Over The Mountains- Through The Woods- 2014 Kawasaki Teryx Test Hot
Imagine the opportunity to test a new side-by-side through tight trails, roads, mud holes, hill climbs, and snow, all on one great adventure. All of that and more awaited us, as members of the media had the opportunity to test out the 2014 Teryx from Kawasaki, at the Hatfield McCoy trail system in West Virginia. Any time Kawasaki gives me a shout, I know there is much fun to be had in my near future, so I knew when that email came into my inbox, I was off for an adventure. When I then saw the destination was the Hatfield McCoy trail system with over 1000 miles of trails, the excitement level grew even more. With even more time reading the email from Kawasaki, the opportunity to test the new 2014 Kawasaki Teryx was welcome news, to see all the improvements Kawasaki had made to their side-by-side flagship.
The 2014 model year for Kawasaki has been a big one for the Teryx lineup, with both the original Teryx two-seat side-by-side and the four-seat Teryx4 being revamped with many added improvements making the Teryx even better. The Kawasaki engineers have been hard at work behind the scenes, working on every possible improvement to the Teryx lineup. We had recently returned from our adventure on the Paiute trail aboard the new 2014 Teryx4, and had an amazing time behind the wheel of one of the industry’s best side-by-sides. If you have read the test of that machine, then you know I loved it. No sooner had I touched down from that trip than along came all the information about the newly redesigned Teryx sharing many of the improvements of its big brother the Teryx4, and it was not a stretch to think I would love the Teryx as well. Topping off the excitement was the opportunity to ride the Hatfield McCoy trail system during the fall when the color would be changing in the trees and the weather would be cool. The Hatfield McCoy trail system is an absolute favorite of mine, offering miles and miles of trails of all skill levels and terrain. The trail system is one of my personal top 5 riding destinations, and is a model of what a trail system can be. All-in-all, I couldn’t have been more excited about a trip, and watching the weather with snow in the forecast, it could be even more exciting.
Two weeks later I hopped a plane to West Virgina, arriving in Charleston to much colder temps. After being swept away to our lodge for dinner, our media group was given the low-down on the adventure to come, along with the schedule for the ride. We would start at one location, then ride to a second, spend the night, and return the next day. The weather would be in the 20’s and 30’s with snow in the forecast for the second day. The prospect of riding in some snow made all of us giddy (yes, I said "giddy".) The following morning I donned my cold weather riding gear, working hard not to look like Ralphy’s brother in "A Christmas Story," and our group headed out to the trailhead for a briefing on the all-new 2014 Teryx with the two engineers behind it. The 2014 Teryx is basically a complete redesign from the 2013 model, and that shows in all the “details”. There are some big changes in things like the engine, chassis, length, width, and drive system of course, but there are tons of small improvements that add up to a new Teryx. After listening to the engineers go over all the changes and improvements, it is like they walked through every piece of the Teryx and purposed it to be better for the owner/driver.
Changes For 2014
Let’s start with the engine, or rather the now 800 class engine. With all the changes in the engine the Teryx engine goes from 749cc’s to 783cc’s. That may not sound like a big change, but it translates into a 26% increase in horsepower and 12% increase in torque. The torque increase is in the low-end, and both the horsepower and torque are felt in the drive (more on that later). The rest of the drive train has been optimized for the added power. Kawasaki’s new slogan “Kawasaki Strong” is evident in the drive train parts such as the axles and drive shafts, as they are big and robust. The CVT transmission has an added centrifugal clutch, which keeps constant tension on the belt, resulting in immediate acceleration and engine braking. The frame is a one piece “Double X” design, which when added to the ROPS, offers little to no flex in the chassis. These two systems combined make for an exceptionally strong frame and an excellent ride. Kawasaki even balanced the engine placement for a 50:50 weight distribution. The new Teryx is 6.8 inches longer than previous models, but comes with a 9.8 inch longer wheelbase. The suspension comes standard with Fox Podium Shocks with compression dampening and spring preload along with piggyback reservoirs. The compression dampening is adjusted with a simple click of the dial. Two things can be understood with these changes. First, the ride is a lot more sporty than in past models, and, too, the driver can dial in his ride very easily. EPS is standard on all models starting in 2014, and has been optimized for the perfect balance of assist. This wraps up the major mechanical changes. Automotive-style doors, bucket seats, shock-dampened seat belts, cup holders, two 12V DC outlets, and a digital multifunction display round out the creature comforts. Limited Edition models come with color-matched suspension components, tritone seats, roof, grill guard, and LED headlights.
Let’s talk innovation and the new Teryx. Where the Teryx shows some serious innovation is behind the seats. There lie two storage compartments that are sealed with latching lids. They offer an industry-leading 48 gallons of storage that is dust and water resistant. The spot between the two massive storage compartments is grooved for an ice chest. These storage compartments are just what the doctor ordered for all of us trail riders who always need storage we never seem to have. I fit my entire backpack sitting upright in the bin with tons of room to spare. All of this storage is acquired without compromising a large tilting bed for whatever your heart desires to carry. If using the Teryx for work, the storage bins offer protected storage for tools along with carrying up to 600 lbs of rocks, dirt, and wood in the titling bed. If using the Teryx for adventure, carry gear galore protected in the storage bins, and then everything else in the bed. Did I mention the bed can be separated into different sections for different gear, and has cup holders molded into the tailgate? The entire storage and bed system is a work of innovative art, offering owners a perfect side-by-side for both work and play.
Picking Our Rides
Wrapping up the presentation by the Kawasaki engineers, it was time for adventure, riding, and fun. We were split up into two groups, and told to pick our “steads”. I walked around for minute, and decided on a camo Teryx sitting there looking at me. On the Teryx4 adventure I chose a green LE, so this time around I thought I would mix it up by choosing camo, and who doesn’t like camo?. I spent a little time getting to know my Teryx before we took off, and stowing all of my gear. The sealed storage is simply awesome! I put my backpack holding my camera and video camera in one of the bins, along with a couple of extra pieces of clothing and my rain gear. There was room to spare, not to mention the confidence that comes from being able to seal it up out of the weather and dust. The other bin held the ice chest and snacks (Who doesn’t need those on a trail ride?). After walking the Teryx, I climbed in the seat through the automotive-style doors and closed the door with a simple clunk. I am a huge fan of the doors rather than messing with nets. The seats are extremely comfortable in the Teryx, and the controls are within reach and well laid out. The Teryx gives a warm and fuzzy feeling of being in complete control of the vehicle. The transmission shifter is in the center of the bench seats, and there is a legitimate hand brake. The instrument cluster is angled towards the driver and presents all the information a driver wants to know at a glance. Gone is the front-diff engagement lever of old, and in its place is a dial on the dashboard where 2WD, 4WD, and 4WD-Diff Lock are selectable. What a welcome change, in my opinion. After acclimating myself to the new Teryx, it was time to hit the trail.
Riding The Trail
With temps in the 20’s, our group started our engines, put the Teryxs into gear, fell into a line, and headed down the street (yes, street) to the trailhead. With the Hatfield McCoy trail system being accessible through several towns, riders are allowed to ride into and out of these towns. There is nothing like riding your ATV or UTV right down the highway with cars passing. Now at this point most of my limbs were still somewhat warm, and the power and torque of the Teryx was evident. Hitting a trailhead and starting on our adventure on the actual trail system began. The Hatfield McCoy trail system offers changes in elevation galore, along with two track trails in and out of trees and up and down hills. Having ridden the Teryx4 on similar terrain on the Paiute Trail, I knew the Teryx would shine here in the engine and suspension department. The higher horsepower is one thing, but coming in and out of turns along with up and down hills is where torque is evident. Kawasaki’s choice to add the torque in the low to mid area of the engine was the right choice. Step on the gas and the Teryx responds strong both from a stop or anything below 40 MPH or so. The power is on tap with the more powerful engine. Need more power to scoot up a hill? No problem--the power is there. Want to power out of a corner? No problem--the power is there. Where this engine shines is under 40 MPH. When you get past that point, the acceleration isn’t as strong. The rev limiter kicks in at 50 MPH, but there is more power in there, without a doubt. This low to mid grunt made riding the trails an absolute blast as I powered up and down hills, slid into and out of corners, and quickly ramped back up to cruising speed. The power is simply there to maximize the fun of these trails.
The suspension on the Teryx is the other element that makes riding fast, tight trails full of hills, bumps, ruts, and rocks, so much fun. The new Fox Podium Shocks with compression dampening and piggyback reservoirs work perfectly to give the ride such a fun factor. Kawasaki wanted to give the new Teryx a sporty feel, and this suspension setup delivers this goal big time. With very little seat time, I was able to know exactly what the Teryx was going to do as I zipped along. Better yet, I began to play with the compression dampening settings with a simple turn of the clicker-dial, and with that I could dial in the ride I wanted. I can’t put into words how perfectly this suspension setup worked and how easily I could adjust the ride. With little effort, I had the Teryx dancing through the trails the way I wanted it to. What a level of confidence comes with getting the ride exactly the way you want! Into corners and across the rocks and ruts I went with reckless abandon, as the Teryx, trail, and I became one.
Adding to my confidence were two factors, which both come standard on the Teryx: power steering and engine braking. The power steering on the Teryx family is a work of art . . . really. It is the perfect balance between feeling the trail and assisting the steering. Kawasaki worked and worked on dialing in the power steering to be the perfect balance between feel and steering assistance, and it shows. If only other manufactures could get their power steering dialed in like this. Of course the EPS adjusts depending on speed, but all that aside, the steering just feels right. As the trail whipped by me, turn after turn offered a seamless feel from the steering, and after a day on the trail, there was no fatigue, despite all the corners and turns. Never was there a moment when the steering wheel was jerked in a direction I didn’t want to go. The power steering was simply perfect. Equally impressive is the engine braking. Kawasaki worked hard to balance the engine braking where it didn’t throw the rider through the windshield when you let off the throttle, but still make it effective in slowing the Teryx when going down a decline coming to a stop. The EBS feels remarkably natural when going from accelerating to decelerating. The centrifugal clutch in the CVT plays a big part in that as it keeps the belt tight, no matter what the RPM. There is no jerk or grab to the engine braking or acceleration using this system, and there is no place more obvious of this fact than going up and down hills time and time again. There was simply no jerk, no matter what I was doing with the accelerator.
As the day went on, I expected the temps to get a little warmer, but the opposite seemed to happen as temps got colder. My feet began to get cold, and then my fingers began to go numb, despite my “wind-proof” gloves. The day was still a bunch of fun despite how cold it was. The trees along the trail consisted of orange, yellow, and purple as we whizzed by, and the tight fast trails kept me on my toes as my Teryx and I headed towards our destination for the night. Before long we were hitting some pavement as our group came off the trail and headed into town to park our Teryxs for the night. Despite the long ride, the comfort of the seats in the Teryx family showed how comfortable trail riding can be. The seats not only have plenty of padding, but they are contoured to keep the rider in place. The combination of the suspension, EPS, and engine braking keep the fatigue at bay. As our group hit the hotel in town, I got cleaned up and watched the weather forecast call for snow. Everyone hoped the following day would give us snow to make the adventure that much more epic.
The following morning I went to the window to find snow on the ground, and at breakfast there was a level of excitement in the air as we were eager to pilot the trails dusted in snow. Despite the cold (and it was COLD), I couldn’t wait to hit the trail to see how much snow the day's ride would reveal. After climbing back into my Teryx and letting it warm up, we headed out for day two of our adventure. We were heading back a different way to our starting point from the day before, and there would be minimal stops. As soon as we started up from the trailhead, the snow was on the trees and surrounding hillside, turning the Hatfield McCoy trail system into a winter wonderland. The farther up we climbed the more snow began to cover the trail. A simple turn of the dashboard switch putting my Teryx into 4WD gave me plenty of extra traction for the high speed trail riding I love so much. There was no need for 4WD Diff Lock, though it was nice to know it was there if I needed it. The trail was slick, wet, and muddy, making it oh so much fun. Despite the longer wheelbase of the 2014 Teryx, it is easily maneuverable through the tight trails. To add to the fun, it began to snow, and continued on and off all day. The day’s ride could be described in one word: epic. It was very cold, muddy, wet, snowy, and absolutely incredible! Though I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes by day’s end, that just added to the adventure. The comfort of the Teryx, along with the handling, power, and the ride it offers, makes the Teryx one of the best side-by-sides on the market. As I pulled into the parking lot at the trail head, and walked away from my camp stead, I felt as though I was leaving a trusted friend. What an adventure.
I am a fan of the Teryx. Kawasaki has positioned this as a side-by-side for whatever adventure you want to throw at it, and given the Teryx the capability to take you there. It also makes for a workhorse for those who want to use it around the farm or ranch. It is engineered and manufactured in the U.S., by Americans, giving it even more to love. The Teryx is a tough machine, which is evident from the moment you climb into it. The Teryx comes with a three year warranty, making it the longest warranty in the business. Having ridden both the 2014 Teryx and Teryx4, I am a solid fan of these side-by-sides. At 60-inches wide, they are the perfect size for both trail and work, offering the power and performance to do both very well. We are supposed to be receiving a demo of a Teryx or Teryx4. We will put it through both work and play, and report to you what we find. So stay tuned.