ATV TEST: 2016 Suzuki KingQuad 500 4X4 EPS

Until recently, when we thought of the most fun 4×4 ATVs, almost all of them packed engines with 750cc or more. Since we’ve ridden the new Suzuki KingQuad 500 Power Steering, we’re adding it to our list.

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WHAT’S NEW ON THE 2016?
The big changes really happened in 2015, when the 500’s single-overheadcam, four-valve engine got dual-sparkplug ignition, a new cam, and updated fuel and ignition mapping. The machine also got new front-end styling and changes to the bodywork to allow easy access to the oil dipstick. The 2016 also comes with Carlisle 489 AT tires to replace the Maxxis meats on the 2015, and there’s a new Matte Black Special Edition, an addition to the red, green and camo color choices.

HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
The KingQuad 500 Power Steering starts at $8299. The Matte Black Special Edition is $8599, and the camo version is $8699. You can also get the KingQuad 500 without power steering for $7399. Honda’s Rubicon 500 EPS starts at $8499. Yamaha’s new Kodiak 700 EPS is $8199. Polaris’ Sportsman 570 EPS starts at $7499. Can-Am’s new Outlander 570L DPS is $7699.

Smooth, positive action makes the KingQuad’s shift lever one of the best on any ATV.
Smooth, positive action makes the KingQuad’s shift lever one of the best on any ATV.

WHAT KIND OF TRANSMISSION DOES IT HAVE?
A dual-range, fully automatic, belttype continuously variable transmission. A centrifugal clutch on the primary clutch protects the belt and provides smooth, predictable engine braking to all four wheels when you’re in 4WD. Suzuki also graced the 500 with one of the smoothest, most positive shift levers on any automatic ATV.

WHAT SORT OF 4WD SYSTEM DOES IT USE?
Selectable 2WD/4WD with manual front differential-lock control. Some systems, like Can-Am’s and Polaris’, lock the front differential automatically. The Suzuki lets you lock or unlock the front differential when you like with a switch by the 4WD button.

Suzuki’s KingQuad 500 Power Steering and 750 Power Steering share the same chassis, and the 500 is 11 pounds lighter, but it feels 40 pounds lighter and more agile.
Suzuki’s KingQuad 500 Power Steering and 750 Power Steering share the same chassis, and the 500 is 11 pounds lighter, but it feels 40 pounds lighter and more agile.

HOW FAST IS IT?
Speed- and acceleration-wise, it’s similar to other 2015 500–570 4x4s, but the engine responds more quickly, and the clutching gives more instant access to the power than some. We haven’t ridden the 2016 570s from Can-Am and Polaris yet.

HOW IS THE POWER ON THE TRAIL?
Fun and usable. The 500’s engine revs freely and it’s very smooth, so it’s fun to roll the throttle on and feel the power build, and it’s strong enough to conquer seriously challenging trails. There’s enough snap in the power delivery that you can coax the 500 to slide around turns or wheelie over obstacles when you want. If steady, smooth power is what you need for relaxed cruising, negotiating sketchy, slippery trails or careful hauling or towing, the 500 can do that too.

Most 4x4 ATVs have independent rear suspension, but few can match the Suzuki’s comfort and handling.
Most 4×4 ATVs have independent rear suspension, but few can match the Suzuki’s comfort and handling.

WHAT KIND OF SUSPENSION DOES IT HAVE?
Up front there are double A-arms with spring preload-adjustable shocks and 7.1 inches of travel. In the rear there are A-arms and control arms with preload-adjustable shocks and 7.9 inches of travel. A rear sway bar limits body roll.

The 500 got a more rugged-looking grill in 2015. Power-steering models have different front-suspension tuning and geometry than non-power-steering KingQuads. We like the feel of the power-steering models better.
The 500 got a more rugged-looking grill in 2015. Power-steering models have different front-suspension tuning and geometry than non-power-steering KingQuads. We like the feel of the power-steering models better.

HOW DOES THE SUSPENSION WORK?
It’s a very good blend of comfort for low-speed exploring and rugged terrain and control for fast trail riding. The KingQuad hasn’t got as much travel as some 4x4s, which means big impacts bottom it more easily, but semi-long-travel suspension helps the Suzuki corner more securely than taller machines. Power steering helps the 500’s ride quality by damping the kick bumps send through the steering while it cuts steering effort.

The KingQuad 500’s snappy response makes it more fun to ride than most 500-class 4x4s.
The KingQuad 500’s snappy response makes it more fun to ride than most 500-class 4x4s.

HOW DOES IT HANDLE?
Very well. Suzuki’s KingQuad 500 Power Steering and 750 Power Steering share the same chassis, and the 500 is 11 pounds lighter, but it feels 40 pounds lighter and more agile. It’s almost 100 pounds lighter than some 500–570 4x4s, which helps every aspect of handling, acceleration and braking. The Suzuki is a very willing handler; you feel in control of it rather than feeling like the machine is controlling you.

HOW DOES IT HANDLE HILLS?
It has no fear of heights. The Suzuki has more than enough power to conquer the hills most trails throw at you, even if the dirt is soft or slippery. Technical climbs with obstacles on the way up reveal the 500’s nimble handling and reassuring stability. The 4WD system keeps the KingQuad driving upward, and on hills so gnarly that front differential lock is needed, the power steering negates the extra steering effort. Hairy downhills seem less hairy on the Suzuki, because its weight is so easy to control and the engine braking system works so well. The hydraulic front disc brakes have very good feel and power, which makes the cable-operated rear brake feel unimpressive by comparison. Having separate front and rear brake controls give skilled riders an extra measure of control.

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HOW IS IT IN MUD AND WATER?
If you don’t make it through, it’s not the machine’s fault. Suzuki armed the KingQuad with all the key weapons that keep a machine moving in mud and water. You’ve got 10.2 inches of ground clearance, plenty of power, a versatile and effective 4WD system, and high-engine and transmission intakes. The sealed rear brake was designed to live happily in wet, sloppy conditions too. With all that working for you, crossings that submerge the tires are just another part of the trail.

The 500’s seat and bodywork are close to perfect. If we could change it, we’d make the midsection slimmer.
The 500’s seat and bodywork are close to perfect. If we could change it, we’d make the midsection slimmer.

HOW ARE THE DETAILS?
Some are great, some are near great. The feel of the KingQuad 500’s controls—from the throttle to the shift lever—is so good, other ATV manufacturers should study it. The power steering takes away steering effort without taking away steering feel. The seat and riding position are close to perfect, too, though the machine would be even more comfortable if it were slimmer in the middle. We like the two storage compartments, but it would be great if standard water bottles fit easily in the fender-mounted container. You can cram a 16-ouncer in, and smaller bottles fit easily.
WHAT IS OUR FINAL ANSWER? The KingQuad 500 Power Steering is one of the more expensive 500–570 4x4s, but it feels more expensive, and it has something you don’t find on every 500—fun power delivery. In our book, that makes it one of the more desirable machines in its class.

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SPECS
SUZUKI KINGQUAD 500 POWER STEERING
ENGINE/TRANSMISSION
Engine type .. Liquid-cooled, OHC, 4-valve-per-cylinder, 4-stroke
Displacement …………………………………………493cc
Bore x stroke …………………………..87.5mm x 82mm
Compression ratio …………………………………. 10.0:1
Lubrication system ……………………………. Wet sump
Fuel metering …………………. EFI, 37mm throttle body
Starting/back-up ……………………………..Electric/none
Starting procedure ……………In neutral or any gear w/ brake engaged
Choke ……………………………………………………….NA
Air filter access ….. Remove airbox cover and wing nut on airbox lid
Transmission ……… Fully automatic dual-range CVT w/ engine braking and reverse
Reverse procedure……….. Move range selector to “R”
Drive system . Selectable 2WD/4WD w/ diff-lock mode
Final drives f/r …………………………………..Shaft/shaft
DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES/WEIGHTS
Fuel capacity ……………………………………….. 4.6 gal.
Wheelbase …………………………………………….. 50.6”
Overall length/width/height ………….83.3”/47.6”/50.6”
Seat height ……………………………………………. 36.2”
Ground clearance …………………………………….. 10.2”
Wet weight …………………………………………..661 lb.
Rack weight limits: f/r ………………….. 120 lb./160 lb.
Hitch ……………………………………………………….Yes
Towing limit………………………………………….1100 lb
ROLLING CHASSIS
Frame …………………………………….Round steel tube
Suspension/wheel travel:
Front …………………………………Double A-arms/7.1”
Rear ………………………………….Double A-arms/7.9”
Brakes/actuation:
Front …………………. Hydraulic discs/right hand lever
Rear ……………..Oil-bathed multi-disc/left-hand lever, right-foot pedal
Parking brake …….. Lever lock on left-hand brake lever
Tires:
Front …………………………………….25×8-12 Carlisle
Rear ……………………………………25×10-12 Carlisle
ELECTRICAL
DC outlet …………… Waterproof automotive-style plug
Lighting:
Front ………………Two 35W grill-mounted headlights
Rear ……………………………….. Single tail/brake light
DETAILS
Instruments ..Speedometer, odometer, trip odometer, tachometer, hour meter, fuel gauge, clock
Colors Terra Green, Flame Red,True Timber XD3 Camo
Minimum recommended operator age ………………. 16
Suggested retail price …………$8299; $8699 (Camo)
Contact ………………………… Suzuki, (800) 828-7433

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