You may have surmised that I was a fan of the four-seater 2013 Kawasaki Teryx 4. It’s a fun machine for spending time with friends and family on the trail. While the T-4, as the Kawasaki guys call it, was great, the two-seater 2013 T-2 wasn’t. When the Kawa boys asked me to join them for a ride of the all-new 2014 Teryx two-seater, I agreed after hearing that the machine was a complete redesign.
The 2014 Teryx is based on the T-4, sharing the basic frame and suspension geometry of the newer T-4. Yeah, they overhauled that one too. The new two-seater Teryx has a lot to offer the recreational rider and the outdoorsman.
Let’s start with the most notable changes. The new T-2 looks more like the T-4. The roll cage and frame are the same, so where did that space for the back seats go? They included a dump box and something else I found really cool: there are storage compartments behind the seats that, while not completely waterproof, offer a water-resistant storage area for your gear or whatever else you want to put in there. Also carried over are the extremely comfortable bucket seats from the T-4 and a few other smaller touches.
Feel the power
The 2014 Kawasaki Teryx has an all-new power plant, a 783cc, liquid-cooled V-twin engine that, while only a modest increase from last year’s 750-class engine, pumps out a considerable horsepower and torque increase. When riding the Teryx, it’s that low-end grunt that really impressed me. The steep, rocky, and muddy trails of West Virginia’s Hatfield-McCoy system were no match for the machine. I have to admit, it sounds pretty cool too. It has this growl when you stomp on it that makes the hairs on your arm bristle.
Electronic fuel injection is standard on the machine and combining that with the torque-monster engine means you have instant throttle response. It is very confidence-inspiring to be able to just tap the gas pedal and clear any obstacle you encounter.
Having that power on tap means nothing if you can’t absorb an impact, though, and this is another area Kawasaki pulled out all of the stops. They went with top-of-the-line Fox coil-over, piggyback shocks, with eight inches of travel in the front and 8.3 inches in the back, each with 24-way compression damping. The Fox shocks, designed exclusively for the Teryx, are about as good as you can get. I tried to find an obstacle on the trail that the shocks weren’t able to handle and I couldn’t.
In fact, I was driving along and had gotten behind due to some mud on my goggles. I tried to catch up and didn’t see a large bump on the trail thanks to the goggles. I hit the gas and caught some air off the bump, landing about 15 feet away from where I was. I was unaware of the intensity of the impact until later when I was told how far I went—this suspension soaks up everything and begs for more.
The little things that matter
The Teryx has an 11-inch ground clearance and the underside is beefy and well-protected. In addition, everything important is mounted up high for good clearance when you find water and mud, which we did. The floor drains well, so you’re not stuck sitting in a puddle if you get waterlogged.
Other solid features Kawasaki added include durable steel-braided brake lines that not only hold up well to abuse, but also improve braking performance. The rear brake is a sealed, central unit that has great feel. The Teryx will stop on a dime if need be. The radiator is mounted high in the front of the machine and never clogged or overheated during my time with it.
The cockpit has an aggressive, yet automotive feel to it. Its display is mounted to the right of the steering wheel, which I am not a fan of. It forces you to take your eyes off the trail. You can glance down much easier than you can glance to your right. There are cup holders and power outlets. And did I mention those cool storage compartments? There is a mounting space between them for a small cooler too.
At first, I was concerned about the dump box. It sits between the two rear down-rails of the roll cage, which seems like it would create some cargo issues. The cargo box isn’t as big as other machines’ in the category, but it seems to be big enough for most things. I can live with the roll cage getting in the way, and I mean that. I’d rather have the added safety and work my way around the roll cage. Plus, I see some cool bolt-on options for the cage that I’m sure Kawasaki doesn’t approve of. Call me a rebel.
There are three versions of the 2014 Teryx and three different prices. The base runs $12,999, the Camo $14,299, and the LE $14,999. The base model comes in a vibrant blue color. The Camo model, which I tested, comes in Realtree APG camouflage and has a couple of other features that separate it from the base model. For one, Kawasaki included the hard plastic roof. I never thought much of roofs, but it was nice when running through tree branches and mud. The Camo and LE models have Kawasaki’s new LED headlights that are brighter than the standard headlights by a big margin. The LE model also has an extended brush guard on the front (a feature any outdoorsman is sure to add at the dealership), polished aluminum wheels, and a killer metallic lime green paint job. The hunter in me wanted the Camo, but the kid in me loved the lime green paint on the LE. It looks fast sitting still.
There are a few other small touches that are nice. There is a two-inch receiver in the back for hauling a trailer. The Teryx is rated to tow up to 1,300 pounds. The hitch has slots for using a safety chain too, a nice touch. There is a drilled mounting area in the front for a winch, although the Teryx is not pre-wired for a winch. Again, any outdoorsman is going to want to add a winch. Look for more on this later. Kawasaki has a pile of accessories available for the Teryx and they just so happened to send me home with a test unit. I’m going to mount up some of their accessories and see how the Teryx performs under a bunch of conditions.
Kawasaki also has a three-year warranty on the Teryx. I always like warranties because to me, it says, “We’re pretty darn confident in what we make.” The tires are Maxxis Bighorns, which are great and have become the industry standard.
Overall, I’m impressed with the Teryx. I wish there was a little more room in the foot-box area of the cabin. It is a little cramped for taller riders, but the seats are adjustable, which helps. I think they should also pre-wire for a winch. You’re limited to one passenger, too. The T-4 lacks the cargo capacity of the T-2, so that is the trade off.
I recall a while back someone saying that they thought the Teryx vehicles have a bit of an identity crisis. They aren’t the screaming machines like the Polaris RZR and Arctic Cat Wildcats. They aren’t the utility workhorses like the Polaris Ranger, either. They are fun machines that can play hard and also work hard, which makes them pretty good in my eye for the side-by-side consumer looking for a machine that can be aggressively trail-ridden and still help around the farm (or in the field for hunters). A lot of outdoorsmen will like the new Teryx because of the cool features for storage and the awesome suspension and power. There isn’t anywhere you won’t be able to get back into with a Teryx and that is something I can really identify with.
Images by Alfonse Palaima