Which UTV is better all around?
Allow us to set the stage – two unlikely challengers square off in a down-home, off-road UTV battle. The 2020 Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000, which is the new kid on the block and bred from the high aspirations of Team Green, is ready to take on one of the top UTV makers in the industry, Can-Am. Can-Am has recently turned its Maverick Sport lineup up a notch with new variations, including a purpose built rock crawling version, aptly named the X RC. The Maverick Sport X RC is ready to take on the nastiest rock climbs straight off the showroom floor with comfort and confidence.
This comparison is one that didn’t strike us as relevant right away. However, after at least 500 miles in the driver’s seat of each of these UTVs, we have determined that these are actually closely matched up and ready for a proper comparison. Both the Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000 and Can-Am Maverick Sport X RC have low gearing and a lot of clearance with big tires, all things that make them rock crawling machines. Both are bred for the trails with a two-seat layout and plenty of interior amenities to keep you comfortable on long rides. And they both have significant wiggle room to upgrade them over time with accessories and personalization possibilities.
Which one will stand on top? Let’s find out…
Why do these two compare?
You might think that the KRX 1000 and the RC are actually quite different machines. However, upon further inspection of the numbers, take a look for yourself…
- Horsepower: 100 in the Maverick Sport versus 112 in the KRX
- Interior: Comfort for 2 passengers
- Powertrain layout: CVT transmission, 2-cylinder engines (albeit in a V-twin layout for the Maverick Sport), and fully locking front differentials at the flip of a switch at any speed
- Very-low Low gear in both of these machines, giving the driver the ability to rock crawl at approximately 2 mph with effortless starts and plenty of power down low in the RPM range
- Front radiator location on both vehicles
- Front A-arm suspension layouts
- Instrument clusters are of the digital variety and include everything on one screen
- Front sight lines out of the driver’s seat are similar
- Interior layouts with plenty of storage and two very well bolstered seats
- Both of these should include a roof from the factory
- Dimensions: 64” wide RC versus 68.1” wide KRX 1000. The KRX is also 8.2” longer in wheelbase that the Maverick (98.8” versus 90.6”, respectively)
- Link-style rear suspension layout on the KRX versus a-arms front & rear on the RC
- Beadlock wheels on the KRX from the factory
- Clutching in the CVT transmission: in addition to the regular CVT clutch layout, there is a centrifugal clutch on the KRX that keeps the belt tight and everything smooth. Traditional CVT clutches are found on the RC with no centrifugal clutch
- 100 hp in the RC versus 112 horsepower in the KRX
- Winch comes stock on the RC
- Prices: $21,499 for the Can-Am Maverick Sport X RC; $20,499 for the Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000
2020 Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000 Overview
Being named the ATV.com Sport UTV of the Year is no small feat, but that’s what the KRX 1000 did just this year. We all waited patiently for Kawasaki to bring a Sport UTV to the market. After the wait, the KRX has proved to be a very well designed and executed vehicle. It is designed for a booming market, and it appeals to a wide range of buyers with its features and seemingly bulletproof build quality. It is also an incredible rock crawler right from the factory, and it can be made even better with a simple addition of full skid plates from the Kawasaki accessory catalog, just like you see on our test unit, here. Other than the skid plates and awesome roof, which has a nifty sunroof-style feature built into it, those are the only accessories we have on the KRX. The stock 31” Maxxis Carnivore tires are already mounted on aluminum beadlock wheels from the factory. This wheel setup is something that we wish every manufacturer included from the factory!
For those of you who aren’t aware of some of the standard features on the Teryx KRX 1000, let’s go over a few of the main features. For starters, the engine powering the KRX is a 999cc 8-valve parallel twin engine with 112 horsepower. The engine is mated to a CVT transmission that has a centrifugal clutch to keep takeoffs smooth with constant belt tension. The R/N/L/H gear set is very well tuned for 2 mph rock crawling in Low and Reverse gears. Takeoffs are extremely smooth. You can tell how much tuning went into the CVT calibration, and we’ve been told that breaking a belt is not an issue on this machine. The engine braking is fantastic and smooth at every speed. So far, after 1200 miles, we haven’t had one belt issue. Same goes for the engine and transmission; the powertrain setup works beautifully every single time. The well-tuned powertrain extends to all four wheels with an impeccable 4WD system. The rear two wheels are always locked together, and the front differential is either in 2WD mode, unlocked in 4WD, or completely locked up in 4WD with differential lock. The turn dial switch is easy to use in the cab to circulate through the different 4WD modes, and we really appreciate how the KRX’s front differential will cycle through the different modes at any speed on the trail. That is awesome when you’re coming up to unexpected large hills and need to flick the 4WD switch to the right mode in a hurry.
If you haven’t seen a Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000 in person before, then you’re missing out on the overall build quality and craftsmanship of this Sport UTV. Plus, it is a looker! It is truly incredible how much precision went into creating this vehicle, and Kawasaki’s attention to detail shows throughout. The front ball joints at the outside of the A-arms are massive in size, almost twice as large as those found on the Maverick Sport X RC in this competition. The KRX’s front A-arms are also much more beefy than the arms on the RC. The rear of the KRX has a 4-link suspension setup with massive, high clearance trailing arms, along with three sets of radius rods. These are high clearance units from the factory, and they are securely attached to the outer knuckles and inner frame with mostly double shear attachments (there is one connection that is single shear). The quality continues with the frame of this vehicle, which has gussets in all of the right spots along with metal skid plates to protect further from rocks protruding under the transmission, differentials, and other critical powertrain components.
We like to say that the Kawasaki KRX 1000 is built to “get you there and back” without any issues. There is literally nothing that can stop this beast of a UTV!
On the inside, we find two very well bolstered seats that sit upright to give you a clear view ahead of the vehicle. The sight lines are very good for open trail riding, along with rock crawling. The seating position in this is better than the Maverick Sport X RC for seeing what is directly in front of you. You are able to see the tires easier by leaning your head outside of the doors, making rock crawling a pretty easy task. All of the switchgear is in easy to reach places, and there is more than enough space to add accessory switches. Plus, the steering wheel is height adjustable to give the driver plenty of comfort to go along with the adjustable seats. The two covered storage compartments are great to hold all of your necessities, and we would recommend buying Kawasaki’s net system for the central, open storage area. It’s an unused space that could also handle an iPad holder or something similar. The passenger has plenty of room to stretch out, and the grab handle is in a good spot. We do wish the grab handle wasn’t loose, though. The storage behind the seats, which is still present with the seats scooted all the way back, is truly phenomenal for storing extra items. You can put all kinds of stuff back there!
The driver instrument cluster on the KRX is leading the industry right now for clarity, brightness, and layout. Everything is right where you want it with a large speedometer readout, along with a tachometer and all other gauges. Kawi was extremely smart to include a CVT belt temp gauge on every KRX. We never saw it get over two bars even when pushing this KRX hard. Kawasaki has truly dialed in its CVT system. But, I digress, the instrument cluster is truly excellent on the KRX and the winner in this test.
The Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000’s cargo bed is rated to handle up to 351 lbs, and you can fit a full size spare in it, too (you can see this in the pictures). The included tie down hooks do a good job of securing cargo, but we do wish there was a containment system to help secure your cargo. Luckily, Kawasaki does have a tailgate that is available in the accessory catalog.
2020 Can-Am Maverick Sport X RC Overview
You might think this UTV is an unlikely challenger to the KRX… However, when we look at the 2020 Can-Am Maverick Sport X RC, it is actually a significant challenger to the Kawasaki. The horsepower numbers are similar, the transmissions are the same CVT layout (except for the lack of a centrifugal clutch on the RC), the passenger layout is similar with lots of storage options on both vehicles, and the capabilities of this RC are similar to the KRX. In fact, it is more capable than the KRX in ways. The real difference is the dimensions and rear suspension layout.
The chassis of this Maverick Sport X RC is the same as you would find in other variations of the Maverick Sport, except for the fact that the shocks are upgraded to FOX QS3 compression adjustable units mounted to arched front and rear A-arms. The latter comment about A-arms is a very unique feature of the RC compared to the KRX and one that gives the RC a leg up on the Kawasaki in serious rock crawling situations. Having a set of rear A-arms instead of trailing arms means there is nothing to get snagged on in front of the rear tires, besides the underside of the frame of course. Rock crawlers with any bit of experience will know that this extra clearance is key when you get the front over an obstacle and are faced with getting the rear up and over, too. The clearance in front of the rear tire really aids in traction on the rock face and not having to worry about getting hung up on a sharp edged rock.
The downside to not having rear trailing arms is the lack of suspension travel. Where the KRX has 21.1” of travel in the back, the RC has 14.75” of rear travel with the dual A-arm setup. The A-arm setup gives Can-Am and Fox less ability to develop a true dual rate shock setup because the overall shock length is less than a trailing arm setup, and the result is a bit less of progressive dampening when the speeds increase and the bumps get bigger. Where the KRX excels in the big bumps, the Maverick Sport is bouncy and really has trouble keeping the tires on the ground when the bumps get larger. The cabin doesn’t feel the most controlled when the speeds increase, and this is hard to say when the standard Maverick Sport is really tuned well in the suspension department.
The good news for the Maverick Sport X RC is it is really good at its purpose – rock crawling. When the speeds slow down and the terrain gets more difficult, the RC shines. It’s compact wheelbase, which measures out to be 90.6”, and A-arms front/rear combine to be a dynamite setup over 3’ rock ledges and cliffs. The power steering is light and pairs very well to the nimbleness of this RC. That last term is really the endearing quality of the RC – it is so nimble through the gnarly terrain and tight trails. In all reality, that is why you should buy this machine if you like this terrain. Compared to the KRX, the RC uses its nimbleness very well on the tight trails and rock climbs. Where the Kawasaki is stopped up on its rear trailing arms, the RC shines with nothing to catch on the back end, and the RC has an arch in the middle of the chassis to increase clearance even further. We noticed how much this “hump” helps on the stock Maverick Sport, and it does even more on the RC version. The front and rear wheels also stick out over the front and rear of the vehicle, giving a driver the confidence to tackle the straight up ledges. After traversing rocks with razor sharp ledges over the past 500 miles, our RC has just a few scratches on the skid plates, but nothing to worry about. The clearance is truly incredible.
The cockpit of the Can-Am Maverick Sport X RC is upgraded compared to the standard models with a 7.6” digital display with a keypad on the center dash. This center dash is a massive upgrade compared to the standard unit on other Sport models, and we hope this dash trickles its way down to the other models. It shows everything that you need it to – fuel levels, coolant temperatures, tachometer, trip and hour meters, gear position, speedometer, diagnostics, voltage, etc… The upgraded interior goes beyond just the dash, as the seats have specific stitching for the RC to bring a bit of flair to this special model. The seats offer very good support for long trail rides. If you’re taller than 6’2”, you’re going to find that the cockpit is a bit confined with the seat all the way back, especially if you have long legs. The KRX’s massive cabin is a different story and is made for all body sizes. The doors on the RC are also some of the best in the business, or the absolute best in the business. They are sealed all the way around the mating surfaces, preventing water and any other elements coming in from the outside. Plus, with interior and exterior handles, these doors are easy to open. To complete the cabin, the driver and passenger storage compartments, especially the latter of those, hold plenty of your trail essentials.
Every one of the UTV manufacturers these days make great accessories, and one of the best manufacturer-made accessories on the market is this Can-Am Maverick Sport cargo cover (covered trunk). We have used this accessory on over 2000 miles of trails, and it is a fantastic way to keep your essentials secure in a covered and sealed space. We also added a roof to this Maverick Sport X RC. Why don’t these come with a roof from the factory?!
Driving Both – Where Does Each Of These Machines Shine?
Getting right into the brass tacks here, the place where the Maverick Sport X RC excels most is in tight trail conditions and big rock climbs, which highlight its nimble handling traits and massive ground clearance. It’s true that the word “nimble” is the best way to describe the RC. The extremely tight turning radius allows this UTV to turn on a dime on the tightest of trails. Surprisingly, the tight treaded Maxxis Liberty tires have a soft compound to them, delivering traction in unexpected terrains. In the loose shale rock that we commonly find in the southwest deserts, the RC was able to find traction even up the steep climbs. These tires also offer great longevity – we have over 500 miles on them so far and there is essentially no wear showing, and there aren’t any chips in the tread either. If you’re in the mud deep in the southern states, you’d be better off buying an MR version of this Maverick Sport with the more open tires. However, the Liberty’s do a great job of finding traction in moderately loose and hard pack terrains, and they track straight over the bumps too. Credit their wide, squared-off profile for delivering the great contact patch.
When rock crawling the RC, several things become apparent. First, the driver’s view out the front of the vehicle isn’t as good as the KRX – the RC’s front fenders flare up and impede your vision with the lower seating position. Secondly, the Smart-Lok front differential is an absolute thing of beauty! Every Can-Am should come with this differential. And, I’m so happy to say that every mode of this Smart-Lok differential is useful for all kinds of different terrains. If you’re trail riding, “Trail” mode is great with a bit slower of a lockup 4WD system. “Rock” mode works great for moderate rock climbing where you need almost all of the traction available but still want easy steering effort. Then there’s the much-needed fully locking front differential mode, which is just what you think it is. This locking feature, along with the standard 4500-lb front winch, which has synthetic line from the factory, really give the driver the confidence to maneuver this RC through almost any rock climb. With the front differential locked, you can really scale any wall of rocks you want. It’s incredible!
Now, the sheer capability of the Can-Am Maverick Sport X RC is something you should experience one of these days. The combination of the chassis (mainly the increased clearance and a-arms in the back) handling traits and nimbleness, along with the cabin comfort, make this a supremely capable machine on the tight trails. The RC just lacks some refinement as the speeds get higher – you notice how limited the suspension is without a truly progressive spring layout. Plus, even at 64” wide, this RC feels and drives “tippy” in truly off-camber situations. In fact, it’s something you really have to pay attention to. There were a couple situations where our hair stood up with this machine. A word of advice would be to get to know the RC before you really push it.
Now, let’s talk about the Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000. It’s truly a feat for Kawasaki to come out with such a well-rounded machine with its first Sport UTV effort. Kawi nailed the basics – the KRX is comfortable in the cabin with plenty of room and storage for an all-day ride, it’s supremely capable with an excellent drivetrain system, it is beyond tough and built to seemingly withstand an apocalypse, and it just drives really well in nearly all terrains. It’s hard to beat a KRX, but this is a showdown, so does it beat the RC?
Besides the tight, technical terrain that the RC excels on, the KRX 1000 pretty much wins in every other area. Frankly, the KRX can still get through almost any rock climb even with the long rear trailing arms and extended wheelbase compared to the RC, but it takes a bit more driver finesse. Where the RC easily dances its way through the tight trails, the KRX is going to take a bit more effort. Luckily, it’s easy to switch between forward and reverse on really tight trails, and the light power steering makes maneuvering the KRX a breeze.
The driver is rewarded in the KRX cockpit with great forward visibility and a comfortable seating position. The only thing that we can really complain about from a driver’s perspective is the foot pedal placement is still a bit high above the floorboard, causing your ankle to get a bit sore on all day rides. A heel bump to rest the bottom of your shoe on would also help with this (hint, hint, Kawi…). Otherwise, the view is great and all of the controls are at easy reach. The ability to quickly engage the 4WD system with an easy twist of the dial at any speed gives you the confidence to make it up any hill you tackle. The standard 31” Maxxis Carnivore tires and aluminum beadlock wheels give you confidence, too. These tires have an 8-ply rating, and we have noticed just how good they are in the wear department. After almost 1000 miles, we’ve done one tire rotation and noticed that the rear tires wore about half way during that time. Not bad, really, for hard driving. These tires provide good traction off the line and excellent stability on the fast graded and wash roads. Credit the 68.1” width that Kawasaki engineers chose for this machine, too. It is extremely stable in all driving situations, whether you have it sideways on a massive rock climb or sideways at 50+ mph on your favorite wide open road. The KRX 1000 is just confidence inspiring in all situations.
The other place that the Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000 excels over the Maverick Sport is in the suspension department. You could literally race the toughest rock race on the planet, King of the Hammers, with little more than skid plates and safety equipment on a KRX – it is just that tough. The ball joints are massive, the frame is gusseted from the factory, and the rear trailing arms (and front A-arms) are built to exceptional standards. When you hit a rock on the trail, you really don’t even worry about these parts on the KRX – I haven’t been able to find a dent yet. With skid plates installed out of the Kawasaki accessory catalog, you’re really not going to be able to dent anything. It’s the combination of the skid plates and tire traction, coupled with the excellent drivetrain system that really bring the whole package together. Both of these UTVs can crawl at a super slow 2 mph, but the KRX does so effortlessly with better clutch engagement from the centrifugal clutch. You can literally feel all of the power getting to the ground in this vehicle.
When it comes to the overall handling characteristics of both of these machines, drivers will ultimately feel more confident behind the wheel of the KRX. It’s wider stance, elongated wheelbase, and seemingly low center of gravity really make it handle well whether you are running through wide open fire roads or blasting through S-turns on tight trails. You can feel how tall the RC is when pushing it through corners – it plows a bit and doesn’t have that direct turn in feel that the KRX displays. It’s a bit like the RC is on skates where the KRX is a sled that you know where it’s going at every moment. One reason for that is the KRX’s additional weight, which comes in at 1896.2 lbs. This is about 300 lbs heavier than the RC, and you can feel it on the trail. The flickability of the RC is sure fun on the trail, but it just doesn’t have a direct handling feel. The Can-Am Maverick Sport X RC just needs a bit more refinement to be a better all-around UTV.
One last place the KRX 1000 excels is in the whoops. The dual rate spring setup, which is further enhanced with adjustable crossover rings on the shock bodies, allows you to tackle 2’ to 3’ whoop sections with confidence. The slow speed chop and washboard is also better managed in the KRX. Plus, having the ability to adjust the compression with 24-clicks instead of 3 is great for different terrains.
This comparison revealed several things. First, the Can-Am Maverick Sport X RC is a UTV that really excels in the very tight, technical terrain that you need maximum traction and clearance. Second, the Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000 is truly the winner of this test in all other areas. Thus, we are declaring it the winner of this comparison. It’s true that the KRX can tackle the tight, technical terrain, but it takes a bit more finesse than the RC. In all other terrains, like wide open fire roads, two track trails, sand, mud, and most rock climbs, the KRX is clearly the better all-around vehicle.
The last place that puts the KRX 1000 over the top is the price. The KRX is $1000 cheaper than the RC at your local dealer, and that savings is more than enough to purchase one major thing for the KRX – a winch. After spending a lot of time in both of these vehicles, they offer a lot of standard features for their asking price. They both need to include a roof from the factory, but other than that they are well equipped.
At the end of the day, narrow down what you’re looking for and what kind of terrain you’ll primarily be riding on. Once you have those details locked in your mind, you’ll be ready to pick your ultimate UTV.
Until next time, be safe on the trail and we’ll see you out there!