2009 Kawasaki Teryx 750 UTV Review 0
Introduced a little over a year ago, the 2008 Teryx proved to be a good recreational side by side right out of the box. But who-boy, what a difference a year makes. Improvements for 2009 made the newest Teryx better in almost every way.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Teryx is that it’s bigger than its main competitor, the Rhino, being about four inches wider. It also doesn’t have doors like the Rhino, but instead has a very clever footwell design and a built-in restraint for keeping your feet and legs inside the cabin.
Climbing in, you’re going to find the seats quite comfortable with pronounced side bolsters to hold tight during hard cornering and off-camber situations. The seats are still not adjustable fore and aft like the Polaris Ranger RZR, but the reach to the pedals and the steering wheel is a pretty good fit for most people from around 5’6” to roughly 6’3”. On the center console, over the engine, is the shifter and the lever for the locking in the front differential. The shift pattern is simple and easy to use with neutral in the center, reverse to the rear, and high and low ranges forward. It now works with an almost fluid-like precision.
The differential lever sits just towards the driver from the shifter. With the lever forward the front differential is fully open. Pulling the lever back, it ratchets to lock the differential in varying degrees all the way to full lock. The differential can be loosened with a push of the button on the top of the lever, similar to an auto’s hand-operated parking brake. It’s a very trick way to control the front differential and easy to work. And it can be engaged at any speed.
We said this time and time again, but we really appreciate the option of controlling the drivetrain options. We use 2WD on paved and hard-packed trails when not running with the hammer down. But once we do unleash the power, the added handling benefits of a 4WD system with an open front differential are appreciated. In this mode the Teryx can take on the handling traits of a good rally car. Driving hard into a corner isn’t that much different whether in 2WD or 4WD, but once more throttle is applied, having 4WD engaged keeps the back end of the Teryx behind the front. Rather than the back end sliding around, kicking up dust and losing momentum, the 4WD allows the Teryx to drift only slightly and creating more forward drive. And when it comes time to get the Teryx up and over that rocky trail, or through that drift of deep snow, just pull the locker-lever back and you’ve got all wheels turning at the same speed.
On the center of the dash is a gauge that includes a digital speedometer, odometer, two trip odometers, a clock and a 4WD indicator. Also included are warning lights for the parking brake, neutral, reverse and oil and water temps. To the right of the gauges, in front of the passenger, is a large, well-sealed storage compartment. On the left side of the gauges is the ignition switch, and the switch for 2/4WD. To the left of the steering wheel is the headlight knob. Below that is the parking brake which is foot-operated to engage and released by a small hand lever just above it. Now I don’t know who decided that a foot pedal is the best way to engage the parking brake, but it might be an accurate guess that it’s all part of the safety-Nazi’s effort to keep us from using a hand brake for doing those cool e-brake turns. Although once an accepted method for quicker turning in tight situations, today’s litigious society has caused manufacturers go to great lengths to make everything as milk-toast and safe as possible. But that’s a whole other dissertation for another time.
Powering the Teryx is a slightly modified version of the 750cc 90-degree V-Twin found in the Teryx last year. This year Kawasaki added a digital fuel injection system designed to provide a more precise fuel mixture at different atmospheric pressures. The new FI system not only helps cold weather starting and high altitude performance, but provides a significant increase in performance that is easily noticed from the moment the throttle pedal is pushed. As part of the updated package, the Kawasaki engine also has an improved intake system designed to increase the airflow into the engine and to decrease the sound that resonates in the cabin. While the Teryx isn’t as quiet inside as the RZR, it is still much quieter than the Rhino.
All the Teryx’s newfound power is transferred through the driveline via a slightly revised CVT transmission that uses Kawasaki’s trick, electric-actuated braking system to apply pressure to the belt and simulate engine braking – and this it does seamlessly. Due to the added power, the transmission ratios have been revised as well. Also new for 2009 is a rock crawling sensor, added to keep the belt from being overloaded in slow, technical situation, especially when the operator fails to use low range. Another way that Kawasaki has designed longevity into the transmission is by making the CVT’s cover out of aluminum rather than the more typical plastic. The aluminum acts as a heat sink, pulling heat out from the CVT unit. The transmission’s air intake system has been revised as well, using a raised snorkel to bring more air in, and from a higher location on the frame.
Both the front and rear suspensions are dual A-arms with 7.5 inches of wheel travel. Up front are five-way preload adjustable gas-charged shocks, and on the rear are gas-charged reservoir shocks with a screw-type pre-load adjustment. For 2009, the rear sway bar has been modified to allow the suspension to move a bit more independently. And that it does, allowing a little more ‘independence’ to each rear wheel’s travel without letting the Teryx lean too alarmingly during high-speed slides. We’ve always wondered about the wisdom of having each corner of a vehicle sprung independently, only to connect them back together with a strong steel bar. But I guess if you’ve ever watched a Trophy Truck cornering where it leans so far that the inside front tire comes off the ground you know the value of ‘anti-sway’ bars!
The suspension, thanks to the hi-tech gas shocks and the revised sway bar, is both nice and flexible at slower speeds, and able to soak up the rougher terrain and jumps at higher speeds without bottoming. Of course, the added width definitely gives the Teryx a more stable feel in hard cornering and those off camber situations like rock crawling. The only drawback to the handling in stock form is that the 26 inch Maxxis bias-ply tires fitted front and rear are totally inadequate when asked to supply superior forward traction or precise cornering.
The brakes are a pair of recessed twin-caliper hydraulic discs up front and a modified version of Kawasaki’s muti-plate sealed wet brake system in the rear. The brakes work well with the only problem being that the rear brake and differential fluid boil out after driving the Teryx with the e-brake left on. Fortunately the folks at Kawasaki are aware of the problem and now put a huge ‘P’ on the speedometer display until the parking brake is released.
The Teryx’s seems to set the bar for being both fun to play on the trails and sand dunes, yet justify its place in the garage as a workhorse. The metal cargo bed is just over 11 inches deep and measures 44 inches wide and almost 33 inches long, and is rated to carry 500 pounds. The Teryx is rated to tow 1300 pounds from its two-inch receiver hitch.
While our testing included plenty of chores like hauling firewood and towing trailers around the ranch, by far the most time was spent just playing around on the mountain trails in the Utah high country. It was on those high country trails that we really found the improvements of fuel injection. No choke is required, even on cold mornings, and the Teryx started quickly every single time. But what we really loved is how responsive the Teryx is at any altitude, even above 11,000 feet where the carbureted model would stumble along horribly. The power increase is noticeable right at throttle tip-in when powering out of a tight and rough corner.
Although the power and the handling are what make us fall in love with the Teryx, it’s Kawasaki’s attention to the little details that will assure our continued faithfulness long after the new wears off. And speaking of the new wearing off, we’ve had a long term Teryx sitting at our shop since its introduction. Considering the amount of hard use and the lack of care it received, we’re pretty sure that the build quality and reliability will be there for the long run.
With all the wonderful things said, we still think the parking brake should be a hand lever, and the seats and steering wheel should be adjustable. We also found that the move to painted plastic on the SE models looks good but scratches easily. And please Kawasaki, put some good, radial tires on the Teryx. It would steer better, handle better, and look better.