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ATV Review: 2013 King Quad 500AXi Power Steering 30th Anniversary Edition

2013 Suzuki King Quad 500AXi Power Steering 30th Anniversary Edition
MSRP: $9.099 (EPS model is $8,599)
Final Thoughts + King Quad 500AXi Power Steering 30th Anniversary Edition At a Glance

Suzuki's King Quad 500AXi Power Steering has earned a reputation for being one of the leading mid-size utility machines on the market. The 30th anniversary edition is essentially the same machine; with a Metallic Matte-Royal Red color scheme that fetches a $500 premium. Price aside, I was impressed when I tackled the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Central California with the King Quad 500AXi 30th Anniversary Edition.

The 500AXi is powered by a fuel-injected 493cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke engine that is a clone of the larger 750cc motor—with the exception of using a smaller top end that lowers displacement. Thanks to Suzuki's electronic fuel injection, power delivery is very smooth and the King Quad performed flawlessly, even on a cold morning startup at nearly 10,000 feet.

It also features Suzuki’s QuadMatic automatic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). This transmission has been one of my favorite designs since I first rode it back in 2005 on the original King Quad 700. The Low, High, Neutral, and Reverse gears are actuated through a buttery-smooth left hand shift mechanism. I like the ability to shift without having to grab a handful of brake first. Plus, having the shifter on the left side makes the rider's right hand available to hold the front brake and engage four-wheel drive or differential lock. The engine braking on this ATV felt natural and functioned so well that I'd place it at the top of the mid-size class.

The 500AXi shares the same chassis as its 750cc big brother, so it inherits Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) and the swanky, premium—it's plush, but not overly soft—ride associated with this design. This makes the King Quad comfortable at both low and high speeds over all sorts of terrain. Whether I was bashing through wash outs, crawling though the rocks, or launching the occasionally jump, the suspension performed impressively. 

The 500AXi I tested was Suzuki's top-of-the-line model and as such, came with Electric Power Steering (EPS). The value and safety EPS adds to an ATV should never be underestimated. Power steering not only reduces steering effort and minimizes rider fatigue, it also absorbs hard impacts from trail obstacles that would otherwise rip the bars out of the rider's hand. The addition of the EPS puts this machine at the top of my list in the mid-size utility ATV market.

The front (25x8x12) and rear (25x10x12) tires performed well in the sand and granite where I rode. Based on my extensive experience aboard the 500AXi, I believe they should provide new owners decent general purpose tires in all but the muddiest terrain. 

The front brakes are twin discs actuated from a separate front lever and the rear brakes are the same wet-disk design used on all King Quad models incorporating this chassis since 2005. They work well, but their lack of hydraulic actuation leaves the rear brake pedal and lever feeling numb. That disconnected feeling is inherent to this type of braking system, since the brake is cable operated rather than hydraulically linked like the fronts. The good news is you’ll never have to worry about bending a rotor, replacing brake pads, or dealing with squeaks.

Ergonomically, the King Quad 500AXi is comfortable and feels exactly like the 750AXi. A giant T-shaped seat keeps riders firmly planted in the saddle. The King Quad was sized perfectly for my 6-foot-2-inch frame. And it checks in at 661 pounds, making it one of the lighter ATV’ in this class. The front and rear cargo racks are made of sturdy round bar, which makes securely fastening cargo a breeze.

Final Thoughts:
The 30th Anniversary Suzuki King Quad 500AXi with Power Steering is not only a mouthful to pronounce, it’s a feature-packed mid-size ATV that delivers a smooth ride, excellent handling, and sufficient power. Suzuki is a very conservative company that doesn't make huge changes each and every year. What the King Quad may lack in the latest "bling," Suzuki makes up for by producing an ultra-reliable machine that will deliver years of trouble-free service and retain its resale value over time.

My friends ask me all the time for advice on helping them decide which new ATV to buy.  If I was saving my own pennies to buy a new mid-size ATV, the 2013 King Quad 500AXi with Power Steering is definitely one model that would make it to the top of a very short list.

King Quad 500AXi Power Steering 30th Anniversary Edition At a Glance
HITS

- The entire King Quad family has an excellent reputation for build quality and reliability.
- Electric Power Steering is worth every penny.
- Enclosed wet-bath rear brake will provide years of maintenance-free service.
- Excellent ergonomics. Compact chassis fits riders of all sizes well.
- Steel racks make it simple to tie cargo down.
- Engine brake feels very natural and is one of the best on a CVT equipped machine.
- Suzuki's plastic body panels are some of the toughest in the business.

MISSES
- No pod mounted headlight on the handlebars like the King Quad 750AXi.
- $500 extra for a fancy paint job and a 30th anniversary badge is pretty steep. I'd save that money by purchasing the standard Power Steering model and invest in a winch.
- The rear wet brake's cable and lack of hydraulic actuation leaves it feeling numb.

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