Putting Kawasaki's New Teryx KRX4 1000 UTV To the Test
We test Kawasaki’s new Teryx KRX4 1000 to how it stacks up against the competition in the 4-seat UTV market.
In recent days, you might have seen that Kawasaki announced its newest, and possibly most anticipated, UTVs in years with the Teryx KRX4 1000. Based on their popular 2-seat Teryx KRX 1000 that was released to the world in late 2019, Kawasaki claimed that this new model had a focus on comfort, confidence, and capability in a sporty UTV that was built to do more than just go fast. With a 68” width and 126” wheelbase, the new KRX4 1000 has comparable dimensions to some of the high-performance UTVs on the market, but not the high horsepower ratings.
As soon as this new 4-seat unit was released on the internet, there was plenty of chatter from consumers about power or a potential lack of it since the engine and transmission were the same as what was in the original KRX 1000. With a new frame that was extended over two feet to accommodate two additional passengers, of course there is going to be a substantial increase in weight, which causes that concern. And there was plenty of other internet chatter of people comparing this unit to the likes of the Polaris’ 4-seat RZR models and even the Can-Am Maverick X3 Max models, even if they’re technically in a different class.
I was recently invited, along with a handful of other media outlets, by Kawasaki to test out the new Teryx KRX4 1000 at Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, UT to see just how well this new machine works. Being familiar with this location from previous visits for racing and recreation, I knew that it offered everything from sandy twisting trails, challenging dune climbs, extreme rock crawling obstacles, and long, whoop-filled stretches that would really allow me to see if the KRX4 1000 met or exceeded public expectations.
Known for its challenging terrain, Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, UT also has amazing views that provided a great backdrop for our photos.
Teryx KRX4 1000 Top Features
Before we were sent out on the sandy Sand Hollow trail systems, we were given a thorough walkthrough of the Teryx KRX4 1000 eS and eS Special Edition machines that we’d be driving. From front to back we were given details on what pieces of equipment came standard on each machine, and which factory aftermarket accessories they installed for this event. This also gave everyone a chance to look at the rear passenger compartment and take a seat to judge how roomy it was. Whether it be in a 4-seat UTV or a full-size 4-door truck, I always hop in the back to gauge its roominess, and the KRX4 1000 has plenty of it.
Standing at 6’1” tall, it can get pretty tight in some of the more popular 4-seat UTVs on the market. One model in particular has my knees tightly pressed against the back of the front seats, which isn’t very comfortable. Another popular model does allow ample room for rear passengers, but that model also has 9-inches of additional wheel base. The Kawasaki Teryx KRX4 1000 seems to have found the happy medium with the additional wheel base to provide a spacious cab for the rear passengers.
The 126″ wheelbase provides ample rear passenger comfort and superb handling. Unlike other UTVs, we never worried about being too long and dragging the frame while climbing on the rocks.
As for the factory aftermarket accessories, there are plenty available for the new KRX4 1000. The units provided for us to ride were outfitted with front LED light bars, rear LED chase lights, spare tire y-strap, and nerf bars, but since most everything on the front and rear of the car are identical to the 2-seat KRX 1000, there are 32 carryover items from Kawasaki’s accessory line. Top that with 23 new items specifically for the KRX4 1000, and you’ve got plenty of factory aftermarket parts to deck out an already trick machine.
The standout feature for me are the FOX 2.5 Live Valve Internal Bypass Shocks that are controlled by Kawasaki’s Electronic Control Suspension (KECS). I’ve been around and tuned my fair share of aftermarket shocks, but the ability to control ride comfort and stiffness with the turn of a knob on the fly is something totally new to me. As covered in the announcement in early June, the KECS system offers three different ride settings (soft, medium, and stiff) that you can set while driving, not that we recommend doing anything that will distract you while behind the wheel.
While you’ve got multiple instrumentation options to view on the full-color 7″ TFT digital dash behind the steering wheel, my favorite to have up was for the KECS system. This allows you to see how the suspension is being adjusted in real-time.
As explained to me, the soft setting is good for slow speed operation that would optimize comfort while going over jagged terrain. The medium setting allowed for more aggressive driving that would soak up whoops better and lessen body roll when cornering hard, and the stiff setting was best for similar situations but with all seats in the cab filled to compensate for the additional weight.
To show the prowess of the Teryx KRX4 1000 in a wide variety of situations, the team at Kawasaki had mapped out two different routes for our groups to test the machines. One route focused on the low speed, technical ability of the KRX4 1000 on a variety of rock crawling trails that had plenty of steep waterfall style climbs, off-camber portions of the trail, yet mixed in with some good high speed sand trails. The other was slightly different in that we would have more of an opportunity to let the engine stretch its legs in the higher RPMs on fast, wide-open trails that still had plenty of chop to give the suspension a workout. Regardless of the 105°+ temps we were going to be in, I was ready to get behind the wheel.
Fast, Fun, and Comfortable Experience
I hopped into the driver’s seat of the Teryx KRX4 1000 eS SE, and was instantly comfortable with the controls. I’m slightly finicky when it comes to steering wheel comfort in a UTV. Some feel too bulky for my hands and seem to cause blistering, and some don’t feel as if the steering wheel is properly centered to the driver’s seat. Not the case here as I was as comfortable in the KRX4 as I am in my daily driver. The selector controls for the 7” full-color TFT instrument dash were easily within arms reach as was the control knob for the KECS suspension system. I turned the key to bring the 999cc parallel-twin engine to life and off we went.
The group I was in would head over to the more technical loop for us to experience how well the KRX4 performed on the challenging, technical rock crawling trails that Sand Hollow is known for. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, look it up on YouTube to see what I’m talking about. Before we got to the tough stuff, we had to go down a few miles of the fast, sandy trails, which gave me a great opportunity to play with the KECS settings. While it was explained that the soft setting was best for slower speeds, I found that it really helped to soften the ride over smaller bumps and rocks at higher speeds. As the trails started to develop some deep whoops, I clicked the knob over to the medium setting and could easily feel the difference in how the KRX4 handled.
Whether blasting through the sandy whoops or bouncing down the technical rocky trails, the Fox live valve internal bypass shocks controlled by the KECS system worked flawlessly. By simply turning a knob on the dash, drivers are able to find the right suspension setting for virtually any terrain.
When first approaching the deeper whoops and big bumps, I stuck with the soft setting and could feel the softness of the suspension as we blew through the travel. By switching the knob, I could feel the increase in stiffness that transformed the KRX4 to a better handling machine for the terrain. The pace of the group slowed down as we exited the sandy trails for the rocky hills, and I kept the suspension settings in the medium firmness option. Again you could feel that the ride was stiffer at slow speeds, but once you went to a softer setting it was a more comfortable ride. This KECS system really works as it was explained.
As for the drivetrain in the KRX4 1000, nothing has changed from the 2-seat model. The CVT transmission provides smooth power delivery in all situations and the on-the-fly electronically selectable 4WD and front differential lock provide confidence. This is another feature I particularly like about the KRX4. Where some UTV models engage the front driveline only when there is rear wheel slippage, that harsh engagement has been known to cause accelerated wear and occasional catastrophic damage to the front differential. In addition, it can cause the car to handle unpredictably by engaging or disengaging the front driveline. With the KRX4 1000, when you’ve got 4WD engaged, it’s engaged until you turn it off. The same goes for the electronic locking front differential. These are things you want when off-roading in extreme situations like what we were going to be doing.
By shifting the CVT transmission into low range and engaging the electronically controlled 4WD system, I felt like the KRX4 1000 could climb anything. For even more control, select the Low Power mode for better throttle control when needed.
Taking on the steep face rock climbs was simple in the Teryx KRX4 1000. Putting the transmission into low range provided plenty of torque to pull the 31” Maxxis Carnivore tires that were wrapped around the 15” aluminum wheels. The tire height and front end design allows for 90° approach and departure angles on rugged terrain. This gives the driver the perfect opportunity to place the aggressive Maxxis tires at vertical rock faces and use the smooth torque and throttle action to climb like a mountain goat on the side of a cliff. I really appreciated that at times I could apply just a slight amount of throttle and the UTV just glided up at what seemed like an idle pace. It’s in situations like this where the selectable power mode in the KRX4 1000 is appreciated as well. In Low Power mode, the throttle response is mellower allowing for more precise control in technical terrain. Full power is great for everywhere else.
With every mile that clicked off on the digital display, I became more and more impressed with the capabilities of this UTV.
For our afternoon loop, the group was led in a direction I was more familiar with. The eastern side of the area is where I’ve raced a few different times when the WORCS series held races there. This terrain didn’t have as much technical slow speed terrain, though there are a few challenging places, but had plenty of wide open roads and trails that would allow our group to test the high speed ability of the KRX4 1000. Here is where i’d be able to validate or shut down the claims that this machine was going to be a slug of a sport recreation UTV.
As for the acceleration characteristics of Kawasaki’s new 4-seat UTV, I was impressed. Is it as fast as a 1000cc turbo RZR or X3 Max? No, but this UTV is also in a different class. It offers smooth acceleration that is quick, but doesn’t force you into your seat like some turbo model UTVs. As far as top speed is concerned, I believe the Teryx KRX4 1000 tops out at 68 MPH and in one of the longer stretches of road I took it up as high as 63 MPH which seemed plenty fast for me. I’ve gotten to the point in life where I don’t need to be in the fastest vehicle, but if I can have one that is comfortable, handles well, can haul a decent amount of gear, and still be quick, i’m a happy camper. The Kawasaki Teryx KRX4 1000 honestly checks all of those boxes.
Getting back to the acceleration characteristics of this machine, I wanted to get the opinion of others who were on the trail with me. I’ve not had the opportunity to drive the 2-seat KRX 1000, so I didn’t have a good base for comparison. More than one person said that the 4-seat version seemed to accelerate just as well as the 2-seat, and for the additional wheelbase and weight that come along with it, I feel that is a favorable opinion for the new 4-seat KRX4 1000.
As for handling characteristics at higher speeds, we were all raving about the stability this new unit had. If the wheelbase of a UTV is too long, it gives the feeling of a wandering rear end, which we all agreed on, but the wheelbase of the Teryx KRX4 1000 seems just right and offers great stability at high speeds while providing a comfortable ride. As for cornering, many long-wheelbase vehicles have a tendency to push in a sharp corner under power and again this was not the case with the KRX4. Even while charging the high line of a corner under power, this UTV seemed like it was on rails where others may have pushed and gone over the berm. Even as I tried to push the KRX4 to its limits, it took everything that I could throw at it. I haven’t been this impressed with a machine in a long time.
A feature only found on the Teryx KRX4 1000 eS SE, the Hifonics stereo system sounds great. The dash-mounted stereo, 4-door speakers, and bed-mounted subwoofer provided a clear, crisp sound.
In case you haven’t figured out how I feel about the all-new Kawasaki Teryx KRX4 1000, I’m definitely a fan. While much of the UTV community seems hyper-focused on who has the highest HP number, I am at a stage in my life where i’m more focused on, in Kawasaki’s words, comfort, confidence, and capability. We all want a machine that is reliable so we can count on it starting every time we turn the key and know it won’t be constantly breaking out on the trail. We want a multi-passenger UTV that is comfortable for anyone that we’re taking out, and the confidence that we can safely take on trail obstacles while having fun.
The engineers at Kawasaki took their time in releasing this 4-seat UTV and it was well worth the wait. From providing excellent passenger space to being able to outfit it with numerous aftermarket accessories, they did things right. This machine is perfect for day trips with your family to enjoy scenic trails, multi-day excursions when outfitted with the right equipment, and even some aggressive trail riding with your best friends. Since i’ll be moving to a more ATV/UTV friendly state it’s quite possible that you’ll be seeing some exciting stories and build possibilities centered around the Teryx KRX4 1000. If you see a new Teryx KRX4 1000 or other UTV in your future, be sure to check out our list of Best UTV Upgrades For New Owners. It’s loaded with great upgrade ideas for safety and fun, and for more information on the Kawasaki Teryx KRX4 1000 click here.
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More by Eli Madero