First Ride – The Family Four

First Ride – The Family Four

2012.kawasaki.teryx4.yellow.left.riding.through-water.jpgThe Green Team has been on a roll. In the past year, Kawasaki has introduced all-new Brute Force 300 and Brute Force 750 ATV’s, and at their dealer show, they previewed the new Teryx4 750 4×4 Side x Side. That was only a teaser and we weren’t allowed to ride the new Kawasaki at their Florida dealer meeting. So when Kawasaki’s Jon Rall called asking if we would like to come to Tennessee’s Brimstone Recreation to try the new Teryx4 750, we grabbed our gear and were on our way.

Brimstone Recreation is a great place to try the new Teryx4 750. It’s Eastern style riding all the way with huge hills to conquer, water crossings, plenty of rocks, tight woods to snake through, and would be an excellent test of the all-new machine. Erica and her crew at Brimstone are always super friendly as well and as we rolled into the pits, a colorful fleet of new Teryx4’s stood waiting. It felt like we had come home.

Design Inspiration

Kawasaki wanted to give us a little information on the inspiration and design of the new Teryx4 750 4×4 and we started with a technical presentation.

It was only weeks after the original Teryx came out that aftermarket shops began offering their own Teryx four-seater by installing a custom roll bar and a seat in the rear dump box. It was usually crude, cramped, and hardly the best seating for safety, but it gave customers what they asked for. You can bet manufacturers noticed the trend and Polaris was the first to offer a sporty, factory built four-seater with their RZR4. From Kawasaki’s perspective, if there was a demand for a sporty, four seat Side x Side, they may as well build a proper machine to fill it; hence the new Teryx4. Make no mistake, however, the Teryx4 is no crude, garage built creation but a highly refined vehicle designed for fun for the whole crew.2012.kawasaki.teryx4.yellow.front.riding.on-trail.jpg

Kawasaki wanted to make the new Teryx4 comfortable, reliable, safe, and sporty. Rather than simply stretching the existing Teryx and stuffing in an extra row of seats, it would take a new chassis designed specifically for the weight and handling requirements of a larger machine. This was also the perfect time to introduce an all-new engine designed for the loads of a Side x Side as well.

Crew Comfort

The most important feature for any four seat Side x Side is how well it carries passengers. With that in mind, rather than hopping in the front of the new Teryx4 750 4×4, we climbed into the back.

It’s easy to become comfortable in the back of the Teryx4. The high-back bucket seats are plush, thick, and formed to wrap around you and hold you in place, and there is a handy crossbar behind the rear seats to grab onto. Between the seats is a pair of cup holders and a 12volt accessory outlet. Seating position is slightly raised for a better view. Most importantly, there is plenty of knee room and our six foot passenger easily had 4 inches of room between his knees and the back of the front seat. The three point seat belts do a good job of holding you in, and at the top they even have a little shock absorbing strap. One of the best safety features Kawasaki gave the new Teryx4 is the doors. The new doors are tough, sleek, durable, lightweight, and they open and close perfectly thanks to sturdy hinges and a solid, secure latch. The doors also offer the added benefit of keeping out any mud, sticks, or

Both the driver and front seat passenger of the Teryx4 get the same seats as the rear, but the front seats are adjustable. Pop out a couple bolts, move the seat to one of three preset positions, reinstall the bolts and you’re ready for all day trail action. Between the seats is the mid-mounted engine, the gear shift lever, a handhold for the passenger, a parking brake lever, and even a pair of cup holders. It’s very automotive like with the dash and center console sculpted to fit around the driver and passenger and just ahead of the passenger is a good sized glove box. A second passenger hand hold is on the front roll bar upright, or “A-pillar” as they call it in the automotive world. On the dash is a multi-function digital display tilted towards the driver with just about every bit of information you could need. The display features a speedometer, clock, dual trip meters, gear selector, diff-lock indicator, water temperature and fuel-injection warning lights, fuel gauge, hour meter, parking brake indicator, CVT belt warning, Neutral, Reverse, and low oil pressure warning lights. Down below is a second 12volt accessory outlet. Kawasaki claims the Teryx4 offers best-in-class shoulder, hip and leg room and the seating position is more upright than with your legs out in front of you.

Sporty Style

The whole point of a four seat Side x Side is sporty fun and the styling of the Teryx4 750 projects that image. Bodywork lines flow smoothly from front to back and the contours are smooth with few sharp, pointy corners or abrupt angles. At the rear Kawasaki gave the Teryx4 an integrated cargo platform capable of hauling 250 pounds and both the inside and outside have been sculpted to fit the overall theme. Inside the box are several tie down loops and it will easily haul your cooler and camping gear. Should you need to pull a trailer, Kawasaki also gave the Teryx4 a 2 inch receiver hitch capable of towing 1300 pounds. The front of the Teryx4 features the same distinctive “shark nose” style hood with recessed lights, and the entire hood tilts forward for easy access to the radiator, air box, brake master cylinder, and other front end components. While the doors are integrated into the bodywork on all models, on the standard unit they come in black, but on the EPS (Electronic Power Steering) and LE (Limited Edition) models the doors have an outer skin that matches the rest of the bodywork. As in the past, the Kawasaki bodywork has proven to be very durable and scratch resistant.2012.kawasaki.teryx4.close-up.console.jpg

A New Chassis and Suspension

The new Teryx4 750 would require an entirely different chassis which Kawasaki calls a Double-X design. The main tubes are large diameter, thin wall steel tubing that helps maintain vehicle rigidity and strength but keeps overall weight to a minimum. X-bracing supports the engine and bridges each section. On the trail it definitely feels rigid, even during aggressive cornering or when crossing through some of Brimstone’s many rocky sections. An added benefit of the Teryx4 chassis design is the tubular steel structural members help protect the bodywork, especially by deflecting branches on tight trails. For the ultimate protection of all passengers, the Teryx4 also offers a certified roll-over protective structure (ROPS) fabricated from high-tensile steel tubing.

Kawasaki wanted to make sure the new Teryx4 750 4×4 had the maneuverability for tight trails exactly like those at Brimstone, and the only way to do that was to keep the wheelbase short. Even with a second row of seats, at 86.1 inches the Teryx4 is only 6.1 inches longer than a standard Teryx. However, it’s a whopping 17 inches shorter than the Polaris RZR 4, and on the trail this translates into a lot less three point turns in tight situations. It’s definitely nimble in the woods! An added benefit of the short wheelbase is less tendency to bottom out when crossing obstacles like logs or ridges, especially with its very respectable 11 inches of ground clearance.

Dual A-Arms are used at both the front and rear of the Teryx4. All models are also equipped with Kayaba shocks, and at the rear each shock comes with piggyback reservoirs and preload, compression and rebound adjustability with 8.3 inches of wheel travel. Front shocks vary by model, with only preload adjustability on the base model, but all others offer the same full adjustment features as the rear. A rear sway bar helps reduce body roll in aggressive cornering as well and when pushed hard, the Teryx4 would lean into and out of the corner progressively with no abrupt snap or unexpected attitude change. It was predictable and easy to control!

Whether we were hauling a full load of passengers or going solo, we were happy with the Teyx4 suspension. With only the driver, it can be a little stiff, but we never bottomed it when carrying 3 full sized passengers. When it was our turn to ride in the back, we were also highly impressed and when strapped into the supple, rear seats, the ride is excellent and very confidence inspiring.

Generation 2 Engine

A four seat Side x Side is all about the fun, and a big part of that comes from the engine. While the engine in the standard Teryx has always been a good performer, Kawasaki gave the Teryx4 a second generation power plant designed specifically for the loads of a Side x Side. The new engine is a 749cc, liquid cooled, 90 degree V-Twin fed by Electronic Fuel Injection and Kawasaki claims it cranks out 15% more power than the previous motor. Whatever the number is, it’s got great torque. A large capacity radiator is mounted high in the front of the chassis to keep it safely away from any danger and behind the radiator is a huge, new air box with a large, pleated filter. We really like the new air box location and with the air box mounted high and at the front of the vehicle, it will have a much easier time breathing clean air, extending the air filter service life and ultimately reducing engine wear. From the intake to the exhaust, the entire system has been designed for serviceability, performance, and long term reliability. In the air intake tunnel between the front seats, Kawasaki even installed an extra fan to blow cool air across the engine should it sense an overheating condition, but on the trail we never heard it come on. Mated to the engine is Kawasaki’s unique, centrifugal clutch continuously variable transmission (CVT) system.

The advantage of the Kawasaki CVT system is it also includes a centrifugal clutch between the CVT pulley and the engine crankshaft. This insures the belt will be under constant tension which helps reduce wear on the specially designed, Kevlar impregnated belts. What really counts is how it feels on the trail though and engagement is smooth with no sudden jerk or abrupt shock that would ultimately shorten belt life. As with most Side x Sides, the transmission features High, Low, Neutral, and reverse, but unlike every other model, the Teryx4 transmission is the smoothest shifting in the sport. When it comes time to engage 4wd, a dash mounted switch locks the front end into gear and there is even a differential lock should you really get into the steep and

Trail Report Wrapup

We’ve always liked the standard Teryx and it’s been practically bullet-proof. Thankfully, the new Teryx4 750 4×4 carries many of the same design features such as a beefy frame, durable bodywork, and a strong engine, but Kawasaki engineers took the opportunity presented by the new model and improved on practically every aspect of the original design. We were impressed with the handling and suspension of the new Teryx4 and it is right at home on tight trails. Thanks to the torque of the smooth running, new engine, steep hills that would normally give our relatives cause to worry were no problem, and the engine also provides considerable braking assistance when crawling down hills, although this was much more effective with the transmission in LOW gear. Throttle response is instant with no lag from the injection system or the clutch. However, the throttle angle was sometimes a little awkward and hard to maintain, especially in rough sections where your foot bounces around and inadvertently stabs at the pedal. A more aggressive floor tread pattern and slightly different throttle angle would definitely help, and we also feel a tilting steering wheel would be a welcome feature for most owners.

It didn’t take us long to get used to the new Kawasaki Teyx4 750 4×4. It feels much like an improved version of the standard Teryx and because of the excellent characteristics of the new motor and chassis, we believe it could be used as the platform for a new two-seat Teryx also. This could easily be done by removing the rear seats, altering the protective roll bars, and installing the full sized rear dump box and associated bodywork. This would allow for additional front seat room as well, and it would be a very interesting experiment to see how the new, longer chassis responds in a 2 seat configuration. Future model speculation aside, we’ve got no problem with how it sits right now. The new Kawasaki Teyx4 750 4×4 is stable, precise handling, very comfortable thanks to the plush seats, and most of all fun. It’s exactly what it was designed to be!

April 17, 2012

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