A Reliable UTV Your Whole Family Will Enjoy
ATV riding is my passion. I love rolling out of bed, loading up a quad—sport or 4x4—and laying down some fresh tracks. It’s even better when your best buddies can join in on the adventure. To me, this is why the sport of UTVing has grown so rapidly over the past few years. Despite hearing many negative remarks from the diehard ATV enthusiasts, these two- and now four-person off-road vehicles are here to stay. Trust me guys and gals, I am and will forever remain an ATV-first enthusiast, but these UTVs allow you to tackle the gnarly with your good bud on board, or just enjoy a day on the trails with your wife. I took our Yamaha Rhino hunting last month and had an absolute blast! It was much more comfortable than riding on an ATV in the early morning cold, and we were able to toss our game in the back and drive it straight to the butcher (can’t beat Utah’s ATV road regulations).
Kawasaki is fully aware of the UTV market growth; its Teryx is one of the top-selling two-person machines out there, and green recently expanded its lineup with the production of its all-new Teryx4. If you’re thinking the Teryx4 is just a stretched version of the company’s two-seat model, you’re in for a big surprise. The big 750cc V-twin was pepped up and dropped into an all-new chassis equipped with Electronic Power Steering (EPS), and the aggressive Teryx styling was wrapped with a slew of vibrant new color schemes. The standard model ($13,399) doesn’t come with EPS and is only available in Scout Green and Sunbeam Red, but the models equipped with EPS are offered in Vibrant Blue ($14,399) and Realtree HD camouflage with matching wheels ($14,999). The EPS model’s seats are two-tone and have doors with matching body panels. If you’re into the Transformers movies, the EPS LE ($15,199) models feature a “Bumblebee,” or as Kawi calls it, Sunrise Yellow color scheme, and has the same features of the EPS models but with the addition of cast-aluminum wheels and an OEM plastic sun top. This model is also available in Aztec Red.
After our first peek at this new machine during the 2012 Kawasaki dealer meeting, held in Orlando, Florida, I was invited on behalf of ATVR to get behind the wheel of the new multi-passenger UTV. I flew into Knoxville, Tennessee, and drove an hour south to meet the Kawasaki staff at the Brimstone Recreation facility in Huntsville. The Brimstone trail system is beautifully designed and is one of the top riding destinations in the country. There you’ll twist and wind through over 300 miles of tree-lined trails in the heart of Appalachia. There is a good amount of mud during the winter months, plenty of elevation change, hillclimbs and water crossings, all of which make it the perfect place to answer a few questions about the rather large, EPS-equipped UTV.
Is It Just An Extended Teryx?
Of course, Kawasaki didn’t just bolt two extra seats to the Teryx 750’s chassis and call it a day. Starting from the frame up, the engineers used a detailed computer analysis and countless hours of testing to develop the Teryx4’s all-new square-tube steel frame. It features a double-X design, with two X-shaped crossmembers bridging the box structures from corner to corner. There is minimal torsional flex, so you don’t hear tweaking noise while you’re driving, and the rollcage is a Roll Over Protection Structure, which basically means 2 inches of high-grade steel surround the driver’s and passengers’ heads and shoulders.
Oh, Geez, That Thing Looks Heavy. How’d She Handle?
It doesn’t just look heavy. With a wet weight of 1,616 pounds, the Teryx4 is over 400 pounds heavier than the Polaris RZR 4 (1,255 pounds). When you add the weight of four passengers, you’re looking at a machine that tips the scale well over 2,000 pounds. I know what you’re thinking. It won’t handle for spit on open fire roads, let alone tight, tree-lined trails. Wrong. Considering the location and the type of vehicle, we were stunned by the agility of the Teryx4. The Teryx4 is nimble thanks to a wheelbase that is only 2 inches wider and 10 inches longer than the standard Teryx and is actually a shorter wheelbase than the RZR 4, allowing the Teryx4 a tighter turning radius than any of its four-seated competitors.
Kawasaki’s EPS, designed by Showa, is amazing on low-speed, technical trails. I couldn’t even tell the Teryx4 had the extended wheelbase, and I found myself navigating through trees with only one hand on the wheel. I was able to drive the Teryx4 through trails I never thought a standard UTV would make it through, and it was so easy you could do it all day with little or no body fatigue.
Although it was nimble at low speeds, the Teryx4 isn’t nearly as precise in tight areas at higher speeds. Its heavy weight and soft ride demanded a decent amount of push and body roll in the corners and on off-cambered sections of our course. The EPS also offered too much assist at higher speeds. It feels too much like a car, which is great on easy trails, but when you need to be precise you want to experience more trail feedback in the steering wheel. This will help you know where the tread is at all times. I drove the non-EPS model and went quicker at higher speeds. However, low speeds on the non-EPS model gave me arm-pump trying to keep up with the EPS-equipped models. Is the $1,000 for EPS worth it? I’ll let your driving style decide.
Both the front and rear of the Teryx4 feature a double A-arm suspension with high-performance gas shocks, similar to the ones found on the Teryx Sport edition. There are piggyback shocks found out back on each model. The same shocks are found up front on the EPS and LE models only. They all feature adjustable compression, rebound and preload settings. This setup provides 7.8 inches of travel in the front and 8.3 inches in the rear. With a full load there was little suspension sag, and gave the Teryx4 well over 10 inches of ground clearance! The ride was ultra plush with a full load, which is what it’s intended for. The stock settings were a bit harsh while testing with myself and one other passenger. Luckily, you can quickly and conveniently adjust.
The Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires are my favorite UTV tread because they provide great traction in every terrain, offer great predictability around corners and, most importantly, they don’t get flats! These things are tough as nails. Bringing the big UTV to a halt are dual hydraulic disc brakes up front and a sealed wet multi-disc system in the rear. Stopping power is solid and the parking brake has been redesigned so that it is a hand lever instead of the old foot-locking pedal.
How Come Kawasaki Didn’t Use A Bigger Motor?
Kawasaki’s Teryx4 utilizes the same liquid-cooled, 749cc, four-stroke, V-twin engine found in the standard Teryx, however with the larger overall weight (including passengers), Kawasaki provided its largest ATV/UTV motor with a higher power-to-weight ratio to make it equal to the two-seater model. With the precise handling, it seemed like you were driving the two-seater until it came time to slow down. It was peppy enough to enjoy sporty trails, with or without passengers, but provided a smooth, mellow ride for slowly entertaining your guests. It also has a 250-pound rear cargo capacity and can tow up to 1,300 pounds, so it can definitely make for a great workhorse.
Kawasaki’s electronic fuel injection and new centrifugal force clutch put power to the ground in a hurry and provided plenty of torque. Drivers have the option of high and low range in 2WD and 4WD with a variable front differential lock. Running in low range, I found the Teryx4 has a max speed of about 30 mph, and if I wanted to engage the 4WD system I needed to be at speeds below 10 mph.
As I ran the big UTV through the trails of our testing area I did find that the engine-braking left more to be desired compared to other UTV models. In 2WD high, I never felt the engine-braking help in the steep downhill sections, but in 4WD high I felt it for a brief second before it quickly started to accelerate down hills at speeds close to 20 mph with no foot braking. In 2WD low, the Teryx4 maintains speeds of 15 mph if you tapped the brakes. In 4WD low, you can maintain a 6–8 mph pace if you started rolling from a dead stop. If I tapped the brakes before the descent I was able to hold 9 mph for a second, but would hit speeds of 15 mph if I took my foot off the brake. Not a big deal to many owners, but definitely something that I look for when testing these types of machines.
How’s The Cockpit?
The interior of the Teryx 4 is ergonomically sound. For a six-foot driver, everything is where it should be. Taller or shorter driver/passengers can take off the seats and adjust them pretty easily. The easy-latch seats are the best of any stock UTV on the market. The Teryx4 is also easier to get in and out of than the RZR 4 and has a surprising amount of leg and shoulder room for all four passengers.
The full function digital display features a digital speedometer, odometer, twin tripmeters, clock, hourmeter and fuel gauge. The fuel gauge keeps tabs on the Teryx4’s large 7.9-gallon fuel tank, which offers more than 100 miles between fill-ups. The front passenger gets dual handgrips, similar to Yamaha’s Rhino, and the rear passengers share an easy-to-hold grab bar integrated in the cage.
The four new bucket seats are as comfortable as any aftermarket seats we have tested, and the three-point harness features anti-cinch straps. There are dual cupholders in both the front and back of the machine, and front and rear 12-volt plug-ins!
Maintenance on the Teryx4 line is easy-peasy. The airbox has been relocated and doesn’t require any tools for access or changing filters. The oil dipstick is located under the driver’s seat and is easily accessible as well.
Kawasaki’s Teryx4 is the best all-around four-seater UTV we have tested. I still can’t believe the agility this 1,600-pound UTV had in the woods. Its shorter wheelbase and electronic power steering allows you to smoothly maneuver in the tightest of trails. Its cargo bed will be great for household chores and along with four comfortable seats you can tow a respectable amount of cargo. Hunters will love the Realtree camo plastic and matching wheels, and the huge variety of other color schemes will be a big hit in 2012. If you’re looking to blast the desert whoops or spend your weekends off in the dunes with your family, the Teryx4 might not the best fit for you. The Polaris RZR 4 is faster and has more suspension travel. We’ve also heard great things about John Deere’s new four-seater Gator Sport, but if you can wait, we’ll have a four-seater shootout in the very near future. If not, we were very pleased with the all-new Kawasaki Teryx4. ATVR
2012 Kawasaki Teryx4 750 4x4
MSRP: Teryx4 $13,399; EPS $14,399; EPS Realtree HD Camo $14,999; EPS LE $15,199
Type: Liquid-cooled, 90-degree, four-stroke V-twin
Bore x stroke: 85x66mm
Fuel system: EFI with two Mikuni 36mm throttle bodies
Drive system: Shaft; selectable 4x4 with variable front differential control
Transmission: Continuously variable belt-drive transmission with high/low range, reverse, engine-braking
Front: Dual A-arms/7.8 in.
Rear: Dual A-arms/8.3 in.
Front: Maxxis 26x9-12
Rear: Maxxis 26x11-12
Front: Dual hydraulic discs with two-piston calipers
Rear: Sealed, oil-bathed, multi-disc
Wheelbase: 86.1 in.
Claimed curb weight: 1,616 lb
Ground clearance: 10.8 in.
Length/width/height: 125.2/62.0/77.3 in.
Fuel capacity: 7.9 gal.
Turning radius: 16.7 ft
Cargo bed capacity: 249 lb (length/width/height 17.9/47.6/8.7)
Towing capacity: 1,300 lb
Lighting: 35-watt headlights, 8-watt taillights, 24-watt stoplight
Instrumentation: Multi-function digital meter with speedometer, fuel gauge, clock hourmeter, odometer, dual tripmeters; parking brake, CVT belt, R/N/P/4WD, water temp, oil pressure indicators
Colors: Sunbeam Red, Scout Green (standard); Vibrant Blue, Realtree Camo (EPS); Aztec Red, Sunrise Yellow (EPS LE)