Kawasaki just released its all-new 2020 Teryx KRX 1000 and everyone is going crazy about it.
The sport side-by-side market has been dominated by the Canadian brands for more than a decade and, until recently, they have had little or no competition from the Japanese manufacturers. Now, Kawasaki has just dropped the new 2020 Teryx KRX 1000 into the mix along with the offerings from Yamaha and Honda which means the UTV arms race is officially on. The UTV market has been the fastest growing segment in the powersports history over the past 10 years and it’s reaching a boiling point with no less than a half-dozen manufacturers contending for your hard-earned money.
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While those crazy Canucks keep chasing each other in the battle for horsepower that correlates to dominance at the dunes, the Japanese brands have taken a more subtle approach that avoids the high-horsepower designs in lieu of providing sturdy platforms from which consumers can build the side-by-side to their liking. As a result we did not get a supercharged H2R-powered Teryx. Although that would have been great, we did get a well-engineered UTV with overbuilt suspension components and powertrain along with an engine with serious potential, all wrapped in a design that looks like a small Ultra 4 buggy that is ready to take on the roughest, toughest trails you can find.
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As it sits now, the KRX 1000 is an awesome off-road machine. Everything Kawasaki did during the design phase culminated in the creation of a UTV that is at home in the roughest terrain. It offers 14.4 inches of ground clearance, 18.6 inches of travel up front, and 21.1 inches of travel in the rear. If that doesn’t get you over most obstacles, then a full-coverage skid plate should keep those vital parts safe from damage. The double wishbone front A-arms are burly, plus the four-link trailing arms are longer and thicker than “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s arms. Look closer and you’ll see that the radius rods are built from large-diameter round stock and are attached to the frame via two-point bosses that look thick and sturdy. Add into the mix the Kawasaki ROPS cage that features radiused front and rear main support beams that attach to the frame at eight separate points, and you have a UTV that looks like it’s built to withstand the abuse of rock crawling and trail riding right off the showroom floor.
And that is exactly what Kawasaki was aiming for. Comfort, durability, and longevity are the name of the game when it comes to the new Teryx KRX 1000. The motto during the R&D phase was “Calm in the cabin” as the team tested every possible configuration of A-arm, trailing arm configuration, shock mounting angles, shock settings, and so on. After a day in the seat we have to agree they did a good job of creating a comfortable ride, and they proved it by sticking us on some rough and rocky trails for our first taste of the Teryx’s off-road chops.
The rider-friendly driving experience begins with the traditional automotive-style swing of the doors and the small ledge that serves as an armrest on the finished inside panels. There are latches to open on both the inside and out. The bucket seats are cozy and a massive amount of room accommodates passengers of all sizes thanks to a half foot of adjustability front to back. The steering wheel adjusts and the simple LED dash is mounted on the column so its always right in front of the driver. There is a lot of storage on the interior as well, including the glove box, a waterproof compartment on the dash, five cupholders, and if you are short, there’s a ton of space behind the seats.
Inside the new KRX, the cockpit feels spacious, comfortable, and open. The hood is stubby and steep which allows for a decent view of the trail ahead. Turn the key and fire up the big parallel twin and it comes to life with a rumble from its side-mounted exhaust. The transmission offers High, Low, Neutral, and Reverse with a parking brake positioned between the seats; there’s no Park setting in the tranny. It has on-demand four-wheel drive, high and low power settings, and front differential lock. The idea is that you will use the diff-lock, low power, and low gear to make rock crawling smoother and the combo works as expected. In practice it seems like a nice feature for less experienced drivers as they learn the nuances of crawling slowly over rough terrain. Throttle response is toned down so traction is at a premium as we crept our way over the various climbs and descents set for us. The transmission is set up to take advantage of the engine-braking when you are going downhill too. It’s nice that the CVT does not just release and cause a freewheeling effect like most of the competitors cars do.
In the open desert we were able to stretch its legs a bit. From a dead stop the KRX accelerates strong, reaching almost 70 mph in a relatively short straightaway that ended in a 90-degree right-hand turn in a sand wash. Although the 10-foot wall of dirt was ominous at those speeds, this was a perfect point to experience the power and feel of the four-wheel disc brakes. The stopping power is impressive with a decent amount of feel as we shed speed in the gravel-strewn trail. Overall the naturally aspirated 999cc engine feels strong with the most power coming near the top-end. It does not leap off the line from a dead stop but it is having to put out some effort to get the 1,900-pound machine rolling at the start. Once it’s underway, the power delivery is smooth, linear and more than up to the task thanks to its 76.7 pound-feet of torque. In the meat of the power around 7,000 rpm, it has a deep growl from the EPA-friendly exhaust system and I am sure is going to be bitchin’ once the aftermarket pipes find their way onto these cars.
Our man-made course featured lots of sharp turns placed back to back so as we got comfortable taxing the suspension on both flat hardpack and race-rutted sand. It is clear this car is designed to haul ass. Body roll is present but predictable as the four-link trailing arms and double wishbone front end work with the Fox 2.5 Podium shocks to keep the KRX stable in the turns. It handles very well despite its tall stature, and that’s a testament to the engineering effort behind the design of the new KRX 1000 chassis.
The big Teryx proved that it belongs in the nasty, rocky, bumpy, and dirty terrain that most people will be playing in. Its bodywork does not extend beyond the front or rear tires so it can handle steep approaches to obstacles, while the body itself is tapered along the sides below the doors to reduce the overall footprint when making your way around tight obstacles. Two massive intakes with pre-filters on the front of the bed provide fresh, clean air for the engine and CVT which tips Kawasaki’s hand that the KRX was built to tackle the gnarliest conditions first and foremost. It should be right at home in the dusty deserts of the West Coast or the wet, muddy woods to the east.
No matter where you plan to drive your KRX 1000, Kawasaki has a long list of accessories to help you build it to suit your needs. They include a Hifonics sound system ($1,099), front ($179) and rear ($255) bumpers, windshields ($679), cab heaters, poly roof ($499), nerf bars ($319), fender flares ($499), cargo box ($349), rear tire carrier, light bars ($105–$475), trailing arm guards ($179), and much more. Kawasaki is prepared to help customers configure the new KRX to their liking with six different packages—including I Want it All, Cab, Lighting, Mud, Protection, and Recreation—that feature various combos of all the available accessories.
Kawasaki also enlisted the help of multiple aftermarket companies including PRP seats, Warn winches, HCR suspension components, Rugged Radios, as well as an aftermarket turbo kit that is soon to be available from K&T Performance and which is rumored to bump horsepower near the 200 range. Kawasaki is all in with the KRX 1000, so we are excited to see how the car holds up over the long haul. It has the pedigree, the design seems solid, and dealers have been begging for this for years.
Remember that this is just the first version of the Teryx KRX 1000 too. It seems logical that Kawasaki would start with a naturally aspirated UTV because that’s going to appeal to a larger market and this is the way most of the Japanese brands prefer to do business. The KRX engine is a brand-new design built specifically for this model, so we would be remiss to believe the company does not have plans for it to evolve into other niche categories at some point in the future. We predict a four-seater next, followed by a more powerful version that may be turbocharged, and after that, who knows… It’s Kawasaki, so hopefully a supercharger makes its way into the equation too. Hey, we can wish, right?
As it stands right now, the 2020 Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000 exceeds our expectations for the first foray into the world of sport side-by-sides. It ticks many of the boxes consumers are asking for, and is built to withstand a serious beating, so we just have to wait and see how it holds up over time. It handles great, looks awesome, and offers something new for UTV enthusiasts to be excited about. All that’s left to do now is to climb in, hang on, and let the good times roll.
2020 Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000 Specifications
|ENGINE||999cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled parallel twin; 8-valve|
|BORE x STROKE||92.0 x 75.1mm|
|TORQUE||76.7 lb.-ft. @ 7,000 rpm|
|FUEL DELIVERY||Digital fuel injection w/ dual 50mm throttle bodies|
|TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE||Automatic (H/L/N/R)/belt|
|FRAME||Ladder-type tubular steel|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||Double wishbone, Fox 2.5 Podium LSC shocks adjustable for spring preload, 24-position compression damping; 18.6-in. travel|
|REAR SUSPENSION||4-link trailing arm, Fox 2.5 Podium LSC shocks adjustable for spring preload, 24-position compression damping; 21.1-in. travel|
|FRONT BRAKE||2-piston calipers, dual hydraulic discs|
|REAR BRAKE||2-piston calipers, dual hydraulic discs|
|WHEELS, FRONT/REAR||15-in. alloy w/ beadlocks|
|TIRES, FRONT/REAR||Maxxis Carnivore; 31 x 10R-15|
|GROUND CLEARANCE||14.4 in.|
|OVERALL WIDTH||68.1 in.|
|FUEL CAPACITY||4.4 gal.|
|CLAIMED CURB WEIGHT||1,896 lb.|