Bobcat 3400 4x4
Available with either a gasoline or diesel power house, the 3400 is shorter than its predecessors in the 2000 series. It’s also somewhat higher off the ground and, with adjustable shocks on the back end, it has all the manoeuvrability you’d need on a rutted, greasy, boulder-strewn trail. If that sounds as if the 3400 might lag behind the pack on level ground, think again—this baby will eat up the distance at an entirely respectable 50 kilometres per hour. What I really like about the 3400, along with its multi-passenger XL counterpart, is the level of protection built into its soft belly, complete with guards on the radiators, grease boots on the shaft and, of course, a skid plate running the length to prevent damage to the engine and transmission. This is how a backcountry ute should be built.
Learn more: www.bobcat.com
John Deere Gator XUV 825i 4x4
This 50-horsepower machine has backbone enough to haul a half-ton payload uphill or rumble along at a distance-gobbling clip of up to 70 kilometres per hour, thanks in part to its three-cylinder in-line engine. Boasting John Deere’s trademark low-end torque, this workhorse can shift from turf mode to full 4x4 and rear differential lock when the trail turns gnarly. I like the skid plates for the many situations when a generous 11-inch clearance just doesn’t cut it, while the electronic fuel injection ensures reliable starts to get you home no matter what the weather. The rear cargo box has room for 16.4 cubic feet of gear or, weight-wise, the better part of a bull moose; I like the 24 convenient tie-down points to securely tarp down the load. Safety features include a three-point belt system and, of course, rollover protection. You’ve got to try the seats—comfy.
Learn more: www.deere.com
Can-Am Commander 1000
The Commander’s two-inch trailer hitch suggests the machine has a utilitarian purpose, but its stance, look and performance are unmistakably sporty—an impression driven home by one glance at the driver’s seat. With its instrument cluster, adjustable racing-style steering wheel and gearshift on the right, it actually feels as if you’re sitting in a cockpit. In Standard mode, the Commander will crawl over just about anything, but when the terrain lies down and you want to make tracks, switch to Sport and hold on to your hat. Those 85 horses generated by the Rotax 1000 V-twin, fuel-injected power plant really move this machine. As for storage, the unique dual-level rear system works like two small pickup boxes, each with its own tailgate. The total capacity is 13.1 cubic feet or 600 pounds.
Learn more: www.can-am.brp.com
Polaris Ranger Diesel
Polaris establishes a new benchmark in side-by-side performance with the Ranger Diesel. Built on a sturdy chassis, this machine features an adjustable front suspension to ensure a tame ride and manoeuvrability—even with a maximum half-ton rear load. The 34.1-litre fuel tank, combined with the fuel economy of the three-cylinder, 24-horsepower Yanmar diesel engine, adds up to almost 40 per cent more range than that of most others in its class. I also like the 55-amp alternator, which will run most anything, including a heater when the mercury plunges. During a test drive last year, I was pleasantly surprised that, rather than the typical diesel rumble, this baby purrs thanks to the rubber vibration dampers between the engine and the frame. Considering the economies of a diesel engine, it’s difficult to find fault with this machine.
Learn more: www.polarisindustries.com
Modifications & more
Arctic Cat's three-up side-by-side, the Prowler HDX 700, borrows the wide front-bench concept from pickup trucks, squeezing extra seating between the operator and passenger, complete with seatbelts. For a couple with a youngster, this certainly makes the HDX a good option for exploring the backcountry or accessing secret hunting and fishing spots off the paved road.
Learn more: www.arcticcat.com
ARGO’s 8x8 700 HD and 6x6 650 HD have improved drive trains, thanks to the triple differential provided by the Admiral transmission. These amphibs run smoother, cooler and more efficiently than their predecessors. Manoeuvring these machines through the rough just got easier and more enjoyable.
Learn more: www.argoatv.com
Chironex has added two 600-class models, as well as an electric version, to its growing lineup of utility side-by-sides. Both of the gas-operated models boast electric fuel injection, but the XT model offers the option of rear seating for two extra passengers. The EV model has a posted range of up to 80 kilometres on a full charge of six to eight hours.
Learn more: www.chironex.ca
Honda has tweaked its Big Red by increasing the cargo bed capacity to 1,000 pounds and the towing limit to 1,500 pounds. Great news for the backwoods user is the reformatted bench seat to improve entry and exit. Look for more aggressive Maxxis Bighorn tires, as well as preload adjustments on the rear shocks.
Learn more: www.honda.ca
Kawasaki’s new offering for 2011 is a Galaxy Silver special edition version of its fuel-injected Teryx 750 4x4 Sport. Last year’s SE model came in Super Black.
Learn more: www.kawasaki.ca
KIOTI’s long-awaited workhorse, the Mechron, was finally unveiled in December and is now available at dealers, albeit in limited quantities. By all accounts, it’s everything we were hoping for in a machine built for work and pleasure.
Learn more: www.kioti.com
Kubota has undertaken a major upgrade to its 900 stable, the first since the models were introduced in 2004. In addition to several cosmetic changes, there’s now a more robust variable hydrostatic PLUS2 transmission for improved hill climbing. As well, the machines now use the more durable driveshafts from the RTV1100 lineup.
Learn more: www.kubota.ca
KYMCO upgraded its side-by-side to electronic fuel injection, providing it with more reliable starts and better distance on a tank of gas. The digital instrument cluster on the UXV 500i is also easier to monitor at a glance. Another improvement is the mounting of the brakes on the rear driveshaft, keeping them clear of mud and grunge.
Learn more: www.kymco.ca
Midwest Motorsports Canada Ltd. has added the Super Crew to its 2011 stable of 700-class side-by-sides. Two bucket seats up front, a bench for two additional passengers and a spacious rear cargo bed make for plenty of seating and storage.
Learn more: www.midwestcanada.com
Nordik Motor now offers a stretched version of its 686cc NK 700 U to increase the passenger load by an additional two riders. Plus the back bench seat lengthens this Asian-built side-by-side to just over 155 inches.
Learn more: www.nordikmotor.com
Polaris unveiled two more side-by-side models this year: the electronic-fuel-injected 500 EFI and, when transporting people is a priority, the 500 Crew, with seating for three passengers. Both are powered by the efficient 498cc EFI engine.
Learn more: www.polarisindustries.com