Off-road motorcycles, ATVs, and UTVs have experienced a surge in sales as of late. The UTV segment has a host of offerings from Can-Am, Polaris, Honda, and Yamaha all designed to do different things. Some side-by-sides are all about utility, but the KRX 1000 is about fun. New for 2020, Kawasaki’s came out swinging with the Teryx KRX 1000. It’s not a workhorse, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work hard. The new model features a new frame, engine, transmission, and suspension that are purpose-driven for crossing rough and rocky terrain.
With a starting MSRP of $26,999, it had a mighty high set of expectations to meet in order to impress me and justify its eye-watering as-tested price of $37,442. The technical specs were promising though. The 31-inch Maxxis Carnivore tires are mounted on 15-inch aluminum bead-lock rims, the 365 mm ground clearance is complemented by a 19-degree breakover angle and an approach/departure angle of over 90 degrees. That’s a good start.
This list of options racked up a bill of $10,443, but buyers are welcome to pick and choose as they please based on their own budget and intentions. Some accessories were appreciated and make perfect sense, such as the Warn VRX 45 winch ($519), installation kit ($411), KQR rear tire rack ($781), and spare tire ($1,341), while the $1,667 price tag on the audio system would make it an easy box for me to uncheck. You can’t hear it when you’re driving anyhow, so it would only be useful when you’re parked at a camp site or hunt camp where I’d worry about draining the battery too much to get home. If the stereo does interest you, it features a USB auxiliary outlet and is Bluetooth capable.
Located just outside of Haliburton, Ont., the Bonnie View Inn provided an excellent home base. Located on Lake Kashagawigamog within a stone’s throw of the local snowmobile/ATV trail system, accommodations are quaint, clean, and affordable.
Strapping into the supportive high back bucket seats with the optional four-point harness ($916) before rolling back off the trailer, the first few minutes were spent getting comfortable with the controls, chassis, suspension, and steering on a gravel cottage road. The rearview mirror and side mirrors are both options, available at a cost of $102 and $232 respectively.
Making a sharp left onto the trail, the landscape quickly turned steep and uneven. No problem; the Teryx didn’t break a sweat even using the high gear in two-wheel drive. The multi-colour LED K-Glow light bar ($653) looks cool, but also serves a function. The white-and-green light more than sufficiently illuminated the path ahead whether travelling during nighttime hours or through thick foliage during the day.
The powerplant is a liquid-cooled 999 cc four-stroke parallel twin mated to a CVT transmission through a centrifugal clutch. I typically despise CVT transmissions, but this may be the first application where it actually makes sense to me. Power is robust regardless of where you are in the rev range, making it easy to modulate the throttle through technical terrain rather than shifting gears yourself or waiting for the machine to do it.
Making 76 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm, the 860 kg (1,896 lb) Teryx features a low and high gear. Switching between two- and four-wheel drive (featuring a locking front differential) can be done on the fly. We spent most of the time in rear-wheel drive only – mostly because the traction of four wheels wasn’t required. That, and sliding around corners in two-wheel drive was just too much fun. It’s surprisingly easy to steer with the throttle, letting the back end get loose, then bringing it back in.
Steering is direct and nicely weighted at slower speeds, but once increased that’s when it really starts to impress with its precision and predictability. Ditto for the suspension. Featuring double wishbones up front and a four-link trailing arm setup in the rear with Fox 2.5 Podium LSC shocks all around, the 24-position shocks are adjustable for preload and compression. The front allows for 18.5 inches of travel while the rear is capable of 21 inches. Body roll is clearly evident on the road to the trails, but that’s not where a machine like this will be spending its time.
Starting slowly by rock crawling then ramping up the pace, the suspension really started to shine. The faster you go, the harder it works, but strangely the less you feel from the driver’s seat. Similar to a dirt bike, it’s amazing what you can drive over. Stumps, roots, rocks – the suspension just soaked it all up. Navigating a relatively narrow forest trail, I approached an area of standing water measuring about 30 feet long and with an unknown depth. There wasn’t a suitable area to turn around, so I backed up to get a decent run at it. Figuring I could always switch to four-wheel drive if things started getting sticky, or use the winch if they really went south, the crossing went relatively without incident. The water still had to go somewhere after all. I questioned the need of spending $390 on the half windshield until that point. Even still, I recommend wearing goggles and keeping your mouth closed.
Over the course of the week with the KRX, I explored a variety of trails at numerous locations around the province. A good friend with a fully prepped Jeep Wrangler Rubicon joined me but it was immediately apparent he wouldn’t be able to keep up. Despite tackling the challenging terrain of Moab, Utah, he wasn’t able to make it through narrow forested areas or deep mud and water crossings where the Teryx passed through unaffected. With roughly twice the cost tied up in his Wrangler, I had to keep turning back for him.
The longer I drove the KRX, the more it proved its capability and value. The mission became clear: Find out what the Teryx can’t do. Try as we might, we couldn’t find that line. It continued to impress and amaze no matter what we through at it. It may be a boatload of fun, but it isn’t just a toy. It’s serious business.
Pricing: 2020 Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000
Rear View Mirror, $102.90;
Spare Tire Y-Strap, $38.16 38;
LED K-Glow Light Bar, $653.67;
LED K-Glow Light Bar Installation Kit, $147.54;
Sport Front Bumper, $255.17;
HMW Rock Slider Set, $346.92;
Sport Rear Bumper, $354.02;
Warn VRX 45 Winch, $519.50;
Winch Installation Kit, $411.83;
KQR Half Windshield, $390.57;
Nerf Bar Set, $456.77;
Fender Flare Set, $786.64;
Taillight Guard, $266.74;
KQR Premium Roof, Polycarbonate, Green, $773.52;
Seat Belt Harness Kit, $916.35;
Audio System, $1,667.92;
Rear Cargo/Tire Rack, $781.65;
Spare Tire, $1,341.15;
Premium Side Mirror Set, $232.38