2012 ATV Buyer’s Guide
Every year, it’s like a whole new world. The landscape of modern ATVs is always changing, and each season there’s a new trend that needs exploration. For 2013, we see a further expansion of the ATV spectrum at both ends. There are more high-end models than ever before, with high-output motors and high-tech features like power steering becoming the norm. At the other end of the market, there’s a resurgence of budget-minded quads. Long-existing models are getting more attention and being upgraded with an eye toward value. The bottom line is, the ATV market is broader and more diverse than ever. Here’s a snapshot as of right now.
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APEX 450MX/250MX ($12,999/$11,999)
Apex is a U.S. company that builds very limited-production racing quads. The core of the Apex is a carbureted, five-valve Yamaha 250 or 450 motor from the pre-EFI motocross bike. Around that, Apex builds a turnkey racing quad that’s ready for the track. The width, wheels, suspension and even the exhaust are uncompromised competition parts to a level that major manufacturers can’t attain for political reasons. The 250 is also available as a cross-country racer.
CAN-AM DS450X MX ($9699)
Can-Am offers one of the only race-ready quads in full, MX-track width. The X mx version of the DS450 gets new Fox suspension as standard equipment for 2013. The front shocks are Float Evol Gen 2 shocks and the rear is a Podium X, which is the same combination that virtually all the National MX contenders use, including Can-Am’s 2011 champion, John Natalie.
CAN-AM DS450X XC ($8999)
Can-Am also offers a turnkey racer for cross-country events. The X xc is sold in a narrower width than the X mx, but has a long list of competition upgrades, like KYB piggyback shocks, aluminum nerf bars, a front bumper, and ITP wheels and tires. It has a Rotax double-overhead-cam, liquid-cooled motor that meets federal guidelines for use on public trails. The current X xc still carries a 2012 designation.
YAMAHA YFZ450R ($8599)
This is the ATV that propelled Chad Wienen to his first AMA ATV National Motocross Championship in 2012. It has Yamaha’s five-valve 450 motor with Mikuni EFI in an aluminum chassis. Yamaha offers the R model in race-ready form. The R model is 48.8 inches wide thanks to oversize A-arms and a wide rear axle. It comes with piggyback shocks and is available in blue or white.
KAWASAKI KFX450R ($8299)
Kawasaki’s sport quad holds a special place in the staff’s editorial heart, because it is one of the very few elite sport quads with reverse. In stock form, it’s set up for riding hard or racing in cross-country events and has a narrower width than a full-track racer. The path to MX trim is well traveled and easy. The Kawasaki 450 motor has incredible hop-up potential.
YAMAHA RAPTOR 700R/700 ($8099/$7699)
After all this time, the Raptor 700 is still the top dog in the sport quad world. It still has incredible torque from its SOHC, four-valve motor. The styling has been warmed over for 2013, and Maxxis tires now come stock. The new R model has upgraded piggyback shocks offering over 9 inches of wheel travel on all four corners. There’s also a special-edition version with GYTR parts for $8799.
CAN-AM DS450 ($7799)
This is the base model for the Can-Am X mx sport quad that won the 2011 National MX Championship. It has the no-weld ALTEC aluminum frame and forged aluminum double A-arm front suspension with KYB piggyback shocks. The EFI system uses a 46mm throttle body and a 16-bit CPU. The Can-Am is priced much lower than comparable 450s. The standard DS is still considered a 2012 model.
HONDA TRX450R ($7799)
We’ve been looking for a new fuel-injected, aluminum-framed Honda sport quad for some time, but right now, Honda bigwigs feel it’s more important to keep the price down. Thus, the venerable TRX450R returns with its carburetor, electric start and steel frame. That’s okay with us; the Honda is still capable of winning races on the national stage.
SUZUKI QUADSPORT Z400 ($7099)
About 10 years ago, Doug Gust won the National MX Championship on a Suzuki 400 against a field of newer 450s. It remains a great-handling machine even today and has outlived Suzuki’s own 450 sport quad. Several years ago, it gained fuel injection. For 2013, Suzuki held the price, but with the return of the Yamaha YFZ450, the Z remains a bit pricey.
This is like nothing else in the sport ATV world. The Apex chassis was designed in Arizona and built overseas. It carries a potent, 85cc, two-stroke motor from the Honda CR85R motocross motorcycle. It’s scaled for smaller pilots, but its performance is comparable to full-size sport quads. It’s designed for competition, with air suspension, nerf bars and performance tires.
YAMAHA YFZ450 ($6899)
This model must infuriate other ATV makers. Yamaha went back in time to reintroduce the original YFZ450 at a price that’s also from an earlier era. This is essentially the same machine that was Yamaha’s top-of-the-line racer in 2008, when it cost $7299. Unlike the current R and X models, it has a steel frame and a carburetor. It does not have reverse.
HONDA TRX400X ($6399)
This machine awakened the new age of sport quads some 14 years ago with its excellent handling, light weight and incredible reliability. After a few updates in the intervening years, it’s still holding up well. The SOHC, four-valve motor was based on the long-gone XR400R motorcycle, but has reverse and electric start. Available only in red, but why would you want anything else?
YAMAHA RAPTOR 350 ($5599)
In another life, the Raptor 350 was a legend. Back in the ‘90s, it was known as the Warrior 350, and it was one of the staples of the sport quad world. Today, it might seem old fashion with its two-valve, air-cooled motor, but it still offers good performance and low maintenance. Plus, you can always find parts, no matter how deep you are in Honduras.
YAMAHA RAPTOR 250R/250 ($5099/$4599)
Yamaha is the only major ATV maker that takes the 250 sport market seriously. The Raptor 250 is king of its class, outside of a few custom-built and low-quantity machines like the Apex. The Raptor offers a modern chassis with a mild, air-cooled motor without reverse. The R version has upgraded suspension, and although it’s not technically a 2013 model, it’s still available at many dealers.
POLARIS TRAIL BLAZER 330 ($4399)
This is a simple, fun sport ATV that doesn’t demand much from its rider. The transmission is an automatic CV design, the motor is a 330cc, air-cooled two-valver, and the suspension features semi-long travel (8.2-inch) MacPherson struts up front and a swingarm in the rear with 10.5 inches of travel. The Trail Blazer doesn’t have racks or a hitch, but is rated to tow 1263 pounds. The Trail Boss is the nearly identical utility version.
ARCTIC CAT DVX300 ($4199)
Arctic Cat has a distinctive idea of what a sport quad should be, and it’s more user-friendly than the traditional units in that field. The DVX300 has a CV transmission and a driveshaft, just like most utility quads. On the other hand, it uses a single shock in the rear, double A-arms in the front and aggressive Kenda Klaw tires on spun aluminum wheels—very sporty.
HONDA TRX250X ($4499)
Honda’s 229cc 250X isn’t flashy, but it remains an all-time-great quad for less experienced riders because of the SportClutch, which allows riders to use the clutch lever manually or just punch the throttle and go. The motor is virtually impossible to stall. The front suspension works with twin A-arms, and the rear is a straight axle with over 5 inches of travel.
CAN-AM DS250 ($3899)
Can-Am’s DS250 is a much more affordable and conservative machine than its big brother, the DS450. Aimed more at entry-level riders than full-fledged racers, the DS250 has a CV transmission with reverse and has an adjustable throttle limiter. The suspension has double A-arms in front and a swingarm in back, providing 5.5 and 6.7 inches of travel, respectively. Rated for 14-year-olds.
POLARIS PHOENIX 200 ($3599)
This is a very good choice for the beginner who doesn’t want to worry about a manual clutch or gearbox. The Phoenix has a simple air-cooled motor hooked up to a CV transmission. It has reverse and a shaft drive. The Phoenix is designed for riders who are 14 years old and who have the supervision of an adult, or for solo operation of 16-year-olds.
YAMAHA RAPTOR 125 ($3499)
Someone at Yamaha knows the ingredients for sheer fun. The Raptor 125 has a tiny, air-cooled, two-valve motor similar to that of the TT-R125 in a modern sport chassis, which is similar to the Raptor 250. The result is a blast for any rider of any experience. The Raptor might seem like overkill, but not to anyone who has ridden it. No reverse.
KYMCO MONGOOSE 300 ($3849)
Kymco’s sole entry in the two-wheel-drive sport category is a very basic machine at a reasonable price. The Mongoose has a liquid-cooled, two-valve, four-stroke motor that is rated at 18 horsepower. Carburetion is through a 24mm Keihin carburetor. The transmission is automatic and features reverse. The suspension travel is modest at under 7 inches. Still, the Kymco maintains a good value at under $4000.
APEX 50/70/90/100 ($3999)
Apex designs its competition-oriented quads in Chandler, Arizona, then has many of the pieces manufactured overseas. The same basic machine is offered with two-stroke motors of four-different sizes: 50cc, 70cc, 90cc and 100cc. It comes ready to race with competition suspension, nerf bars, hydraulic disc brakes, aluminum-spun wheels and good tires.
ARCTIC CAT 150 ($3599)
This little ’Cat has a utility flavor, with racks and a towing capacity of 300 pounds. It’s powered by a basic, air-cooled, two-valve motor. In the rear it has a swingarm, single-shock suspension. and in the front it has double A-arms with preload-adjustable shocks. It also features a digital gauge and real headlights and taillights. The 150 is rated Y12 for 12-year-old riders.
CAN-AM DS90X ($3599)
The X version of the Can-Am DS90 is very different and a significant upgrade from the standard DS. The X is 43 inches wide with double A-arms in front and KYB piggyback shocks all the way around. The styling is just like the big DS450, but the 90 still has fairly mild output from its air-cooled motor and a CV transmission. It has reverse, a kickstart backup and is rated for riders 10 years old and up.
HONDA TRX90X ($2999)
The SOHC, air-cooled motor in Honda’s smallest ATV has been around for a long time and has actually been depicted in cave drawings. If they actually found one in an unspoiled Egyptian tomb, chances are it would run fine. Honda’s little four-stroke has single A-arm front suspension with 2.6 inches of travel, an automatic clutch, four-speed gearbox and legendary reliability. For riders 12 years old or older.
KAWASAKI KFX90 ($2749)
Kawasaki’s 90 has a CV transmission without reverse. It offers two ways to limit performance for young learners; there’s an adjustable throttle stop and a removable collar in the transmission that limits top speed. It has separate hand controls for the front and rear brakes, but no foot pedal. For suspension, it has single A-arms in front and a swingarm in the rear. It’s designated for 12-year-olds.
ARCTIC CAT 90 ($2699)
The little ‘Cat 90 has a distinct work flavor. It’s one of the few youth models that has real metal racks. Admittedly, the combined capacity of both racks is only 25 pounds, but that’s okay. There are probably child work laws involved. The truth is, the 90 is designed for fun. It has about 3 inches of suspension travel and an automatic transmission with reverse.
ARCTIC CAT DVX90 ($2699)
This version of the Arctic Cat 90 has a distinctly sporty look. Under the race-inspired bodywork, it’s pretty much the same as the Utility 90, but it has a front bumper instead of racks. The motor is a single-overhead-cam, air-cooled four-stroke with an automatic CV transmission and reverse. It comes with a safety flag and has working head and taillights for daytime operation.
CAN-AM DS90 ($2699)
The standard DS90 is very different from the sporty X version and is priced almost $1000 less. This DS is aimed more at the beginner and actually shares the same chassis with the DS70. Aside from engine displacement, the biggest difference between the 90 and 70 is the CPSC rating. The 90 is approved for 10-year-old riders, and the 70 is cleared for 6-year-olds.
POLARIS OUTLAW 90 ($2699)
This is Polaris’ entry into the Y10 category, for riders 10 years of age and older. It has an air-cooled, four-stroke motor with an automatic CV transmission that features reverse. There are a number of safety features, like the adjustable throttle stop, the safety tether/kill switch and the buggy-whip flag. Each Polaris 90 comes with a helmet and an instructional DVD.
POLARIS SPORTSMAN 90 ($2699)
Just in case you want to justify the Polaris 90 to mom, you can say it’s a utility quad. The Sportsman 90 is essentially the same as the sporty Outlaw, but it comes with plastic racks and styling that is reminiscent of the bigger Sportsmen, like the 77-horsepower 850. In case your kid thinks he really does have 77 horsepower, there’s a throttle limiter and a safety tether. It includes a helmet and an instructional DVD.
YAMAHA RAPTOR 90
In keeping with Yamaha’s clear desire to be on top of the sport ATV world, the Raptor 90 has a more sophisticated chassis than most 90s. It uses dual A-arms in front that provide 4.4 inches of travel. The motor has a shiftless CV transmission, and if that’s too much, there’s an electronic power limiter. Designated Y12 for riders 12 years old.
CAN-AM DS70 ($2199)
This is the largest ATV that carries a Y6 designation for 6-year-old riders. It’s also the only one with reverse. The chassis for the DS70 is the same as that of the DS90. The 70 has 6.3 inches of suspension travel in the rear and 3.4 inches in front through single A-arms. It has a CV transmission and electric start with a kickstarter as a backup.
KAWASAKI KFX50 ($1999)
We couldn’t be happier that the Kawasaki KFX50 is back in the line-up. This is one of very few quads scaled and approved for 6-year-old riders. This makes it the best way possible to introduce your kid to off-road riding. The KFX50 has full suspension and a CV transmission. A throttle limiter, a transmission collar and a tether kill switch make it kid-safe.
POLARIS OUTLAW 50 ($1999)
There aren’t enough of these on the market right now. The Polaris 50 is approved by the CPSC for riders who are 6 years old. That’s good news, because otherwise, small kids end up riding quads that are much too big and heavy for them. The Outlaw 50 comes with a helmet and an instructional DVD. It has electric start and real daytime running lights.
KYMCO MONGOOSE 90/70 ($2499/$2199)
Kymco’s two youth models are based on the same chassis. The Mongoose 70 and the Mongoose 90 have single A-arms in front and a single shock in the rear that provides just under 3 inches of travel. Both have four-stroke motors that are air-cooled with the assistance of a fan. The 70 produces 5.3 horsepower and the 90 churns out 6.3. Both have electric start and automatic transmissions. The 90 has reverse.
KAWASAKI BRUTE FORCE 300 ($4249)
Kawasaki’s focus with its new 300 is to provide a semi-sporty utility quad with as many features as possible for the price. The 300 has a comparatively wide track, a CV transmission, power that’s better than you might think and styling just like the big V-twins in Kawasaki’s line. It can carry 110 pounds on its racks and 500 pounds on its hitch.
ARCTIC CAT 300 CORE ($4199)
When the rest of the ATV industry suddenly rediscovered the value of the 300cc 4×2, Arctic Cat was already there. The 300 Core has a 270cc, liquid-cooled motor that drives a CV transmission with high, low and reverse. The suspension is fully independent with double A-arms on all four corners. The front rack can carry 50 pounds, the rear 100. The 300’s towing capacity is 500 pounds.
YAMAHA GRIZZLY 300 ($4199)
This is a fairly new offering from Yamaha. It’s all about value. The 300 doesn’t have frills or thrills like EFI or even a four-wheel-drive option, but the liquid-cooled, 287cc motor has decent power output. It has a CV transmission with reverse and can haul 143 pounds on its racks, plus another 500 pounds of towing capacity. The brakes are hydraulic discs.
HONDA RECON ($3949)
Honda transformed the sporty 250X into a more utility-oriented machine, with the addition of racks and slight chassis changes. It uses the same air-cooled, 229cc motor as the X, and it’s also mounted lengthwise in the chassis like the X. Unlike the X, it doesn’t have the SportClutch, but for $250, you can get Honda’s Electric Shift Program (ESP).
YAMAHA GRIZZLY 125 ($3699)
The baby Griz’ has a fully automatic CV transmission with reverse hooked up to a two-valve, 124cc, air-cooled motor. It can haul around 33 pounds of cargo (11 on the front rack, 22 on the rear). The seat height is very low for a Y16 ATV, and it still has about 3 inches of suspension travel and 5.7 inches of ground clearance.
KYMCO MXU150 ($3099)
This is a simple machine rated for 14-year-olds, with its 11-horsepower, air-cooled, two-valve motor. But it still has a functional side, so you can make your young ’un earn his allowance. The steel racks are perfectly functional and have 90 pounds of capacity. The 150 can also tow 250 pounds, so you have to find a fairly light trailer. The suspension is a single A-arm in front and a swingarm in the rear.
ARCTIC CAT MUD PRO 1000 LIMITED ($14,399)
Arctic Cat pretty much invented a new class of ATV with the Mud Pro line: competition 4x4s. The 1000 Mud Pro Limited starts off with a 951cc H2 motor that gained fame in the Thunder Cat, adds race suspension and 14 inches of ground clearance. Maxxis Zilla tires with aluminum wheels, electric power steering, massive bumpers, a snorkel intake and a 3000-pound winch all come as standard equipment with cool automotive-style paint. Hope you like green.
CAN-AM OUTLANDER 1000X MR ($14,399)
Even though Arctic Cat invented the mud competition quad, Can-Am has shown no hesitation in climbing aboard. The 1000X mr starts off with an 82-horsepower, Rotax V-twin motor in an extended version of the BRP Generation 2 chassis. It has air-control suspension via Fox air-assist HPG shocks, 30-inch Gorilla Silverback tires, power steering, a Warn winch, a relocated radiator and a long list of muddy features.
ARCTIC CAT 1000XT ($12,099)
The big ‘Cat doesn’t come in a “stripped” Core model. If you want the 951cc EFI V-twin, it only comes in XT trim with power steering, aluminum wheels, Maxxis Bighorn tires, a sway bar and automotive paint. This year, the 1000XT gets “park” mode in its transmission. New shock settings and a new rear torsion bar refine the handling. Other options, like a 3000-pound winch, are an easy upgrade in the Limited package.
POLARIS SCRAMBLER XP850LE/XP850 ($11,999/$9499)
This is the sportiest big Polaris 4×4 ever. It has new styling and more power with a competition-tuned exhaust. This machine is aimed right at the Can-Am Renegade line, but the Scrambler lets you keep your racks. The 850cc motor is turned sideways to give the rider more floorboard space and is rated at 77 horsepower. The LE version gets power steering and Fox suspension, along with a different color scheme.
ARCTIC CAT MUD PRO 700 LIMITED ($11,499)
The Mud Pro 700 is essentially the same machine as the 1000, but with a little less firepower. The EFI, liquid-cooled mill has one cylinder and displaces 695cc, but the quad still gets a long list of standard features, including a 3000-pound winch, power steering, front and rear SpeedRacks, bumpers, a snorkel air intake, and aluminum wheels with Maxxis Zilla tires. The Mud Pro comes with very distinctive green paint and still looks wicked.
CAN-AM OUTLANDER DPS 1000 ($11,499–$14,099)
The Outlander 1000 currently has the most powerful motor in the ATV world. The Rotax V-twin mill is rated at 82 horsepower, and it’s mounted in Can-Am’s SST Generation 2 chassis with fully independent suspension. The 1000 starts off in DPS trim, which includes power steering and 27-inch Maxxis Bighorn tires on 14-inch cast-aluminum wheels. For $12,099, the XT package includes a winch, while the XT-P package has Fox Podium RC2 shocks, beadlocks and more for $14,099.
CAN-AM RENEGADE 1000/1000X XC ($11,049/$13,549)
The Renegade 1000 is the king of the sport 4x4s. It has an 82-horsepower Rotax V-twin motor and is stripped down with sporty styling and upgraded suspension compared to the Outlander. There are no racks or hitches on the Renegade; it’s all about performance. If you want to go a step further, you can step up to the X xc version for another $2500. That gives you Fox Podium RC2 shocks, power steering and a number of other features.
ARCTIC CAT TBX 700XT ($10,599)
The one feature that sets the TBX apart from anything else in the Arctic Cat line is the 300-pound tilting rear bed. The box has side storage compartments and tie-down locations. Additionally, the TBX has a front SpeedRack that will accept hundreds of accessory attachments. Under it all is the 695cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled H1 motor with EFI. Power steering and premium wheels are standard on the XT.
ARCTIC CAT SUPER DUTY DIESEL ($10,599)
As the name states, this model comes with a diesel engine. It’s a 686cc inline twin that will run on DF1, DF2, DF Arctic, JP5, JP8 and biodiesel. The Super Duty Diesel also comes with a 3000-pound winch as standard equipment. The suspension is fully independent with double-A-arms and 10 inches of travel. Four-wheel drive comes with the push of a button, and front differential lock is electric.
ARCTIC CAT 700XT/700 CORE ($10299/$8999)
The Core line of Arctic Cat ATVs sounds like a bunch of strippos, but that’s hardly the case. The 700 Core has the 695cc, single-cylinder motor, independent suspension, electric diff-lock, and four-wheel drive at the push of a button. This year, Arctic Cat added a “park” mode on the CV transmission. The XT version buys a long list of upgrades for $2200. It has power steering, real paint and aluminum-cast wheels with Duro 2 Star Kaden tires.
CAN-AM RENEGADE 800 ($9999)
Once upon a time, we thought that no ATV would top the performance of the Renegade 800. Now there’s a 1000cc version, but the 800 is still formidable. It’s powered by a slightly smaller version of the Rotax V-twin mill with fuel injection, and it’s stripped for riding hard. If that’s not enough, Can-Am also offers the X xc package, which has a number of high-performance features, including power steering, beadlock wheels and Fox suspension. It sells for $13,049.
POLARIS BIG BOSS 6X6 ($9999)
The Big Boss 6×6 is like nothing in the world. It has true six-wheel-drive on demand with six separate drive shafts, six separate wheels and six separate tires. The rear box can haul and dump 800 pounds of dirt, rocks or your ex-girlfriend’s unicorn collection. It has a new, integrated, front-storage compartment with lots of space. And, the radiator has been raised 3 inches to keep it cleaner, longer. This has the 50-horsepower, twin-cylinder engine like the 800EFI.
CAN-AM OUTLANDER 800 ($9549–$13,049)
The 800cc version of the Rotax V-twin is powerful in its own right, and it comes in three different Outlander packages. The base model gives you that motor in the SST Gen 2 frame, with dual A-arms in front and trailing arms in the rear. The DPS package is headlined by power steering and costs $10,449. The big news for the $11,049 XT configuration is the Warn winch, and the XT-P gives you upgraded suspension and more performance tricks for $2000 more.
ARCTIC CAT 550XT/550 CORE ($9299/$7999)
Arctic Cat gives you choices galore in its 4×4 models. The 550 Core is basic, but certainly not stripped. It has the 545cc EFI mill, “Ride In” suspension with its independent suspension, 11 inches of ground clearance, a comparatively low seat height, and electric front diff-lock. The ZT gives you power steering, upgraded wheels and tires, real paint and more. Then there’s a limited edition, which gives you a winch and other features.
KAWASAKI BRUTE FORCE 750 ($9299)
Kawasaki was a pioneer in the current proliferation of big, high-horsepower, twin-cylinder ATVs. The Brute Force is still the only V-twin offered by a Japanese company, and it continues to evolve. It received EFI a few years back, and the power-steering option came along last year, adding only $700 to the price. The Camo edition will cost another $600.
HONDA RINCON ($9199)
Honda’s flagship utility quad isn’t flashy, but it remains a solid workhorse that’s fun because of its relative light weight and excellent handling. The Rincon is powered by a mildly tuned, 675cc, pushrod motor with EFI and liquid-cooling. It is the only ATV that uses a hydraulic torque converter for automatic shifting, like a car. It has no front diff-lock or power-steering option, but remains one of the favorite 4x4s for the Dirt Wheels staff.
CAN-AM OUTLANDER 650X MR (TBA)
This is a brand-new model just released at press time. Can-Am took the chassis from the 1000X mr, its flagship mud monster, and gave it a smaller motor and a smaller price. So, this machine has all the same mud-competition features, like air-control suspension via Fox air-assist HPG shocks, 30-inch Gorilla Silverback tires, power steering, a Warn winch and a relocated radiator.
YAMAHA GRIZZLY 700 FI ($8899)
The North American Grizzly is the king of the mammals, and the Georgia Grizzly is pretty much at the top of the ATV food chain. The American-made Yamaha Grizzly 700 remains incredibly popular, with a relatively lightweight, single-cylinder motor that has a top end derived from the Raptor 700. It has independent suspension and a CV transmission. You can get a power-steering option for $600. That’s a deal.
POLARIS SPORTSMAN XP 850 H.O. EPS/XP 850 H.O. ($9999/$8799)
The big Polaris motor got more power last year and is rated at 77 horsepower. The liquid-cooled, SOHC, parallel-twin motor is oriented sideways in the chassis to give the operator more foot room, and it’s connected to a CV transmission with Active Descent Control. The chassis has dual A-arms on all four corners. The EPS model gets power steering, Carlisle 489II tires, cast-aluminum wheels and automotive paint.
CAN-AM OUTLANDER 650 ($8699–$10,199)
The new 650 Outlanders now have upgraded to the newer second-generation SST frames, so the MacPherson struts give way to double A-arms up front. The motor is a smaller version of the Rotax V-twin and can hold its own compared to 700s. Three versions are available: standard, DPS package with power steering ($9599) and XT package with a Warn winch ($10,199).
POLARIS SPORTSMAN 550 EPS/550 ($8699/$7699)
Like the Sportsman 850, the 550 is part of the Polaris Premium line. In fact, it has the same chassis as the 850, with double A-arm suspension all the way around. But the 550 motor is a single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, SOHC mill with fuel injection. Like the 850, the 550 motor is mounted sideways in the frame. The EPS model comes with power steering, 14-inch cast-aluminum wheels, Carlisle 489II tires, a digital gauge and automotive paint.
SUZUKI KINGQUAD 750AXi ($8699)
The big Suzuki flagship has the largest single-cylinder motor in the off-road world. Well, there might be some Russian tractor that trumps the KingQuad 750 in piston diameter, but it probably doesn’t have the torque. The KingQuad has independent suspension, a CV transmission and fuel injection. Power steering is available for $800. Camo and 30th Anniversary editions sell for $9899.
KYMCO MXU700i ($8599)
The days when Kymco was considered a budget ATV maker are gone. Now, with the introduction of the MXU700i, the Taiwanese manufacturer is going toe to toe with the big companies in Japan and North America in terms of both performance and price. The new 700 has a liquid-cooled, EFI four-valver that is rated at 45 horsepower. For $800 more, you can get the LE version with upgraded wheels and tires, painted plastic, and a 3000-pound winch.
KAWASAKI BRUTE FORCE 650i ($8199)
Kawasaki has the most top-heavy line of all the Japanese manufacturers, with three big V-twins on board. The Brute Force 650i splits the technological difference between the fully loaded 750 and the plain-Jane 650. The 650i has fully independent, double-A-arm suspension on all four corners like the 750, a carbureted 633cc motor like the standard 650, and a price in the middle.
CAN-AM RENEGADE 500 ($8149)
This is the littlest Indian in the Can-Am line, and it’s still a very fierce warrior. The 500 has a downsized version of the Rotax V-twin motor. It recently was upgraded to get the SST Gen 2 frame like the big 1000 Renegade. It remains a very sporty 4×4 with competition-grade suspension, and it’s stripped of racks and other utility accoutrements. Can-Am does not offer the 500 in an X xc package.
YAMAHA GRIZZLY 550 FI ($7999)
Yamaha took the 700 Grizzly and sucked 150cc out of the motor to arrive at the Grizzly 550. In every other way, it’s the same. It features push-button 4WD that lets you choose between limited slip and full lock, has 1322 pounds in towing capacity, plus 286 pounds of combined rack capacity. The Grizzly 550, like the others in its cave-bear clan, is assembled in Georgia.
HONDA RUBICON ($7999)
The line between the Honda Rubicon and a fully decked out Foreman is fairly thin, but the Rubicon still offers more performance out of its carbureted, 499cc, pushrod motor. The Rubicon also offers a hydro-mechanical, continuously variable transmission unlike any other in the industry. The Rubicon uses independent front suspension with swingarm suspension in the rear. Power steering is a $700 option.
SUZUKI KINGQUAD 500 AXi ($7899)
The KingQuad 500 has the same chassis as the 750, but with a 493cc, fuel-injected, OHC, four-stroke motor. Like the 750, it features independent, double-A-arm suspension on all four wheels, twin disc brakes in front, and a sealed, multi-disc brake in the rear. It is also available with power steering for another $800. Camo pushes up the price another $400.
CAN-AM OUTLANDER 500 ($7799–$9299)
Even the 500cc version of the Rotax motor is a V-twin and very powerful. This year it is said to have 15 percent greater output. Can-Am also gave the 500 its newest SST Gen 2 frame with double A-arms up front, so it has basically the same chassis as the 1000. It comes in basic configuration, as well as in the DPS package, which has power steering and upgraded wheels for $900. The XT has that and a 3000-pound Warn winch for $600 more.
KAWASAKI BRUTE FORCE 650 ($7799)
This was once the most powerful ATV you could buy. Today, the Brute Force 650 is a plain-wrap version of Kawasaki’s legendary V-twin. Kawasaki has stripped away most of the frills. It has MacPherson-strut front suspension and swingarm rear suspension. There’s no fuel injection and no power steering available. It’s affordable and still very powerful, even by today’s standards.
KYMCO MXU500i ($7499)
Here’s good news and bad news with the 2013 Kymco line. The good news is that the quality is comparable to anything in the world. The MXU500i is now fuel injected and very reliable. It has independent suspension and every feature you expect from a premium 4×4. The bad news is that the days when you could buy a Kymco for $2000 less than comparable models are gone. Pricing is similar to that of other makers. The LE version costs another $800, with a 3000-pound winch and other upgrades.
POLARIS SPORTSMAN 800EFI/500HO ($7499/$6199)
These are considered the “value” models in the Polaris Sportsman line. Both the 800 and 500 motors are based on earlier designs, but still feature liquid-cooling and decent output (54 horsepower in the case of the 800). The 800 is an EFI twin, and the 500 is a carbureted single. The two chassis are identical, with independent suspension through MacPherson struts in front and dual A-arms in the rear. The 800 has Kenda K590 tires and the 500 has Carlisle 489s.
ARCTIC CAT XC450 ($7199)
This is a 4×4 that can go surprisingly fast. The XC450 is back for 2013 with a new color scheme, sporting the same 445cc, liquid-cooled powerplant. Arctic Cat’s mid-size sport 4×4 competes with sporty four-wheel-drive ATVs like the original Yamaha Wolverine 450 and Kymco Maxxer. It’s dressed up with cool aluminum wheels and Maxxis tires.
HONDA FOREMAN 4X4 ($6999)
The Foreman is the most recently updated ATV in the entire Honda lineup. Two years ago it got a new 475cc motor with fuel injection. It remains a pushrod design and is longitudinally mounted in the swingarm-style chassis. For $700 more you can add power steering, and for $250 you can add Honda’s electric shifting. Both options are bargains.
YAMAHA GRIZZLY 450 ($6899)
It’s tough to tell the difference between a Grizzly 450 and a Grizzly 700 at a glance. In features and specifications, the two are nearly twins. Both have CV transmissions, independent suspension and 1322 pounds in towing capacity. But, the 450 is smaller in every dimension and has a 421cc, liquid-cooled motor with a conventional carburetor. Power steering is available for $600.
CFMOTO X6 (TBA)
You might not have heard of CFMoto yet, but you will. This is a huge Chinese company that is committed to the U.S. market. That means that quality control and warranty service are a top priority. The X6 is a fuel-injected, 593cc four-stroke with lots of upgrades that come as standard equipment. That includes a winch, premium tires and wheels, and automotive paint.
CAN-AM OUTLANDER 400 ($6799)
In general, the Outlanders are not what you would call plain-wrap ATVs. The 400 is as bare bones as they get, and it’s still a fairly sophisticated quad with a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected Rotax motor. This is the only machine in Can-Am’s line that still uses the older frame with MacPherson-strut front suspension. The 400 has a digital anti-theft system and other high-tech standard features, but is not available with power steering.
HONDA RANCHER AT ($7099)
This is at the top of the rather extensive Rancher lineup. It starts with the same 420cc, pushrod motor, which is mounted longitudinally in the chassis, but has a more sophisticated programed fuel-injection system. It comes with an automatic, five-speed, twin-clutch transmission and fully independent suspension on all four corners. For $700 more you can add power steering.
SUZUKI KINGQUAD 400ASi/400FSi ($6499)
Both the automatic and the manual-shift versions of the Suzuki KingQuad 400 carry the same retail price. There are no other differences. They both have double A-arms in front and a swingarm in the rear with two shocks mounted side by side. The motors are both air-cooled with single-overhead cams. Camouflage editions are available for $400 more.
ARCTIC CAT 500XT/500 CORE ($7199/$6399)
This is a great idea, but it can be confusing. The 500 Core actually gives you the same liquid-cooled, four-valve motor as the 450, but the company decided to give it the 500 designation because it gets the more modern chassis of the bigger ‘Cats. So, the 500 has independent suspension via dual A-arms all the way around. The XT configuration has power steering and more upgrades.
KAWASAKI PRAIRIE 360 ($6299)
This is a very plain but very capable four-wheel-drive workhorse. The Prairie hasn’t changed in recent memory, because it still fills the need for basic 4×4 work. It has shaft drive, MacPherson struts up front and a swingarm in the rear. It offers a front diff-lock, 1100 pounds of towing ability and a combined rack capacity of 242 pounds.
YAMAHA GRIZZLY 350($5599)
You generally don’t see this much technology paired with a simple 348cc, air-cooled motor. The Griz’ 350 chassis has almost all the same features as the 700. It starts off with a CV transmission and has 264 pounds of rack capacity, plus 1102 pounds of towing ability. The standard model has a straight axle, although you might still find the 2011 IRS version, which sold for $700 more.
HONDA RANCHER ($6149)
The Honda FourTrax Rancher is actually part of a family of ATVs that include both two-wheel-drive models and 4x4s. The most basic of the four-wheel-drive models still has a 420cc pushrod motor that is mounted with the crank lengthwise in the chassis. The chassis has a straight axle in the rear, and for $700 you can add power steering.
ARCTIC CAT 450 CORE ($5999)
This has the same 443cc, four-valve, fuel-injected motor as the Arctic Cat 500, but in a more compact chassis. The 450 has 3 inches less suspension travel, is 3 inches narrower and almost 50 pounds lighter. The 450 has the same towing capacity at 1050 pounds, but less rack capacity at 225 pounds versus 300. This chassis does not accommodate a power-steering option.
ARCTIC CAT 400 CORE ($5699)
The Arctic Cat 350 is no longer in the line, but the 400 is essentially the same machine. It uses the 350’s 366cc, air-cooled, SOHC motor, but the chassis is upgraded. The new 400 is physically larger than the 350 and about 18 pounds heavier. It still features independent suspension and electric, push-button four-wheel drive with electric front diff-lock. The 400 is priced about $250 higher than the 350.
POLARIS SPORTSMAN 400 H.O. ($5699)
This Sportsman is also in the “value” line and shares the same chassis with the 500. The front suspension is MacPherson strut and the rear is double A-arm. The motor is liquid-cooled, displaces 455cc and is hooked up to a CV transmission with on-demand 4WD. The 400 now has a very useful, integrated front storage compartment that holds 6.5 gallons of stuff and can be accessed without unloading the front rack.
KYMCO MAXXER 450i ($6899)
The Kymco Maxxer is a very sporty 4×4 with a fuel-injected, four-valve, 4432cc motor that is said to produce 33 horsepower. It has independent suspension all the way around with dual A-arms that provide 7 inches of travel. Cast-alloy wheels and handguards are standard equipment. It has no racks and is made for fun first, work later. However, it does have a 2-inch receiver, just in case you have to haul something as heavy as 1050 pounds.
KYMCO MXU450i MXU375 ($6099/$5599)
Kymco gives you two different options for its entry in the light-middleweight 4×4 class. The MXU450i has a fairly sophisticated liquid-cooled, 443cc motor that features fuel injection and produces 33 horsepower. The MXU 375 has a 367cc, air-cooled motor that uses a 34mm carb and produces 26 horsepower. Both use the same chassis, with independent, double-A-arm suspension that provides 7 inches of travel.
CAN-AM OUTLANDER MAX 1000 DPS ($12,499–$15,099)
Can-Am’s Outlander Max models have the capability to haul a passenger through 8 additional inches of wheelbase and passenger accommodations that include a redesigned backrest, multi-position handgrips and a CRS system that allows you to convert the rear seat into cargo room. The base configuration for the 1000 is the DPS with power steering. Then comes the XT with a winch and bumpers ($13099), the XT-P with sporty suspension ($15,099) and the Limited version with comfort-oriented Fox air shocks ($15,099).
ARCTIC CAT TRV1000 LIMITED ($13,999)
In the high-end two-up market, Arctic Cat is focusing primarily on the fully loaded TRV1000 limited. If you want the big V-twin motor, it only comes with all the bells, whistles and equipment; there’s no Core model. That means you get the fairing and windscreen, the travel trunk, power steering, a 3000-pound winch, and heated grips for the operator and passenger. Under it all is the 951cc H2 motor and CV transmission with independent suspension.
CAN-AM OUTLANDER MAX 800 DPS ($11,499–$14,049)
Like the big 1000, the Outlander 800 Max has a V-twin Rotax motor in an extended frame with a new passenger backrest and multi-position handgrips. Its most basic form is the DPS with power steering. The XT package has a long list of features topped off with a 3000-pound Warn winch for $12,049. If you feel tangy and have a passenger who won’t beat you over the helmet, you might need the sporty XT-P package with suspension that allows aggressive riding ($14,049).
CFMOTO X8 LONG (TBA)
CFMoto is committed heavily to the two-up market. The “Long” version is the only place to get the company’s premier motor, which is an 800cc EFI V-twin that bears a striking resemblance to the Rotax mill in the Can-Am V-twins. The X8 offers a long list of extra features as standard equipment, including premium wheels and tires, automotive paint and a winch. CFMoto is greatly expanding its dealer network, so post-purchase service should be very good in coming months.
CAN-AM OUTLANDER MAX 650 ($9699)
This year the Max 650 gets the latest version of Can-Am’s SST Gen 2 frame. It’s basically the same as that of the Max 1000, with an extended wheelbase and passenger accommodations that can be converted to cargo space in minutes. You can buy the 650 without power steering (unlike the bigger Maxes) and save $900. The DPS model’s price of $10,599 also gets you upgraded wheels and tires. The XT version is another $600 and buys you a Warn winch among other upgrades.
POLARIS SPORTSMAN X2 ($8999)
What sets the X2 apart from the Touring 550 H.O. is the fact that it’s a convertible. It’s rated for two riders, but in about 10 seconds you can convert it from a two-up quad into a one-rider configuration with space for 400 pounds of who knows what. The X2 is built on a modern chassis with double A-arms all the way around, but doesn’t offer power steering as an option. The motor is the SOHC, liquid-cooled, 549cc single.
CFMOTO X6 LONG (TBA)
The CFMoto X6 has a 593cc, fuel-injected motor with all the two-up comforts of home—a passenger seat, backrest, hand-holds and a long wheelbase. To give the machine added value, it also features a long list of perks that usually come in special editions. You can’t buy the X6 without a winch, premium wheels, good tires and real live paint.
CAN-AM OUTLANDER MAX 500 ($8799–$10,299)
Can-Am’s Max 500 got more power from its V-twin this year and an upgrade to the latest SST Gen 2 frame with dual-A-arm suspension in front. The standard model comes without power steering, but you can upgrade to the DPS models for an additional $900. The Outlander Max XT 500 is at the top of the food chain for the 500, and it comes with a winch, 12-inch cast wheels and 26-inch Carlisle ACT tires for a price of $10,299.
ARCTIC CAT TRV500 CORE ($7999)
If you want a place for your passenger but not all the extras of the bigger TRV Arctic Cats, there’s the TRV500 Core. This is a new combination of the 443cc, liquid-cooled, EFI motor and the two-up chassis. In this version, you opt out of the XT package with its power steering and cast-aluminum wheels, but you still get the front SpeedRack and the rear 3-in-1 system, which lets you repurpose the back seat to carry cargo.
CAN-AM OUTLANDER MAX 400 ($7649–$8699)
This is Can-Am’s most basic two-up model and the only one with a single-cylinder engine. The motor is still fuel injected and liquid-cooled, and it’s still made in Austria by Rotax. The chassis is the Generation 1 design with MacPherson-strut suspension up front. You can’t get power steering on the 400, but you can get the XT package, which costs $1000 more and gives you a 3000-pound Warn winch, handguards, bumpers, 12-inch cast wheels and 25-inch tires.
ARCTIC CAT TRV 400 CORE ($7499)
This model gets a new name and a lower price for 2013. The TRV400 Core was formerly known as the TRV450, even though the motor always had a displacement of 366cc. Arctic Cat apparently felt the need to give this model separation from the new 500, so the price dropped $200, but it still features the front SpeedRack and the rear 3-in-1 system. It also features push-button 4WD and independent suspension.
POLARIS TOURING 500 H.O. ($7399)
This model is based on the original 500 Sportsman with MacPherson-strut front suspension and dual A-arms in the rear. In order to accommodate a passenger, the wheelbase grew by about 7 inches. It’s the most affordable two-up model that Polaris makes. This year it got the same upgrades as the other value Sportsman models, including 6.5 gallons of integrated storage under the front rack.
Apex: (480) 507-5050, www.apexatv.com
Arctic Cat: (218) 681-9851, www.arcticcat.com
Can-Am: (715) 848-4957, www.can-am.brp.com
CF Moto: (888) 823-6686, www.cfmoto.com
Honda: (310) 783-2000, www.powersports.honda.com
Kawasaki: (949) 770-0400, www.kawasaki.com
Kymco: (864) 327-4744, www.kymcousa.com
Pitster Pro: (801) 796-7416, www.pitsterpro.com
Polaris: (888) 704-5290, www.polarisindustries.com
Suzuki: (714) 996-7040, www.suzukicycles.com
Yamaha: (714) 761-7300, www.yamahamotor.com