2014 Kawasaki Teryx4 LE First Ride 0

The re-imagined-for-2014 Kawasaki Teryx4 LE is a tantalizing new machine that boasts several improvements to an already very-capable vehicle. Included in these improvements is a revamped motor designed for more power output and better fuel efficiency, a reimagined suspension system that now includes Fox Podium shocks, a new EPS system, LED headlights, sound deadening material to help with engine noise while driving, and a redesigned interior to give it that extra appeal while out on the trail. MotoUSA recently “Let the Good Times Roll” out on the Paiute Trail system in central Utah to find out just how these new revisions affected the already capable Teryx4 Side-by-Side.

The Paiute ATV trail, which spans a total of 238 miles and includes a wide range of elevation changes, provided us with a prime location for testing the 2014 Tery4’s capabilities. Encompassing numerous mountain passes with long, winding fire roads along with double track trails that are made for the a vehicle under 60 inches wide, this trail system has something for everyone. The tight, wooded sections allowed us to see how well the Kawasaki turned on a GNCC-style course, and the open roads gave us ample opportunities to open up the new motor and slide the Teryx4 around. Let’s dive into the meat of this ride and see just how well the 2014 Teryx4 LE performed in its natural habit…

The FOX Podium shocks performed impressively well in a variety of terrains.

The FOX Podium shocks performed impressively well in a variety of terrains.

One thing we noticed right upon seeing the new LE model is how well the green, automotive-style paint pops out at you. This color grabs your attention even in the great sea of UTVs, and we think it will hold up to long-term abuse with ease. After your eyes gaze at the new paint scheme for a bit, they eventually wander up towards the seats. The contrasted stitching draws your attention right into the cockpit, and they make for a pleasing entry and exit of the vehicle.

The Teryx4 has been in production for just over two years now, and Kawasaki has nailed down the proper creature comforts for this vehicle. Coupled with the new look of the seats and paint scheme, the shifter, steering wheel, cup holders and digital gauge cluster are each within easy reach for all-day comfort. The 12-volt outlet came in handy for those select editors who liked to bring their phones and digital accessories along for the ride. For those of us who were on the taller side (I’m about 6’3”), the front seats offer three different adjustments, fore and aft, for optimum comfort. The setting furthest back kept me secure, comfortable, and ready to mash either pedal at a moment’s notice on our two days of riding. The only thing I would like to see altered is the position of the foot pedals. For all day comfort, we hope Kawasaki pushes these more towards the front floorboard, so you don’t have to use the muscles in the front of your legs so much. Otherwise, the footrest and the cabin in general is a comfortable and pleasant place to be while out riding. The incorporated doors keep all four passengers in place and lessen the worry about unwanted debris finding its way into the cabin.

The Teryx4 can easily fit four adults, and we are consistently amazed at the fact that they didn’t have to lengthen the wheelbase all that much when compared to the standard, two-seat Teryx (85.7 inches in the T4 versus 76 inches in the T2). This fact is proven even more in our minds when out driving the four-seater. While you can feel the slight increase in wheelbase, the way the Teryx4 drives on the trail reminds us of a high-strung slot car. Put the vehicle in 4-wheel drive, point it where you want it, and gas it! The T4 turns and pivots with ease; all the while the power steering and nicely weighted brake pedal are easy to modulate to ensure proper corner entry and exit.

We chose to put our Teryx4 in 4-wheel drive most of the time because you can brake into the corner, let the engine-brake take over for a split second, point it where you want to go, and get back on the gas before you even reach the middle of the corner. I believe we call it “hauling the mail”. Maybe in this case we should call it “hauling the trail”… Anyways, the 4-wheel drive makes the Teryx drive like it’s on rails, and we appreciated how the Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires offered copious amounts of traction in any terrain.

2-wheel drive also provides the pilot with abundant opportunities to let the back end swing when the trail turns into fire roads or the like. If any loss of traction is experienced, dual two-piston, 200mm discs up front and a sealed rear wet brake ensure you have enough stopping power.

Wheelspin is easy to achieve when gassed hard from a standstill, but for those that aren't on-off throttle drivers, the pedal is modulated and the power is put to the ground without a hitch.

Wheelspin is easy to achieve when gassed hard from a standstill, but for those that aren’t on-off throttle drivers, the pedal is modulated and the power is put to the ground without a hitch.

From the seat of your pants, you can feel how impressive the new FOX Podium shocks perform in a variety of terrains. Never once did these shocks fade on us; and let me tell you, we definitely put the Teryx4 through its paces. While there is still the same amount of travel as that on last year’s T4 (8 inches in the front and 8.3 inches out back), the significant difference here is the quality of the shocks and the ability to make on-the-fly adjustments while you are out on the trail. Compression clickers come standard with these FOX shocks, and they provide a good amount of adjustability for a variety of terrains, driving styles, and weight distributions on the Teryx4.

As with most other shocks, preload adjustments can be made via the collars on the top of the spring. We played around with these adjustments and found that dialing up the compression on the front (making it harder) and dialing down the compression in the rear (making is a tad softer) gave us the best combination of stability and smooth, predictable handling. We were able to float through the 60-inch-wide trails on the Paiute trail with ease, even when the trail was ‘just’ wide enough. Obviously everyone has a different preference with suspension, but couple these new FOX shocks with the increased power and we quite pleased while out on the trail.

Speaking of power, the engine improvements build upon an already hearty V-twin. The jump in cc’s from 749 to 783 is felt throughout the entire RPM range, but especially in the low-end grunt. For example, we put the gear shifter in low, which allows you to travel up to 30 mph, and tore off for some of the tighter trails. The power from this motor builds right off the bottom. Wheelspin is easy to achieve when gassed hard from a standstill, but for those of us who aren’t on-off throttle drivers, the pedal is easily modulated and the power is put to the ground without a hitch. Hauling through the tight trails was a joy, and the newly refined transmission made it even more of a joy to gas the T4 as hard as the terrain would allow. Needless to say, this new Teryx4 is worthy of its new “800” emblem on the side, and the power it puts to the ground was exceptional, even if we were at over 6ooo feet elevation the entire time.

Handling was another big aspect to the Teryx4’s prowess. The machine itself comes with front and rear swaybars to aid in body control, and we can confidently say that they do their job. Body roll is kept to a minimum even with passengers and gear aboard the vehicle. Pushing the Teryx4 LE through tight, tree-lined corners in 2-wheel drive revealed a push from the front end, but it was quickly alleviated with throttle input and a slight modulation of the steering wheel. Since the power steering is on point whether you have it in 2- or 4-wheel drive, we ended up driving with 4-wheel drive engaged almost all the time. The only instances we didn’t engage 4-wheel drive was when we wanted to hang the back end out on fast, mountain fire roads. Even in those high-speed situations, the Teryx handled very well and didn’t exhibit a push like in the slower corners.

During our ride time, we found the Paiute trail winds through some of the most mountainous terrain in all of Utah, therefore there is no shortage of extreme weather along the way. On our two-day adventure, we rode on everything from dry, dusty terrain to water-crossing madness filled with mud, logs, and even the occasional beaver dam. There was never an instance where I said, “man I wish the Teryx had this, or that…”. Some of the standout features that I appreciated along the way were the doors and nice floorboards. The doors themselves came in super handy and deflected all of the debris whether it was mud, trees, or silt. The floorboards kept all of the water out of the inside of the vehicle even when we bogged it through 14+ inches of water. The only time mud got into the vehicle was when someone was directly in front of us (impromptu race sessions through the trees were a must…), splashed through a huge mud puddle, or when I decided to keep my foot in it while crossing a river. Other than that, the Teryx4 remained comfortable and quiet throughout the entire adventure. The steering wheel height and reach was sportier for my driving style, and the gear shifter, while taking a little time to get used to, engaged the CVT tranny with ease and confidence every time.

Overall, Kawasaki has made significant and welcomed improvements to its 2014 Teryx4. The motor and suspension upgrades make this machine even more capable and the styling improvements successfully add that “wow” factor the Teryx4 has been searching for, especially with the LE model. To top it off, prices remain reasonable when compared to the rest of the UTV market. Base models (available in Sunrise Yellow) can be had for $15,799, MSRP. A Realtree Camo edition is available for an MSRP of $16,299, and the LE model, which is available in two colors: Candy Lime Green and Candy Burnt Orange, retails for an MSRP of $16,999.

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