2023 Kawasaki KRX1000 Long Term Review

Posted by Harley Sipes on

With just over a year on our Kawasaki KRX1000, just over 1000 miles and loads of trails, it's time to revisit our thoughts after the "first ride impressions" we wrote out last year. Our initial feedback was that the KRX was a solid entry level UTV at a competitive price point that provided lackluster power when compared to the other naturally aspirated UTVs available, while excelling in fit and finish, cabin room and suspension. Well, after some modifications we learned a lot about this vehicle, and the products that are currently available for it.

We started to build it out for the 2023 Sand Sports Super Show held in Costa Mesa, California, which is the largest off-road convention and sales shows in the country. First we outfitted our KRX with 32" Sedona Trailsaws after falling in love with them on our RZR Turbo R and mounted them to 15" Raceline Ryno beadlocks and fabricated a spare tire carrier that followed style and function cues from our other spare tire carriers available for other UTVs. Our friends at LSK Suspension used our KRX to design their new cage, which we then added extra tabs and mounts for Baja Designs XL80s on the a-pillars, S1 work lights at the rear corners, and an RTL-S tucked away in an aluminum housing to finish off the rear. We then made a sleek pre-runner style bumper that held another Baja Designs light, the S8 at 10" wide. 

For suspension we had ZBroz Racing send us a spring kit, while Trinity Racing provided a slip on exhaust and Dynojet programmer that we were able to have multiple files on and try a few out. Simpson Racing provided our favorite seats to us, the Vortex 2, and their legendary D3 harnesses to keep our butts planted firmly inside those comfy suspension seats.

PCI communications go in every UTV we have, and the KRX was no exception. The Elite kit with the Kenwood radio fits the dash nicely, and communications were now capable for miles.

Now that the bulk of our build was complete, and with the desert season approaching, we quickly started to pile the miles on this UTV. Sand Hollow is the destination to be for this KRX, it is hands down the best rock crawling platform on the market by a long shot. At almost 99" hub center to center, the wheelbase is ideal for traversing the rocks and trails, and it also has one of the tightest turning radius (almost as tight as a YXZ!). The low power function and wet clutch on the primary makes engagement buttery smooth, so you can ease into obstacles with finesse that no other UTV can match. It was literally made for this terrain.

We then decided to test its limits, since we don't just buy one trick ponies, we want to see where these UTVs shine, and where they falter. So we got some Sand Tires Unlimited Blackbirds for the rear and the incredibly lightweight Leed Screw for the front, mounted them on the very attractive KMC Grenade (non-beadlock) and hit Glamis. While we knew going into the first trip that we were incredibly over paddled (we had 32" tires for this KRX, it likely needs 30") it blew us away. It was not the fastest by any means, but it had no problems keeping up and even leading some spirited rides, as long as you kept the momentum up.

Being under powered and over paddled does mean you need to push the car a little harder than others, but luckily the ZBroz springs and our settings meant we could charge every dune face and never bottom out and never slam the front end while traversing terrain changes. While the KRX proved to be a great duner, it would benefit greatly from an additional 50hp. Luckily Kraftwerks does make a supercharger for this unit, and many have reported that it provides those additional horsepower needs.

To reiterate, we love this KRX. The cabin space and visibility are great, and the drivetrain and chassis have proven to be rock solid. The suspension is on another level, but as we have been stacking the miles, we have noticed a few things that we would change in the future. Firstly, we love the entire Trinity Racing product line. We have had them on our shop YXZ and X3 and installed them on countless other RZRs. However, the slip on for the KRX is just plain LOUD. The exhaust drone that reverberates throughout the cab can be exhausting (pun intended), especially in the dunes where we are holding throttle wide open for long periods of time. There are a few other options out there for mufflers that do not utilize a straight through canister design, and the big v-twin could use a little help keeping the dBs in check. The stock exhaust makes the KRX whisper quiet, and that was one of the things we liked, but the OEM can was gargantuan, heavy and ugly as sin.

The other thing we noticed is engine noise. We have been meticulous with maintenance like all of our shop rigs, but we have noticed that during warm up, the engine makes all sorts of concerning rattling. We haven't had any issues, and the oil is perfect at every change, but it does provide for a moment of silence when we fire this unit up and wait for it to get to operating temperatures. Once at temp, the KRX idles smooth and without a skip, but it is a bit cold blooded for the first few minutes. 

While the fitment of the factory panels is excellent compared to other manufacturers (looking at you BRP), the weld nuts for several components are barely welded, and we did break 2 loose during the cage install. Not a huge deal as you can still squeeze a wrench up there to hold the nut in place, but more of a frustration point when everything else is so stout on the rig.

Beyond the minor issues we really had to search for, the KRX has been a great addition to the Fastlab UTV fleet. For the price point it is a great do it all machine, with enough aftermarket support at this point to really dial them in to your liking. If you don't need 200+hp and 24" of suspension travel on the regular, look no further. If you like running the trails for hours on end while bashing rocks and also hitting sand washes, this may be the UTV for you!

Full modification list below:

2023 Kawasaki KRX

LSK radius cage

Fastlab UTV bumper

Fastlab UTV spare tire carrier

Fastlab UTV harness mount

Custom 2 stage powdercoat throughout

Simpson 5pt harnesses

PCI Elite intercom and Kenwood radio

Auxbeam 8 gang switch panel

Dynojet PC3

Trinity Racing slip on

ZBroz Racing springs

@freeridedesigns custom wrap

Assault Industries mirrors 

Baja Designs RTL-S

Baja Designs XL80 Sports

Baja Designs S1 work/scene lights

Baja Designs S8 10"

15" Raceline Ryno beadlocks

32" Sedona Trailsaws

5150 bluetooth whips 4'


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