Utility Vehicle Roundup

Choose the best partner for your operation.
Todd Kaho
January/February 2008
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Polaris Ranger
courtesy Polaris
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They’re fully evolved, here to stay and taking the countryside by storm. I’m not talking about some invasive insect, but the off-road utility vehicle (UTV) that’s now available in scores of models, many brands and numerous colors. First developed for a few specialized industries, these versatile little machines have become the new choremasters for folks living the country lifestyle. UTVs are perfect for getting around the acreage and boldly going where a pickup truck dare not tread, and they have less environmental impact to boot.

In the entries on these pages (and at www.Grit.com), we’ve included a roundup of the latest and greatest UTVs to get you started.

Workhorse of a different color

UTVs aren’t intended to completely replace your tractor or truck, but they perform many of the same functions with relative ease and have the added benefit of ATV-like nimbleness. Unlike traditional ATVs (all-terrain vehicles), the UTV carries its passengers in side-by-side fashion and is easily operated by anyone of legal age who can drive a car with an automatic transmission.

As their name implies, UTVs are designed to be very utilitarian. The basic layout is a compact pickup truck configuration with passenger seating ahead of a small bed. Though the bed is much smaller than an actual pickup truck bed, it is plenty big for use around the home place. Nearly all side-by-side UTV beds offer a dump feature (some are power), adding to their versatility. UTVs can be harnessed into moving snow, grading earth, pulling mowers and tillers, and all manner of hauling. Several of the heavy-duty commercial grade UTVs can even provide hydraulic power to accessories.

Practical pulling

Most UTVs are powered by an efficient four-stroke, single or twin cylinder gasoline engine ranging in size from around 300ccs to more than 750ccs. For more serious applications, some UTVs can be ordered with an optional diesel engine, which might be well worth the premium if you plan to put a lot of hours on the vehicle or already have a diesel tractor or pickup. All UTVs in this roundup feature automatic transmissions, generally continuously variable designs.

Since UTVs are intended to be used off-road, four-wheel-drive is a popular option. These vehicles will go just about anywhere you point them in two-wheel-drive, and are nearly unstoppable with all four wheels pulling. When maximum traction is required, a locking differential will keep power to the ground. If you plan to use the vehicle on steep terrain or plan to pull stumps, consider a model that has a dual range hi-low final drive.

Choices … choices

The choices in the UTV market are many, and deciding which model best suits your needs can be a bit overwhelming. Narrowing the field to a manageable number is the best way to begin your search. To do this, first carefully consider your needs and outline how you will use the vehicle. If you move heavy or bulky cargo on a regular basis, for example, then check the bed capacity and examine the size of the cargo area of each model. On the other hand, just about any UTV will work fine if you just need to haul a few bales of hay to the far pasture. Also figure in passenger capacity. A few models offer a second-row bench seat and can carry the whole crew. Most have two buckets or a front bench.

Next, determine the powertrain and drivetrain that will work best for your application. Power is seldom an issue with modern UTVs, but if you plan to work or play hard, make sure the model has plenty of punch.

If you plan to operate in a muddy field, over trails, on steep hills or during the winter, then four-wheel drive and a locking differential will get you where you need to go and offer safer operation. Plan to plow snow? Check into which models offer accessory plows and make four-wheel drive a priority in your search.

Another important consideration is dealer location and reputation. You might think twice about purchasing a particular brand if the nearest dealer is several hours away. Most UTVs are very robust and designed to take a beating, but they do need regular service. If you have a history with the local John Deere or Cub Cadet dealer and trust their ability to treat you fairly, then you are one step ahead of the game. Even if you plan to do your own maintenance, parts availability is another consideration.

Happy hunting

When you pick a few models and head for the dealer to kick tires, don’t hesitate to ask for a demo drive. Operating the vehicle is a quick way to find out how easy or fun it is to drive and check out less obvious things you can’t determine from facts and figures like whether the model is objectionably noisy.
No matter the make or model, if you take the plunge on a new UTV, you’ll wind up with a partner that will entirely change the meaning of chore.


Todd Kaho is a freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience as an automotive journalist. He lives with his family on a rural acreage in the Hocking Hills region of southeastern Ohio.

ARCTIC CAT PROWLER XTX 700

For more than 40 years, Minnesota-based Arctic Cat (www.ArcticCat.com; 218-681-8558) has produced renowned snowmobiles. That harsh environment coupled with engineering, design and manufacturing expertise led Arctic Cat to branch off into a rugged line of off road wheeled vehicles. The Prowler UTV is currently available in 650 and 700 models. The top of the line XTX 700 comes with custom aluminum wheels, a tilt steering wheel, 12.5 inches of ground clearance, and front and rear receiver hitches standard to accept a wide range of accessories.

MSRP: $10,999
Engine: 695cc 4-valve 4-stroke
Transmission: CVT Automatic
Drive Wheels: 4WD
Front Suspension: Independent, double A-arm
Rear Suspension: Independent, double A-arm
Wheelbase: 75 in
Curb Weight: 1,165 lb
Ground Clearance: 12.5 in
Fuel Capacity: 8.2 gal
Bed Capacity: 325 lb
Tow Capacity: 1,500 lb

AUSA M 50 TASK

Having proven itself well on construction sites and other harsh environments in Europe, AUSA’s M 50 Task is well up to the chores on farms and worksites in North America. The machine’s single-cylinder engine makes over 28 horsepower, which is plenty enough to motivate the fully loaded mini truck over hill and dale. Diesel versions of the Task are likely to reach the United States by the end of 2008. AUSA (www.AUSA.com; 800-820-AUSA) is a leading manufacturer of small material handling equipment in Spain.

MSRP: $11,185
Engine: 400cc Rotax Bombardier Single Cylinder
Transmission: Dual range CVT
Drive Wheels: 2WD, 4WD
Front Suspension: Independent, double A-arm
Rear Suspension: Semi-independent
Wheelbase: NA
Curb Weight: 1,200 lb
Ground Clearance: 7.5 in
Fuel Capacity: 8 gal
Bed Capacity: 1,100 lb
Tow Capacity: 1,650 lb

BOBCAT 2300

Bobcat’s line of UTVs (www.Bobcat.com; 800-743-4340) is geared for work applications as commercial grade vehicles. The Bobcat 2300, for example, offers a hydraulic front attach system (RapidLink) for a variety of implements. This quick-connect design can lift 500 pounds and accommodates a pallet fork, bucket, snow plow, broom and mower deck. RapidLink is controlled by a joystick mounted between the front seats. The truck’s power dump bed can handle 800 pounds. Bobcat 2100 and 2200 models are a less expensive alternative for those who don’t need the RapidLink system.

MSRP: $15,090 approx.
Engine: Kubota 3-cylinder diesel
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
Drive Wheels: 2WD, 4WD, IntelliTrak
Front Suspension: Independent, double A-arm
Rear Suspension: Swing arm
Wheelbase: 81 in
Curb Weight: 1,795 lb
Ground Clearance: 12.1 in
Fuel Capacity: 6.3 gal
Bed Capacity: 800 lb
Tow Capacity: 1,200 lb

BUSH HOG TRAIL HAND TH4400

Designed to help farmers tackle more jobs and enable hunters to go more places with less fatigue, the Bush Hog Trail Hand Utility Vehicle (www.BushHog.com; 334-874-2700) totes regular size hay bales, carries a payload of half a ton, tows 1,500 pounds and is available in 2- or 4-wheel drive. Superior traction is provided by a continuously variable transmission and specially designed, two-speed rear transaxle that features a Detroit Gearless Locker with automatic differential lock that distributes traction evenly between both rear wheels in both high and low range.

MSRP: $9,399
Engine: 670cc Honda V-twin four-stroke
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
Drive Wheels: 2WD, 4WD, differential lock
Front Suspension: Independent MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension: Independent Trailing Arm
Wheelbase: 76 in
Curb Weight: 1,500 lb
Ground Clearance: 10 in
Fuel Capacity: 7 gal
Bed Capacity: 1,000 lb
Tow Capacity: 1,500 lb

CUB CADET UTV 4x4

Sporting familiar Cub Cadet colors, this UTV is a workhorse sure to put a smile on your face. Powered by a 20-horsepower Kohler four-stroke V-twin that delivers an impressive 32 pound-feet of torque, the Cub Cadet UTV (www.CubCadet.com; 800-800-7310) has plenty of muscle to get the job done. The Cub is also available with a 720cc 3-cylinder Caterpillar diesel. Both models offer 4-wheel independent suspension and are rated to carry an impressive 900 pounds of cargo in the bed.

MSRP: $8,699
Engine: 624cc Kohler V-twin four-stroke
Transmission: Dual range CVT
Drive Wheels: 2WD, 4WD, Auto-Lok™
Front Suspension: Independent, dual A-arms
Rear Suspension: Independent, coil-over shocks
Wheelbase: 78 in
Curb Weight: 1,500 lb
Ground Clearance: 9 in
Fuel Capacity: 7 gal
Bed Capacity: 900 lb
Tow Capacity: 1,300 lb

HUSQVARNA HUV4421GXP

Husqvarna’s line of heavy-duty utility vehicles (www.USA.Husqvarna.com; 704-597-5000) features one of the most rigid frames in the industry. Constructed entirely of heavy-wall aluminum tubing, the frames in these all-wheel-drive monsters just don’t flex. And with its industry-leading automatic all-wheel-drive, the 4421 is well able to climb over just about any obstacle, as long as two wheels are in contact with something that’s semi-solid. The 4421 is also available in two trim levels with Kubota diesel power.

MSRP: $11,499
Engine: 675cc Kawasaki liquid cooled 4-stroke
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
Drive Wheels: Automatic all-wheel drive, locking differentials
Front Suspension: Independent, dual A-arm
Rear Suspension: Solid, swingarm
Wheelbase: 81.5 in
Curb Weight: 1,450 lb
Ground Clearance: 7.4 in
Fuel Capacity: 6.5 gal
Bed Capacity: 800 lb
Tow Capacity: 1,000 lb

JOHN DEERE GATOR XUV 620i 4X4

A sportier rendition of the John Deere Gator theme, the XUV 620i is powered by a 23-horsepower Kawasaki twin with Electronic Fuel Injection. On-demand true 4WD can be shifted from 2WD at the press of a switch. The ROPS (roll over protection system) cage is OSHA certified and the design features three point belts and hand holds for added security. The Gator XUV (www.JohnDeere.com; 800-537-8233) is also available with an 854cc three-cylinder Yanmar diesel for $1,100 more.

MSRP: $9,499
Engine: 617cc Kawasaki EFI twin
Transmission: Dual range CVT
Drive Wheels: On-demand 4WD, locking differentials
Front Suspension: Independent MacPherson strut
Rear Suspension: Independent, coil over shocks
Wheelbase: 79 in
Curb Weight: 1,383 lb
Ground Clearance: 11 in
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gal
Bed Capacity: 1,000 lb
Tow Capacity: 1,300 lb

KAWASAKI MULE 3010 TRANS4X4

Can’t decide if you need a crew style UTV? Kawasaki (www.Kawasaki.com; 800-661-RIDE) has the answer with the 3010 TRANS4x4. When you need a large cargo area, the 3010 can function as a two-passenger vehicle with a 15.2-cubic-foot bed. If four adults are the cargo, fold the front of the bed and flip the rear seat up. Dependable power comes from a Kawasaki liquid-cooled four stroke V-twin.

MSRP: $9,599
Engine: 617cc liquid cooled V-twin
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
Drive Wheels: 2WD, 4WD, w/low range
Front Suspension: Independent MacPherson strut
Rear Suspension: Semi-independent DeDion axle
Wheelbase: 85.2 in
Curb Weight: 1,472 lb
Ground Clearance: 7.0 in
Fuel Capacity: 6.4 gal
Bed Capacity: 800 lb
Tow Capacity: 1,200 lb

KUBOTA RTV900

Offering more than 1,100 pounds of bed cargo capacity, the Kubota RTV900 (www.Kubota.com; 888-4KUBOTA) is engineered to tackle big jobs. Power comes from a reliable 3-cylinder Kubota diesel that produces 21.6 horsepower. Kubota’s unique variable hydro transmission allows you to gear the RTV900 for the duty at hand with low, medium and high range settings. For all-weather operation, the RTV900 can be fitted with a hard-shell cab, windshield wipers and an in-cab heater.

MSRP: $10,563
Engine: Kubota 898cc 3-cylinder diesel
Transmission: Triple range variable hydrostatic
Drive Wheels: 2WD, 4WD, locking differential
Front Suspension: Independent MacPherson strut
Rear Suspension: Semi-independent DeDion axle
Wheelbase: 77.4 in
Curb Weight: 1,863 lb
Ground Clearance: 7.5 in
Fuel Capacity: 7.4 gal
Bed Capacity: 1,102 lb
Tow Capacity: 1,300 lb

LAND PRIDE TREKER 4420ST 4X4

From the maker of some of the finest landscape and farm tools, Land Pride’s 20 series Treker utility vehicle (www.LandPride.com) is backed by
a legacy that includes some of the largest grain drills a big farmer can own. The vehicles feature automotive steering, bench-type seating for three and a suspension that eats off-road bumps for breakfast, dinner and a midnight snack. This vehicle’s transmission system is designed to pull you through in rough country, while preserving pristine lawns no matter how sharp the turn. And, the automatic parking brake keeps the truck from rolling when you shift the transmission into park.

MSRP: $8,999
Engine: 614cc Honda air-cooled twin
Transmission: Dual range CVT
Drive Wheels: 2WD, 4WD, auto-locking rear differential
Front Suspension: Independent MacPherson strut
Rear Suspension: Independent trailing arms
Wheelbase: 76 in
Curb Weight: 1,234 lb
Ground Clearance: 9.5 in
Fuel Capacity: 8 gal
Bed Capacity: 900 lb
Tow Capacity: 1,200 lb

POLARIS RANGER 700 XP

The Polaris Ranger is one of the most flexible UTV platforms you can buy. Offered in a standard two-seat version, as a crew model with a second row of seats, or as a six-wheel variety, the Ranger 700 (www.PolarisIndustries.com; 800-POLARIS) is ready to tackle any mission. Powered by a 40-horsepower, liquid cooled Polaris twin sporting electronic fuel injection, the Ranger 700 has a top speed of 50 mph. With four-wheel independent suspension and on-demand true all-wheel-drive system, the Ranger can tackle the most challenging terrain.

MSRP: $10,499
Engine: 683cc Polaris liquid cooled twin
Transmission: Dual range CVT
Drive Wheels: Automatic all-wheel-drive, differential locks
Front Suspension: Independent MacPherson strut
Rear Suspension: Independent
Wheelbase: 76 in
Curb Weight: 1,185 lb
Ground Clearance: 11 in
Fuel Capacity: 9.0 gal
Bed Capacity: 1,000 lb
Tow Capacity: 2,000 lb

YAMAHA RHINO 700 FI

The big news at your Yamaha dealer (www.Yamaha-Motor.com; 800-962-7926) this year is the addition of fuel injection and more displacement to the Rhino. The new Rhino 700 FI is powered by a 686cc liquid-cooled, 4-valve, four-stroke engine, with a larger bore and slightly higher compression than the 660cc engine used previously. Yamaha’s new fuel injection delivers peak performance, quicker throttle response and easier cold starts. Other changes for 2008 include hard molded half doors, improved four-wheel disc brakes and a new sport steering wheel.

MSRP: $10,499
Engine: 686cc Yamaha liquid-cooled, 4-stroke
Transmission: Yamaha Ultramatic
Drive Wheels: 2WD, 4WD, locked 4WD
Front Suspension: Independent, double wishbone
Rear Suspension: Independent, double wishbone
Wheelbase: 75.2 in
Curb Weight: NA
Ground Clearance: 12.1 in
Fuel Capacity: 7.9 gal
Bed Capacity: 400 lb
Tow Capacity: 1,212 lb


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