LONG-TERM TEST: 2023 KAWASAKI BRUTE FORCE 750 4X4i EPS

 

We’ve been fans of the Brute Force for years. With little changes again this year, we still love the Brute for what it is. We’ve been riding this one for about a year, putting it through some heavy lifting and genuinely having a great experience with it. While it’s not entirely up to par with some of the more recently updated competitor offerings in the suspension and handling department, it has some qualities that keep it on our A-list. So, we figured it was time for a long-term analysis.

LEAN ON KAWI FOR BIG POWER

Looking at all of the 1000cc machines on the market, you probably haven’t considered lumping the Brute Force in with them, that is, if you haven’t ridden one. However, we can only think of about one or two other 1000cc ATVs that can compete with the Kawasaki. It utilizes a healthy liquid-cooled V-twin engine with a single overhead camshaft on each cylinder. The fuel-injected big-bore paired with a fully automatic CVT transmission, packs a punch and healthy growl from idle to top speed.

All four wheels are shaft-driven, and the four-wheel-drive option works as it should, paired with Kawasaki’s unique variable differential-lock control. Kawi’s diff-lock system uses a finger-operated lever on the right side of the handlebar. When extra traction is required, you engage the lever to the level of traction desired. Squeezing it fully locks the front axles together so that all four wheels are turning equally. It’s really a matter of preference for some people who like more control. It’s great for mud use, but on the rocks, we find it’s just one more thing to deal with that takes focus off of the steep climb ahead. We still prefer a button or switch that completely locks the front wheels without having to fumble with a lever.

We did get a chance to tow various things on mild inclines with great success, pulling things that we normally only use a full-sized UTV for. The stock drive belt still performs like new, and overheating has never been an issue in the full year that we’ve been riding it. On top of that, the stock tires are pretty worn, but the Brute Force still finds plenty of traction, even in the dunes. We got in trouble side-hilling steep dunes occasionally, but that was easily corrected with a stab of the throttle. We rarely ever found the limits of the big V-twin’s power. In the dunes, at a handful of photo shoots, our entire Dirt Wheels staff got to try out the big Kawasaki. Obviously, we prefer a sport quad in the sand, but everyone wanted to keep riding the Brute Force due to its abundant power.  

We were feeling comfortable enough to attempt the steepest rock steps and ledges we could find, easily breaking the rear tires loose when needed.

ONE-YEAR STANDOUTS 

There was a period of about a month where we didn’t touch the Brute Force. Coming back to it, it fired right up as if it had missed us, ready to hit the trails. Ranchers and farmers will appreciate the low maintenance and longevity of the Brute Force. All maintenance access points are easily accessible for the DIY mechanic. The tires have literally withstood every type of terrain we’ve thrown at it, and while they do show wear, they’ve held up admirably. 

For being more utility-focused, the Brute Force handles well as long as you’re not hammering through rough and/or uneven terrain. It’s comfortable and plush at a mild pace on casual trail rides, but higher speeds make it a little less predictable. The faster you go, the heavier it begins to feel. It’s made somewhat better by adding preload to all four shocks, but the Brute Force would be so much better with the addition of compression adjustment. How about it, Kawasaki, can we get a sport 4×4 version of the Brute Force? 

Kawasaki’s electronic power steering has a very natural feel compared to other ATVs that leave you somewhat disconnected from the terrain. The front end tends to stay planted around tight turns as opposed to pushing through the corner. It’s a feature that comes in handy when pulling trailers or arena drags. The Brute Force does seem to require a higher rpm to engage the CVT, and it’s somewhat loud about it. We actually like the rumble, but some might find the extra noise slightly obnoxious at lower speeds. We do like how controllable the power is off idle; there’s no herky-jerky about it. But, if you’re one that prefers a good mid-range throttle blast, mash the throttle and hold on! 

STANDARD CAPABILITIES 

As mentioned earlier, the dual-A-arm suspension in the front with 6.7 inches of travel is controlled by preload-adjustable shocks. The independent A-arm rear suspension has a little more travel with 7.5 inches. More wheel travel and shock adjustability would provide better handling in every type of terrain.  

The brakes are fine for completing work around the farm, but when needed on the trails, you better start braking earlier than you’re probably used to. The front is fitted with hydraulic discs, while the rear has a sealed, oil-bathed, multi-disc setup. The front brakes work as they should, but the rear brakes tend to feel a little spongy. That’s the trade-off for an oil-bathed braking system. It works with an awkward tactility, but it’s also practically maintenance-free. 

The 35-watt headlights are sufficient for general use, but this is 2023—where are the LEDs? Cargo capability is decent with a front rack capacity of 88 pounds, 176 pounds on the rear rack, plenty for a couple of large bales of hay. Kawasaki claims the Brute can tow as much as 1,250 pounds, which we came close to a few times without issue.   

Kawasaki’s venerable V-twin is a great power plant. It has substantial power from low rpm, but it revs on top as well. None of the 700cc single cylinder quads can touch the sheer output.
The Brute Force CVT makes the machine a little wide at the floorboards. It always performed well for us, and it has excellent engine braking.
Unique to the Brute Force, this yellow lever allows the rider to control how much traction is required for different situations. A full squeeze completely locks the front axles together.
Splash protection is optimal with wide fenders, which have held up admirably to the sun without any hint of color fade.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Brute Force 750 4x4i remains one of our personal favorites in the Dirt Wheels 4×4 arsenal. It lacks nothing for power, and we’d even put it up against the competing brands’ 1,000cc displacement machines. Kawasaki deserves credit for designing a quad that can take on tough terrain and double as a sturdy work machine, while remaining one of the easier ATVs to maintain. Long-time owners swear by them, even with relatively no changes over the years. Perhaps Kawasaki was just ahead of its time with the Brute Force 750 4x4i. www.kawasaki.com

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.

edit