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TEST: KAWASAKI TERYX 800 FI LE

June 15, 2017
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— Kawasaki invented the UTV with the 1988 Multi-Use Light Equipment (MULE), also known as the “Pony Truck.” Now, the new Pro-FX and Pro-DX Mules redefine the utility UTV market. Kawasaki introduced the V-twin Teryx for the 2008 model year, giving sport and exploration enthusiasts a powerful woods weapon. The Teryx evolved with EFI for 2009 and from 750cc to 783cc for 2014. The Teryx 800 and Teryx4 got another facelift in 2016, and the six-model Teryx line has arguably the best fit and finish of any UTV on the market. For 2017 we chose the Teryx 800 FI Limited Edition to test.

The Limited Edition gets a new Matte Burnt Orange color choice for styling on the trail. The Teryx 800 is an excellent, all-around trail and exploration machine.

 

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2017?

The Teryx 800 gets Super Black livery, and the LE gets a new color choice—Candy Matte Burnt Orange, in addition to Candy Lime Green. Graphics changes round out 2017, as the Teryx and Teryx4 saw revisions in 2016 and 2014.

The Teryx/T-4 got a total makeover with a Double-X frame and a 3mm-longer stroke in 2014, bumping displacement to 783cc. For 2016 the Teryx4 got another styling upgrade. The tilt hood was replaced by more aggressive fenders and a removable hood panel for airbox and battery access, plus a new, replaceable fender brace. This bar was required, because the camo and Limited Edition got quad LED headlights with separate high/low toggles on the dash and 20.4-watt high-beam and 10.2-watt low-beam output. The base EPS Teryx had outer halogen 35-watt lights and blank housings for optional upgrades. A larger steel tube front bumper protects the new front end, and the Fox Podium X 2.0 piggyback shocks got new valving for optimized ride quality and performance.

Since 2014 the Teryx has been powered by the Brute Force 750’s V-twin with a 3mm-longer stroke, boosting displacement to 783cc. Twin 85mm pistons ride on a 69mm stroke, and Hemi heads are fed by two 36mm Mikuni EFI throttle bodies. Compression is 10.7:1.

 

Base and camo models have 26-inch Bighorn 2.0 tires on black, steel, 12-inch wheels, while Limiteds upgrade to 27-inch Bighorns on two-tone, cast-aluminum, 14-inch wheels. A roof comes on the camo and LE, but the cabin got the majority of the attention with tool-less, three-position driver’s seat adjustment, infinite-position tilt steering and a tool-adjustable passenger seat. The steering wheel is over-molded for better grip and comfort, and the dash has centrally located controls and a multifunction digital display tilted towards the driver. There are four blanks for accessory switches in the two-piece dash with textured plastic. The rear transfer case got new bevel gears, and the multi-disc, wet-pack rear brake has a manual parking brake on the center console, which also has a rear-facing 12-volt outlet for powering a sprayer or other accessories. The Double-X frame is upswept with a 79-degree approach angle and has an upswept rear and sides for additional ground clearance. The Teryx has two rear storage bins and a 600-pound-capacity tilt bed, while the T-4 has a small bed behind the rear stadium seats with a 249-pound cargo capacity.

Twin-piston front calipers have steel-braided brake lines, and a front torsion bar fights body roll, which is minimal anyway with only 8 inches of front travel. A deflector on the lower A-arms protects the CV boot from damage, and the Teryx is winch-ready.

 

HOW DOES COST COMPARE?

The base-model Teryx 800 EPS is $12,999. The Realtree Xtra Green Camo Teryx is $14,299, and the Limited Edition is $14,999. Yamaha’s Wolverine 700 EPS is $11,999 to $12,599. The R-Spec EPS is $13,199 to $13,799, and the SE EPS is $14,799. Honda’s Pioneer 1000 is $13,999, and the P-5 is $16,199. The Polaris Ranger XP 900 EPS is $14,499 to $15,299. Can-Am’s Commander 800 DPS is $13,149, and XTs are $15,599 to $15,449, while the Defender HD8 DPS is $13,099 to $13,899 and the two XT packages run from $15,699 to $21,699.

The Teryx corners well with its squatty suspension, wide width, anti-sway bar and EPS assist, and it’s a blast to drift into turns in 2WD. Lined half doors add confidence when whipping the 800 FI through turns.

 

HOW FAST IS THE V-TWIN?

It’s quick enough to be fun, but duners and desert rats will want more than the 50-mph top speed. The long-stroke, 783cc V-twin has a lot of torque (47 foot-pounds) for trail obstacles, and it puts out 26 percent more power than the original Teryx 750. It’s a great powerplant for tight woods and mountain switchback trails, and it’s practically unstoppable in low range, where top speed is 25 mph. Throttle response is quick, and the two 36mm EFI throttle bodies sip gas. It gets up to 25 mpg, making its range almost 200 miles.

WHAT ABOUT THE DELIVERY?

It’s awesome. The Continuously Variable Transmission has a centrifugal clutch to keep the Kevlar CVT belt engaged, and it also has belt-protection features. A switch on the new dash selects 2WD, 4WD and 4WD/front diff-lock, and servos engage the command instantly. A full four-wheel Engine-Braking System is also standard, making the Teryx a sure-footed rock crawler and mountain machine.

The Teryx line got an all-new dash in 2016, and the new digital instrument panel is tilted towards the driver for easier viewing. Blanks in the new dash are for accessories, like the Jensen sound system ($599.99) with marine-grade, 60-watt, 3-inch speakers; LED light bars ($399.99); or Warn winch. We like the gated range selector.

 

HOW DOES THE TERYX HANDLE?

Predictably. With a wheelbase of 85.8 inches, the Teryx and Teryx4 have a good combination of cornering prowess and stability. The 61.6-inch width and front torsion bar provide turning stability, and the EPS assist map is excellent. Turning radius is a wide 16.7 feet, but engine braking helps set up drifts into turns in 2WD and also helps bend it around mountain switchbacks.

WHAT ABOUT THE SUSPENSION?

Although the Teryx only has 8 inches of front travel and 8.3 inches of rear travel, the Fox Podium X 2.0 shocks have revised damping for a smoother ride on rocks and better bottoming resistance. Each piggyback shock has a 24-position compression adjuster, and stock settings are 12 clicks out right in the middle of adjustment range. For really rocky terrain, we softened the ride by going all the way out. You could also tune the rear shocks stiffer to compensate for a loaded bed.

Sharing the same frame as the Teryx4, the Teryx has large storage bins instead of rear seats, and each bin holds a helmet, large backpack or plenty of tools and spares. A center platform is designed to secure a small cooler, and access is easier with the bed tilted up.

 

WHAT ABOUT ROCKS AND MUD?

They don’t faze the Teryx until the mud ruts get deeper than the 11.2-inch ground clearance. The Teryx is an awesome rock crawler with a great 2WD/4WD/diff-lock system, engine braking and independent suspension. A very controllable throttle and half doors add to the confidence, but the tall seating position detracts from the vehicle’s performance on off-cambers. EPS soaks up terrain impacts too. Adding a long-travel kit makes the Teryx an off-road limousine and our weapon of choice for Moab’s rock trails. As for mud, the bodywork and roof (LE and camo only) do a great job of keeping goo out of the cabin, and the torquey motor and low range keep it churning. It also has the torque to turn taller 30-inch tires.

All six Teryx models get the brush guard front bumper, but only camo and LE models get the quad LED headlights with independent switches and roofs. The front differential allows slip in 4WD and locks up fully when the three-position switch is set to 4WD/lock, making the Teryx extremely sure-footed.

 

HOW STOUT ARE THE BRAKES?

Pretty stout. Twin-piston hydraulic front calipers and a multi-disc rear brake are backed up by the excellent EBS and a parking brake on the console. Put it in 4WD and the EBS slows all four tires for control and confidence on steep hills; however, adding a bunch of weight (winch, loaded bed, etc.) to the Teryx taxes the OEM brakes.

WHAT ABOUT CREATURE COMFORTS?

Aside from engine noise in the cabin, creature comforts are top-shelf—Cadillac-like even. The seats are comfortable, offer great support and have grippy covers from the jet-ski division. The tilt steering wheel is well shaped and padded for comfort, and both seats are adjustable, although adjusting the passenger side requires tools. Foot braces are well placed and have traction dimples. Elastomer top seatbelt mounts reduce neck chafing, and the cup holders and large glovebox are handy. Twin rear bins will hold full-faced helmets and big backpacks, and there’s a platform in the middle to strap down a small cooler. All of the controls are light and user-friendly, and the digital instrument cluster has an easy-to-read fuel bar, 2WD/4WD icon, speed, trip and clock. The passenger hold-points are old school, though.

Width is 61.6 inches, ground clearance is 11.2 inches, and Fox Podium 2.0 shocks and color-matched IRS A-arms deliver 8.3 inches of rear travel. Towing is rated at 1300 pounds, and the tilt bed holds up to 600 pounds of cargo. Multi-disc rear brakes slow, and a parking brake locks the 27×11-14 Bighorn 2.0 tires.

 

WHAT IS OUR FINAL ANSWER?

Kawasaki’s Teryx is hard to beat as an all-around trail machine and mountain mount. It’s a tight, great-looking package that is super comfortable and confidence-inspiring. The 2014 and 2016 upgrades make the Teryx 800 even more effective and efficient, and the quad LED headlights let the fun last into the wee hours of the night. Everything works very well, especially the EPS and EBS, and the Teryx is backed by the industry-leading Kawasaki strong three-year warranty. Add long-travel suspension, as Sara Price did for her King of the Hammers Teryx (see the next issue), and it becomes the ultimate off-road limousine. 

2017 KAWASAKI TERYX 800 FI 4X4 LE

ENGINE/TRANSMISSION

Engine type Liquid/oil-cooled, 8-valve, SOHC,

4-stroke V-twin

Displacement 783cc

Bore x stroke 85mm x 69mm (x2)

Compression ratio 10.7:1

Lubrication system Wet sump

Induction 36mm Mikuni EFI (x2)

Starting/back-up Electric push-button/none

Idle adjustment N/A

Air filter:

  Type Foam

  Access Remove hood and 6 airbox clips

Transmission Dual-range CVT w/ rev. & EBS

Reverse procedure Move gearshift to “R”

Drive system 2WD/4WD w/ diff-lock

Final drive Shaft

DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES/WEIGHTS

Fuel capacity 7.9 gal.

Wheelbase 85.8”

Overall length/width/height 125.4”/61.6”77.8”

Ground clearance 11.2”

Claimed curb weight 1,589 lb.

Bed capacity 600 lb.

Towing capacity 1,300 lb.

ROLLING CHASSIS

Frame Tube steel Double-X

Suspension/wheel travel:

  Front Dual A-arms w/ preload-, comp.-adj. piggyback

shocks/8.0”

  Rear Dual A-arms w/ preload-, comp-adj. piggyback

shocks/8.3”

Brakes/actuation:

  Front Twin-piston hydraulic discs/left pedal

  Rear Oil-bathed multi-disc/left pedal

Parking Locking lever on console

Tires:

  Front 27×9-14 Maxxis Bighorn 2.0

  Rear 27×11-14 Maxxis Bighorn 2.0

DETAILS

Lighting:

  Front Quad 20.4W/10.2W LED headlights

  Rear Dual 21W/5W brake/tail-lights

Instrumentation Multi-function digital meter

plus indicators

Colors Bright White, Realtree Xtra Green;

LE Candy Lime Green, Candy Matte Burnt Orange

Minimum recommended operator age 16

Suggested retail price $12,999; Camo $14,299;

LE $14,999

Contact Kawasaki Motor Corp., (800) 661-RIDE

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