The Kawasaki Teryx 2-seater is substantially revised for 2014, with more power, more room, and several upgrades inherited from its 4-seater big brother. We spent two days testing it on West Virginia’s gorgeous Hatfield-McCoy Trails. Here’s what we found.
Photos by Alfonse Palaima
“Bigger” is a central concept here. The Teryx 2 is now built on the same larger, longer-wheelbase frame as the 4. This means plenty of room in the cabin as well as 48 gallons of storage behind the seats. This frame is also fully welded and structurally integrated with the Roll-Over Protection System (ROPS) for a chassis that Kawasaki claims is the stiffest in its class.
The engine, too, is bigger. Up from 749cc, the Teryx 2 now has the 4’s 783cc mill. According to Product Manager Bret Snider, this means that, “Relative to the previous Teryx 2, there’s a 26% increase in horsepower and 12% gain in torque.”
The 2-seater got other goodies from the 4’s closet. The best hand-me-down might be the purpose-designed Fox Podium shocks. More about those later. It also now has “automotive-style” doors, tall bucket seats, and standard Electric Power Steering (EPS).
The tilting cargo box is now rated at 600 lbs capacity, up from 500, and the tailgate now includes (yes!) integral cupholders.
Overall, it is billed as a bigger, more capacious and capable machine. That’s what we were looking for on the trail.
Kawasaki wanted this to be “a machine that’s automotively intuitive,” according to Snider, and they certainly achieved that. The Teryx is incredibly easy to use, with a huge performance envelope, big enough to give confidence to beginners but also let expert riders challenge themselves on tougher trails.
Of all the upgrades, we felt the suspension was the standout feature. The Fox Podium shocks provide an excellent balance between comfort, trail feel, and precision. With all the fine-tuning adjustability of the shocks, riders of any temperament should be able to find their ideal ride just a few clicks away. With the ultra-stiff frame, even small shock adjustments are quite noticeable.
The 783cc, 90-degree V-twin engine, paired with the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), provides buckets of torque even when “High” gear is selected. A little more of the power in the mid- to high-rpm range would have been a plus, but for grunt work and most of the trail riding, we could hardly ask for more. The CVT also provides decent engine braking – we only really used the “Low” gear on the steepest descents. Gearing is selectable from 2WD, 4WD, and 4WD with locked front differential. The 2WD was surprisingly capable and sometimes more fun than the 4WD.
The EPS steering was video-game light – almost too light for our taste. It was great to have practically no arm fatigue after two long days and to not have the steering push back from rocks and bumps, but we would like a little more feel in the wheel.
Weight distribution is split 50-50 between the rear and front, and the engine and transmission are placed basically right between the driver and passenger. This helps balance the ride, and on really bumpy stretches it often feels like the vehicle is bouncing around you rather than bouncing you. The tall seat with side bracing also helps keep you in place. Adding a passenger hardly affected the ride at all.
Kawasaki did not disclose the vehicle fuel range, but on our second day we rode 64 miles and used less than a quarter tank of gas.
The fully-adjustable, high-quality shocks, combined with the stiff, strong frame, good seats, and EPS make for a great ride with fine control. This machine is easy to drive well.
Mountains of torque add to the fun and let the machine pull away hard. Though we were just ridging recreationally, the engine and CVT’s performance should give the Teryx great versatility as a workhorse, too.
All the storage is very handy and would make it a great choice for day trips, camping, or hunting.
Despite its size, the combination of the EPS, CVT, power-band, and ergonomics make this vehicle easy to handle and indeed intuitive.
Kawasaki offers a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty on the Teryx, something you don’t usually see in this category.
Gearing may be too low for some of the recreational market. As Snider said, “This machine has a customer base that is somewhat utility-focused, so this is positioned as an in-between vehicle.” That’s a hard balance to strike. With all that torque, the throttle is a little punchy, so when going over bumps quickly, it can be easy to jab it inadvertently.
The automotive-style doors seem to be there solely for psychological effect. They seem a little flimsy, as does the glove box and a few of the other plastic components. This seems out of place on a machine that is generally so tough.
We would like more feedback in the steering, but many users might prefer it the way it is.
The brakes could be stronger. The Teryx has dual 200mm front discs and a single, sealed multi-disc wet brake on the rear. Given how much punch there is on acceleration, we expected more grab on the stop.
The base model Teryx, in blue, is $12,999. The camouflage upgrade is $14,299, and the LE model is $14,999.
With the camo, buyers also get a hardtop and LED headlights. Both of these can also be retrofitted onto the base model. The LEDs are practically a must.
Many of the LE upgrades are cosmetic: it comes in Kawasaki Green (if you dig that) or camo, has body-color matched suspension components, cast aluminum wheels, and 3-tone seats. It does come with an extended front brush deflector, which people taking this out in the woods may want, but again you can purchase that for the cheaper models.
For this price, you should expect a lot, and you will get it. This is a big machine on the trail and is the do-all side-by-side Kawasaki was shooting for. Snider said, “The theme of this machine is the versatility to tackle any adventure.” That’s a good assessment. We’ve come a long way since the original Mule.
RideApart Rating: 8/10