While there are still some rugged, go anywhere vehicles on the market, the majority of SUV’s are now crossovers that spend more time patrolling mall parking lots and soccer fields than they do climbing rocks or navigating backwoods trails. So what’s a wannabe adventurer to do?  Well our resident two wheeler’ Brian Robinson has one answer.

BRIAN ROBINSON: Take heart off road fans; small, rugged, go anywhere vehicles haven’t gone away entirely, they’re just coming from different places. We’re talking about Side-by-Sides of course, and the latest Kawasaki Teryx is ready hit the trail and show you some ‘good times’.

BRIAN ROBINSON: Side-by-sides or UTV’s are a relatively recent phenomenon in the off-road industry. And with many preferring their familiar car-like approach to trail riding, they are quickly cutting in on ATV sales. Some fall into the very utilitarian category for getting chores done around the farm, while others are all about performance.

The 2014 Kawasaki Teryx falls right in the middle, offering both practical features and performance hardware. 

The performance side of things starts with a new fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, 783cc V-twin engine, connected to a high and low range, belt-drive CVT transmission and drive shaft. Kawasaki also stepped things up big time in the suspension department with Fox Podium shocks with external reservoirs and 8-inches of travel standard. 

Tires are 26-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0’s on 12-inch wheels. The practicality aspects come from 28X43 inch cargo bed with 600-lb. capacity and large sealed storage bins behind the seats. 

Those wary of ATV’s will find the steering wheel, seat belts, and car-like doors very comforting. As is the beefy steel frame’s double-X design and the tubular steel cab surround. 

So what’s it like driving one of these things? Well, I spent 2 days hammering through some Hatfield-McCoy trails in West Virginia and came away fairly impressed. 

This particular Teryx took a lot more abuse than the typical buyer will ever subject their rides to and seemed to be asking for more. The suspension did an equally good job of both absorbing the heavy high speed jolts, and keeping the tires planted in slower speed crawling. 

Electric power steering allows you to carry out corrections immediately and keeps your arms from getting tired after a full day on the trail. The 4-wheel-drive system is selectable, features a locking front diff, and there’s 11-inches of ground clearance.  

And beyond all of the capabilities, maybe the biggest appeal of side-by-sides and the Teryx in particular is that they just look so darn cool. 

This Candy Lime Green LE model is a healthy 2-grand step up from the base Teryx, but well worth it as in addition to the eye catching paint, you get cast aluminum wheels, body colored suspension bits, 3-tone bucket seat covers, plastic roof panel, a front brush guard, and even LED headlights. 

Overall length is 117.3-inches, with the wheelbase taking up 85.8-inches of that length. Curb weight is just over 15-hundred pounds.

On our drive, we found the seats plenty comfortable, but knee and leg room can be a little tight.

Teryx pricing starts at $12,999, with the LE going for $14,999. Sure, you can buy a used CJ or Wrangler for that; and the obvious down side of the side-by-side being they are for off road use only in most places, so you need another vehicle to get you to trail. 

But those Jeeps probably won’t be coming with a 3-year warranty.  So, for reliable, turnkey trail riding fun, it’s hard to beat the 2014 Kawasaki Teryx.  And the fact that you’ve got the bed on the back to assist in chores around the property may be just the key to talking your significant other into letting you dedicate some garage space for a side-by-side.