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UTV TEST: Arctic Cat Wildcat X LTD

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August 31, 2016
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Arctic Cat raised the bar on suspension travel with the introduction of the original Wildcat 1000 in 2012 and upgraded and lightened the clutch in mid-2013, going to the Team Rapid Response clutch. Small refinements were made in 2014 and 2015 as Arctic Cat unleashed the 1000 X-4 and 700 Trail and Sport models. For 2016, Arctic Cat lowered the price on its Wildcat X models, but we couldn’t get one in time to compare it to the Can-Am, Polaris and Yamaha 1000s last month. Check out the sidebar for how we feel the Wildcat would compare had Arctic Cat participated.

We really got to test the 2016 Arctic Cat Wildcat X LTD’s rock-crawling abilities at the Rally on the Rocks (ROTR), and the package works very well, whether going up- or downhill. ITP’s eight-ply Blackwater Evolutions provide a lot of hook-up and flat resistance. Jumping dunes is also big fun.
We really got to test the 2016 Arctic Cat Wildcat X LTD’s rock-crawling abilities at the Rally on the Rocks (ROTR), and the package works very well, whether going up- or downhill. ITP’s eight-ply Blackwater Evolutions provide a lot of hook-up and flat resistance. Jumping dunes is also big fun.

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2016?
Arctic Cat dropped the base X for 2016, leaving the X Limited Edition and X Special Edition, both of which sport variable-assist EPS, Elka Stage 5 shocks, ITP Blackwater Evolution tires, aluminum doors, 14-inch beadlock wheels, and front and rear bumpers. The LTD sports Matte Black paint with Arctic Cat Green bumpers, cage, suspension arms and graphics, while the SE sports Desert Tan paint. For 2016, the X comes in Viper Blue, red or white paint with Duro Powergrip 27-inch tires instead of Maxxis Bighorn 2.0s.

All Wildcat Xs get new closedloop EFI for 2016 with a ceramiccoated exhaust system, and output is 90-plus horsepower. New LED headlights put out 216 lumens on low beam and 384 lumens on high. Also for 2016, the X models sport JRi 2.5 EXC-1 compression-dampingadjustable shocks, while the LTD and SE versions upgrade to fully adjustable Elka Stage 5 shocks with high-speed compression (HSC), lowspeed compression (LSC) and rebound adjusters, plus ring preload and crossovers for the dual-rate springs.

DOES COST COMPARE?
Arctic Cat dropped the X price drastically ($1300) to $17,499 for 2016, while the Wildcat LTD and SE models are both $19,999. Can-Am’s Maverick 1000R DPS is $17,449 to $18,499, while the 1000R DS is $19,499 and the DS Turbo is $22,999 to $23,099. Polaris gets $20,299 for the RZR XP 1000 EPS, while the new Yamaha YXZ1000R is $19,799 to $21,599. All sport EPS.

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HOW FAST IS THE X?
It’s got cat-quick reflexes. The X responds so quickly to throttle that it takes getting used to how fast the CVT clutch engages, especially in rock crawling situations. There is plenty of power for power slides and topping gnarly hills, and low range is governed to 38 mph. We got 70-plus mph out of the X on a gravel road at Moab, and it’s a blast to drift on Forest Service roads.

HOW IS THE CVT/4WD DELIVERY?
Also cat-quick. Servos engage 4WD and diff-lock as quickly as the Team Rapid Response CVT clutch does. The range selector is also quick and slick, but it’s sometimes hard to engage low range. With low being good for almost 40 mph, it pays to use it whenever high range would tax the CVT belt. Unlike the Can-Am Maverick, the Wildcat applies full power in low, so it’s even more fun to drift into turns in low.

Here’s a better look at the dual trailing links, Elka rear shocks, torsion bar, Team clutch with ducting, airbox (inboard of the shock) and 8.8-gallon fuel cell with filler tube.
Here’s a better look at the dual trailing links, Elka rear shocks, torsion bar, Team clutch with ducting, airbox (inboard of the shock) and 8.8-gallon fuel cell with filler tube.

WHAT ABOUT HANDLING?
It goes straight like a cheetah. With the long, 95-inch wheelbase and 40/60 weight bias of the rear-engine chassis, it’s got tons of straightline stability, but it wants deliberate turning. By that we mean come in hot to set up a drift, in 2WD or 4WD, and steer with the rear wheels. The lack of weight up front and forwardmounted tie-roads otherwise makes it want to push and turn lethargically, especially in 4WD. For best cornering results, drive it like you stole it.

While standard X models have JRi EXC-1 shocks with 70-position adjustable compression damping (on the shaft), the Limited and Special Edition upgrade to Elka Stage 5 2.5 piggyback shocks with high-speed and low-speed compression, rebound, ring preload and crossover adjustments..
While standard X models have JRi EXC-1 shocks with 70-position adjustable compression damping (on the shaft), the Limited and Special Edition upgrade to Elka Stage 5 2.5 piggyback shocks with high-speed and low-speed compression, rebound, ring preload and crossover adjustments..

HOW’S THE WILDCAT SUSPENSION?
Best in class! Long trailing arms with five-link radius rods yield 18 inches of rear travel, and long A-arms produce 17 inches of front travel. Elka Stage 5 2.5 piggyback shocks have 38-position rebound, 16-position HSC and 23-position LSC adjusters. Our LTD had the rear Elkas set at HSC 13 out; LSC 21 out and rebound 18 out; and the fronts were set at HSC 14 out, LSC 21 out and rebound 33 out. As expected, the ride quality was very plush with the compression set so soft, yet the LTD did a good job of resisting bottoming on the rocks of California and Moab, Utah. Front rebound was very quick, while the rear was set at the midpoint of adjustable range to slow bucking at speed. Good stuff.

The high-output H2 engine gets new closed-loop EFI with ceramic exhaust coating to meet new EPA standards. It displaces 951cc with two 92mm pistons, a 71.6mm stroke, 10.5:1 compression and a single 50mm EFI throttle body. Output is 90-plus horsepower, and partner Speedwerx has a 105-horsepower kit for $841
The high-output H2 engine gets new closed-loop EFI with ceramic exhaust coating to meet new EPA standards. It displaces 951cc with two 92mm pistons, a 71.6mm stroke, 10.5:1 compression and a single 50mm EFI throttle body. Output is 90-plus horsepower, and partner Speedwerx has a 105-horsepower kit for $841

IS IT A ROCK HAMMER?
Bam, bam! A soft suspension setup lets the long arms articulate in rocks, and the tires hook up well on most anything. EPS keeps steering easy even when front diff-lock is engaged, and power is very controllable, especially in low. Doors and the seating position inspire confidence, but the hood isn’t as sloped as the Yamaha or Polaris 1000s for picking lines in rocks. It also requires more three-point turns than other 1000s in tight-going. We’ve also bent a lower link rod at Moab in the past, so rock crawlers should upgrade to high-clearance, heavy-duty lower radius rods.

HOW IS IT IN DEEP MUD?
Bring your waders! With a lot of low-range power, 13 inches of ground clearance and 27-inch ITP Blackwater Evolution tires, the X is ready to rip. The LTD and SE also have beadlock wheels, so you can air down for extra traction. Also, the airbox intake is under the top of the radiator cowling, which is almost like having snorkels. However, the tires protrude a few inches outside of the protection of the fenders, especially at half travel, so prepare to get muddy.

Infinitely adjustable tilt steering and the gripper steering wheel provide a lot of driving comfort, but the upright passenger console and door-frame handles are non-adjustable.
Infinitely adjustable tilt steering and the gripper steering wheel provide a lot of driving comfort, but the upright passenger console and door-frame handles are non-adjustable.

WHAT ABOUT TRAIL COMFORT?
It’s got a lot of strong points and a few weak ones. We really like the seats and seating position, and the metal half doors add a lot of confidence in sketchy-going. The cockpit has a lot of elbowroom, and the roof is really nice, but so are the tilt steering wheel and the range selector, which are really slick. The locking glovebox is a plus, as is the easy-to-read analog speedometer and digital dash. However, the door latches have weak plastic levers, which we have broken in the past; push in on the doors while opening. The door frame also bangs the driver’s knee, unless you reposition your foot on the wide “dead pedal,” which has molded-in traction nubs. Noise levels are low in the cab, but the seat belts chafe necks, and there is no crossbar for mounting harnesses because of the rear-mounted radiators and cowling. It’s also easier to see over the X hood than the Wildcat 700 hood.

HOW ARE THE BRAKES?
They’re strong, but other 1000s are stronger. Arctic Cat uses Hayes dual-piston front calipers and singlepiston rear calipers with braided-steel brake lines, but the large, thick rotors aren’t perforated, so wet and muddy conditions can affect power. The X doesn’t have EBS like the Can-Am, but all four tires slow the Wildcat on hills when in 4WD, and some throttle keeps the CVT engaged.

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WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?
Arctic Cat was smart to put the high-output H2 engine in all Wildcat X models and mate it with the Team Rapid Response clutch. The Wildcat X has great suspension, ride quality and stability, and the LTD/SE versions raise those bars even further. It does a lot of things very well but has a few rough edges, like the door frames and latches. Wildcats deliver a lot of bang for the buck, even more so for 2016.

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SPECS
2016 ARCTIC CAT WILDCAT X LTD
ENGINE/TRANSMISSION
Engine type …. Liquid-cooled, 8-valve, SOHC, 4-stroke
…………………………………………………………. V-twin
Displacement ………………………………………..951cc
Bore x stroke ………………………92m x 71.6mm (x2)
Compression ratio ………………………………… 10.5:1
Lubrication system …………………………… Wet sump
Additional cooling ………………………………..Twin fans
Induction ………………………..50mm EFI throttle body
Starting/back-up …………………………….Electric/none
Starting procedure ……………………. Turn key to right
Idle adjustment ………………………………………….N/A
Air filter:
Type ………………………………………..Paper cylinder
Access ……………………………………… Undo 5 clips
Transmission …………..Dual-range CVT w/r ev. & EBS
Reverse procedure………. Move range selector to “R”
Drive system …..Selectable 2WD/4WD/4WD diff-lock
Final drives ………………………………………….. Shafts
DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES/WEIGHTS
Fuel capacity ……………………………………….8.8 gal.
Wheelbase ………………………………………………. 95”
Overall length/width/height …………….128”/64”/66.8”
Seat height …………………………………………… 26.5”
Ground clearance ………………………………………. 13”
Claimed dry weight ……. X, 1,357 lb.; LTD, 1,380 lb.
Bed limit ……………………………………………..300 lb.
Hitch …………………………………………………….None
Towing limit……………………………………………..0 lb.
ROLLING CHASSIS
Frame …………………………………………….Steel tube
Suspension/wheel travel:
Front …… Dual A-arm w/ prel. comp-adj. shocks/17”
Rear ……. IRS 5-link trailing arms w/ prel. comp-adj.
…………………………………………………… shocks/18”
Brakes/actuation:
Front ………………………… Hydraulic discs/left pedal
Rear ………………………… Hydraulic discs/left pedal
Steering ………………………………………….Tilt w/ EPS
Tires:
Front …………………..27x9R14 Duro Powergrip (X)/
…………………………… Blackwater Evolution (LTD/SE)
Rear ………………….27x11R14 Duro Powergrip (X)/
…………………………… Blackwater Evolution (LTD/SE)
ELECTRICAL
DC outlet …………………………………………… Console
Lighting:
Front ……………………………………2 LED headlights
Rear …………………………….. 2 LED brake/tail lights
DETAILS
Instrumentation … Analog/digital speed/odo/trip/hour/
…………………………..rpm/fuel/gear/clock/2WD-4WD
Colors …X: red, Viper Blue, white; LTD: Matte Black;
……………………………………………………… SE: Sand
Minimum recommended operator age ……………… 16
Suggested retail priceX, $17,499; LTD/SE, $19,999
Contact ………………….. Arctic Cat, (218) 681-8558

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