ATV TEST: Arctic Cat XR 550

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May 26, 2015
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In last month’s issue we compared a trio of all-new 500-class 4x4s from Honda, Can-Am and Polaris. We explained how the manufacturers are concentrating heavily on the class lately. That statement still holds true, as Arctic Cat has also recently developed a brand-new machine for the class. Although we have yet to ride this machine back to back with its competition, we did get to throw a leg over the XR 550 at Moab this month, and this is how the trail ride went.

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POWER
Arctic Cat’s new XR 550 is equipped with a 545cc, single-overhead-cam, four-valve, liquid-cooled (with fan), electronic fuel-injected single cylinder. The power displacement is very usable, with a good feel from the bottom end all the way up to the top. Transferring the power to the wheels is an automatic CVT with EBS high/ low range, neutral, reverse and park. It weighs in at 750 pounds dry, with a 51/49-percent weight split between the front and rear.

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On winding trails the XR cruises very nicely, even when you get into the more open areas. The option of standard 4WD and the front diff-lock is a great feature. You can ride around all day and climb with ease in standard 4WD, but when you want to really push the limits, you can engage the front diff-lock and have confidence climbing. Steering is nice and smooth with the help of the electronic power steering system. The steering does get stiff to turn when in 4WD diff-lock on rocky surfaces.

SUSPENSION & MORE
The XR features all-new suspension geometry, lowered seat height and the engine was moved forward in the footwell area to increase the foot area. Double A-arms will be found in the front and rear to optimize suspension travel at 10 inches. The newly designed chassis achieves 11 inches of ground clearance. We tested this new machine in Utah over rocky terrain, sand washes, snow and gravel roads. To help keep the ride plush, Arctic Cat equipped the XR with a set of coil-over shocks at each corner that feature a dual-rate spring. To keep you moving down the trail, you will find a set of Duro Kaden 25×812 front tires and Duro Kaden 25×10-12 rear tires all mounted on aluminum wheels. This is a good tire setup for the types of terrain that we tested in and is a good all-around tire. For stopping power, you have hydraulic disc brakes on all four corners. We felt the stopping power is just right to bring you to a halt smoothly and quickly from high speeds or when descending hills.

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BODY FEATURES
The XR has a new look compared to the older-model 4×4 quads Arctic Cat had offered in the past years. Molded body panels with automotive-style paint give the XR a unique look. For storage you will find a rear 1.44-gallon compartment that is water- and dust-resistant, and under the seat you will find a little bit of extra storage to help keep things out of the elements. Larger items can be placed on the SpeedRack, which is made of high-grade composite construction with a tubular steel frame and raised and textured non-slip surface. Multiple points of attachment make securing your items a breeze. To keep you informed with what your machine is doing, Arctic Cat installed the same digital gauge that you can find in their Wildcat UTVs. The digital gauge offers speedometer, tachometer, hour meter, odometer, trip meter, gear indicator, fuel gauge, engine temp, air-intake temp, digital clock and volts. To help you see clearly when the sun goes down are halogen headlights with a light bar inside the housing. Dual, 55-watt, low-beam bulbs and 60-watt, high-beam H13 bulbs can be found to light up your night. To help others behind you see, Arctic Cat installed dual-LED rear taillights.

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CONCLUSION
At $9699, the 2015 Arctic Cat XR 550 XT EPS is a lot more than the Polaris Sportsman and Can-Am Outlander. Arctic Cat really stepped it up with this new machine. Everything works without any flaws—from power delivery and suspension plushness to handling and steering. The new XR 550 XT climbed everything that got in our way. It’s a fun and comfortable machine to go out exploring and also go places that you will need 4WD.

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SPECS
Engine………. SOHC, 4-stroke, 4-valve
Bore x stroke………………92mm x 82mm
Fuel system…………………………………..EFI
Displacement……………………………545cc
Starting system…………………….. Electric
Final drive…………….Auto CVT w/ EBS
Suspension/wheel travel:
Front………………….. Double A-arm/10”
Rear………………….. Double A-arm/10”
Tires:
Front……………………………………. 25×8-12
Rear………………………………….. 25×10-12
Brakes:
Front…………………………Hydraulic disc
Rear…………………………Hydraulic disc
Wheelbase……………………………………52”
Length/width/height
83.4”/48.5”/49.5”
Ground clearance………………………..11”
Fuel capacity………………………….. 6 gal.
Total rack capacity…….. 100 lb. (front)/
200 lb. (rear)
Towing capacity……………………1050 lb.
Curb weight……………………………750 lb.
Colors…… Navy Blue, Sunset Orange,
True Timber Camo
MSRP…………………………….. $7799-$9699

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