Story by Seth Fargher, photos by Adam Campbell
2012 Kawasaki Teryx 4 Side-x-Side 1st Ride
Innovation is the name of the game in the side
by side market these days and manufacturers seem
to be upping the ante with each new release.
This past week our friends over at Kawasaki invited
us out to Brimstone Recreation facility near Huntsville,
Tennessee to spend some time in their all new Teryx
4 side by side.
Kawasaki is no newcomer to the utility vehicle
market considering their original Mule predates
any of today’s top selling side by sides, however
the Mule lacks the sport and performance aspect
offered by most of the UTV’s of today. The
original Teryx was Kawasaki’s ticket into the performance
side by side market, but with the increasing popularity
of UTV’s, the need for more passenger room is being
recognized by all manufacturers. Kawasaki
is among the first of the manufacturers to do something
about it. Enter the Teryx 4.
Going into the event we weren’t really sure what
to expect. Was this going to be just a beefed
up version of the Mule? Or perhaps a stretched
out version of the original Teryx where overall
weight and performance would be sacrificed in an
attempt to accommodate a couple more passengers.
Nothing could have been further from those
Kawasaki did much more than just make a few changes
and add a couple of seats in fact, they completely
redesigned it from the ground up. From an
all new engine to a completely reconstructed and
innovative frame, the Teryx 4 has raised the bar
in the multi passenger side by side class.
At the heart of the beast is an all new and improved
powerplant that produces around 15% more horsepower
than the original Teryx. The added power comes in
handy considering the carrying capacity doubles
and in the event you find yourself riding without
any passengers, well then, more horsepower never
hurt anybody! The Teryx 4 didn’t hesitate
to climb anything we pointed it at all day.
Brimstone offers a wide variety of terrain and there
was a good amount of standing water on certain parts
of the trail. The Teryx 4 handled everything
we threw at it with ease and while we tested in
both 2 and 4 wheel drive, we found 2 wheel drive
to be more than sufficient for nearly every situation.
The inclusion of a centrifugal clutch paired
with a continuously variable transmission (CVT)
keeps the power delivery smooth and precise.
Starting from a dead stop or manipulating the throttle
ever so carefully around tight trees and rocks was
amazingly precise. Some side by sides are
either on or off in terms of the throttle and can
be very jerky at lower speeds when you just barely
touch the gas pedal but we were pleased to have
immediate yet smooth throttle response any time
we stepped on the gas. In one particular off
camber, downhill situation we were unable to navigate
around a tight S-curve and were forced to make a
two-point turn to get through. We pointed
the rear of the machine in the right direction and
applied the throttle without the least bit of wheel
spin. Needless to say we were very impressed;
it was like rock crawling in reverse!
The Brimstone Recreation facility was the perfect
testing ground for the Teryx 4. While its
only in class competitor, the Polaris RZR 4 excels
in the dessert and sand dunes, it would have been
no match in the tight trails and hilly terrain offered
by Brimstone. Despite adding two additional
seats (comfortably I might add) the Teryx 4 maintains
a relatively tight turning radius and was quite
at home on tight trails. We made a few two
point turns throughout the day but that was mostly
because we were following a 2 seater Teryx for the
better part of the day and tried taking its lines.
After witnessing our small hiccup, the Teryx 4’s
following along behind us made it through nearly
every situation without a problem. Chalk that
one up to operator error.
We actually managed to get all four wheels off
the ground a couple of times and were pleasantly
surprised to not be jarred to death upon returning
to earth. The suspension soaked up rocks
and bumps with ease, however at high speeds you’ll
be able to feel some of the bigger bumps.
Some of the more sportier side by sides geared towards
performance would win in a suspension comparison
but then again, most of them only have room enough