TEST: TEXTRON WILDCAT XX

— 125 Horsepower high-performance machine —

Textron unleashes its all-new 2018 Wildcat XX, and it has undergone many changes since we first reported on it in the August 2017 issue. Textron merged Robby Gordon’s RG Pro Wildcat 1000 with Yamaha’s Genesis three-cylinder snowmobile engine with CVT (but without the turbocharger) to create the 125-horsepower Wildcat XX. Textron actually increased rear travel over the original RG Pro and worked hard to deliver best-in-class suspension action and ride quality. Textron also went through a long validation process to make the Wildcat XX the most race-ready and durable high-performance UTV on the market. Think of it as the Bell helicopter of the UTV world.

Textron unleashes the 2018 Wildcat XX, a normally aspirated 998cc triple with Robby Gordon-developed RG Pro suspension. Gordon lets the Dynamic Charcoal Grey XX rip at California’s Stoddard Wells OHV Area.

ALL NEW FOR 2018

The all-new Wildcat XX delivers 18 inches of front- and rear-wheel travel with double-shear suspension mounting to the all-tubular frame. Robby Gordon’s Pro rear suspension is a wishbone trailing arm with no links or tire scrub during travel. Not only that, the trailing arm is manufactured to work on either side of the car, easing racing costs. Unequal-length front A-arms have 40-percent-less track-width change during travel, while the rear trailing arms reduce track change during travel by 80 percent. Instead of the original King Racing shocks, Fox Podium 2.5 QS3 shocks with dual-rate springs and cross-over rings are tuned for a plush ride, while front and rear torsion bars fight body roll. The rear XX shocks also have Bottom-Out Control (BOC). Four CST 30×10 Behemoth tires ride on 15-inch KMC wheels, another UTV first. Tie-rods still ride in front of the aluminum knuckles, and there is a new steering rack and pinion assisted by EPS.

We like the over-molded D-shaped tilt steering wheel, except that the thumbs-up driving nubs are too thick for our tastes. The Textron digital instrument pod and slick range selector are nice, as is the passenger grip on the center console.

The frame is designed with front and rear dropouts for easy access to the front diff and engine/CVT/transmission and transaxle, which is easily removed with six bolts. The cargo-box bed has tool-less removal for access to the Donaldson-type paper air filter and top of the engine, while the large CVT cover has clips for tool-less removal and access to the TEAM clutch. Also, axles have plunging CVs, and the wheel bearings are oversized for durability. The 998cc triple engine is the same as the Yamaha YXZ1000R powerplant, but it’s mounted across the frame due to the CVT. The front diff case and transmission are TEAM, as is the CVT.

A large fan draws air through the radiator, and the tie-rods are in front of the spindles for zero bumpsteer through the travel. Check out the double-shear A-arm mounts and the TEAM front diff.

Frame tubes are 1.75 inches, and the ROPS cage has front and rear anti-intrusion bars that would pass most racing tech inspections. Textron claims the XX has the largest cab in its class, and the driver’s seat has 6 inches of adjustment to fit drivers 5 to 6.5 feet tall. The dash is focused to the driver for maximum visibility and ergonomics, and the digital/analog gauges tilt with the D-shaped steering wheel. The glove box is huge (4 gallons) and has an extra 12-volt power port and a blank for a winch switch. The dash also has a large removable center for adding GPS and/or radio components. Half doors have inner liners with hand-hold loops and inner and outer handles for easy opening. The dead-pedal floorboards are designed to give the same leg positioning as the foot pedals.

Long A-arms and Fox Podium 2.5 QS3 shocks yield 18 inches of froth travel, and a front torsion bar helps fight body roll with the soft shock tuning. Dual-rate springs have adjustable cross-over rings, and 30x10R15 CST Behemoth tires ride on KMC rims at all four corners.

HOW DOES COST COMPARE?

The Wildcat XX sells for $20,499, while the Wildcat 1000X is $16,999 and the LTD is $18,499. The Polaris RZR XP 1000 EPS and RZR S 1000 EPS are both $17,999, while the RZR XP Turbo EPS starts at $19,999. Can-Am’s Maverick X3 900 H.O. is $17,999. The base Maverick X3 Turbo is $19,999, and the X3 X ds is $24,999. The X3 X rs Turbo R starts at $26,899 and jumps to $28,999 for the X3 X rc Turbo R. Yamaha’s YXZ1000R is $18,999 ($20,599 for the Special Edition), while Sport Shift YXZs are $19,799 to $21,699.

HOW FAST IS THE XX?

Plenty fast. The three-cylinder, 998cc engine propels the XX to a 75-mph top speed in high, and it pins you to the seat with acceleration. Because of the CVT, the XX doesn’t seem as pipey as the YXZ1000R. It’s fun power, and the CVT and EFI tuning are mellow for slow rock-crawling or tight trails. While there are faster UTVs out there, the trail speeds the XX reaches due to the suspension and handling are significant.

Rear tire scrub and camber during travel are minimal with the RG Pro trailing arms, and the Wildcat XX is built with double-shear suspension mounts. It’s also designed so the entire engine/CVT/transaxle can be removed quickly.

HOW IS THE CVT/4WD DELIVERY?

It’s excellent. The CVT engages quickly and smoothly, and the range selector is slick and positive. The 2WD/4WD/diff-lock toggle is nice and built so it can’t accidentally be switched into diff-lock mode. You have to pull down and press the top in to engage diff-lock. There isn’t an engine-braking system (EBS) in the CVT, though.

WHAT ABOUT HANDLING?

It’s so good, it’ll make you a better driver. Turning, tracking and straight-line stability are awesome. Whereas the RZR XP bucks in whoops, the XX tracks straight and builds confidence. We did one gnarly power-line whoop section at 65 mph. It turns in well and carries power slides, and the torsion bars fight body roll. There is quite a bit of fore/aft weight transfer due to the soft suspension settings. Rear toe-in is 1/4-inch, while the front toe was set at zero on our test units. This is great for turning and stability at speed. We did feel a little push in sand washes in 4WD.

With 18 inches of front and rear travel and a 95-inch wheelbase, the Wildcat XX is built for gobbling the nastiest and biggest whoops at speeds never before seen on a production UTV. Its plushness and ride quality are astounding.

HOW’S THE XX SUSPENSION?

Super compliant! Robby Gordon likes a plush setup, and the XX shocks are sprung and damped to deliver plushness. The Fox Podium 2.5 QS3 shocks were set at full hard in the rear and in the medium position up front, as we had two riders in each XX. The lack of tire scrub during travel helps tracking at speed, as do the dual torsion bars. We did bottom the rear skid plate on a G-out.

HOW IS IT IN MUD AND ROCKS?

Rock-crawling capabilities are top shelf with the smooth triple and CVT tuning, but the low seating position and shape of the hood make it hard to see obstacles ahead. Half doors are a welcome feature for mud riding, but mud regulars will want over-fenders. Diff-lock and 14 inches of ground clearance are good for both mud and rocks, and the bed will hold up to 32-inch tires. The XX has the power to turn 32s as well (see the 32-inch tire and CVT-tuning article in this issue).

Arctic Cat bought the Yamaha Turbo Genesis snowmobile engine for the 211-horsepower Thundercat. A normally aspirated version powers the 125-horsepower Wildcat XX. Three 80mm pistons ride on a 66.2mm stroke, and three 41mm EFI throttle bodies feed six intake valves. The dry-sump oil tank even looks like a YXZ part.

WHAT ABOUT TRAIL COMFORT?

It’s top-shelf, king of the hill. The seats are comfortable and secure, and the controls are well laid out. Vibration is low, and the exhaust note is pleasant. We like the plastic passenger handhold on the dash and doors and the ample elbowroom provided by the lined doors. The gauges are easy to read, and the D-shaped steering wheel is nice, but the nubs for thumbs-up driving are too thick. Some complained of too much EPS assist, but we liked the light feel. Our test unit had a soft roof and side-view mirrors by Assault, so we were perfectly comfortable spending the day in the XX; however, larger people may have trouble getting out on the driver’s side.

HOW STRONG ARE THE BRAKES?

Strong enough. Dual-piston front and single-piston rear Hayes calipers squeeze non-perforated rotors, but there is no EBS backup. Trailing throttle on steep descents keeps the CVT belt engaged for four-wheel compression braking.

Undo four plastic fasteners, and the entire bed lifts out for engine access. Pull the yellow tab on the Donaldson airbox. Unscrew the end cap counterclockwise, and the pleated-paper air filter can be accessed.

WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?

Without a doubt, the Textron Wildcat XX is the smoothest-riding OEM UTV we’ve driven. The Robby Gordon suspension with well-tuned Fox Podium 2.5 QS3 shocks smooths out the nastiest terrain, and the XX ride quality is exceptional. It truly “rides over everything,” and the handling is also great. Everything works well on the Wildcat XX, and the smooth-running 998cc triple is also very user-friendly, with a well-tuned CVT and slick shifter. It’s a great overall package for desert, dunes and tight trails, and we can’t wait to check out the turbocharged Wildcat XX. 

SPECS:

2018 TEXTRON WILDCAT XX

ENGINE/TRANSMISSION

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 12-valve, DOHC, 4-stroke Triple

Displacement 998cc

Bore x stroke 80m x 66.2mm (x3)

Compression ratio 11.3:1

Lubrication system Dry sump

Additional cooling Twin fans

Induction 41mm EFI throttle body (x3)

Starting/back-up Electric/none

Starting procedure Turn key to right

Idle adjustment N/A

Air filter:

  Type Paper cylinder

Air filter access Undo four fasteners, pull yellow tab &

rotate end cap

Transmission Dual-range CVT w/rev.

Reverse procedure Move range selector to “R”

Drive system Selectable 2WD/4WD/4WDiff-lock

Final drives Shafts

DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES/WEIGHTS

Fuel capacity 10.0 gal.

Wheelbase 95.0”

Overall length/width/height 136”/64”/67.5”

Ground clearance 14”

Claimed curb weight 1,868 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/18”

  Rear RG Pro 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 30x10R15 CST Behemoth

  Rear 30x10R15 CST Behemoth

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 Lime Green/Black, Dynamic Charcoal Grey/Black

Minimum recommended operator age 16

Suggested retail price $20,499

Contact Textron Off-Road, (800) 774-3946

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