Arctic Cat Wildcat X Limited

Stock UTVs used to start out as projects. Early models were so basic, it was up to you to add missing essentials like roofs and instrumentation, and high-performance engines and suspension used to require lots of extra shopping and spending. Now we’re in the glorious age of the fully optioned production customs. Arctic Cat’s new top-of the-line Wildcat X Limited is so well equipped, you almost have to be an experienced UTVer to understand the value in everything it has. We got one to test to let you know all about it.

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WHAT MAKES THE LIMITED SO SPECIAL?

Arctic Cat Wildcat base models are very well-equipped with potent V-twin engines, power steering, doors, alloy wheels and adjustable, long-travel suspension. The Wildcat X Limited upgrades the machine with more horsepower, beadlock wheels, ITP Blackwater Evolution tires, Elka Stage 5 suspension, special red or satin black paint, color-matched seats, big aluminum bumpers, and a roof.

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WHAT DOES ALL THAT COST?
$20,399. That’s quite a jump from the $16,999 base Wildcat, but when you add up the cost of the high performance engine, high-end shocks, beadlock wheels, premium tires and style upgrades, it’s quite a buy. The Wildcat X Limited’s price is similar to other optioned-up, top-of-the-line UTVs, like the $19,999 Polaris XP 1000 LE and Can-Am’s $18,799 Maverick 1000 X rs DPS.

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WHAT MAKES IT GO?

A fuel-injected, single-overhead-cam, four-valve-per-cylinder, 951cc V-twin. The X Limited has more compression and hotter cams than the base Wildcat. The factory hop-up treatment boosts power to over 90 horsepower, but the hotter engine calls for premium gas.

WHAT DOES THE RAPID RESPONSE CLUTCH DO?

Introduced mid-year in 2013 on all Wildcats, the Team Industries Rapid Response clutch uses rolling elements rather than sliding parts to move the clutch sheaves. It responds to torque loads and engine rpm changes much more quickly than the previously used standard clutch to keep the transmission in the right ratio for the conditions. It also eliminates the standard clutch’s centrifugal clutch, which eliminates engine braking and a measure of protection for the drive belt, but it’s a fair exchange for performance. Can-Am Mavericks and Polaris RZRs don’t have centrifugal clutches before the primary clutch, either.

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WHAT KIND OF 4WD SYSTEM DOES IT HAVE?

Selectable 2WD/4WD with a locking front differential. Two-wheel drive will get you almost anywhere, but 4WD helps the Wildcat accelerate quicker and climb better. Locking the front differential gives maximum traction, and thanks to power steering, there’s no excessive steering effort.

IS IT FAST?
Most definitely. You get a sense of how potent the Wildcat is by how easily it lights up the grippy Blackwater Evolution tires in 2WD. Click to 4WD to calm the wheelspin and you’ll find it’s still possible to break the tires loose. If there’s much traction to be had, the Arctic Cat takes off like a scalded cat any time you mash the gas pedal.

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HOW IS THE POWER ON THE TRAIL?

The X LTD is a rocket, but it’s not unruly. The engine doesn’t come on hard until it builds some revs, so it’s easy to navigate gnarly terrain if you have some sense of throttle control. The base Wildcat’s smoother power is easier to work with in really sketchy terrain. When you hit those spots where power is the only way to conquer an obstacle, the Arctic Cat has the muscle to get the job done. The engine tuning and the Rapid Response clutch give the Wildcat solid, always-in-the-right-gear throttle response without being too abrupt.

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WHAT KIND OF SUSPENSION DOES IT HAVE?

It’s serious stuff. All Wildcat 1000s have 17 inches of travel up front and 18 in the rear, but the X LTD upgrades the system with Elka Stage 5 shocks. These shocks feature adjustable highand low-speed compression damping, adjustable rebound damping and adjustable spring preload.

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HOW DOES THE SUSPENSION WORK?
Arctic Cat Wildcats are well-known to be amazing performers in highspeed, whooped-out terrain, and the X LTD pushes that boundary even further with more tunability, outstanding bottoming control and comfortable, compliant ride quality. The Elka Stage 5s are true racing-quality shocks, but you don’t have to be a berserk racer to appreciate them. We were just as impressed how good the suspension felt in normal trail riding. The control and smoothness of the shocks and the massive travel provided let you take the Wildcat through brutal terrain in surprising comfort.

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HOW DOES IT HANDLE?
The Wildcat X LTD is astoundingly calm and predictable in open, highspeed terrain. It’s also agile and stable on twisting, technical trails. We joined a pack of Wildcat Trail 700s on tight woods trails and had a blast running with the nimble 700s on the snaking woods routes. The 1000’s steering is light and accurate, and the abundant power makes it possible to break the rear end loose and steer with the throttle. If you like to drift, you’ll also like the Wildcat’s planted, stable feel in corners. The Wildcat doesn’t turn around as well as it turns. The 1000’s turning circle is a little larger than some other 1000cc, high-performance twoseaters.

HOW IS IT IN ROCKS AND CHALLENGING TERRAIN?

It’s very surefooted. All that suspension travel helps as much in the uneven world of rock crawling and technical terrain as it does in whoops at 65 mph. The Wildcat’s suspension articulates extremely well to keep the car level and the wheels driving. And when the front differential is locked, the 4WD system can keep the machine moving, even when only one tire is touching the ground. When it comes to tires, the Wildcat X LTD has some of the best original-equipment shoes around—ITP’s Blackwater Evolution. This is an eight-ply radial with a very aggressive tread. These tires ride smoothly and have the sturdy construction to resist rolling in hard cornering, as well as the toughness to fight flats, even in rocky terrain. These meats are a major step up from the sixply Duro Kaden tires you get on base Wildcats. The Wildcat X LTD’s tires are mounted on beadlock wheels, which keep the tire beaded, whether you want to run low pressure or have to ride back to camp on a flat. Thirteen inches of ground clearance keeps the Wildcat’s belly from dragging in ruts and rocks, and power steering makes low-speed turns easy.

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HOW ARE THE DETAILS?
Almost all of them are very well thought out. The Wildcat’s styling is clean and sporty, but the splash protection is pretty weak. The analog/ digital instrumentation is easy to read and informative, though we’d like it better if it were directly in front of the steering wheel (like on the Can-Am Maverick) rather than in the middle of the dash. The Wildcat X Limited’s sturdy doors open and close easily and offer more security than nets. This vehicle is easy to get into and out of, and the seats offer very good comfort and support. The Arctic Cat has a healthy exhaust note, but the cabin is reasonably quiet, without excessive noise from the exhaust, intake or driveline. The rear-mounted radiator can’t clog with mud like frontmounted radiators. You’ll appreciate the aluminum bumpers when you run into friends on the trail, and you’ll be glad to have the roof over your head on every hot, sunny ride.

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WHAT IS OUR FINAL ANSWER?
The Wildcat X Limited comes with almost everything experienced, demanding UTVers add to their machines eventually, and the whole package fits and works extremely well. You will miss out on some of the satisfaction of customizing your machine yourself with the X Limited, but you’ll also miss the not-always-pleasant experience and expense of determining what you want in engine performance, high-end suspension and many other extras, and buying them piece by piece.

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