Kawasaki finally took the wraps off its latest creation – a new groundbreaking UTV, the 2024-’25 Kawasaki Ridge. The Ridge, with its premium components and luxury cab features, appears to be a clear challenger to Polaris’ recent premium UTVs such as the Xpedition and the Ranger XD. The vehicle is aimed at off-road enthusiasts who use their UTVs for work and sportsman endeavors on a higher level.
Inline 4-cylinder engine
At the core of this SxS is a 999cc DOHC, a 4-valve-per-cylinder configuration that boasts a bore and stroke of 73.4 x 59.0mm. This setup translates to 92 hp and 65.6 ft-lbs of torque, which will deliver the needed power across a broad spectrum of applications for both work and play.
Kawasaki says the engine delivers silky-smooth power with an “exceptionally linear” response. The engine is also “exceptionally quiet,” which customers in this segment seem to appreciate as it allows for easier conversations in the cab. The engine’s rubber mounts reduce vibrations, contributing to a comfortable ride, even in demanding conditions. The snorkel-style intake, located under the hood, minimizes the risk of dust or water ingestion. A high-performance Donaldson air filter improves dust collection performance for an added layer of reliability.
The 29mm intake valves and 24mm exhaust valves play a crucial role in optimizing performance across different rpm ranges. The rear-facing exhaust ports not only contribute to heat management but also enhance low-end performance, showcasing the meticulous attention to detail in the design.
The engine is complemented by a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that facilitates smooth responses. The engineers at Kawasaki went the extra mile to simulate the characteristics of a CVT and centrifugal clutch for better low-speed performance. An 1120W generator adds practicality and abundant power for heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), and various accessories.
The Kawasaki Ridge offers a choice of three distinctive modes – Work, Normal, and Sport. Work mode provides a milder response that is ideal for tasks requiring a smooth and constant pace. Work mode’s carefully programmed throttle response and engine braking characteristics at low speeds allow drivers to control speed with only the gas pedal.
Sport mode gives riders a sharper, more linear throttle response that establishes a direct connection between the gas pedal and the engine. This mode is for trail riding or more “spirited acceleration.” While Normal mode offers a smooth engine response right from the moment the throttle is opened.
The electrically selectable 4WD and rear differential lock provide gives riders the flexiblity to transition between different modes to meet the demands tough terrain. While 4WD Mode provides enhanced traction that minimizes ground disturbance, 4WD + Differential Lock mode engages both 4WD and the rear differential lock. This combination delivers maximum traction. The On-the-Fly system transitions between drive systems as soon as you turn the switch.
The Ridge frame boasts a ladder-type construction crafted from steel square tubes, ensuring a robust foundation. High-strength material is strategically employed in high-load areas, such as the suspension mounting plates, reinforcing critical components. The Ridge was designed with a focus on comfort. Its wide-body chassis contributes to a composed handling character and ride comfort. The chassis was specifically engineered to accommodate long-travel suspension and a full-cab. With a wheelbase of 90.7 inches, the SxS balances handling and a spacious cab with ample legroom. Importantly, this is achieved without unnecessarily increasing the overall length of the vehicle.
The Ridge also has a ground clearance of 14 inches (13.6 inches on Limited and Ranch models) at max preload and enhances accessibility during work or recreational activities. Additionally, the high ground clearance contributes to a favorable breakover angle, minimizing the risk of bottoming out when cresting a ridge or traversing over obstacles.
The large-diameter 27-inch tires and 14-inch aluminum wheels contribute to the outstanding off-road capability and high ground clearance of the Ridge.
The cargo bed, measuring 35 x 49 x 12.8 inches, with a load capacity of 1,000 lbs. to handle substantial loads. Its flat design facilitates loading from three sides, and in models without a full cab, the cargo bed can be accessed from the cab. Four built-in hooks provide convenient tie-down points.
The gas-assisted tilting cargo bed features tilting-release levers on both sides, allowing easy access to the engine. The bed incorporates a single-latch tailgate release system for effortless opening and closing. The tailgate design includes built-in cup holders, and the tailgate can be removed without tools. The cargo bed walls have slots for cargo dividers.
Additionally, the Ridge boasts a towing capacity of 2,000 lbs. and a standard 2-inch tow hitch receiver is compatible with a variety of accessory hitches.
The premium-level exterior features painted fenders and all-LED lighting. The front headlights (48.6 W / 22.2 W) with line-type LED position lamps create a fierce expression, complemented by a large aluminum Kawasaki emblem on the front grille and a solid-looking steel front bumper. Painted fenders contribute to the car-quality fit and finish. The front wheel wells with a beveled leading edge deflect mud away from the body. And LED taillights with a pickup-truck-style design also add to the car-quality fit and finish.
The roomy cab accommodates three people comfortably, offering contoured seating for the driver and right-side passenger. Ample legroom for all is complemented by a lever-adjustable driver’s seat and tilt steering, allowing the driver to fine-tune their position for control and comfort. EPS (Electric Power Steering) is standard, and sliding behind the wheel feels like getting into a car, providing a natural sitting position and easy access to controls.
Seat material with superb elasticity offers increased comfort and holding performance. The bench seat features contoured seating for the driver and right-side passenger. The driver’s seat is lever-adjustable, with a forward-rearward range of 5 inches, adjustable in ½ inch increments. Handgrips are integrated into the ROPS frame for passengers, and each seating position is equipped with a three-point seat belt. Anti-cinch seatbelts are installed for the driver and right-side passenger.
Doors are a standard feature on all models, and feature both internal and external door handles, with a flat design on the inside to maximize passenger space. Wide space between the dashboard and seats allows easy movement through the cab and a standard plastic roof offers protection from the elements.
High-grade fit and finish details, including floor lighting, backlit switches, and decorative components, further contribute to the premium car-like interior. The high-grade automotive-style ignition key also adds a premium quality feel.
The factory-standard full cab on the Ridge HVAC and Ridge Limited models is equipped with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), offering an escape from extreme weather conditions. The full cab includes a glass windshield with a ridgeline graphic, full doors with power windows, a glass rear panel, a plastic roof with a roof liner, a windshield wiper and washer, a rearview mirror, and an interior ceiling light. Seal performance is excellent due to a reverse design approach, with the cab designed and engineered in conjunction with the rest of the vehicle, contributing to efficient climate control and passenger comfort.
The HVAC unit includes multiple vents with mode selection, adjustable fan strength, a choice of fresh or recirculated air, and fast-acting temperature control, providing a high level of convenience and comfort for the Ridge driver and passengers.
A large 7-inch high-grade full-color TFT LCD screen integrated into the automotive-style dashboard adds to the truck-like quality of the Ridge. Multiple selectable display modes offer customizable information presentation. Surrounding indicator lamps provide additional at-a-glance information. When linked to a smartphone via Bluetooth, the instrument display indicates calls and messages received.
The Ridge’s convenient storage solutions enhance the overall experience. The dashboard features three covered compartments, each providing enclosed storage for small items. These compartments include a lidded storage area above the dashboard center console (on non-HVAC models), a passenger-side glove box, and another lidded compartment positioned above the glove box. Additionally, on the Ridge Limited, a small pocket built into the ROPS A-pillar upper cross member offers space for sunglasses or other small items.
Cup holders built into the left and right sides of the dashboard are large enough to accommodate 30 oz. cups and feature a design that accommodates cup handles. The Ridge Limited further enhances storage with a center portion of the seat back which folds down, providing access to two additional cup holders.
Underneath the passenger seats, storage space is available, and the center and right-side seats can be flipped up to facilitate the transportation of larger items beside the driver’s seat. A gas damper smoothens the movement of the seat, adding to the premium quality feel.
In terms of electronic accessories, the Ridge features a DC socket integrated into the dashboard, providing power for accessory items or personal devices. Additionally, two USB ports are available inside the lidded storage above the glove box.
The SxS comes equipped with terminal blocks and pre-wiring for accessories, offering convenient connecting points for various add-ons. A terminal block below the glove box provides a connecting point for accessories, while a second terminal block behind the front bumper serves as a connecting point for winch use on models without a pre-equipped winch.
For those requiring a winch, the Ridge Ranch comes with the WARN VRX 45 Powersport Winch as standard equipment, featuring durable aircraft-grade steel rope. The Ridge Limited is equipped with the WARN VRX 45-S Powersport Winch, featuring synthetic rope. Both winches are built with premium components, offering market-leading performance and features. Installation kits designed specifically for the Ridge models ensure a well-integrated fit. Illuminated dash-mounted rocker control switches are complemented by corded remotes for user-friendly operation.
The Ridge Limited further elevates the driving experience with the inclusion of an 8” Garmin Tread off-road navigation system as standard equipment. This navigation system, with group ride radio capability, provides large-screen navigation that can be easily viewed by both driver and passengers. The system’s large screen size also makes it ideal for infotainment functions, offering features like audio track display when linked to an iOS-type smartphone. For a complete audio experience, the Ridge Limited comes standard with an audio system that includes four 6.5-inch coaxial speakers built into the ROPS A-pillar upper cross member along with a full-range 300 W Class-D integrated amplifier that is designed to pair perfectly with the audio system’s coaxial speakers for clean, high-quality performance.
A comprehensive range of accessories is available to enhance the overall experience with a total of 72 items to choose from. Options include full hard doors (power), KQR soft upper doors, fixed windshields in glass or polycarbonate, vented windshields, flip-up windshields in glass, half windshields in polycarbonate, and various rear panel options. Comfort features also extend to a heater/defroster and windshield wiper with a washer. Other add-ons include a cargo bed lift, cargo bed storage box, and cargo bed KQR mount.
The Ridge is available in four trim levels, including Ridge Ranch Edition, Ridge HVAC and Ridge Limited, with the base model Ridge becoming available later this spring. The base and HVAC models are available in Candy Persimmon Red with the Ranch Edition model available in Metallic Stardust White and the Limited model in Metallic Shadow Gold. MSRP for Ridge models start at $23,999 for the Ridge Ranch Edition, $29,999 for Ridge HVAC, and $33,499 for the Ridge Limited.
Price and availability
2025 Kawasaki Ridge
Colors: Candy Persimmon Red
MSRP: To be announced
Availability: Coming this Fall
2024 Kawasaki Ridge Ranch Edition
Colors: Metallic Stardust White
2024 Kawasaki RidgeHVAC
Colors: Candy Persimmon Red
Availability: Coming this Spring
2024 Kawasaki Ridge Limited
Colors: Metallic Shadow Gold
Availability: Coming this Spring