Power steering is very subtle on the Suzuki. It helps when you want it, but is invisible otherwise.
You would expect the Suzuki KingQuad 750AXi to be a rude, snarling beast. You would expect it to have the table manners of a giant ogre, to be hard to contain and impossible to manage. After all, it is the largest single-cylinder ATV in the world. The 722cc engine has a bore of 104mm, which puts it in the same category as Russian biplanes and tractors. If you’ve been around, you remember how big singles acted in the old days of BSA motorcycles. They were anything but smooth; they were hard starting, they backfired and they would sometimes set their own air filters on fire. But man, did they have torque.
Technology moves on. The Suzuki is civilized and groomed. It’s covered in a sleek, gleaming layer of sophistication, but under it all, there’s still just enough brute strength to go ogre when the right situation arises.
BIG AND BEEFY
The KingQuad is compact and good looking.
The Suzuki back in 2005 owes its existence, at least somewhat, to a brief alliance with a fierce rival. Kawasaki and Suzuki formed a partnership in the early 2000s in order to share development costs and more effectively gang up on other ATV makers. That gave Suzuki a taste of its first mega quad—the twin-cylinder Kawasaki Prairie 700. It was rebadged as the Suzuki Twin Peaks and sold so well that plans for an all-Suzuki mega quad started moving, just in case the relationship ended up in divorce court. It did, of course, and the Suzuki KingQuad 700 came into being. It was conceived to one-up the Twin Peaks in most ways. It would equally match the displacement of the 700 twin, but do it with a single mighty cylinder, outsizing even the Yamaha 660 Grizzly of the day. It would also be the largest double-overhead-cam ATV of any kind, as well as become Suzuki’s first fuel-injected and independent suspension quad. In 2007, it gained another 27cc and was retitled as a 750, just for added insurance in the record book.
The Suzuki’s DOHC head and cylinder are so big that they had to be canted forward at 48 degrees, just to keep the machine’s overall height reasonable. That also allows a straight shot into the combustion chamber from the throttle body. The drivetrain is fairly conventional, with a CV transmission that has high, low and reverse. Four-wheel drive is engaged with a handlebar-mounted button. When you want front diff-lock, a little flap slides over that button. The transmission is configured to provide moderate engine braking when you chop the throttle. The front suspension has double A-arms, while the rear mixes a lower A-arm with an upper I-beam. There’s a small sway bar, and the shocks are preload adjustable.
The Suzuki KingQuad 750AXi is nimble and relatively light as far as mega quads go.
Electronic power steering came into the picture in 2009, but this year marks the first motor change since ‘07. The motivation was reduced emissions, but a side effect is better efficiency. These days, the California Air Resources Board is the Al-Qaeda of corporate terrorism for anyone in the motorsports industry, tossing around massive fines like IEDs. Suzuki and others have learned the hard way that it’s best to stay way ahead of ever-tightening regulations, so the new KingQuad is clean enough to meet standards that are years away. A new head now has two spark plugs for more thorough combustion. The throttle body now has 10 holes instead of four, and the ECU has been remapped. The muffler now has a catalyst, too, which is relevant to California ATV riders. It means that an aftermarket muffler can’t be sold in that state unless it, too, is certified by CARB (none are so far). In all other states, aftermarket mufflers are perfectly legal.
Another change for 2014 is Suzuki’s first use of traction control—sort of. Suzuki calls it Slip Control Logic technology, but we know what that is, and it’s been showing up in motorcycle circles, most recently in the Suzuki V-Strom 1000. The quad has a much simpler version, with the ECU on the lookout for sudden rpm gains and using various means to soften the power output when that happens. Expect to see much more of this type of technology in the near future.
BEYOND THE CIVIL SIDE
You can’t tell from the exterior, but the 2014 Suzuki KingQuad has a number of significant changes.
Most of the time the KingQuad never reveals its inner ogre. In the early years of EPA and CARB certification, the only tool that engine makers could use to reduce emissions was leaner jetting. That caused a wide assortment of bad manners, including hard starting, popping and detonation. None of those traits are evident here. It starts easily and requires virtually no warm-up. The motor is quiet and nearly vibration-free. There’s really no indication that there’s a piston the size of a paint can at work under the body. But there is. The KingQuad accelerates hard and fast when you punch it. The clutch engages without much lag, and the torque is impressive. We can’t say that there’s any real change in performance for 2014, but we didn’t expect any. We were more curious to see if the emission changes did anything to spoil the Suzuki’s personality. It didn’t happen. The motor is as smooth as ever.
The new Slip Control Logic is virtually invisible. In two-wheel drive, you can slide the Suzuki just like any other big quad. In 4×4 mode, traction increases dramatically as you would expect, but the new system’s contribution to that is very subtle. We have a feeling that Suzuki is only getting its feet wet in the traction-control pool at this time.
For hard-core 4×4 action, the Suzuki rates much higher than average. As far as premium-class, full-size 4×4 quads go, it’s a smallish machine and isn’t intimidating at all. It has a much smaller feel than the various flagships from Polaris, Can-Am, Arctic Cat and Kawasaki. The Honda Rincon and Yamaha Grizzly are more comparable in physical size and weight. All three have excellent rock-climbing ability because their compact layouts allow excellent maneuverability. We further focused our test quad to deal with rocks by equipping it with several Suzuki accessories. The underside of the machine was armored with A-arm guards and a full-length skid plate. This added $XXX.XX to the price. The crowning piece was the Warn winch, which cost an additional $XXX.XX.
BITS & PIECES
Full under armor from Suzuki Accessories allowed us to bash rocks without hesitation.
In the past, the Suzuki’s one handling trait that attracted criticism was its quick steering. This was no problem at lower speeds, but the Suzuki could feel somewhat nervous when it stretched its legs. For the power-steering-equipped version, this is almost a non-issue. Suzuki has one of the most conservative EPS systems on the market. You almost never know it’s there—you just think your trips to the gym have been really productive. At speed, the power steering doubles as a sort of steering damper, so bumps and impacts have almost no feedback to the handlebar. The steering itself is still very sensitive, but the power steering helps rather than hurts, as it does on some other big quads.
The top speed of the Suzuki is around 67 mph in high range and 32 in low with the stock tires and wheels. The Duro tires are good, general-purpose items, but not especially tough for extreme use. We might make tires and wheels the next items on our hit list, but there’s almost nothing else that the Suzuki wants or needs. It’s a well-finished machine lacking any bad traits or ill behavior. But, attitude is still available when you need it.
Suzuki’s parts catalog includes a genuine U.S.-made Warn winch.
2014 SUZUKI KINGQUAD 750AXi
Engine 722cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC,
Bore x stroke 104mm x 85mm
Fuel system Fuel injection
Fuel capacity 4.6 gal.
Starting system Electric
Final drive Shafts
Front Independent double
Rear Independent double
Front Dual hydraulic discs
Rear Sealed oil-bathed multi-disc
Ground clearance 10.2″
Seat height 36.2″
Turning radius N/A
Total rack capacity 199 lb.
Towing capacity 990 lb.
Curb weight 672 lb.
Colors Terra Green, Flame Red,
Price $9499 (Terra Green/Flame Red),