Full review: 2016 Kawasaki Teryx 4 LE: The « Lexus » of Japanese Side-by-Sides.March 13, 2017
By: Marc-André Quessy
Editor in chief
The Kawasaki Teryx is often perceived as the forgotten child of the SSV world. Not because it’s not a good machine but on the fact that people simply don’t know it exists! I don’t understand why Kawasaki does not put more emphasis on this machine. Facts are facts and we can’t change that. What I can change, is your perception of the Teryx line of SSV’s.
2016 bring a refinement to the Teryx4 that was needed to keep up with the many offerings in the segment. First thing we noticed is the newly redesigned front end that give it a more muscular look combined with LED quad headlights, the more angular fenders and the new colour ensembles.
We have put the Teryx 4 LE to gruesome tests of endurance, family rides and some good old mud duty. From the excellent trails in the Sentier summum (sentiersummum.com) north of Mount-Laurier Qc. to our local 4 season test track in Mascouche Qc. for the technical stuff.
Kawasaki is the only Japanese manufacturer to equip its Side-By-Sides with V-Twin engines. The electronically fuel injected 783 cc overhead cams is in my view, the best configuration for low-end torque and high rpm power on the market today and it shows when you stomp on the gas pedal! The Teryx 4 will leave its 4 – 6 seater Japanese competitors in the dust with ease and we like that very much. The power curve is excellent and the CVT dry clutch and transmission ratios are spot on. Fuel consumption is surprisingly low, in fact, very low compared to the domestic 4 seater offerings on the market.
The engine is centrally mounted in the frame similar to the Can-Am SSVs, great for stability but not so good for the heat transfer to the passenger area. The engine induction noise is also amplified by the console that acts as a speaker enclosure making it quite loud when accelerating sharply. It’s perfectly livable but, we don’t understand why Kawasaki did not put more work into sound deadening as it would make this already comfortable machine much quieter too.
The Japanese manufacturers are still very shy of unleashing the full power and top speeds of their off-road machine since some of us south of the border neighbours scared them out of their bravado with multi-million dollar lawsuits that nearly put Yamaha USA in serious financial troubles. Now that these have been settled, things should get interesting. For now, we are still stuck with a dumbed-down engine. There’s nothing more frustrating than having an electronic nanny yanking the power cord when the fun is barely starting. 79 KPH is all the fun you’re gonna have, talk about a cold shower! With a mono cylinder it’s understandable but the Teryx’s V-Twin has a lot of steam left and so does the rest of the machine. I can understand why, but having the cake and then can’t eat it? Come on Kawasaki! That engine is a little gem! Let us feel ALL the power! Can you spell a-f-t-e-r-m-a-r-k-e-t?
For federated or government managed trails it’s perfectly fine, most of them are speed limited anyhow. With a four seater, the wife and kids aboard almost 80 kph is fast enough indeed.
Kawasaki’s CVT is a direct drive CVT and it shines with good performance under acceleration. The belt engagement is good and throughout our testing we never got the roasted rubber smell of a slipping belt. With the weight of this beast it’s a very good sign. Access to the CVT belt housing is quite tricky so learn to use the transmission low gear to preserve the belt.
The transmission is a testament to Japanese engineering! What a treat! Changing gears is done with your fingertips without clunks or grinding gear sounds, just perfect. There is no Park on the transmission so there is a parking brake, use it! Don’t ask me why I know ok? It blocks the whole rear axle without using the brake system.
Differentials and 4×4: Rear axle is fully locked like most SSVs meaning: stay away from your lawn while turning! The excellent maxxis bighorn 2.0 tires will rip it to pieces if you turn on grass! Again don’t ask me why, my wife still comments about it!
Back to the matter at hand. The axles and driveline are quiet without any droning at any speed, ratios are good too. The front axle is pure joy! Real lockable 4X4 what a pleasure. At the touch of a button the front axle is locked and ready for action. This thing can handle mud and some good size rocks without a hitch.
Quality is what we perceived for the drivetrain, no clunks, droning, buzzing of any kind. A perfect score in this department.
The Teryx 4’s power steering is good but left us disconnected from what the front wheels are doing. Steering input is sluggish at times. Feels like the steering shaft was made out of stiff rubber. We tried several adjustments and tire pressures with varied results. We account it to its size and weight. Nothing anywhere near dangerous but it’s worth mentioning. The adjustable steering wheel looks good and feels quite nice.
Suspension: 4-wheel independent suspension is the norm in SSV land and the Teryx4 is no exception. A-Arms riding on rubber bushings. Our tester is an LE trim level (limited Edition) and is equipped with the excellent FOX performance series coil over shocks with piggyback reservoirs. Adjustable ring type preload (much better for precision than the basic channel types) with independent compression and rebound adjustments makes this big trail beast handle the worst bumps and ruts in total comfort which is one of the reasons it’s so comfortable to ride in. Add in torsion bars and voila! A big luxury sedan for the trails.
Brakes: Speed is limited but braking is not. Equipped with dual-piston calipers on all four wheels the Teryx4 needs all that braking power to slow it down. Pedal feel is nice and plush with steady engagement when pressure is applied to it. They are also very quiet all the time no matter what you put them through: mud, water, sand. Good thing. One gripe though: the overly exposed brake master cylinder in the left front wheels well with the steel hoses very exposed is like asking for trouble when you offroad seriously.
Frame: Tubular steel frames are the norm in this category but the stiffness of this chassis stands out. With X type crossed frame connectors just about any kind of off-roading is handled without feeling any flex. There is a 2 inch hitch receiver that can accommodate any standard truck hitch and the Teryx4 can tow up to 1300 pounds. Nice.
Body: The whole of the Teryx line’s bodywork has been redesigned especially the front end. The look is quite pleasing with the quad LED headlight and the sloping more aggressive bodywork. A very stout and stylish front bumper offers good protection. The LE colour scheme is very Kawasaki and you can’t mistake it for anything else. The roof and doors are included and we all appreciated the shade and protection they gave us for this review when up north at extreme summer temperatures. The doors have the right height to prevent projectiles and mud from being splashed over the occupants and the latch system is very good.
Interior: The title says it all: “The Lexus of Japanese Side by Sides” If comfort is your thing, the Teryx4 is your ride. A real Lay-Z-Boy chair on four wheels. The seats are fabulous, no joke, these are the best stock seats in the industry. Big or small they are plush but with enough bolstering to keep you comfy all day. My 7-year-old daughter mentioned how the seats were sooooo like our leather couches at home with a large smile on her face. That dear reader is an exploit on its own! Great job Kawasaki! The handholds for the front and rear passenger are perfectly placed and to hold on to for extended periods of time without fatigue and will make even the less brave of your friends ride with you feeling secure.
The Dashboard is very, very simple. No doodads, tons of buttons, just the basics and that’s perfectly fine and the small instrument cluster does the job. The whole thing is simple and good-looking. All the control knobs and switches are big enough to be handled precisely with gloves or mittens. Great for winter fun.
The quad headlights are not only great to look at but are simply THE best stock LED lighting system out there at the moment. They put out an amazing amount of light even in the darkest of nighttime riding. Controlled in pairs with two switches OFF–Low Beam–Hi beam they do not require any type of aftermarket lights to see where you’re going.
Two 12-volt power outlets are standard, one in the front and one for the oh so important phone or tablet your kids carry everywhere. With a 120 what maximum output, they can also be used for your heated gear or a 12 volt cooler to keep your be.. Uh, soda pop and food cold.
Going back to comfort. It’s not only the excellent seats but the whole ergonomic package that makes the 2016 Teryx4 LE standout so much. In fact I am not afraid to say that this is quite possibly THE most comfortable Side by Side on the market right now. The near silent drivetrain, the smoothness of the ride, minimal lean in corners but just enough to give you a good feeling makes you want to take your time and enjoy the ride at a leisurely pace with friends or family. The Teryx4 is family approved!
We got the Teryx4 for and extended amount of time and got a lot of different people from our staff to use it in all kinds of situations and trails and we would like to thank Kawasaki Canada for giving us an extended review time with it. Thanks go out to JAC Motosport Kawasaki to have prepared it under such short notice.
All the riders that took the Teryx4 for a ride came back with the exact same comments: It’s extremely comfortable. When shooting some video a gentleman stopped to ask us some questions. He owned a domestic 4 seater and was considering trading it in for another one. We asked him to try it for 15 minutes, he came back with the same story: comfort! The next day he was at his local Kawasaki dealership. He now owns a 2016 Teryx4 LE just like our tester and loves every minute of it.
I hate that speed limiter with all my heart. Why does it have to be so abrupt? 79 KPH wham! You’re done! This machine can easily handle 100kph so why did the programmers at Kawasaki make the cut off so steep? A simple remapping and the speed limiter could be made a little more civilized or my wish, gone. Come on Kawasaki! Make this thing more fun than it is now, you got a winner here!
OK let’s get serious..
This SSV is the real deal, the Nec plus ultra of the Japanese 4 seater SSVs and has nothing to envy the domestics. Pricewise at a tick under $19,000 it’s priced competitively if you take in account similar offerings from Japan, Canada and the US.
This proves one thing. Speed is not everything in the SSV world. With all the new turboed, ultra-sharp handling high performance machines available now, it’s nice to see the trails at a sane speed inside a plush but sturdy machine.
Go on over to your local Kawasaki Dealer and try one, oh and bring the wife and kids along. Odds are if you’re in the market for a four seater the 2016 Teryx4 LE has a good chance of ending up in your garage.
Can-Am Commander 4
Polaris RZr 900 4
Polaris Ranger 4
Honda Pioneer 4 – 5
Yamaha Viking VI
- Comfort worthy of a limousine
- Handling/Quality suspension components
- Excellent 3 year base warranty
- The look that means business
- Doors that actually protect the occupants
- Finally, a 4 seater that can fit the big guys
The not so good
- Abrupt speed limiter ARRGH!
- Noisy engine under hard acceleration
- Slightly imprecise steering