As the rising sun slowly began to warm the frigid sand of St. George, Utah, a sense of intense anticipation filled the air. Today would be the day Kawasaki unleashed the long-awaited Teryx 750, ending what seems like an eternity of rumors and speculation. Nobody has had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of this highly talked about side-by-side until now! Is it all that it's been cracked up to be? I'm no paleontologist, but if I were judging on first impression alone, I'd say Kawasaki has unearthed a creature that could possibly find itself at the top of the food chain. And without giving away too much up front, you may just find the results as shocking as we did.
In case you weren't already in the know, Kawasaki is no stranger to side-by-side vehicles, as its Mule has been hauling barbed wire and transporting hardhats since its debut in 1988. It was just a matter of time before Kawasaki jumped in and delivered a recreational vehicle with a sportier vibe while still maintaining the ability to accomplish hard work around the farm or on the job. After countless hours of market research, the staff at Kawasaki understood that people in the side-by-side market have a versatile list of needs. Many will use their side-by-side for recreation while others may take advantage of its workhorse abilities. And that's why Kawasaki coined the term Recreational Utility Vehicle (RUV) for the new Teryx 750.
The Heart and Circulatory System
Bringing life to the new Teryx 750 is a reliable and very powerful 90-degree, four-stroke V-twin engine. Reliable, you may ask? Well, the Teryx borrowed its powerplant from the ever-popular Brute Force 750, if this gives any indication. This robust V-twin has earned quite the reputation of being a complete power monster with unmatched reliability. With 749cc of pure muscle harnessed under the hood (or center console in this case), the Teryx now has the largest displacement in its class. For its debut year, dual 34mm Keihin CVKR-D carburetors deliver fuel to the twin cylinders. For those who were expecting electronic fuel injection, you'll have to look toward the future, as we're sure Kawasaki will soon jump on the EFI bandwagon. Putting the power to the ground is Kawasaki's proven CVT which incorporates an impressive engine-braking system. The CVT drive has been retuned to better accommodate hard-acceleration shifting in the Teryx. This transfers power from the engine to the ground in a commanding fashion. Another modification to the tranny is an all-new vented aluminum cover that promotes airflow keeping the drive system cool. A claimed belt life of 200 hours ensures more time on the trail and less hours spent in the garage performing maintenance. This package provides riders with great performance while remaining in complete control.
For conquering tough terrains, the Teryx incorporates an effective selectable four-wheel-drive system. There will be times when four-wheel-drive alone just isn't enough to keep you moving forward. For these situations Kawasaki has integrated its popular variable front-differential system. By simply pulling a lever you can control how much or little the front differential is engaged. The differential lever has been strategically placed next to the shifter, which has a natural feel and can be utilized without ever taking your eyes off the trail.
With 749cc of pure muscle...
With 749cc of pure muscle harnessed under the hood (or center console in this case), the Teryx now has the largest displacement in its class.
The Musculoskeletal System
Understanding that this machine is likely to be driven to the limit, the Kawasaki design team spent countless hours creating a "long travel" suspension system to meet the demanding needs of the Teryx. Incorporating maximum travel while maintaining a maximum width of 58.7 inches was the engineers' ultimate objective. (58.7 inches fits comfortably into the bed of a full-size pickup.) To achieve this goal, the front and rear end of this machine adopted a narrow frame with longer A-arms maximizing wheel travel. Adjustable dual A-arms paired with gas-charged shocks suspend the front end and provide a whopping 7.5 inches of travel. The independent rear suspension also offers 7.5 inches of travel and utilizes adjustable gas-charged reservoir shocks. You can probably tell by the photos how this combination performed, but you'll have to continue on to hear it in our own words.
Complementing the engine and chassis is a durable drivetrain package. The driveline features beefy CV joints and heavy-duty axles that are specifically designed to handle all of the power and strain unleashed by the 750cc V-twin. Kawasaki knows that RUV owners drive from mild to wild, depending on the particular intended purpose or even what side of the bed the owner awoke. To enhance durability, the CV boots are constructed from a strong plastic material rather than softer rubber compounds, which is commonly found on most OEM and aftermarket CV joints. The plastic material is more resistant to debris damage and should endure the subjected abuse better than the rubber counterparts.
Bringing this ferocious beast to a complete stop is virtually effortless with the braking system. Up front, dual 200mm disc brakes and twin-piston calipers slow the pace of the mighty Teryx. In the rear, you'll find a sealed rear brake system that was first introduced by Kawasaki and has since become recognized as a virtually maintenance-free means of braking. This is a result of having a system that's completely enclosed and bathed in oil, leaving the brakes unaffected by any kind of foreign debris. Working together, this combination of binders brings the Teryx from its 48 mph top speed to a screeching halt in the blink of an eye.
By popular demand the bodywork of the Teryx has been molded from thermoplastic olefin, giving a sleek shine that's extremely scratch-resistant. As far as creature comforts go, the Teryx comes with bucket seats and incorporates a three-point restraint system. The tubular cab frame (roll cage) meets federal rollover protection standards, which means you can have more confidence and an added sense of security in the occurrence of an accidental rollover. In fact, this is the only side-by-side other than the Mule that meets federal rollover protection standards. Deep footwells are designed into the floorboard area in an effort to keep all of your limbs safely inside the vehicle. On the matching body-colored dash you'll find the four-wheel-drive selection switch alongside a small cluster of lights for your low fuel, temperature and parking brake indicators. Nothing overly fancy, but functional nonetheless. Making the digital dash (LE model only) a standard feature on all models would take the guesswork out of judging speed and add a trick look. In the cargo area, the bed's all-steel construction is definitely sturdy and also comes with a cargo net to keep any of your gear securely in place. The base model of this machine doesn't feature a gas-assisted bed, so it will require manpower to load and unload your cargo.
As we climbed through the...
As we climbed through the mid and high end of the power, we were smiling from ear to ear.
Strapping Into The Belly Of The Beast
We obviously couldn't wait to jump in and begin some much-anticipated testing. We were blindfolded and delivered to a secret test location...well, not really. Kawasaki hauled a few of the units out to the vast landscape of Sand Hollow State Park just north of St. George. This location featured a spectacular dune landscape, numerous technical rock-crawling areas and a plethora of high-speed trails where we could really let the Teryx stretch its legs. Mike Newsom joined me for this event, and together we pushed this machine to its limit in an effort to report back to you our well-tested results. I actually think we were both shocked by the outcome.
Once we were given the keys and pointed in the right direction, we strapped on our helmets and jumped in the seats Bo and Luke style. Instantly, we could feel this thing was roomy. Neither Mike or I are small guys, especially in bulky cold-weather jackets, but neither one of us ever felt cramped in the cab area of this unit. A turn of the key and the big V-twin quickly responded with a deep growl. Mike shifted the selector into high range and slammed the pedal to the metal. Sand was instantly launched into a respectable roost, and as the rpm increased, the scenery began passing at a much faster rate. It wasn't until we gained much-needed traction on the hardpacked trails that we experienced the full potential of the powerplant. As we climbed through the mid and high end of the power, we were smiling from ear to ear. In a matter of seconds we were bouncing off the rev-limiter at top speed as we hurdled the Teryx through what seemed like an eternity of suspension-devouring whoops. As we cruised at a maximum of 48 mph, it's clearly obvious that there's plenty of corked-up power that needs to break free. I'm sure the aftermarket companies will take care of that by the time more of these units hit the showroom floor.
With two 200-plus-pound guys in the cab (before a Famous Dave's catered lunch) and a slew of camera equipment in the bed, the suspension completely instilled a look of amazement onto our faces. Never missing a beat, we charged hard through the rough terrain with the pedal pinned to the floor. I dove into the turns faster and faster with confidence. Even as Mike safely stood behind his camera yelling, "Faster, faster!" while I blasted out of a corner on two wheels, the fear of tipping over never crossed my mind. The suspension performed flawlessly keeping the machine pointing straight and rubber-side down as it soaked up everything St. George threw in our direction. For a completely stock unit the suspension was truly impressive.
Locating an area that looked like a testing ground for some serious rock-crawling rigs was just what we needed to continue our test. Before Mike could even extract his camera, I found myself lodged midway up an extremely steep 12-foot climb that was absolutely littered with loose sand and rock. A quick pull of the front diff-lock handle had all four 26-inch Maxxis tires clawing away at the face of this wall and I was up in seconds. Now, I personally would rather have a pushbutton locking front differential over the variable locker that the Teryx comes equipped with, but it isn't enough of an issue for me to consider it a negative. Regardless of my preference, the system worked impeccably for us.
Flying through the air is where the Teryx shines above virtually any other side-by-side I've previously ridden. The weight bias has to be almost perfect because this thing stayed completely level as Newsom repeatedly launched it some 60 feet into the air. I've taken my fair share of jumps in various side-by-sides and almost every time the front end starts to drop as soon as the wheels leave the ground. That definitely isn't the case with the Teryx. Feel free to jump with confidence in this unit. I know we did!
Toward the end of the day, I looked at the hourmeter in the dash and realized that we had put about five hours of relentless abuse on the engine and drivebelt. These were definitely not easy hours because we were here to put it to the test and give our readers accurate feedback. Newsom has a reputation of breaking everything he touches, and as expected he pushed until something began to give. After repeatedly launching the Teryx at full speed over the aforementioned jump, the belt began to slip. This was definitely not expected because we were told that the belt life on these machines was 200 hours of use before needing to be changed. Perhaps this is for "normal" usage and not the overzealous manner in which it was being tested.
Is this the best RUV out on the market now? Well, without putting them to the test side-by-side (no pun intended) it's hard to say. What I do know is that Kawasaki is stepping into a market it's looking to dominate. With the biggest engine in its class and the suspension to tackle any terrain with confidence, the Teryx could quite possibly be the next king of the side-by-side world. We were shocked and impressed, and we think you'll be, too. I guess a shootout is in order!
|+ ||Roomy cab, powerful engine and superb |
|Lack of doors, needs better passenger |
safety handles and lower rear cargo net
|= ||Strong contender for king in its class |
Lack of doors, needs better passenger safety handles and lower rear cargo net mounting points
Strong contender for king in its class
|2008 Kawasaki Teryx 750 4x4 |
|Retail price: ||$9799; LE: $10,599; NRA Outdoors: $11,349 |
|Engine type: ||90-degree, V-twin, four-stroke, four-stroke SOHC |
|Displacement: ||749cc |
|Bore x stroke: ||85x66mm |
|Cooling: ||Liquid-cooled |
|Carburetion: ||Dual Keihin CVKR-D 34mm |
|Starting: ||Electric |
|Drive system: ||Shaft, 2x4/4x4 |
|Transmission: ||Continuously variable belt with high/low range, reverse, engine-braking, diff-lock |
|SUSPENSION (TYPE/TRAVEL) |
|Front: ||Adjustable dual A-arms with gas-charged shocks/7.5 in. |
|Rear: ||Adjustable Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) with gas-charged, reservoir shocks/7.5 in. |
|Front tires: ||Maxxis 26x8-12 |
|Rear tires: ||Maxxis 26x10-12 |
|Front brakes: ||Dual hydraulic discs with twin-piston calipers |
|Rear brakes: ||Sealed, oil-bathed, multidisc |
|Wheelbase: ||76.0 in. |
|Claimed dry weight: ||1276 lb |
|Ground clearance: ||11.3 in. |
|Length/width/height: ||115.4/58.7/75.0 in. |
|Fuel capacity: ||7.9 gal. |
|Bed/Towing capacity: ||500/1200 lb |
|Headlight: ||Dual 40-watt |
|Instrumentation: ||Hourmeter; gear position, low fuel, water temperature and oil pressure indicators |
|Colors: ||Sunbeam red, Woodsman green; Realtree Hardwoods green HD camo ($450 more) |