UTV TEST: 2023 KAWASAKI TERYX KRX4 1000
Double the fun? By the staff of Dirt Wheels
The Kawasaki Teryx KRX platform has been a staff favorite since we first got in the driver’s seat back in 2020, and it has only improved since. Most of our UTV favorites are defined by massive power, but in sheer acceleration, the KRX is modest in comparison. We haven’t cared since the KRX 1000 is loaded with quality, ride and interior comfort and crazy technical trail capability. Kawasaki has taken that greatness of the KRX two-seater and brought even more to the offer with the KRX4 by focusing on comfort, confidence and capability.
WHAT’S NEW WITH YOU?
The original KRX was the heavyweight champ of the two-seater world, which made us concerned for the performance of the 1000-4. With 27 inches of wheelbase difference, the KRX4 only gained about 310 pounds. The new chassis has the same front cab dimensions and layout, and an identical rear cargo area, which means none of your storage or front seating space has been compromised. Kawasaki basically cut the two-seater in half and added a new middle piece.
Although claimed ground clearance is the same between the two- and four-seat, we noticed that the rear body line stood about 2 inches taller in the 1000-4, the overall vehicle height ended up being about 4 inches taller. One of the changes made to the KRX4 lineup is the elimination of the beadlock wheels, though you can purchase an upgraded beadlock wheel package. Nevertheless, the standard features are impressive across the KRX4 lineup, but the Teryx KRX4 1000 eS Special Edition comes with all the goodies. In addition to KECS suspension, this luxurious machine comes equipped with a Hifonics sound system. It includes two 6.5-inch coaxial two-way waterproof speakers that are complemented by a 0.75-inch titanium dome tweeter and 12-inch lighted subwoofers that were specifically made to fit behind the KRX seats. If that’s not enough for your tunes, you can also purchase Hifonics rear pods from the accessory line. A Warn VRX 45 powersport 4500-pound capacity winch is controlled by a dash rocker, as well as a corded remote. A quick-attach Sport roof keeps you out of the elements and has mounts for optional dome lights.
If you would like to customize or upgrade the new four-seat KRX, you can choose from the 23 new accessories that bring the total choices to 55, including roofs, audio, rock sliders, harnesses, intrusion bar and more. Full-package options help you get the car of your dreams all in one shot. Upgrade to a MUD package, full-cab package or protection package for serious adventurers.
Kawasaki’s focus when designing the KRX4 1000 was comfort, confidence and capability. When it comes to comfort, the KRX lineup is king. The front seats are among the comfiest in the game, but the second row of the KRX4 feels like the roomiest back seat on the market. You won’t need to ask the front row to scoot up. The second row also has ample elbow room, and center cup holders. Driver and passenger have six inches of seat adjustability and the steering wheel has 47 degrees of tilt adjustment.
The plushest seat in the world doesn’t help much if the machine isn’t engineered for a smooth ride. Double-wishbone front suspension and four-link rear trailing arms are the first step to an effortless ride, offering 18.6 inches of travel up front and 21.1 inches in the rear. The SE model comes with Fox Podium LSC shocks; however, they are tuned specifically for the KRX4 and offer fade-resistant damping performance.
The KRX utilizes the crossover ring as an important tuning parameter. A soft initial spring rate offers improved traction and hook-up, while a higher spring rate deep into travel helps to resist bottoming. The eS models come equipped with Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension, or KECS. The Fox 2.5 Live Valve Internal Bypass shocks of the KECS system take input from the Bosch Electronic Control System, the engine ECU and a steering angle sensor. The semi-active damping control ECU then adjusts to the ground surface in real time to provide the ideal damping. The system considers speed, driver input, vehicle axis, terrain and the number of passengers to establish suspension settings.
A dash switch allows drivers to choose from soft, normal and firm settings on the fly. Normal mode was tuned for two passengers, while the firm setting is best with a full cabin.
Fox’s Live Valve technology complements the performance and comfort of the internal bypass design, using a semi-active valve to instantly adapt to any terrain by adjusting compression damping.
CONFIDENCE IS KEY
Kawasaki prides their UTV lineup on literally being tougher than the competition. The weight on these machines comes naturally with durable parts and beefy safety components. The KRX starts with a rigid frame and integrated roll-over protection system. It is constructed for strength, especially at stress points such as engine and suspension mounts.
The underbelly comes with two layers of protection—heavy-duty plastic skid plates and steel components that protect the wheel wells and key mechanical parts. With the 31-inch Maxxis Carnivore tires and nearly 15 inches of ground clearance, we had a hard time getting near the skid plates at Sand Hollow. Large-diameter hydraulic disc brakes help you stop. The cage extends to the back of the open bed, and the tall, sturdy doors keep you feeling secure while keeping your field of vision clear.
Although the eS models come with a center console screen for controlling music and such, they also have a full-color, 7-inch, digital multi-function gauge display. Some of the features include speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge, gear position and multiple mode indicators. Those are CVT temp, water temp, battery voltage, multiple warning lamps and much more at a glance. This display can show incoming calls and messages. The SE model has a similar digital display without full color. It is less distracting than the center screens, and easier to read than the analog instruments.
The hood was built as low as possible while keeping an enormous front grill for optimum cooling. Bright LED headlights and line-type position lamps give you a superior outlook in low-light driving situations.
CAPABILITY: WORK WITH ME
As we mentioned before, we were skeptical at the concept of a heavyweight champ in a four-seater platform. Once again, the KRX has met the challenge and surprised us with its capability. The 4-stroke, DOHC, 8-valve parallel-twin 999cc engine is carried over from the original KRX. Dual 50mm throttle bodies help quick, crisp response; top-end power; and low-end torque with a smooth, even powerband. What really helps the KRX is the CVT and centrifugal clutch. While this isn’t the only machine to utilize a centrifugal clutch, it makes a big impact.
We hear, “I don’t want a machine driven by a rubber band,” but the KRX eliminates that rubber band feeling by locating the centrifugal clutch between the crankshaft and the CVT drive pulley and utilizing optimal transmission ratios. This pairing drops the shock of the belt engaging for smooth take-offs, but also makes the engine braking less jerky on descents.
On-the-fly electronically selectable 4WD and front differential lock allows drivers to transition quickly and easily with instant traction. Two power modes help set the power delivery to suit preference and conditions.
We love the new KRX4 high-tech speed-sensitive EPS system. The steering wheel sends speed and torque input to the ECU to determine appropriate steering response. It also works as a sort of damping system reducing bump steer from chop on the trail. This EPS system has two separate ECU maps, one for 2WD and one for 4WD to keep steering consistent.
As an overall package, the KRX has been at the top of our list. It is narrow enough to fit on non-restricted trails, but with a wide-enough stance to execute advanced obstacles with ease. We feel the same about the KRX4. If there are tech trails ahead, we head for the KRX4. At times we would like a little more than the electronically limited 65 miles per hour, the power is still suitable for any terrain. The four-seater never suffered on power despite having the same engine package as the two-seater. The gearing on the KRX, combined with the optimized centrifugal clutch makes for effortless power, easy climbs, and smooth descents.
The driveability of the engine stayed consistent between the two- and four-seat models; however, the steering and suspension really added the smiles per mile. We were able to drive both the SE and eS models out at Sand Hollow in southern Utah. It is one of our favorite places to test, because the trails vary from dunes to rock crawling with whooped trails in between. The speed-sensitive EPS was immediately noticeable. The steering was light and smooth with virtually no bump-steer. It also made maneuvering through tight turns and obstacles a breeze. Four-seaters always put us on high alert trying to make it through narrow spaces or cramped corners, but the EPS and the in-between width of the KRX got us through it all with no problems.
We know that weight and wheelbase play a factor in performance, but pushing through turns felt so planted. The KECS of the eS doesn’t just immediately stiffen the outside shocks to give you no roll in the turns; it allows you to really stick hard into the corners. With most UTV suspension, performance is either better in the whoops and lacking in the chatter or vise versa, but it is an even match with the KRX. With the two-seater we noticed that if you didn’t come into deep whoops with some speed, there was no way you were getting on top of them. The four-seater still needs some rolling speed to stay on top, but the wheelbase helped keep from bucking the back end between hits. As impressive as the electronic suspension is, the shock tuning on the base model’s Fox Podium shocks, along with the EPS and dual spring, made for a velvety ride as well.
We did hear a disconcerting clatter from the suspension. We worried at first, but Kawasaki explained that we were hearing the plastic dual-rate spring separators hitting the shock crossover rings. That is normal for all shocks so equipped. It is easier to hear in the KRX4 because the engine sound is further from the front cabin. Once we were aware of the cause, we ceased to worry about it.
We appreciate that Kawasaki takes time to focus on the minor details—things you might not have noticed until they were improved upon, and the comfort of having a seat that was tested to fit your body and stay comfortable all day long. The ease of removing the two-piece back seat that allows you to reach the battery and airbox without frustration. The automotive-style doors that have real pull handles on both the interior and exterior. Leg room and elbow room for days in the back seat. Seating positions that don’t make you feel too tall like a golf cart, or too low like an F1 car. Easy-to-see instrumentation to keep your eyes on the road. These all add up to a machine that is an absolute delight to drive or ride along in.
KAWASAKI TERYX KRX4 1000 SPECS:
Engine 4-stroke, DOHC, 8-valve parallel twin, liquid-cooled
Transmission Automatic CVT with centrifugal clutch (H,L,N,R)
Final drive Selectable 2WD/4WD with locking front differential, shaft
Fuel system DFI with two 50mm ETV throttle bodies
Fuel capacity 10.6 gal.
Ground clearance 14.4”
Curb weight 1896.3 lb. (1898.5 lb. California)
Suspension/wheel travel: SE model front Double wishbone w/ Fox 2.5 Podium LSC shocks w/
adjustable preload and 24-way compression damping/18.6” Rear 4-link trailing-arm, Fox 2.5
Podium LSC shocks w/ adjustable preload and 24-way compression damping/21.1” eS model front Double wishbone w/ Fox 2.5 Podium Live Valve Internal Bypass shocks w/piggyback reservoir, adjustable preload and KECS-controlled compression damping/18.6”
Rear 4-link trailing-arm, Fox 2.5 Podium Live Valve Internal Bypass shocks w/ piggyback
reservoir, adjustable preload and KECS-controlled compression damping/21.1”
Front 31×10–15 Maxxis Carnivore
Rear 31×10–15 Maxxis Carnivore
Front Dual hydraulic disc w/ 2-piston calipers
Rear Hydraulic disc w/ 1-piston calipers
Cargo capacity 351 lb.
Towing capacity N/A
Colors KRX4 SE: Lime Green/Metallic Onyx Black; KRX4 eS: Metallic Flat Raw Graystone/Candy Steel
Furnace Orange; KRX4 eS SE: Metallic Flat Raw Graystone
Price KRX4 SE: $27,499;
KRX4 eS: $28,499;
KRX4 eS SE: $29,999