Rain, more rain and then a whole lot more rain! That's how my adventure to test Suzuki's KingQuad 450 4x4 began. Upon arrival to the Suzuki Manufacturing of America Corporation (SMAC) facility in Rome, Georgia, things were not looking positive as thick, dark, ominous clouds rolled in and unleashed ferocious showers. This may not seem like too bad of a problem since I was there to test one of Suzuki's newest four-wheel-drive utility ATVs, but overcast skies mixed with torrential downpours equals a photographer's nightmare. Suzuki carted us on a 45-minute journey from the SMAC plant to Highland Park to sample the newest member of the KingQuad family. Meanwhile, my frustration level rose beyond the norm as it began to rain harder and harder the closer we got. Figures, huh? But as we pulled into the staging area, something significant happened that would change the momentum of this day: It finally stopped raining. And after a few laps, the soil was in perfect condition for some hard-core utility testing. My mood brightened as I rode the new Suzuki. With this machine, the company may have the hottest 450cc utility ATV on the market. So be sure to read on-you don't want to miss out on this excitement.
The newest member to the Suzuki ute family, the KingQuad 450 is packed with big quad goodies at the affordable price of $6499. At the core is a 454cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke, four-valve SOHC motor. Its most unique feature is its first-in-class Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI). Spreading beyond the realm of big-bores, the life-simplifying EFI automatically adjusts to climate and altitude and delivers fuel more efficiently, resulting in better performance. And it just wouldn't be a 4x4 without an easy-to-engage 4WD system and an effortless locking front differential. Just like its bigger brother, the KQ 450 possesses an easy-to-use switch that locks the differential into position, so you don't have to hold down a button or lever while tackling gnarly terrain. The airbox on this unit is the largest in its class and is positioned in the highest possible location, so mud and water have very little chance of seeping in.
One feature that stood out for me was the user-friendly shift-gate drive selector on the left-hand side of the quad. No longer will you have to remove your throttle hand to put the 'Zook into gear or fight the sticking selector that is so common on many other models. The shifter falls into the gear of your choice with ease. Suzuki has also incorporated the ever-so-popular Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) into the design so the ride is comfortable and stable in rough terrain. The suspension on all four corners of the quad comes with shocks that are easily adjusted (over five ways and even on the trail) with the spanner wrench included in the tool kit. The days of pounding a screwdriver with a hammer in your garage could be over. The rear braking system features a sealed oil-bathed multidisc system that Suzuki claims will ensure a long brake pad life. This will not only help to keep green in your wallet, but will aid in keeping your quad out of the shop and on the trail.
First Ride Impression
I know I have a great job when Suzuki hands me the keys to a brand-new KingQuad 450 to use and abuse. Testing the quad's limits is a total blast, made even greater when the product exceeds my expectations. Such was the case with the KQ 450, which instantly comes to life with a tap of the electric start button. And it will start in any gear. As the motor began warming up, I made my first discovery-the Suzuki's new 450 motor was unusually smooth and quiet. The power delivery was strong, smooth and somewhat fast, but because of the nature of the 450 class, I found myself looking for a little more speed. The low-end power never had problems tackling even the largest hills or craziest obstacles in my path. When 4WD was needed, an easy push of the button with my right thumb was all that was required to engage it. I sunk the midsize beast into mud holes, climbed up nasty rocks and hills and popped it over fallen trees. This machine could not be held back easily.
I have always been a stickler for good handling on a quad. What use is a powerful engine if the chassis can't keep up? The KQ 450 has most definitely conquered the handling department. Stick it in a corner? No problem, each turn built my confidence in its cornering abilities. Its low center of gravity allowed me to whip it in and out of tight trails, blast out of sweeping turns and tackle obstacles all without the worry of tipping over. She was stable and an absolute dream to ride. The only issue with handling I found was that the stock tires tended to roll under in hard turns. Maybe an extra pound or two of air pressure could have resolved this issue. We were not able to pound the KQ 450 through deep whoops, but in the moderate to extreme terrain through which we guided our test units, the suspension performed quite well. It handled the obstacle easily and rarely kicked, bucked or even bottomed out.