Testing the updated Teryx4 at high altitude
To test out the new 2014 Kawasaki Teryx4, Kawasaki invited me to a two-day ride across the mountains of Utah, from Beaver to Marysvale. Checking in at the Butch Cassidy Best Western Hotel in Beaver, I was about to be formally introduced to the newest version of Kawasaki’s flagship four-seat UTV and all-inclusive family fun machine.
Kawasaki made some really interesting changes to the Teryx4 for 2014. Some changes would be in the power department and even more in the suspension, but for our ride the most colorful changes we noticed right off the bat were the bright metallic green and orange paint schemes that were not only on the plastics but dripping down onto the suspension arms and shock springs as well. With a full tank of fuel it was almost time to get rolling.
First, though, came a quick overview of the machine. Perhaps the biggest change is the engine development. This 783cc V-Twin engine has needed a little tuning and is now giving up an estimated 8% in horsepower. As expected, the Teryx4 also sees a bump in torque output – up 10% from last year.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2012 Kawasaki Teryx4 750
The original 2012 Teryx4 engine was a 749cc mill, but Kawasaki engineers have grown this powerplant in sheer volume to 783cc for the 2014 model year. Changes to mill include a new piston design and increased compression ratios. The gas-burning engine had a 9.3:1 compression ratio, but has now been tightened up to 10.7:1. Cam profiles were also changed up to further help the increase power to the rear wheels. To feed more air into the V-Twin, Kawasaki redesigned the intake snorkel and air box. Engineers also adjusted the CVT clutching to better suit the rider’s connection or feel while pressing the gas pedal and to also give the Teryx4 a improved engine braking.
While Kawasaki kept the suspension travel at 8.0 in. in the front and 8.3 inches in the rear, the Teryx4 did receive new shocks. FOX Podium shocks now cushion the ride on all four corners. These high-volume shocks not only give the riders a comfortable experience, but the ability to adjust the ride using preload and compression adjustments. The huge, oil-filled, gas-charged piggyback shocks provide impressive ride quality and the sheer volume of the shock and its oil capacity helps to prevent shock fade when that trail rager comes out in the owner. And as we mentioned above, on our Limited Edition ride the shock springs were colored the same as the bodywork and suspension arms. Add in the color-matched seats and it makes for a striking machine. Color-matched
Also new for 2014 is the LED headlight system. These LED lights, in my humble opinion, will not only be brighter but they will also reduce the already taxed electrical system just a little more.
Part of the drain on the electrical system comes from the standard electronic power steering. Kawasaki dropped the less expensive model without power steering, which was the right thing to do. Giving a driver with three passengers that extra assistance while navigating tight trails is much appreciated. To those who say you do not need power steering, you are probably the same people who would grind steel without safety glasses because you’re just that tough (or crazy). Sure, you can live without it, but the benefit far outweighs the cost.
COMPARISON: Read our preview of the 2014 Yamaha Viking
With the information-filled digital dash staring me in the eye, the fuel injected rumble began beneath the seats after a twist of the key. We all made our way out of town and into the Paiute trails to navigate our way across tight rugged and seemingly tough terrain in the Fish Lake National Forest. Kawasaki made great strides to reduce the engine noise, but it was still evident that I had a fire breathing powerplant right beside me in the cockpit. With a helmet on, though, it is not overbearing.
The Kawasaki Teryx4 is a machine that I can see myself in as well as my family. The interior is suited for comfort and functionality as well. As we gained altitude in the Mineral Mountains of Utah heading to Marysvale, I knew I needed to set my seat rearward to the furthest mounting point as I am a taller rider. The seat has three adjustments and it would be great if the seat were on sliders with adjustability like a car seat instead of bolting and unbolting. This is not a deal breaker for me because I know it would just drive the cost up.
Despite the improved power, the snappy throttle of the new engine was only noticeable at the hotel because we had climbed out to almost 12,000 feet. Altitude drags the motors spunkiness right out to the tune of about 3% per 1000 feet. But, the Teryx4 held on and continued to climb regardless of the loss of air.
The FOX Podium shocks managed to take our abuse over the two-day ride and although we had little opportunity to tune the shocks, the changes we had made along the trail seemed to work toward our personal goals and riding styles. The compression clicker on the reservoir is super sensitive and with three clicks one way or the other, the machine felt totally different.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Honda Pioneer
Overall the 2014 Teryx4 provided a very comfortable ride and I think my body gave out before the machine had. We put over 150 to 170 miles on the big family mover and in all that time it never complained!
One final note on the machine is that it gets some amazing fuel mileage. I’m not sure we could have made it all the way without a fill up, but looking at how well it did I think we could have coasted the last few miles!