— Shootout between the top non-turbo UTVs from Polaris and Textron —
The long-awaited release of Textron’s Wildcat XX has been a success. Dealers are selling every machine they order so far, and most of the owner comments are positive. We wanted to jump into a shootout with the newcomer right away to see how it compares to Polaris’ popular RZR XP 1000.
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Polaris lists the XP 1000 at $17,999. The Wildcat XX is $20,499. On the short list, the XX’s extra $2500 gets you full doors, more durable eight-ply tires and a sturdier ROPS roof support. Underneath that, you get forged steering knuckles, double-shear suspension, and steering components up front and proper trailing arms out back that do not require radius rods. These components do add weight but add strength as well. With these features alone, you get even more for your money with the XX.
The XX weighs 1816 pounds, while the RZR is only 1368 pounds. The cage, tires and suspension components are the direct cause of the added weight, so the extra pounds are in the right places. The other notable difference is the length. The XX has a 5-inch-longer wheelbase at 95 inches than the RZR at an even 90 inches; however, overall, the XX is a full 17 inches longer than the RZR. The extra length is due to the added wheelbase and a much larger cargo bed on the XX that will fit up to a 32-inch tire lying flat. The RZR will not fit any tire lying flat.
Polaris gives the RZR 16 inches of wheel travel up front and 18 inches in the rear. The Wildcat offers 18 both front and rear. That, along with the added wheelbase, is very noticeable in the driver’s seat. The shocks on the two machines are similar on the low-end but fine for 90 percent of riders. They are compression and preload adjustable.
Both cabins aren’t particularly feature-filled; however, you do have a lot more legroom in the XX. You sit lower, too, and, of course, are closed in better due to the full doors. The 4-gallon glove box is huge on the XX, and you have a more laid-back seating position compared to the upright driving position of the Polaris RZR.
Polaris uses its proven Pro Star twin-cylinder powerplant in the XP 1000. It produces 110 horsepower at around 8000 rpm. For now, Textron is using Yamaha’s three-cylinder YXZ engine, which they claim produces 125 horsepower. To get that power, the Wildcat has to run in the 9–10,000-rpm range, which is close to wide-open throttle, so it’s noticeably louder in the cockpit of the XX. Instead of a manual gear box, Textron added a more user-friendly CVT setup on the XX. The clutch sheaves themselves are bigger than anything we have seen previously on a UTV, and so far we have yet to break a belt. Plus, Textron made the CVT cover removable without tools. This is a huge improvement over the old Wildcat system, which forced you to remove the shock then the clutch cover to make a CVT belt change.
In a head-to-head drag race, the two machines are virtually identical. The XX has a slight delay when you stab the throttle, and the rear suspension squat takes up a millisecond before the power starts spinning the rear tires. So, the RZR gets an easy lead if both drivers have equal reaction times. It takes a couple seconds for the XX to catch the XP, and then they run dead even to the top end. The XX tops out a bit quicker at about 76 mph and the RZR will make it to 78 mph, according to a GPS. It’s about as even a drag race as you can get.
Two things dictate how these cars differ in handling—seating position and body roll. The XX has a lot of body roll but lower seats. The machines corner about the same, but the XX takes a little getting used to. You have to set up for a turn early and wait for the body roll to stop, then it will slide through any turn great. The RZR makes you slow down a bit entering a corner or you feel tall and tippy going around corners. Neither car has an advantage over the other in turns. At slow speed, the Wildcat corners just as tight as the RZR. We really like the fact that the Wildcat has a switch locking front differential. Having the confidence that your machine is in diff lock before tackling a tough section is night-and-day better than wondering if the machine will sense that it needs it.
This is where the Textron shines. By no means is the RZR XP 1000 suspension bad. In fact, it has always been one of the highlights of the machine. Textron, with the help of Robby Gordon, designed a suspension system that is next level both in strength and performance. The combination of the steering-rack placement, A-arm length, trailing-arm design and wheelbase measurement makes this car go over the bumps as well or better than an X3 and way better than the RZR. Not only does the suspension travel soak up the bumps, it tracks very straight and stays planted. If you are in a section of whoops then hit a bigger bump or a G-out, the XX can take it without upset. In fact, the car tends to wheelie more over the bumps than it does pack up and kick in the back like the RZR. This gives the driver a lot more confidence behind the wheel.
Over slow-speed rocks and bumps, both cars drive equally well. They turn and crawl great, and the Wildcat doesn’t seem to get hung up on obstacles due to the longer wheelbase. Throttle modulation is similar, and the ergonomics of each machine are pretty well-matched.
Since the RZR XP 1000 has been around basically unchanged since 2014, there are a host of hop-up parts and aftermarket goodies available for it. From suspension and frame components to body kits and skid plates, the list is endless. We have seen a handful of cool bolt-ons from companies like Assault Industries; however, for now, Robby Gordon has the exclusive rights to all of the aftermarket suspension components, such as long travel, so your options will be limited. We hope to get behind the wheel of a Speed SxS-accessorized (www.speedsxs.com) Wildcat XX soon and let you know what we think.
On our test loop in the California desert, which includes flat-out trails, sand washes, tight rock crawling, whoops and more, the new Textron Wildcat XX performed better in more sections. In the others, it was as good as the RZR XP 1000.
If you want to buy a machine and leave it basically stock to run hard and rip up some local trails, the XX is a winner right out of the box; however, if you can’t leave well enough alone and plan to customize your SxS, the RZR is still a viable option and, for now, has more aftermarket goodies available to customize it the way you want.
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