What’s better than making a passenger scream in a high-performance side-by-side? Making three of them scream.
The UTV market is growing, and by that we mean the machines themselves are getting larger. Four-seaters are the new rage for manufacturers. Hauling extra human cargo has been around for awhile in the utility applications, but now the sport market is demanding to bring their friends and family along for the ride as well. Polaris beat everyone to the
punch with the Polaris RZR 4
back in 2010, and it stood uncontested, and largely unchanged, for a couple years. Kawasaki joined the fray by stretching its RUV (Recreational Utility Vehicle) platform and creating the 2012 Kawasaki Teryx4
. With two sport models readily available, it was enough to sweet-talk MotoUSA into a comparison test.
Our first experience with the Teryx4 came in the restrictive confines of the Tennessee woodlands. Kawasaki picked that location to highlight some of the features that it feels define the T4 strong points. Of course the 749cc V-Twin is a major focus. Kawi uses the V configuration in its large sport-utility vehicles and it’s a defining feature that Team Green likes to hang its hat on. With the engine comes a centrifugal wet clutch paired to the CVT transmission. Another important design is the chassis with a much larger frame and interior arrangement than the Polaris. Kawi incorporates doors and uses the metal chassis as its own rock-slider and protection for the bodywork. The Teryx4 also has a relatively short wheelbase at 86.1 inches. These differences are some that we noted right away and wanted to put to the test against our familiar four-seat ride. Our test vehicle is the Teryx4 750 4x4 EPS LE. This is the power steering-equipped version (EPS) with limited edition (LE) features which we’ll detail later.
By the time Kawasaki
came into the picture the RZR 4 has already been eclipsed in the Polaris
lineup. Just about the time the competition is figuring out how to get up to speed with a two-seat sport model, Polaris dropped the RZR XP 4
bomb. While the new SxS gets the attention for this year the standard RZR 4 is still in the lineup because it offers a different type of four-seat experience, and an amazing one at that. Our 2010 model has kept us smiling since it was introduced and we’ve returned the favor by taking it into our Polaris dealer for regular maintenance. We had it fully serviced prior to this comparison to make sure it was running in top condition. The 760cc Parallel Twin engine is a ripper, but the CVT belt is high maintenance. We’ve become accustomed to a high level of performance from the Fox
Podium 2.0 shocks which are willing to eat up everything in their path. Since our model came out, Polaris has added a few features to the RZR 4 including new tires, shock adjustment knobs, glove box and added the option of power steering with its LE model.
We loaded up the Robby Gordon Edition RZR 4 and our new Teryx4 EPS LE and headed straight for the Oregon coast. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area hosts miles of dunes that are constantly changing with the highly volatile wind and rain of a coastal environment. We ran stock tires, the RZR on its Maxxis Bighorn and the Teryx4 on Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 treads. Our drivers and passengers ranged in experience and size. We even packed our Cruiser Editor, Bryan Harley, and let him give a complete UTV novice perspective. Cabs were stuffed with riders ranging from youth to six-foot-plus men. From there we headed inland to our Southern Oregon headquarters and took them through root-infested wooded hills, open fire-roads, slimy red clay and 4WD rock-crawling trails. Through it all we screamed. Sometimes in terror, but mostly out of enjoyment – egging our buddies on from front and rear passenger seats. After all, that’s the whole point.