2014 Kawasaki Teryx4 800

For 2014, Kawasaki stepped up their game substantially with a host of updates and changes for the 2014 Teryx4. Now don’t for a second let your mind wander off to an XP900 killer or Wildcat slayer, but imagine a side-by-side that will offer everything you can ask of it, and maybe more. This flagship UTV of the green camp is designed for a class all its own which, in this writer’s eyes, is the “do everything well” class. Come with us to Utah as we put this machine through its paces in some of the most beautiful riding country in the world.

Beginning in the small I-15 town of Beaver, UT, the team from Kawasaki laid out the red carpet as they went over every new part of this updated machine just as the sun set over the farm fields and hills of central Utah. First and foremost on this long list of improvements is a 7.5% increase in horsepower and 10% increase in torque. They achieved this by increasing the engine displacement from 749cc to 783cc and installing new pistons that raise compression from 9.3:1 to 10.7:1. Despite the added displacement and compression, they were able to dramatically increase fuel economy and range. They also increased the flywheel mass to smooth out the power plant at idle and revised the flywheel to work better with the centrifugal clutch. The final touches include a revised cam profile and a larger 35mm diameter exhaust collector that is tuned for better power delivery. To handle the added power, the techs at Kawasaki refined the transmission by tuning the internal ratios to offer better feel, response and better engine braking. In a semi-related engine improvement, the underside of the engine compartment has been lined for reduced noise and heat transmission, a welcomed improvement.

Next on

the list of major improvements was the addition of Fox Podium Shocks tuned specifically for the Teryx4. These dampeners feature adjustable compression dampening and spring preload that work well in all conditions. Piggyback reservoirs help the shocks to resist fading, and these units look awesome in black with the color-matched springs found on the LE model.

Lastly, we find three upgrades that add to the overall package that helps performance on a different level. First are the new standard High-Intensity LED headlights that were found in the Kawasaki Teryx accessory catalog last year. Their unique design looks every bit as good as they work. This addition is quite an improvement over last year’s stock headlamps and would prove valuable on the adventure to come. Next is the move to “standard issue” for the Electronic Power Steering (EPS) on all Teryx4 models. Obviously, this helps reduce driver fatigue and, more importantly, reduces driver “kickback” when the suspension hits unwanted trail junk. And, finally, the new Candy Lime Green or Candy Burnt Orange painted bodywork, color-matched suspension components and 3-tone seat covers in the LE models makes the curb appeal of the Teryx4 really stand out in a crowd.

The morning of our adventure could not come quick enough, as we were anxious to hit the legendary Paiute Trails that awaited our arrival in the Teryx4 convoy. After a quick rundown of the day’s schedule, we grabbed some breakfast and loaded up our suitcases for our night’s stay 100 miles away in Marysville, Utah. Our trail would take us high into the mountains with an elevation in excess of 11,000 feet through moderate and technical trail conditions. We lined up and headed down ATV-friendly main streets of Beaver, Utah, for a few miles or so on pavement before we finally hit dirt. This is where the Teryx4 truly came to life.

The first thing that was instantly noticeable was how effortless the steering was on the street and then on the rocky trail. I am sure we are all familiar with the heavy feeling of a dirt tire on asphalt through the steering wheel of your UTV. This was nonexistent, as it did not matter what type terrain you were in or how slow or fast you were traveling; the feel at the wheel is always the same in the EPS-equipped Teryx. As we began to climb, the rocks got bigger and sharper as the trail got narrower, and the EPS steering truly was amazing. No kickback through the wheel if you hit a rock, and weaving through the tire killing obstacles were done with ease. If I was not a fan of EPS before, I was quickly becoming a believer.

Next on the “Captain Obvious” list for the new Teryx was the throttle control that is now needed due to the added horsepower, but more noticeably, the added torque. There were few situations with the old 750 that required finesse with the throttle. You were either on the gas or off the gas.Now, in tight or slippery situations the added torque certainly is noticeable, as the rear tires will lose grip with terra-firma (through no fault of the tire) if you mash the pedal to the stop. Considering we started our ride at almost 6,000 feet above sea level and had been steadily climbing since our departure, this was a very impressive sign of the much-needed motor improvements. Speaking of the throttle pedal, it was about this time that I started to notice a cramp in my right shin. I noticed in fast driving situations that it went away, and in slow or controlled situations it was back. This is what I commonly refer to as “Teryx Leg” among friends. The Teryx pedal angle has been undesirable since the first carbureted two-seater came out so long ago. Somehow, it seems as though in 2013 it got worse, and this year’s is not improved. I hear similar complaints about this from taller people around my height of 6’2”. Moving the adjustable seat back to its furthest rearward position — which is a mere 1-inch adjustment – helped, but my other option was keep my foot on the floor — since it seems less noticeable at full throttle – and just go fast. Problem solved.

Now at 8,000 feet and climbing fast, the rocks had turned into trees and shrubs into green pastures. It was simply gorgeous and the trails even better. The speed had become aggressive, and the Kawasaki brake system started to show its power. Hard braking from fast roads into tight corners and stream crossings were common. The brakes are firm and positive, giving me confidence to drive deep into the corners, which sometimes came with a cliff on the outside of the radius. Charging through semi-deep water crossings was no issue with the rear sealed system, and the fronts never showed signs of fading through this particular section. The only issue that I found was the Teryx’s desire to push under heavy braking in corners on fire roads and hard, flat surfaces. A quick fix was to turn on the 4WD system, which is a dial on the dash, and problem two was solved. Actually, the Teryx really seems to prefer being driven hard or on hard flat surfaces in 4WD. I found it easier to control “drifting” through corners with all four wheels churning.

Almost 50 miles into this Heavenly UTV adventure, long past where aspen trees or bushes that would grow through lack of oxygen, we reached the top of the summit at well over 11,000 feet. While I was gasping for air just to wipe my goggles clean, the Teryx was just getting warmed up and broken in. While obviously down on power from our starting point, the 2014 version still felt as strong, if not stronger than the 2013 unit. The Fox podium shocks are a big improvement over last year’s, but the “straight from the factory floor” settings were obviously set for four occupants rather than one, which resulted in a choppier ride than expected. There was one section that we encountered that had water bars cut into the road to help divert flowing water during heavy rains to preserve the road surface. Of course my first reaction was to mash the throttle and fly off these jumps like Ryan Villopoto at Anaheim #1, but this would cause the Teryx to kick in the rear causing a heavy nose first landing. As much as I tried to loft or lighten the front end with a properly timed jab of the throttle, there just was not enough to carry the front end and get the proper attitude to be extremely aggressive with these jumps. A quick stop to add a couple of clicks of compression on both ends really did the trick. By stiffening the front, I forced the front suspension to “pop” off the top of the jump instead of soaking up the obstacle, and by slowing down the compression on the rear, the shock did not blow through the stroke causing a bucking scenario. It was much better, and actually I think the whole package worked better and was more comfortable through the remainder of our ride, alleviating the early harshness I mentioned previously.

Now over the summit, we headed down into Marysvale, the pace quickened dramatically and to the left of us was nothing but mountain and to the right was a dropoff. Not just any old dropoff, but in some spots a 1000-foot dropoff with no trees or vegetation to catch you in the event of a driver error or machine malfunction. The ex-racer in me comes out in the these situations, and I set my sights on catching our trail guide who was a former pro motocrosser and had pre-run these trails at least twice now. Catch him I did, and what was more impressive was the performance of the Teryx. While not a true sport UTV, the four-seater reacted well to driver input, and I could pick just about any line I preferred while trying to stick a wheel in on the hired gun up front. We had a blast sliding these cars around and quickly made work of our 4,000-foot dusty decent at the T4’s top speed. What a thrill ride and what a dramatic change of scenery and terrain. Now we were down in what I would best describe as high desert, the moist, loamy dirt from up top had made way too dusty, sandy, whooped out roads with wash board sections that would make roads in Baja seem like a freeway. I was in my element as we hammered down the rough trails, just skipping over the tops of all the bumps and jumps. I have no idea how this car would react with four adults in it through this same road, but with just me it handled it with ease and the Podium shocks soaked up everything I threw at them. The trail ended too soon as we idled into our last stop for the day and our riverside cabins at Hoover’s. Almost 100 miles and I felt fresh and excited about the next day’s journey back, a testament to the performance of this side-by-side.

When I rolled out of bed on day two, I heard a strange sound that us desert dwellers are not familiar with… rain falling on the roof. A quick glance outside made me very aware that this was going to be a bit tougher than the previous day’s stroll through the park. Pulling out all of my MSR rain gear, I layered up, grabbed extra goggles and some dry towels and headed to my steed. As we pulled out of Hoover’s I was quickly grateful for the better-than-average body protection and wheel coverage on the Teryx4 as mud, sand and water was being thrown around freely. Other than the falling water from the sky that I was driving into, the roof and bodywork kept me relatively dry and mud free. The 2-layer floorboard system worked as well in the deep and flowing creek crossings that we consistently would find ourselves in. Water can find its way into the foot wells past the lower level, but it quickly dissipates with the holes in the top layer of the floorboards. No water sloshing around trying to find a way out.

The rocks and mud were slick at best, and while I have no issue getting around in 2WD, I decided to drive around in 4WD. As mentioned before, this vehicle really seems to prefer to be driven in 4WD, but now it was a matter of survival and traction. On rocky surfaces, it is common that flats happen from a spinning tire, not a sidewall impact or tread puncture. The added horsepower and torque along with the 4WD system made it easy to keep my momentum while not having to keep the wheels spinning. No flats, no muss, no fuss. The rain continued to pound us as we made our way back over the summit. At one point, it was raining so hard and with a gale force wind blowing, the rain was actually hurting as we pushed on. Our only break was when we actually got above the clouds and confirmed that the sky was still up there and the sun did, in fact, come up that morning. It was a great time to stop, assess any damage and grab a clean and dry pair of goggles and gloves. The Teryx was running flawlessly, driving like new, and we charged on into the aspens and pine trees as we worked back down into Beaver. This section of trail had fence posts on either side to ensure that our vehicle was inside the 60” trail width limit. (picture #8) There were several of these gates on the trip, and the Teryx was just barely narrow enough to make it past. At each gate we had to make sure we were perfectly straight through, and precision driving and patience was a must. Back down below the cloud line, the rain again began to fall as the pace quickened for our last push to the finish line.

Through the rocky sections from 36 hours prior and into town, the train of Teryxes had made it. Zero issues, few complaints (mostly from being cold and wet) and with huge smiles on our faces after over 200 miles of just about every type of terrain and weather on the planet. What an awesome experience and great machine Kawasaki has produced. While the boys in green were tight lipped when asked about a future performance-based Kawasaki, this Teryx did everything we asked of it and then some. Cruising, sport, rock crawling, high speed and even jumps were thrown at this machine over 200 miles, and it made it look easy. With some fine-tuning, we made this vehicle even better, and we look forward to more adventures in the Teryx. Special thanks to Kawasaki which put on a great trail adventure and to the wonderful people of Utah that were friendly and inviting at every turn.

Review By: UTV Off-Road Magazine