The Kawasaki is quite a bit more fun to pilot, though. There is just something about torque and power that stretches the smile wide on our faces when it’s time to leave the ranch work behind and hit the trails! If your primary consideration is a fun and sporty feeling, the shootout has a different winner for you.
SPECS: 2020 KAWASAKI BRUTE FORCE 2020 SUZUKI KINGQUAD 750 4x4i EPS 750AXi EPS w/ RUGGED PACKAGE
Engine V-twin, SOHC, liquid-cooled, DOHC, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, 4-stroke single-cylinder
Displacement 749cc 722cc Bore x Stroke 85mm x 66mm 104mm x 85mm
Starter Electric Electric
Fuel system EFI EFI
Fuel capacity 5.0 gal. 4.6 gal.
Transmission Automatic CVT Automatic CVT
Final drive Shaft Shaft
Front Dual A-arms w/ 6.7” Dual A-arms w/ 6.7”
Rear Dual A-arms w/ 7.5” Dual A-arms w/ 7.7”
Front Dual hydraulic discs Dual hydraulic discs
Rear Sealed oil-bathed multi-disc Sealed oil-bathed multi-disc
Front 25×8-12 25×8-12
Rear 25×10-12 25×10-12
Length/width/height 86.4”/46.5”/48.0” 88.8”/47.8”/50.6”
Ground clearance 9.4” 10.2”
Wheelbase 50.6” 50.6”
Curb weight 699 lb. 758 lb.
Front 88 lb. 66 lb.
Rear 176 lb. 132 lb.
Towing capacity 1250 lb. 1322 lb.
Colors Candy Steel Furnace Orange, Solid Special White, Flame Red Super Black, Vibrant Blue or Terra Green
Price $9,999–$10,599 $10,349
Contact www.kawasaki.com www.suzuki.com