We rode the KingQuad on the...
We rode the KingQuad on the Voyageur Multiuse Trail System in Mattawa, a small town in eastern Ontario, Canada.
When the original Suzuki King-Quad was released back in 1991, it was largely considered the most high-tech utility machine in the then-burgeoning utility class. It had many revolutionary features for the time: independent rear suspension; a locking front differential; and high, low and super-low range gears (with a total of 35 drive-gear options). But time marches on, and those once-groundbreaking characteristics are now considered commonplace (or obsolete) in today's sport-utility market.
Enter the 2005 KingQuad 700. Suzuki feels its new KingQuad is the best Quad-Runner ATV the company has ever produced. That's a bold claim, but we can safely say that Suzuki's confident boast is easily backed up.
The KingQuad loves the mud!...
The KingQuad loves the mud! We managed to bury the machine well up to and over the fenders numerous times in mud and water, and it never whimpered once.
When designing the new KingQuad, the engineers had one goal in mind--not to get sidetracked trying to "one-up" the competition in any particular category (displacement, ground clearance, etc.), but to make sure that in the end all the elements of their first big-bore 4x4 would work together harmoniously.
At the heart of the KingQuad is a single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC engine. The cylinder is pitched forward at a 48-degree angle to help keep a low center of gravity. The KingQuad is the only machine in its class to feature a dual-overhead-cam design. A chain-and-gear cam-shaft drive system is used to maintain a compact cylinder head design (another effort to keep the cg lower). The head cover is made from magnesium to reduce weight.
A high-tech engine deserves an equally high-tech fuel-delivery system. Carb? Please, that's so 20th-century. Suzuki opted for a state-of-the-art fuel-injection system adopted from the company's winning GSX-R streetbike line. It provides crisp throttle response and super-smooth power delivery. One nice side benefit of the fuel injection (besides your not ever having to mess with a choke again) is reduced fuel consumption: Suzuki claims it's approximately 5 to 10 percent more efficient.
The KingQuad's fuel-injected,...
The KingQuad's fuel-injected, 695cc engine is a real workhorse. Its smooth, strong powerband delivers tractable power down low and pulls strong up high.
Mated to the big-bore mill is Suzuki's Quad-Matic transmission (a V-belt, continuously variable design). The auto tranny has all the trimmings you'd expect from a machine of this caliber: It has high/low range, reverse and three drive modes (2WD, 4WD and 4WD differential lock). The front diff-lock can be used only in the low gear setting when maximum traction is needed. And when the going gets really tough, there's a handlebar-mounted override switch, which releases the engine's rev-limiter.
A high-tensile steel frame was designed to provide maximum rigidity, while front and rear independent suspension soaks up all the rough stuff. The King-Quad comes with five-way preload-adjustable shocks at all four corners. A rear sway bar also helps keep the peppy machine on an even keel when the riding gets a little faster. Front travel is a respectable 7.1 inches, while the rear measures in at 8.0 inches.
With its 8 inches of travel,...
With its 8 inches of travel, the KingQuad's independent rear suspension soaks up the gnarliest of bumps.
Suzuki made sure this beast could halt quickly. A pair of hydraulic 200mm disc brakes provides stopping power up front for consistent and strong braking action. In the rear you'll find a sealed, seven-plate, oil-bathed brake system (the only technology borrowed from Kawasaki on this machine, in case you were wondering how much was in common with Kawi's similar-looking Brute Force).
Suzuki held the intro for the KingQuad up in North Bay, Ontario, Canada (more specifically, we rode the machine on the Voyageur Multiuse Trail System in Mattawa). We started out in the town and rode on some of the most-epic trails imaginable.
If you look closely, you can...
If you look closely, you can see that the KingQuad comes complete with duct work to better route a winch wiring harness. Nice touch.
The KingQuad fires right up when you stab at the starter button, and it idles pleasantly immediately. After we warmed it up for the prerequisite minute or so, we clicked it into high gear. A gate-style gear shifter is mounted on the left side of the machine, toward the top of the fender. It's easily accessible and engages with authority. To switch into gear or switch between the gears, you have to hold in the rear brake.
Initially, the steering felt so light that it felt borderline twitchy; but after riding for several hours, we hardly noticed it anymore. In fact, the more we rode it, the more we realized that other utility machines require more steering effort than we'd like! Call us spoiled, but the King-Quad steers like a champ.
Deep water and mud pose no...
Deep water and mud pose no problem for the King. The fender coverage is more than adequate--we ran through this mud hole repeatedly, and you'll notice that our jersey stayed nice and clean!
The solid steering is especially beneficial when crawling over obstacles at low speed. When we rock-crawled the King in tight technical sections, it was made all the easier thanks to the light steering input; we weren't constantly sawing away at the bar, fighting the front end.
Medium-speed handling is where the King-Quad really shines. When the trail begins whizzing by, the machine feels exceptionally stable. We hit plenty of wide-open fire roads, with the occasional moderately rocky section, and it handled ably. The independent rear suspension soaks up unexpected square-edged rocks and bumps with aplomb. Many a time we'd see that big rock in the middle of the trail at the last second and brace for the resulting jarring ass-bounce, but it never happened.
Another reason mid-speed handling is so pleasant is the strong midrange the engine produces. When cruising at speed, all it takes is a stab at the throttle to get the machine going in a hurry. It was a blast cruising down twisty sections of wide-open roads, gunning the throttle from apex to apex.
How fast is the KingQuad? "On the record," mid-60s (indicated). "Off the record," we bounced off the rev-limiter at 72 mph. And guess what? Super-stable. Not once did it feel sketchy riding at that speed. When we rode it on hard-packed dirt roads (going from trailhead to trailhead), we played make-believe supermoto aboard the King, throwing a leg off to one side as we'd apex a turn at full throttle. What a blast. In fact, the quad is so confidence-inspiring that we'd blast down a fast trail, going over murderous rocks, glance at the speedometer and be pleasantly shocked we were pushing 63 mph. This happened more than once ...
The KingQuad should come with a little submarine captain's hat. We buried the machine during our testing. Some of the trails on the Voyageur system have been known to reduce men to tears with all the challenging mud sections. What better place to put the King to the test? After submerging it up to its handlebar repeatedly, we're pleased to announce the tranny never slipped, the engine never sputtered and we didn't have to dismount or get towed out. It handles mud and deep water like a, well, like a mud thingy.
The KingQuad has extremely strong front brakes. For those who like to ride aggressively, the front binders come on surprisingly strong. Only one time did we face a "situation" with them. We were riding a section of trail with uneven grip surfaces and locked up the front brakes really hard (and the front brakes only). The bar jerked to one side rather quickly and caught us off guard. We didn't lose control, but it made us take into consideration the "front brake only" braking action from then on. We're happy to report that throughout the rest of the ride we didn't encounter the situation again, so it was an isolated incident.
The rear brakes are equally as powerful, but it's harder to modulate their action. When you get on the brakes, the rear end tends to lock up (this was especially evident on hard-packed trail surfaces). When riding over more-loamy terrain, the rear brakes stopped the machine more consistently.
There's no doubt that the KingQuad is the finest 4x4 ATV Suzuki has ever produced, considering even its fabulous Vinson. How it stacks up against the competition will be determined when we gather the entire big-bore field for our super-shootout. One thing especially worth noting (and we're saving the best for last) is that the KingQuad, as feature-filled as it is, also happens to be the lowest-priced big-bore sport utility on the market. With that in mind, the competition certainly has its work cut out for it.