What a great model year for innovation, performance and bang for the buck across all UTV segments. It is absolutely incredible how fast the UTV market has grown and really taken over the industry. We’ve sure come a long way since that first 454cc Mule 1000 back in 1988. Utility vehicles seemed to stay relatively tame until Yamaha tempted us with a little performance potential on that first Rhino. If you don’t know the story, the aftermarket exploded with hopups and improvements, but what is more, the OEMs all took note and were making plans of their own. Just 12 years from that first 660cc, carbureted Rhino, we’re able to buy factory turbocharged, four-seat UTVs with up to 168 horsepower and 22-plus inches of wheel travel.
UTV ACTION UTV OF 2016
The Yamaha YXZ1000R ($19,799– $21,599) is so innovative that it creates its own class. It’s the first production UTV from a major manufacturer with a manual-clutch, manual-shift, five-speed transmission mated to a high-performance, free-revving, threecylinder, double-overhead-cam, 12-valve engine. Yamaha build quality and attention to ergonomics also set new targets in the UTV industry, and the machine’s styling got every performance-minded driver’s attention.
While the first-generation YXZ got mixed reviews for its aggressive power delivery, suspension settings and the extra effort the fully manual transmission requires, the machine’s performance was an instant hit among drivers with the skill to use it. The YXZ dominates short-course racing, and the machine continues to improve. The 2017 YXZ Sport Shift model isn’t eligible for UTV Action’s 2016 UTV of the Year Awards, but it will certainly be among next year’s contenders.
BEST CROSS-OVER UTV
The Polaris General 1000 in its three packages (four for 2017) from $15,999– $20,299 and just recently a four-seater at $20,999.The General is definitely the best of both worlds, combining a 100-horsepower engine and RZR-like suspension with a full-size functioning dump bed and working-class payload. The Deluxe model even comes with compressionadjustable Fox Podium QS3 shocks. If you want a single machine for both heavy work and heavy play, the General is your UTV.
MOST INNOVATIVE UTV & AD CAMPAIGN
The 2016 Honda Pioneer 1000 ($13,999) and 1000-5 ($16,199) is by far the most innovative UTV to date. The Pioneer 1000 features Honda’s biggest UTV engine and the industry’s most durable automatic transmission. The six-speed, fully automatic dual-clutch transmission is as innovative as it gets, with the option to choose between manual mode with paddle shifters or fully automatic with the option of sport mode for higher-rpm shifts. The chassis/cabin layout is almost as trick as the transmission with back seats that fold away into the dump bed when not in use.
The Pioneer 1000 also features one of the most off-the-wall, comical ad campaigns of any side-by-side with the “Roles Reversed” Bigfoot-family-sighting TV commercial—a family of Bigfoots hiding in the forest, whispering about its elusiveness and trying to catch a glimpse of the 1000cc, five-seat Honda Pioneer.
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK
The brand-new, dual-A-arm Polaris Ace 570 SP brings a whole lot of performance for under just 10 grand. If you want to get both your UTV and ATV fix at the same time, there is no better deal than the new Ace 570 SP. At the same $9999 as last year’s model, the new Ace 570 SP brings a completely new level of suspension performance and handling to a market they’ve created over the last two years. The 2017 Ace 900 XC EPS tested in this issue adds to the Ace performance level as well.
BEST TURBOCHARGED UTV
The best turbocharged UTV goes to the 131-horsepower Can-Am Maverick Max X rs Turbo ($26,099) and base-model 1000R Turbo ($20,499). You get arm-stretching acceleration, impressive comfort and agile, balanced handling at surprisingly affordable prices. The base-model Maverick Turbo comes with Fox QS3 piggybacks, and the double throwdown X rs features topof-the-line Fox 2.5 Podium RC.2 piggyback shocks with bottom-out control and adjustable rebound.
BEST 60-INCH SPORT UTV
The Polaris RZR S 1000 EPS ($17,999) definitely gives the Maverick 1000R X xc ($18,449) a run for its money, but if the past year’s GNCC results are any kind of sign, the Maverick would be coming out on top. Both Kyle Chaney and Tim Farr have been dominating the XC scene, with Can-Am’s Maverick X xc proving its worth. The number of S 1000s at Brimstone’s Paragon event proves the new RZR’s popularity with East Coast enthusiasts.
MOST INNOVATIVE UTILITY UTV
The Can-Am Defenders have impressive engine performance in both the 800 cc and 1000 cc versions, comfortable, capable suspension and outstanding convenience features like a cool dash-mounted tool box. Kawasaki’s Pro-FXT Mule and Pro-DXT diesel ($12,999–$16,999) have the same capabilities and transform into a six-person “crew” with its Trans-Cab system for less money than the standard Defender. The Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXT is also backed by Kawasaki’s three-year limited warranty, and it has more suspension travel than the Teryx and Teryx4.
BEST 50-INCH UTV
The RZR 900 barely edges out the Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail 700. The RZR 900’s extra horsepower pushed it over the top, according to our latest shootout, but they are both amazingly capable little machines. The original RZR 800 was a great trail machine, but more motor and its latest generation of body/ cabin refinements make it better than ever.
BEST NEW PLAYER IN UTV-TOWN
Bad Boy Off-Road sprang from Bad Boy Buggies (hybrid-electric hunting UTVs) to “make some noise” with the Stampede 900, the first extra-cab UTV that comes in three packages ($13,799–$15,999). The Bad Boy’s extra-cab layout leaves ample room and specific compartments protected by the cab for valuables like guns, bows, tools, etc. The Stampede features a total of 24 cubic feet of storage and a 2000-pound towing capacity, yet it performs on a level with the John Deere RSX860i.
BEST 1000cc MUD MACHINE
The Polaris High Lifter RZR XP 1000 ($23,499) and XP 4 ($25,699) are by far the coolest-looking mudders, but the Can-Am Maverick 1000R X mr ($20,949–$21,849) delivers more mud-whomping bang for your hard-earned bucks! The Maverick X mr is more than just big mud tires, a lift kit and snorkels like you get with the aftermarket. Can-Am has actually re-geared the low-range gear for that extra grunt you really need in the sticky stuff. The engine’s air intake and CVT inlets and CVT exhaust have been relocated to high on the dash.
BEST 1000cc SPORT UTV
It falls just short of UTV of the year, but the Polaris RZR XP 1000 EPS ($20,299) is by far the weapon of choice for most in the sport market on both coasts, and especially out west. The RZR XP 1000 is an all-out great machine that’s both fun and easy to drive in most any terrain. Without the extra horsepower of the turbo models or fancy shifting like the Yamaha, the XP 1000 EPS continues to impress with overall great performance and handling.
BEST FOUR-SEAT SPORT UTV VALUE
The $15,799 Teryx4 800 is the hot choice for the tighter trails like HatfieldMcCoy, but westerners clearly prefer the $22,299 Polaris RZR XP 4 1000 for the more open desert or dunes. If you’ve got the room to stretch its legs, the bighorsepower, big-travel RZR XP 4 is quite possibly family entertainment at its finest. But, the shorter-wheelbase Teryx4 can be just as much fun slopping around in the mud and trees found in our East Coast riding areas.
WHAT WILL 2017 BRING?
So far the YXZ1000R Sport Shift and Maverick X3 X rs Turbos were the hottest 2017 news, but Polaris also just released the details on its newest big-horsepower Turbos with 168 horsepower and a list of other improvements. We have heard Polaris is testing a CVT-less RZR, but it didn’t show up with this latest Turbo.