Suzuki Vinson 500 4×4 Specs and Review

Highly regarded for its off-pavement performance and affordable price point, the Suzuki Vinson 500 surprised the entire off-roading community from the get-go. Due to its well-engineered overall design, plush suspension, and impressive low-end grunt, it was often compared to true open-class four-wheelers. Discover how the quad, referred to as “the little 500 that could,” won the hearts and approval of skeptics and enthusiasts alike in this article.

The Suzuki Vinson 500 is a rec/utility ATV introduced to the market between 2001 and 2007. Featuring a powerful 36-mm Keihin engine, auto/manual transmissions, selectable 2WD/4WD drive modes, and an unbreakable chassis, this mid-sized quad was popular with recreational and experienced riders.

Read on and learn more about Suzuki Vinson 500’s specs, features, and known issues. Discover its impressive capabilities and learn how this 500-class four-wheeler influenced present-day big-bore behemoths.

Two People on Red Quad

Darling of the Crowd

A formidable hybrid that performs exceptionally well as a work-oriented quad and a high-performance trail ride, the Suzuki Vinson 500 has impressed the general consumer since its inception. Introduced in Japan in 2001 and the North American market in 2002, the Vinson was massively successful with both casual and aggressive riders. The 4×4’s design was all about versatility – both on the ranch and outdoors. It boasted a 493-cm3 Keihin power mill, long-travel suspension, torquey mannerisms, and a rugged, sporty aesthetic – all for an MSRP of $6,599.

During its seven-year production run, the Vinson 500 series kept busy and released a total of five (5) trims and 19 models. All models were made available in automatic and manual transmissions, while its special-edition trims were offered in Limited Edition and Advantage™ camo. 5-speed constant mesh trannies were not introduced until the 2nd production year of the vehicle, and LE trims were not launched until 2004.

In this video by ATVTV, the presenter talks about the praiseworthy characteristics of a Suzuki Vinson 500 in detail:

2003 Suzuki Vinson 500 Specs & Features

Engine

Between the first and succeeding production years of the Vinson 500, its engine and fuel system underwent notable enhancements. The carburetor changed from a 34-mm Mikuni to a 36-mm Keihin beginning in 2003, and there was a massive jump in fuel capacity from 12.5 liters to 19 liters. Even the compression ratio went from 8.5:1 to 10.2:1, lending to the machine’s improved fuel efficiency.

2001 Suzuki Vinson LT-A500F/FK 2003 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500F/FK
Engine Brand Name Mikuni Keihin
Engine Type 4-stroke OHC
Cylinder Arrangement Single-cylinder
Carburetion System Carburetor, MIKUNI BST34SS x 1 Carburetor, KEIHIN CVK36 x 1
Engine Cooling Liquid cooling
Engine Fuel Unleaded gasoline of at least PON 87/RON 91 rating, containing < 5% MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether), < 10% ethanol, or < 5% methanol w/ appropriate cosolvents and corrosion inhibitor
Fuel Capacity 12.5L / 3.3 US gal (Reserve – 3.8L / 1 US gal) 19L / 5 US gal (Reserve – 4.2L / 1.1 US gal)
Bore x Stroke Ratio 87.5×82 mm (3.44×3.23 in)
Compression Ratio 8.5:1 10.2:1
Displacement 493 cm³ (30.1 in³)
Valve Clearance Cold Intake 0.002 – 0.004 in
Valve Clearance Cold Exhaust 0.17 – 0.22 mm (0.007 – 0.009 in)
Compression Pressure Std: 800 kPa (8 kgf/cm², 114 psi) Std: 1,000 kPa (10 kgf/cm², 142 psi)
Limit: 800 kPa (8 kgf/cm², 114 psi)
Horsepower 32.4 hp / 32.8 PS (24.2 kW)
Top Speed 58 – 65 mph (93.3 – 104.6 km/h) – owner’s claim
Starter System Electric and recoil starter
Air Filtration Polyurethane foam element
Lubrication Wet sump
Engine Oil SAE 10W-40 4-stroke engine oil w/ an API grade of SJ meeting JASO T903 MA, MB standards; Alternatives: SAE 5W-30, 10W-30, 10W-50, 15W-40, 15W-50, 20W-50 – depending on ambient temperature
Quantity W/out filter: 2.3L (2.4 US qt)
W/ filter change: 2.5L (2.6 US qt)
Overhaul: 3L (3.2 US qt)
W/out filter: 3.4L (3.6 US qt)
W/ filter change: 3.6L (3.8 US qt)
Overhaul: 4L (4.2 US qt)
Oil Pressure, 60°C (140°F) @ 3,000 RPM Above: 190 kPa (27 psi)
Below: 250 kPa (36 psi)
Above: 120 kPa (17 psi)
Below: 160 kPa (23 psi)
Other Lubricants Differential gear oil: 150 ml (5.1 oz)
Final gear oil: 300 ml (9.5 oz)
Coolant: 2L (2.1 US qt) – 50:50 or 40:60 water/antifreeze mixture ratio
SAE #90 hypoid gear oil (standard) OR SAE #80 (for ambient temp below 0°C or 32°F), GL-5 API grade
Differential gear oil: 370 ml (12.5 oz)
Final gear oil: 350 ml (11.8 oz)
Coolant: 2L (2.1 US qt) – 50:50 or 40:60 water/antifreeze mixture ratio
SAE #90 hypoid gear oil (standard) OR SAE #80 (for ambient temp below 0°C or 32°F), GL-5 API grade

Drivetrain

In like manner, the vehicle’s powertrain also went from a 2-speed automatic to a 5-speed constant mesh (inclusive of a 2-speed sub-transmission). Shifting is handled by a wet, multi-plate centrifugal clutch and a gated shifter with an all-up shift sequence. It is made more convenient by a gear-driven balancer shaft, selectable 2WD/4WD driveline modes, and a limited-slip front differential actuated by push-button control. This setup made for a more reliable gearbox less prone to teeth damage and gear wear. The low-end range was more usable. Furthermore, this made for a quieter operation.

2001 Suzuki Vinson LT-A500F/FK 2003 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500F/FK
Clutch Wet shoe, automatic, centrifugal type Wet multi-plate, automatic, centrifugal type
Transfer, Transmission Type Quadmatic™, variable ratio, 1-reverse, 2-speed transmission 5-speed constant mesh, 1-reverse, 2-transfer (2-speed sub-transmission)
Gearshift Pattern Forward: Hand lever operated
Reverse: Hand lever operated
All up (Foot operated)
Drive System (Cardan) Shaft drive
Primary Reduction Ratio Variable change (2.555 – 0.706) 2.032 (63/31)
Secondary Reduction Ratio 1.133 (17/15) N/A
Final Drive Ratio F/R – 3.600 (36/10) 4.080 (17/15 × 36/10)
Sub-transmission Reduction Ratio N/A High – 1.592 (43/27)
Low – 2.419 (22/23 × 43/17)
Transfer Gear Ratio Low – 6.406 (40/16 x 41/16)
High – 3.523 (33/24 x 41/16)
Reverse – 5.125 (28/16 x 32/28 x 41/16)
Low – 3.090 (34/11)
2nd – 1.750 (28/16)
3rd – 1.200 (24/20)
4th – 0.875 (21/24)
Top – 0.724 (21/29)
Reverse – 2.636 (29/11)

Ignition

Although an electronic CDI with an auxiliary pull-start system still powers up the vehicle, its ignition timing and idle speed slightly reduced for later-year models. While this change improves mileage and fuel efficiency, it takes away from acceleration and can make the Vinson hard to start in cold weather. Thankfully, the vehicle’s charging system and YTX16-BS battery (view on Amazon) compensate for that potential setback.

2001 Suzuki Vinson LT-A500F/FK 2003 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500F/FK
Ignition Electronic ignition (CDl)
Ignition Timing 10° B.T.D.C at 1,500 RPM 10° B.T.D.C at 1,300 RPM
Idle Speed 1,500 ± 100 RPM 1,300 ± 100 RPM
Spark Plug NGK CR6E or DENSO U20ESR-N (std), NGK CR7E or DENSO U22ESR-N (cold)
Gap: 0.028 – 0.031 in
Torque specs: 11 Nm (1.1 kgf-m, 8 lb-ft)
Generator Three-phase A.C. generator
Generator Max Output 13.5 – 15.5V, 325 W @ 5,000 RPM 14.0 – 15.5V, 325 W @ 5,000 RPM
Fuse 30 Amp (main); 20 Amp (power source); 15 Amp (Ignition); 10 Amp (Hi-Lo headlights, auxiliary) 30 Amp (main); 15 Amp (Ignition); 10 Amp (Hi-Lo headlights, auxiliary, power source)
Battery 12V 50.4 kC (14 Ah)/10 HR, FTH16-BS or YTX16-BS/BS-1 formats
Battery Dimensions (L x W x H) 150 x 87 x 161 mm (6.00 x 3.44 x 6.38 in)

Tires & Brakes

The rear brakes upgraded from an expanding drum to hydraulic discs, improving the Vinson’s stopping abilities. Front and rear rims became a bit narrower compared to first-year production models, with the tire sizes remaining the same. Should your stock rubber need replacing, GBC Grim Reaper Radials (view on Amazon) are a great option.

2001 Suzuki Vinson LT-A500F/FK 2003 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500F/FK
Front Tire, off-road/road air pressure 12 x 6.5 AT — AT25 × 8-12, tubeless, 30 kPa (0.31 kgf/cm2, 4.4 psi) 12 × 6.0 AT — Dunlop® KT121D AT25 × 8-12, tubeless, 30 kPa (0.31 kgf/cm2, 4.4 psi)
Rear Tire, off-road/road air pressure 12 x 8.0 AT — AT25 × 10-12, tubeless, 35 kPa (0.35 kgf/cm2, 5.1 psi) 12 × 7.5 AT — Dunlop® KT405D AT25 × 10-12, tubeless, 35 kPa (0.35 kgf/cm2, 5.1 psi)
Tire Tread Depth (F/R) Limit: 4 mm (0.16 in)
Front Brake Type Disc brake 190-mm Twin disc brakes
Rear Brake Type Internal expanding drum, mechanically operated 216-mm Single disc brake

Suspension

Enclosed in the Suzuki Vinson 500’s steel frame is a suspension system comparable to a KingQuad 700. The generous front and rear suspension travel is a huge plus for the 4×4 since it offers a miserly 5.9 inches. The steering angle was also made wider, making for improved vehicle control. If you want to increase your quad’s ground clearance, you will need to get a High Lifter 2″ Suspension Lift Kit (view on Amazon) – these already come with tie rods.

2001 Suzuki Vinson LT-A500F/FK 2003 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500F/FK
Caster, Trail 3.3°, 17 mm (0.67 in)
Toe-in 7 ± 15 mm (0.28 ± 0.59 in) 7 ± 4 mm (0.30 ± 0.16 in)
Camber 0.60° 0.45°
Steering Angle Inside 38°, Outside 26° 45° (right & left)
Turning Radius 3 m (9.8 ft)
Front Suspension Type, Travel Independent, double wishbone, oil-damped coil spring, spring preload 5-way adjustable, 150 mm (5.9 in) Independent, double wishbone, w/ oil-damped coil springs, 180 mm (7.1 in)
Rear Suspension Type, Travel 4-link rigid axle, oil-damped coil spring, spring preload 5-way adjustable, 150 mm (5.9 in) Swingarm, w/ oil-damped coil springs, 200 mm (7.9 in)

Dimensions

There is little to no change to the overall dimensions of the Suzuki Vinson 500 throughout its production period. For 2001 models, however, units sold in Sweden and Australia are slightly larger and heavier than those marketed for the rest of the world. The seat height stayed within the 33 to 34-inch range, and payload capacity remained untouched at 172 Kg (380 lbs).

2001 Suzuki Vinson LT-A500F/FK 2003 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500F/FK
Length 2,005 mm (79.0 in)
2,050 mm (80.7 in) – E-17
2,095 mm (82.5 in)
Width 1,170 mm (46.1 in)
Height 1,185 mm (46.7 in) 1,175 mm (46.3 in) – E-17 1,200 mm (47.2 in)
Seat Height (Unloaded) 850 mm (33.5 in) 860 mm (33.9 in)
Ground Clearance 235 mm (9.3 in) 180 mm (7.1 in) – E-17 250 mm (9.8 in)
Wheelbase 1,230 mm (48.4 in) 1,270 mm (50 in)
Track (F/R) 34.6 in; 34.8 in – E-17 / 33.5 in 37 in / 36.6 in
Dry Weight 275 Kg (606 lbs) 281 Kg (619 lbs) – E-24 286 Kg (630 lbs) – E-17 274 Kg (604 lbs)
Rack Capacity (F/R) mm (66 lbs) mm (132 lbs)
Vehicle Load Capacity Limit 172 Kg (380 lbs)

Although not stated in the service manual, the trailer hitch capacity of the Vinson, according to some online sources, is 450 Kg (992 lbs). Front and rear racks on all models are paired with a front fender-mounted, 3-liter, waterproof utility box, and a 4.5-liter cargo box (view on Amazon) mounted on the rear of the 4X4.

Exterior

Many off-roaders assume that the Suzuki Vinson designators signify a difference in the frame of the trims. However, that is not true. The LT-A500F pertains to the Quadmatic™ 2-speed quads, while the LT-F500F to the 5-speed manual transmission versions. All models are enclosed in a tubular steel frame and have body panel colors available in black, hunter green, red, yellow, and Advantage™ camo.

2001 Suzuki Vinson LT-A500F/FK 2003 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500F/FK
Headlight 12V 30/30 W x 2
12V 35/36.5 W – E-17
12V 30/30 W x 2
AUX Lamp 12V 40 W x 1
Brake Light/Taillight 12V 7/5 W x 1
12V 7/3.4 W x 1 – E-17
12V 21/5 W x 1
Indicator Lights 12V 3.4W (Coolant temperature, neutral, reverse)
12V 1.7 W (high beam)
LED (Coolant temperature gauge, neutral, reverse, high beam, parking indicator)
Speedometer Light 12V 1.7 W LED

Suzuki Vinson 500 parts include:

  • High-raised front and rear fenders
  • Serrated footpegs
  • A radiator guard
  • A front bumper with a winch-ready tab
  • A full polyethylene skid plate
  • Hand grips
  • Handlebars

It also comes standard with digital instrumentation – speedometer, trip odometer, hour meter, fuel gauge – and ample lighting.

Cost of a Suzuki Vinson 500

Camo 2006 Suzuki Vinson 500 4x4 ATV

Auction listings range between $475 and $3,948, depending on the vehicle’s year, condition, and whether or not it was modified or kept in stock form. Pre-owned quads on the pricier end of the spectrum are typically decommissioned from police or fire department use and often come with a trailer. Meanwhile, units priced below $700 mostly have a missing oil dipstick, a frame rusted from salt corrosion, a broken yolk, or a drive shaft that is off. Worst-case scenario, these wheelers are dilapidated or not in running condition. Most of what is on auction and trader sites are yellow or camo trims, with considerable accumulated miles and hours.

As for list prices, I have consolidated them in the table below:

Year – Model – TrimList PriceRetail/Trade-In Values
2002 Suzuki Vinson 500 (LT-A500FK2)$6,599$1,020 – $1,345
2003 Suzuki Vinson (LT-A500FK3)$6,599$1,020 – $1,345
2003 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500FK3$6,399$970 – $1,275
2004 Suzuki Vinson LT-A500FBK4 (Limited Edition)$6,699$1,285 – $1,690
2004 Suzuki Vinson LT-A500FK4$6,599$1,265 – $1,665
2004 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500FK4$6,399$1,195 – $1,570
2005 Suzuki Vinson 500 (LT-A500FK5)$6,399$1,355 – $1,785
2005 Suzuki Vinson LT-A500FBK5 (Limited Edition)$6,699$1,435 – $1,890
2005 Suzuki Vinson LT-A500FCK5 (Advantage)$6,699$1,435 – $1,890
2005 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500FK5$6,199$1,325 – $1,745
2005 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500FCK5 (Advantage)$6,499$1,400 – $1,840
2006 Suzuki Vinson 500 (LT-A500FK6)$6,399$1,690 – $2,225
2006 Suzuki Vinson LT-A500FCK6 (Advantage)$6,699$1,780 – $2,340
2006 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500FK6$6,199$1,655 – $2,175
2006 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500FCK6 (Advantage)$6,499$1,815 – $2,390
2007 Suzuki Vinson 500 (LT-A500FK7)$6,399$1,920 – $2,525
2007 Suzuki Vinson LT-A500FCK7 (Advantage)$6,699$1,970 – $2,595
2007 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500FK7$6,199$1,765 – $2,320
2007 Suzuki Vinson LT-F500FCK7 (Advantage)$6,499$1,920 – $2,525

Suzuki Vinson 500 Problems

Despite being highly lauded, the Suzuki Vinson 500 4×4 is far from perfect. In this section, we will cover two (2) of the most commonly known issues that veterans and owners encountered with the four-wheeler, together with recommendations on how to fix them:

Shifter Problems

Especially for earlier Vinson 500 models, the lever assembly (a.k.a. shifter) is reported to act up intermittently, refusing to go on neutral or into gear from a parked position. This is because the pin that holds the shifter in place sometimes goes amiss or into the groove created by extended periods of use of the quad. This is not to say that the lever assembly of the Vinson is flimsy. However, this issue is to be expected of an ATV that is almost two decades old.

A brand-new lever assembly or gearbox costs approximately $300 (even more). A cheaper alternative to buying pricey aftermarket parts is to take your gearbox to a local welder. Once the grooves on the shifter are taken care of, your 4×4 will be back in tip-top shape.

Starting Difficulties

For problematic starting issues, one of these three areas typically turns out to be the cause – the starter motor, ignition/spark, and circuitry. As such, thinking that the CVT is the culprit should be one of your last resort when inspecting your vehicle.

The ignition system is usually the first place to look into. Check that there is a spark and it is not weak and that the plugin use has the correct heat range. Next, examine the starter motor for defects. Finally, inspect connections and relays and ensure that nothing is shorted, corroded, or worn out. When these check out, that is the only time you should examine the fuel system and belt drive. At this point, the probable cause is usually dirty or plugged engine and drivetrain components.

About Suzuki

Suzuki Motor Corporation is a leader in automotive and off-road vehicles and is the maker of the Suzuki Vinson 500. With over 133 distributors in 192 countries, no one would have thought that the Japanese firm traces its humble beginnings to weaving loom. At present, Suzuki’s wide array of product offerings – automobiles, motorcycles, 4WD vehicles, outboard marine engines, wheelchairs, and internal combustion engines – reflect its continued ingenuity and is a testament to the company becoming one of the most successful automakers by production around the world.

Conclusion – Suzuki Vinson 500 4×4 Review

 With its robust chassis, selectable drive modes, storage capabilities, and hybrid functionality, everyone can agree that the Suzuki Vinson 500 was not just some momentary quad. It was among the first mid-size vehicles to deliver high performance on both ends – work and recreation – as well as one of the most handsomely rugged and safest rides in its class. Thanks to its flexibility and overall design, no terrain is too tough and no chore too difficult for it to overcome. Looking for a trusty, dual-purpose quad? The Suzuki Vinson 500 is the wheeler to have.

Kris Peter

Adventure seeker and off-road enthusiast. I love the thrill of going off-road and taking on the elements.

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