It’s 7 a.m. and 23 degrees in Lyndon, West Virginia. I’m trying not to slip on ice as I run back to my cabin to grab my helmet. There’s a sharpness in the air and a buzz in my body because today, I’m hitting one of the Hatfield & McCoy trails in Kawasaki’s new Ridge Limited. But when I open the door to my cabin, a wall of warm air hits me, and all I can think about is how warm my bed was. 

Little did I know, before long, I’d be far too hot–but we’ll get to that.

Looking like the Michelin man with all my insulating layers, I headed for the trails where a stable of shiny Ridge Limiteds awaited. Poking out from a canopy was a unit coated in fresh frosty ice, which I drew on until I was shown to my UTV. Until this point, things felt familiar—mentally gearing up on a freezing cold morning to get dirty and probably wet has been a common occurrence riding motorcycles. But when I got to the Ridge I’d be driving, that feeling faded.

Ridge Limited

I put my head through the door to experience that new-cab smell to be met with a waft of warm air, warmth akin to when I went back to my cozy cabin less than an hour before. The interior was alight with various buttons, controls, and screens, and that’s when I started to realize, this wasn’t going to be like any early-morning mountain trail ride I’d been on before.

Kawasaki Ridge Limited 2024

Creature comforts

This couldn’t have been like any ride I’d had before because the Ridge Limited is unlike any UTV I’ve ever driven. It sits between Kawasaki’s Mule and Teryx in terms of performance. In fact, it outperforms the Mule in practically every metric, bar seating capacity and price. And although it’s not as capable off-road as a KRX, it has plenty of sporting prowess and power on tap. In its base form, the Ridge is something to hit the trail on Sunday and put to work on Monday, but the Ridge Limited does all this while encroaching on truck levels of comfort and capability.

Once we were on the move, it didn’t take long to get the cabin to what I’d call the “perfect temperature”, and eventually far too hot for me and my passenger, who also happened to be the UTV’s engine designer.


So much so that every time the group came to a halt, I’d rush to take off a layer of clothing before my passenger politely reminded me, “You can make it cold, too”. And that reminder was key to the rest of my ride because I was thinking of the Ridge Limited as a UTV, but when I started to think of it as a quasi-truck, reaching for its creature comforts became second nature.

2024 Kawasaki Ridge Limited interior

If it was too cold, I turned the heat up. Whenever we stopped to receive instructions about the next stretch of the trail, I used the electric windows. After a big puddle, I instinctively cleaned the windscreen with a few squirts of the wiper fluid. It did take a moment, but once I got used to having all the Limited’s luxury features, I forgot what it’s like in most other UTVs on a wet, grimy trail, where you usually inhale dirt through a runny nose.

Even the hydraulically-adjustable steering wheel looks and feels like it’s been lifted straight out of a road-going vehicle. So, when I experienced the feather-light inputs required to go from lock to lock, it felt natural. Thankfully, there’s a key difference between the Ridge Limited and a regular road vehicle–the entirety of the Ridge is IP67 waterproof. Meaning you can hose it down, including the interior, as needed.

And on a cold February morning, the easy-to-read 7-inch full-color TFT dash was a delight to the eyes. While the dash gives you everything you need, it’s the center-mounted 8-inch Garmin Tread infotainment system that gives you everything you want.

Gallery: 2024 Kawasaki Ridge Limited interior

The built-in GPS and infotainment screen elevated the whole ride. I knew when the trail was about to open up, and I’d match it with a wide-open throttle and grin. Likewise, I was never caught off guard by a hairpin turn at the end of a high-speed section. This made the trail more fun, but it also acted as an extra layer of safety for less experienced drivers. 

Another safety net is the Group Ride mode, which showed the rest of the UTVs I was driving with, so I never felt anxious when the Ridge in front got out of sight, nor did I unexpectedly run into $90,000 worth of other Kawasakis.

While I absolutely put the foot down in the Ridge Limited, there were times when the snow-dusted trails and views of rivers carving out valleys were too beautiful to ignore. And that’s when I played my music. Yep, this thing is wired for sound. 

Hooked up and ready to go before we even set off, I paired my phone with the Garmin Tread system and drove to some mellow folk tunes. But not because we were in West Virginia, that was just a happy coincidence.

Drivetrain and chassis

I felt every feeling you search for when off-roading through my stomach. Weightless butterflies as the Ridge went airborne, the excitement elevation as I progressed from two-wheel to four-wheel drifts, and the momentary drops when I thought I wouldn’t slow down in time for a hairpin. The Ridge let me feel those emotions without any of the negative consequences, thanks to a wholly competent chassis and powertrain.

2024 Kawasaki Ridge Limited

Kawaski paired the Limited with a 999cc engine, but unlike most of its competitors, this model uses an inline four-cylinder powerplant, as opposed to a turbocharged parallel twin or triple. It’s not quite Jekyll and Hyde, but there’s the unmistakable peaky power delivery that only an inline-four can provide. This powerplant lets you decide whether you want a leisurely drive home or to unleash a motorcycle-esque howl through the trails. 

I opted for the latter 95% of the time, and if I’d kept my foot down for a bit longer, the dash would’ve shown 68 mph thanks to the 92 ponies and 65.6 lb-ft of torque. 

A CVT sends power to the rear two or all four wheels, and this model has a rear locking differential as standard. But it was the low-range transmission that stole the show on what was the most technical, bum-clinching section of the trail. As I made my way down the steepest descent of the trip—a path that had recently been covered in snow that thawed, leaving deep ruts and ice—it was the phenomenal engine braking that kept things from getting out of hand.


The ruts got so deep that I started to worry about getting beached. But I needn't have, as the 13.8 inches of ground clearance proved more than enough. Myself and my passenger shared a relieved giggle after completing the descent in one piece. And thanks to the 12.7 inches of suspension travel on offer, we never bottomed out, even when we left the ground over what can only be described as small jumps.

Kawasaki Ridge

That said, something that frustrates me to no end is when power modes make almost no perceivable difference. Thankfully, that couldn’t be further from the case on the Limited. There are three power modes: Sport, Normal, and Work. They operate as you’d expect, with the sportiest setting providing the most power and direct response from throttle inputs. But what surprised me the most was how useful the other modes were on the trail. 

Over quick but bumpy sections, where I couldn’t keep my foot steady on the throttle because, well, we were in the air, Normal mode made my inputs smoother. And on one particularly tight descending hairpin with a straight drop, Work mode kept my inputs measured and all four wheels on the trail.

Kawasaki Ridge

The brakes weren’t something I envisioned giving a special mention to, but the twin-piston front and single-piston rear calipers deserve a shout-out. I was still thinking about them after the ride, probably because they allowed me to eke out a few extra seconds of fast-paced driving before each turn, and cumulatively, this equates to a lot more fun.

Who’s this for?

My feelings about the Ridge Limited haven’t changed since I shut the door in West Virginia. It over-delivers in every area. It’s as practical as you could ask a UTV to be, and in every other aspect, it gives you just more than you should need.

It’s faster than it needs to be, far more comfortable than it aught to be, and ready to grip it and rip over all but the most extreme terrain. Apart from the Ridge XR, this is arguably as sporty as a UTV gets while still retaining the highest standards of utility and comfort. 

Kawasaki Ridge

Here’s my daydream: a new KX250F horizontally mounted using a motorcycle hitch carrier and the Ridge’s 2-inch receiver, making its way from your garage to your local dirt track with your gear, gas, and shacks in the bed. And it’s possible thanks to the Ridge’s 250 lb tongue weight, but if you already have a motorcycle trailer, the 2,500 lb towing capacity is equally as useful.

ridge limited

The bed, with its 1,000 lb payload capacity isn’t only handy for hauling gear because the gas-assist tilt feature means all you have to do is pop it up to work on the engine. The air filter sits beneath the middle bench seat, which is well-thought-out, as you’ll need to clean and inspect it every 200 hours or 2,500 miles. Finally, if you manage to get stuck or want to help someone who does, there’s a 4,500-pound Warn 45-S Powersport winch as standard.

Come on, Kawasaki, let me live out my dream.

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