2018 UTV Buyer's Guide
August 28, 2018
The newest offerings for off-road enthusiasts
When it comes to motorized transportation in wild places, nothing really is close to the versatility and fun of a UTV. Unlike trucks and SUVs, which go on cycles for model changes, each year UTV manufacturers improve on their offerings, often listening to consumer feedback to make rapid changes. The results are machines that get better with every model year. And 2018 is no exception with vehicles that have more capability, durability, and reliability than ever before.
Yamaha Wolverine X4
Yamaha is known for functionality, durability, and reliability. It's also known for taking its time introducing new models, making sure they are exactly what it wants the product to be before introducing it to the public. The 2018 models are no exception. Everything you get from Yamaha is exactly what you'd expect: versatile, durable, reliable, as well as fun.
The all-new Yamaha Wolverine X4 was designed first and foremost for adventure. With convertible seating for four, it is the quietest UTV on the market. It is powered by an all-new 847cc parallel twin powerhouse that shares technology with Yamaha's award-winning motocross bikes. Yamaha builds serious brand loyalty and has a solid reputation. The X4 is sure to be a favorite for anyone looking for a capable, quiet UTV. It has Yamaha's rock-solid Ultramatic transmission, using what is widely considered the best CVT system in the industry. The X4 has an 82.7-inch wheelbase and is only 122 inches long and 59 inches wide. This machine also has a load-leveling rear suspension to adjust for cargo, passengers, or whatever else you put in the back.
Can-Am Maverick Trail
The folks at Can-Am are hard-core enthusiasts and hunters. They have been making major pushes into every category of the market. For 2018, they have pulled out all the stops with some very innovative, fun, and useful machines.
The Maverick lineup for Can-Am includes its go-fast machines like the amazing new X3 series, which can outrun both the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote. The newest may be the best yet: the Maverick Trail.
This machine is designed to be nimble, and at only 50 inches wide, it is legal for many trails that are off-limits to larger side-by-side machines. Available with either a 799cc or 1,000cc engine, these machines are extremely comfortable and stable. Enough storage for gear and an ability to cover any terrain and climb like a mountain goat make this a great option for anyone looking for the most fun way to get on the hunt. You can get one in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo.
The company is widely known for extremely tough ATVs and side-by-sides. Kawasaki offers the Kawasaki Strong three-year warranty on all its machines, further proving the company's commitment to quality vehicles.
When companies were pushing the performance envelope with speed and horsepower, Kawasaki hit the scene with a machine geared less for speed and more for adventure. The Teryx has built a huge following with those who go places others fear to tread. Kawasaki's V-twin, 783cc motor has built a solid reputation for excellent power delivery, gobs of torque, and reliability. The engine got a boost of a few ccs a few years ago, but it has been around for some time. It makes a healthy V-twin growl, appealing to those that like the sporty sound of the engine. The Teryx has an 85.6-inch wheelbase. The frame of the Teryx is legendary, especially among true off-road enthusiasts. Kawasaki uses a Double-X cross-member design that reinforces the frame at key points. The result is a stiff frame that can be hammered through tough terrain. Want to go deep in-country to chase deer, elk, and other big game? The Teryx is a great option.
Polaris General Ride Command
You don't get to be the biggest kid on the playground by resting on your laurels and not being innovative. Polaris continues to produce machines that hold the top spots in sales. This helps fuel other companies to take steps to knock the king off the throne, which pushes Polaris to keep coming up with new developments.
The General has really caught on as a sporty recreational machine with utility DNA. It has excellent suspension and a 100-horsepower 999cc ProStar twin engine. The big news for 2018 is the inclusion of the Polaris Ride Command system. The system includes a seven-inch color touchscreen that is glove compatible. Through the screen, you can control the built-in GPS system; vehicle stats; front and rear built-in camera systems for close, slow-speed vision; GoPro control; AM-FM radio and Bluetooth connectivity with an MTX speaker system; and vehicle tracking that lets you communicate with other members of your party. Add the Polaris Ride Command system to a fun, capable machine with Fox 2.0 Podium QS3 shocks.
Mahindra Retriever 1000
Mahindra is widely known as a small-tractor manufacturer. Their M-Pact series of UTVs are serious work machines, but not exactly what you'd call challengers to the Polaris Ranger market share segment. That changes with the new Retriever lineup, part of the company's continued joint venture with Intimidator UTVs, a premium brand you'd be able to find in Cabela's retail stores.
The Mahindra has a 1,000cc twin-cylinder engine that produces a claimed 83 horsepower. The Retriever also boasts 67 ft.-lbs. of torque, which is impressive, and a top speed around 60 mph. It has 2,500 pounds of towing capability and 1,200 pounds of bed capacity with a standard hydraulic dump-box assist. The Mahindra rolls on 14-inch aluminum wheels that are laced with 27-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires. The Retriever is also interesting in that you can get a standard bed or Mahindra's FlexHauler bed made of steel.
Honda Pioneer 1000 LE
No company inspires more intense brand loyalty than Honda. If you own a Honda, chances are you're going to buy another. The company built this loyalty with unique and durable machines that work and last.
The Pioneer has a 999cc parallel twin with Honda's excellent DCT dual clutch transmission. It allows for automatic shifting — or manual shifting via paddle shifters. You get six forward gears plus reverse in both high and low range. And if you're into rough terrain and want to crawl, low range, first gear is about as low as you're going to get. The new i4WD (intelligent four-wheel drive) system replaces the diff-lock four-wheel drive from the standard model with a system using technology from Honda's automotive side. The Pioneer detects which wheel needs traction and adjusts the power distribution. The system allows both differentials to unlock and lock without input from the driver, allowing you to get all the benefit of a locked four-wheel-drive system in a machine with the handling and control of an unlocked differential. Honda also added Hill Start Assist to the Pioneer 1000 LE, and FOX QS-3 shocks with 10.55 inches of travel up front and 10 inches in the rear.
Textron Off-Road Wildcat XX
Textron Off-Road is part of a larger company that includes Bell Helicopters and Cessna aircrafts, and the company acquired Arctic Cat and merged the two brands into Textron Off-Road. This brought serious engineering technology and deep pockets to fund new projects.
Designed with help from off-road racing legend Robby Gordon, the Wildcat XX is designed to be a hard-core UTV. The new Wildcat is powered by a 998cc inline, naturally aspirated, three-cylinder engine that produces a claimed 125 horsepower. It is fed through a tuned electronic fuel injection system. It has Fox Podium 2.5 QS3 shocks with Bottom-Out Control and 18 inches of travel. They ride in offset front A-arms that have unequal length to adjust the tire camber and to ensure maximum tire contact with the ground throughout the suspension travel. Out back, there is a newly designed rear trailing arm setup that lets the tire move nearly straight up and down through the stroke of the shock. The Wildcat XX has 13.5 inches of ground clearance. The rear cargo area is rated for up to 300 pounds, can hold a 32-inch spare tire, and is easily removable (without tools) for quick access to the engine.