The long awaited four-seat performance Side x Side from Kawasaki has arrived. Built on the existing KRX1000 platform, and with a long list of great features, we found a lot to love on the new KRX4 1000. A thorough inspection and a desert shakedown ride showed us exactly what it can do. Is it the best four-seat machine for you?
KRX4 1000 DIFFERENCES and DETAILS
Although the new four-seat KRX4 1000 shares much of its design with the two-seat KRX, there are several important differences, each designed for added thrills and passenger comfort. Key features are:
Three Different Packages – There’s a KRX4 1000 for every trail type.
KRX4 1000 SE – Comes with a roof, FOX 2.5 Podium LSC shocks, and multi-function digital display – msrp: $27,499
KRX4 1000 eS – Includes FOX 2.5 Live Valve Internal Bypass shocks, Electronic Control Suspension (KECS), 7" High-Grade, Full-Color TFT display with Smartphone Connectivity – msrp: $28,499
KRX4 1000 eS Special Edition – Features a roof, WARN® VRX45 winch, Hifonics audio system, FOX 2.5 Live Valve Internal Bypass shocks, Electronic Control Suspension (KECS), 7" High-Grade, Full-Color TFT display with Smartphone Connectivity – msrp: $29,999
All models come with 31” tires on 15” aluminum wheels
Wheelbase is 27” longer than the two-seat KRX 1000
THE BIG TEN
What it really comes down to with any new machine is how well it performs, and that’s much more than acceleration or top speed. Besides overall power, suspension, and handling, performance also means comfort for the driver and passengers, and even ease of maintenance. It’s all part of the experience. We’ve created a top-ten list of what we consider the best features on the new KRX4 1000.
1. SUSPENSION - FOX Live Valve Electronic Suspension System
Besides ergonomics, nothing plays a bigger role in vehicle comfort than properly setup suspension. Drive a machine with poor suspension and you’ll wish you were headed back to the trailer. We can drive the KRX4 1000 all day.
Dual front A-arms and a 4-link trailing-arm rear suspension deliver 18.6 and 21.1 inches of wheel travel, which is more than enough to handle deep desert whoops, but it’s the FOX 2.5 Live Valve shocks that really control the ride. The secret to the Live Valve shocks is an internal bypass system that lets the oil bypass the main piston. It keeps the suspension working in its sweet spot regardless of the terrain or speed. Best of all, it’s adjustable from the driver’s seat, and it can be easily read on the excellent digital display. A switch on the dash allows you to choose Soft, Normal, or Firm settings, and a Bosch electronic control system with multiple sensors adjusts the shock dampening on the fly. We tried all settings and found Soft is good for cruising at a leisurely pace, but we spent most of the day in the Normal setting. This provided a little more dampening but still provided a comfortable ride. As expected, Firm was the way to go in long, deep whoop sections. We were highly impressed with how the slightly longer KRX4 would float over deep whoops at high speed with no swapping. It’s very confidence inspiring thanks to the excellent suspension.
2. GREAT CAB LAYOUT – Roomy, Comfortable, Stylish
Kawasaki engineers really nailed the ergonomics with the KRX4 1000 cab. It feels very roomy thanks to a dash that sits slightly forward, there’s generous shoulder room between seats, ample head room, and plenty of foot room. Tall riders can stretch their legs easily. You sit down in the KRX4 rather than perched on it, and we’re also fond of the seats. Both the front and rear seats are contoured for excellent support and feature a textured surface, but they also feel slightly over-sized. Riders in the rear seats also get ample room, with good space for their knees and feet.
Control layout on the KRX and the KRX4 1000 is perfect. It’s easy to reach and understand all controls, and sight lines over the hood and out the sides are excellent. Only when backing up does the field of vision become limited.
We’re especially fond of the Kawasaki doors. Both the front and rear doors feature a front hinge but under the skin is a robust tube structure. Kawasaki didn’t skimp on the doors and even included small details like a rubber cushion at the latch loop to help eliminate any annoying rattling. We like how the door inner panels are sculpted so they do not dig into your elbow. The doors also feature cup holders and a set of speakers if you opt for the stereo, and there are several storage bins, and additional storage under the passenger seat. The KRX4 cab and ergonomics are very well done!
3. THE KRX4 ENGINE RUNS GREAT! – Smooth, Reliable, and Deceivingly fast. The 999cc engine runs extremely smooth. We tried to find vibration points throughout the RPM range and could feel nothing in our feet, the seat, or through the steering wheel. With the longer 4-seat chassis the engine is moved even further back, making it noticeably quieter. Still, we love the sound when you mash down the throttle.
The KRX4 1000 engine responds instantly to throttle input and offers Full Power or Low Power modes for smoother throttle modulation. This is particularly useful for rock crawling through difficult terrain. When you slip the transmission into Low gear, then hit the LOW button, throttle input is MUCH smoother. In the open desert we just left it in FULL. Mated to the engine is an upgraded CVT clutch for increased durability. Overall, the clutch performs very well. There is no jerky feeling. Even though the 4-seat model is approximately 200 lbs. heavier than the 2-seat KRX, acceleration feels identical, with a top speed of 70 mph. The KRX4 1000 may not be the fastest in the class, but it’s plenty quick enough, very well built, and a blast to drive.
4. EXCELLENT DIGITAL DISPLAY – Easy to Read, Packed with Info
There are two digital displays offered on the KRX4. The eS models come with a 7-inch, full color, center mounted digital display and you can select how you want info presented. (Digital, Analog, or Simple). In every setting it is extremely easy to read and the layout isn’t cluttered. We love how it even displays both the Power mode and shock settings, (Soft, Normal, or Firm). It also has the ability to display two cameras, it can manage your Bluetooth settings for both music and calls, and it’s really an infotainment center.
The base KRX SE model also gets a digital instrument display but this one is mounted above the wheel and tilts with it. It’s not quite as big as the center mounted unit, but it still displays nearly all of the same info. This leaves room for a dedicated stereo system or GPS in the center of the dash. We can’t say enough about Kawasaki’s digital display systems. Both styles are excellent!
5. TOUGH AS NAILS CHASSIS – Built to Last
There is no hi-performance Side x Side with a chassis better than the KRX4 1000. It’s built to last! High-strength, low alloy 1.75” steel tubing is used for most members, and it’s a very clean design. The welds appear excellent with good penetration and flow. Kawasaki also utilized steel castings at some tube intersections, making a stronger and simpler joint. You would have to hit a train to wreck this chassis. Kawasaki thought of all the details, and we love how the front wheel wells have a steel panel ahead of the driver and passenger. We’ve all seen pics of sticks or limbs that have pierced the firewall on competing models (a frightening thought), and Kawasaki took the extra steps to protect against that. If you want a highly durable chassis and excellent protection, this is the one to own.
6. IT’S FUN TO DRIVE! - When the Rubber Meets the Trail
Everything just feels right with the KRX4 1000. It’s got stylish looks, but when you settle into the seat it feels very natural. The ergonomics are comfortable, the steering wheel can be adjusted to any position that works for you, and the pedal angles are good. Firing up the KRX engine brings a healthy growl, and you’ll immediately look for open trail. We love the feel of the Kawasaki power steering which gives just enough assist without taking away feel, and you can drive the KRX4 all day with no arm fatigue. As with all Kawasaki EPS models, the steering is perfect!
A four-seat machine can sometimes feel as if you’re driving a school bus, especially in tight turns. The pleasantly odd thing about the KRX4 1000 is you would almost never notice the difference in wheelbase on the trail. It darts through tight turns easily with almost no body roll and it feels very stable. A longer wheelbase can also be an advantage in deep whoops. With the suspension set to FIRM, we floated across long and deep whoop sections at full speed, and without a hint of swapping. It takes a little fortitude to charge into the whoops at highway speed, but if you’re up for it, so is the KRX4!
7. BELT TEMPERATURE MONITOR – Keep It Cool
The only way you learn of a CVT belt problem with some Side x Sides is a whiff of burnt rubber followed shortly by the thump, thump, thump of belt on CVT housing. It also means you and your favorite parts guy are going to spend more time together. Kawasaki found a better solution.
The KRX4 and standard KRX feature a belt temperature monitor that takes the guess work out of belt life. A warning light on the instrument cluster lets you know if you’ve got a potential problem brewing. All you need to do is take it easy for a minute or two until the belt temperature gets back to a normal range, then get back to riding, hopefully a little wiser. Since the KRX4 comes with a very large clutch, enormous CVT vent ducts, and a supersized belt it’s doubtful you’ll have much to worry about. Send the parts guy a card if he misses you.
8. TOOL TIME – Maintenance Made Easy
A big part of vehicle ownership is routine maintenance and Kawasaki really aced this part. The radiator coolant reservoir is easily accessed ahead of the front wheel, the CVT cover can be quickly removed, and best of all, the air and oil filters are super easy to get to. Perhaps our favorite feature is an oil sight glass on the right side of the engine. According to Kawasaki engineers, they installed a large view port on test models for quick checks during testing, but it was such a great feature they carried it over to production. We LOVE it! Carrying the ease of maintenance even further, the oil dip stick is right above the sight glass and it features an over-sized fill hole, allowing you to pour straight from the bottle without searching for a funnel. A spin on filter sits approximately 6” above that, and there is absolutely nothing in the way. If you can’t maintain this engine you probably should go back to a Big Wheel.
9. ATTENTION TO DETAIL – Details Count
It’s the small things that can make or break a design. Kawasaki was a little late to the high-performance party, but they arrived in style. Absolutely nothing was overlooked with the KRX4 1000 with regard to performance, comfort, or convenience. Overall, the KRX4 1000 is built very, very well, and we can’t say enough about the little details like anti-vibration bushings, extra storage space, accessory integration mounts, and even simple things like floor drains. Everywhere you look the KRX4 speaks to Kawasaki’s commitment to quality.
10. ACCESSORIES APLENTY – Just What You Need
Kawasaki has a LONG list of accessories for the KRX4 1000. Whether you need extra bodywork protection, additional lights, or a kick-ass sound system, Kawasaki has you covered. One of our favorite accessories in the rear bed gate. It closed in the rear bed nicely, but also features a hidden storage area behind a door. It’s perfect for a few tie-downs, tools, camp gear, or whatever you want to store away. There is an accessory for all.
A COUPLE THINGS TO CHANGE
If we could improve two things on the KRX4 1000 the first would be the stock tires, and the second would be a shock tender spring.
The MAXXIS Carnivore tires are a good all-around tire, but like all OEM tires, they’re a compromise that has to work across every type of terrain. In the soft sand of Utah’s Sand Hollow ORV area, they often struggled for traction as they thrashed at the sand. When it comes to upgrade, pick a tire that fits the terrain you normally ride on. There’s more performance to be found in the KRX and the right tire can bring it out.
The second and most annoying feature of the KRX4 1000 is the shock spring tender coil. The dual rate springs do a respectable job of controlling the ride height, but as the shocks compress and the tightly wound tender spring fully compresses, the coils clap together and create a racket that sounds like a suspension problem. In reality, the only problem is the springs close together too easily. Aftermarket springs setup for the weight of the KRX and with a better coil wind could make the annoying noise go away.
IS THE KRX4 THE ONE TO OWN?
If you’re looking for a 4-seat high performance machine that’s reliable, comfortable, and built to last, you need to take a very good look at the Kawasaki KRX4 1000. It’s plenty fast enough to provide thrills, maintenance is a breeze, and it looks great. Kawasaki may have taken their time to enter the 4-seat game, but they came with a winner!
2023 Kawasaki KRX4 1000 eS & eS Special Edition Specs
Engine: 999cc Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke parallel twin, DOHC, 8 valves per cylinder. 112 hp
Fuel system: DFI with twin 50mm throttle bodies
Transmission: CVT w/centrifugal clutch. 2WD/4WD, front locking differential, H/L/N/R, Shaft Drive
Tires: Maxxis Carnivore 31 x 10.00 R15 Front and Rear
Steering: Electronic power steering; rack and pinion
Front brake: 258mm Hydraulic Discs, 32mm Twin-piston Calipers
Rear brake : 258mm Hydraulic Discs, 38mm Single-piston Calipers
Front suspension type: Double wishbone, Fox 2.5 Podium Live Valve internal bypass piggyback shocks, adjustable preload, KECS-controlled compression damping ; 18.6 in. travel
Rear suspension type: 4-link trailing-arm, Fox 2.5 Podium Live Valve internal bypass piggyback shocks, adjustable preload, KECS-controlled compression damping (eS); 21.1 in. travel
L x W x H: 157.3 x 68.1 x 76.2 in.
Ground clearance: 15.2 in. (eS) / 14.4 in. (eS Special Edition)
Fuel tank capacity: 10.6 gal.
Limited warranty: 6 months
Kawasaki Protection Plus: 12, 24, or 36 months