While Yamaha and Honda are concentrating on building new UTVs aimed at ranchers, farmers and hunters, and Polaris, Arctic Cat and Can-Am are catering toward the high-speed thrillseekers of the world, Kawasaki is taking the middle road with the 2014 Teryx line. For the new year, Kawasaki’s Teryxs are available in two-seat and four-seat models. Basically, both machines share the same chassis, suspension and front bodywork. You can tell them apart because the T2 comes equipped with a standard dump bed, while the T4 offers two extra seats behind the driver and a small cargo platform for storage. Price-wise, the two Teryxs are a couple thousand dollars apart. Kawasaki’s T2 starts at $12,999 and the T4 starts at $15,799. The Limited Edition models we drove sell for $14,999 (T2) and $16,999 (T4).
The two machines are very close in dimensions; however, the overall weight, and bed capacity differ slightly. On the scales, the T2 has a curb weight of 1543 pounds and the T4 weighs in at 1551 pounds. The dump bed on the two-seater is rated to haul 600 pounds, while the smaller stationary platform on the four-seater has a 250-pound limit.
One important number that is the same on both machines is the width (61.6 inches). That measurement is taken fully loaded and shrinks to under 60 inches with just a driver and passenger aboard. This number should be noted as there are many ride areas across the country that have width restrictions for some trails at 50 inches or 60 inches, so many machines like Polaris’ RZR XP and the new Yamaha Viking will not fit, whereas the Teryx can just barely squeeze through. Furthermore, many pickup beds measure just over 60 inches, so the Teryx can still be hauled in a truck rather than having to be trailered. The roll cage on the T4 is 2 inches taller at 76.8 inches.
More numbers that mirror each other include suspension travel. Up front, dual A-ams provide 8 inches of travel. Another set of dual A-arms out back move slightly more at 8.3 inches. Spring preload and compression are adjustable on all four Fox-brand shocks. Ground clearance measures 11 inches under the center of each machine, and the wheelbase is also identical at 85.8 inches.
At the heart of the 2014 Teryxs, Kawasaki installed their proven V-twin powerplant. This time, the cc level has been increased to 783cc. The compression ratio was also bumped up slightly to 10.7:1. Dual 36mm EFI throttle bodies draw gas out of a 7.9-gallon gas tank. So far in our testing, you can easily go over 100 miles between fill-ups.
Coupled to that V-twin engine is a CVT system that utilizes a centrifugal clutch system that should help prolong belt life, which is crucial on these larger machines—or any machine for that matter. For 2014, Kawasaki went to great lengths to reduce both cabin noise and heat from the engine. Basically, they did this by coating the engine cowling with sound-deadening material that also deflects heat. By doing this, they were able to get rid of the engine exhaust fan that they were using on last year’s Teryx4 models.
The Dirt Wheels crew tested these brand-new machines at two of the best riding areas in the country. We took the Teryx4 on the Paiute Trail System in southern Utah and drove the T2 around the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System in southern West Virginia. For this article, we put a couple hundred miles on each and came away with good impressions all the way around.
On startup, you can tell the decibel level is much lower than before. At 30 mph, it measures at 95 decibels, where the old models remeasure at 100. The engine rumbles smooth under the center console and doesn’t make you reach for earplugs. The cockpit is roomy for both front and rear passengers. Dual handholds for the front passenger are standard, and the backseat riders have an easy-to-reach rail to hold on to. The seats are mounted solid and provide plenty of padding for the back and bottom. We like Kawasaki’s doors. They are lightweight and are probably the easiest to open on any machine, plus they add to the machine’s overall good looks.
The main differences in the two machines are found behind the driver’s seat. Behind it on the two-seater, you find a cool dump-bed system that incorporates multiple additional storage areas that are not only handy, they are water-, mud- and dust-resistant. You have to lift the bed to access these storage boxes, but even when loaded, the tilting bed has a pivot point that makes it light enough to lift. On the T2, the tailgate is removable in case you have the need to haul extra-long cargo.
Upon take-off, clutch engagement is smooth and seamless. Power is instant but not abrupt. The power doesn’t jerk your head back, but it’s hard to think you are in a 1500-pound machine. It’s easy to squirt from turn to turn, and there’s plenty of power, so you have to give your brakes a workout when driving aggressively. Speaking of brakes, the dual hydraulic discs up front and sealed multi-plate wet disc setup in the rear do a great job slowing the machine down.
When you do want to stretch the machine’s legs, it gets up to a top speed of 52 mph in a hurry. For the trails at Paiute and Hatfield-McCoy, that speed is plenty fast, and we were never wishing for more horsepower.
In and out of the tree-lined, tight trails, both machines are surprisingly nimble. They carve and corner like a much shorter machine. We never felt like we were in a big long machine or had to back up to get through any tight corners. Steering is precise and not too heavy or overly light, thanks to a well-tuned EPS system.
The Fox shocks found on this year’s models are a nice improvement. They are tuned well for choppy terrain and can even take small water-bar jumps decently. Small whoop sections under a foot tall can be pounded without making the cars do anything weird on you. Even in the roughest terrain, you can tell you are not torturing the machines. There are no weird clanks or clunks. Even after a few hundred miles in the saddle, both the machines we tested held up solidly. You can tell Kawasaki built the Teryxs to take big-time abuse without failing. You can see some in-car footage of our T4 test drive in Utah at www.face book.com/dirtwheelsmag.
Either of these machines will lend itself well to the tighter trails from Utah and most of the northwestern states to the lush-green trails east of the Mississippi. Furthermore, we have enjoyed both machines in the Southwest too. No, it’s not going to keep up with the new RZR XP 1000, but it will get you out on any trail for thousands less. And knowing what kind of abuse it took from us, we think breakdowns will be a nonissue. Plus, both of these machines can be hauled in the back of a pickup and will fit down the narrow, 60-inch-wide trails, which is always a plus to us.