Not a watercraft, but still a water dweller at heart

Not a watercraft, but still a water dweller at heart By the staff of Dirt Wheels

When we flew to Minnesota for the release of the Wildcat XX Black Hills Edition, we also got to spend some time on Arctic Cat’s mud specialist, the Alterra 600 Mud Pro. Mudding is nothing new; however, lately it has become a genuine sport for many. Obviously, here in southern California, we have almost zero mud to ride, unless you count puddles on the trail that are hard to miss. So, the opportunity to see what the Alterra 600 Mud Pro could do intrigued us.

Luckily, Arctic Cat had a perfect area to check this quad out on the terrain it was meant to be ridden. The spot was about an hour north of their headquarters in Thief River Falls. After seeing a few passes through the swampy pond by the Arctic Cat crew and realizing we didn’t have to wash the quad afterwards had us impressed and wanting to try it. We didn’t go full send into the deep end of the pond like the crew. Serious mudders would call what we did “dipping in a toe,” but what we did was enough to prove how confident the Mud Pro is in deep waters.


In 2022 Arctic Cat updated the Alterra 600 engine. That’s what the 2023 Mud Pro is propelled by. When we took a tour of the manufacturing plant in Thief River Falls, Arctic Cat constantly reminded us of its push to develop new engines. Arctic Cat engine development is handled in the St. Cloud, Minnesota, facility, which is just a few hours down the road from their main plant.

The liquid-cooled, single-cylinder 600cc engine used in the Alterra 600 is plenty powerful for sporting use or to pull garden wagons or trailers. The 45 horsepower it has provides smooth, laid-back power. The same motor is used in the Mud Pro, except it is designed to have more low-end hit for getting through nasty, sticky mud. Arctic Cat’s Mud Pro differs in gearing compared to the standard Alterra 600. The company went with a 14-percent reduction in overall gear ratio from the Alterra 600.

We let the Arctic Cat crew show us the deep-water maneuvers, and it seemed easy to keep the front end up with the throttle. Although, in deep water, the quad almost floated on its own. The real test would be thicker sludge to get a read on the potential of the power.

A winch is essential when intentionally trying to get stuck, and this Mud Pro comes standard with a Warn winch.


Aside from specializing in mud riding, the Alterra Mud Pro 600 also passes as a regular utility quad, although with a slightly unique look. Part of what makes this machine amphibious are the snorkels that allow it to breathe underwater. As you’ll notice, right in front of the handlebar is the newly relocated radiator, which keeps it up and out of the worst mud. If it was to get clogged with mud, there are panels that are easily removed for getting in there and cleaning that area out.

A newly relocated radiator sits directly in front of the handlebars and houses the tops of the snorkels that supply air in and out to the CVT and into the engine.

Several areas of a quad are sensitive to water. The engine doesn’t like to drink it. As a worst case, if too much water enters the cylinder(s) while the engine is running, the engine can hydraulically lock. That can bend the connecting rods and literally split the engine open. The second area is the CVT belt case. The drive comes from friction between the sides of the CVT belt and the CVT sheaves. The sheaves are smooth, almost polished metal. Imagine how much drive there will be if there is water or, even worse, liquid mud, inside the belt case. Sealing the intake and belt case, then using raised snorkels to supply air to the engine intake and CVT case, allows the quad to run in deep water or sloppy liquid mud without problems. The CVT case has an air intake and an exhaust to keep the belt cool, so generally a mud machine has three snorkels. On the Mud Pro the snorkels draw (and exhaust) air from under the raised front radiator housing to further fight water ingress.

Arctic Cat updated the Alterra seat for 2023. The cover is made with a grippy material on the side, and the seat gets wider and softer towards the rear.

A specially designed front bumper with a tow point for the obvious reason of getting your quad unstuck is unique to the Mud Pro compared to the regular Alterra. Helping with that is a standard 3500-pound-rated Warn winch. The A-arms and suspension are set up a little taller than the regular Alterra as well. All and all it has 12.8 inches of ground clearance. Tall, 28-inch mud-specific Maxxis Zilla tires are designed to claw through mud without allowing the tread to get packed with mud at the same time. A good mud tire releases mud as efficiently as possible.

Positioning of the engine was strategic in that it allows heat to escape and not build up around your legs when riding. The 600 engine was completely redesigned in 2022.


Having a rear rack doesn’t do much for mud running on the Mud Pro, but it does make it more utilitarian for when you need to use it for hauling or working. Rated for 200 pounds on the rear rack, you shouldn’t have any problem carrying as much as you need on an adventure. However, when you’re mudding with it, you may want to keep it clear for putting your feet on in deep waters.

An adjustable handlebar can be important for riders who don’t want to feel hunched over when riding. Arctic Cat gave the Mud Pro a handlebar that can be adjusted higher, lower, forward or backward. Standard electronic power steering (EPS) is another modern feature that makes riding 4×4 quads a little easier. It adds another level of control and minimizes fatigue over a long day on the machine. We also appreciate that all Alterra 600s have a standard 2-inch receiver in the rear for towing and mounting equipment. Having the ability to tow or haul adds to the utility.

The rear suspension is specifically designed for the Mud Pro and supplies 12.8 inches of ground clearance. The shocks have preload adjustment.

New for 2023 is the option to have a front locking differential, putting maximum torque to all four wheels to help manage difficult terrain. The Mud Pro felt a little softer to us than the regular Alterra 600, which in theory should help it track better at slower speeds, whether in the mud or maybe a rocky section.

Development of mud tires has come a long way. New tread designs clean well and disperse built-up mud. The center tread blocks almost overlap to provide a smooth ride on hard dirt.


Just because it’s a mud hound at heart doesn’t mean it can’t be used as a normal utility quad. We would suggest that aside from its fully capable mud-ability, it doesn’t handle exceptionally well through rough, fast-paced, regular dry-terrain riding. In fact, we thought it was unstable and wandered easily just going down a mildly rough trail. With that said, it is not necessarily meant for that sort of rough, fast riding. This quad will distinctly shine in swamps and mud-bog situations.

Sure, the Mud Pro was meant for deep dives in the swamp, but there’s no reason it can’t double as a great utility quad.


We feel that this quad is fairly represented in the name. For being a 600cc engine, it handled the 4- to 6-foot-deep pond seemingly with ease. We wouldn’t call it an overly powerful engine by any means, but it has enough to do what it was designed to do. We didn’t have a chance to really test it in deep, thick swampy mud. And, we only had an hour or so on the machine, so our test was a first impression only. The standout to us is the multi-purpose factor—being able to go mudding in deep ponds and swamps, then turn around and pull a trailer or do yard work. That makes it a better choice to us than just having the Alterra 600.

Normally a quiet and humble guy, Arctic Cat’s plastics designer became a grinning madman who was obviously not new to riding this machine.


Engine Liquid-cooled, single cylinder

Displacement 600cc

Starter Electric

Fuel system EFI

Fuel capacity 5.7 gal

Transmission Automatic CVT

Final drive Shaft

Suspension/wheel travel:

Front Arched double A-arm, high clearance/8.75” 

Rear Arched double A-arm, high clearance/8.75”


Front Dual hydraulic discs

Rear Hydraulic disc


Front Maxxis Zilla 28×10-14

Rear Maxxis Zilla 28×10-14

Length/width/height 88.3”/47.8”/51.1”

Ground clearance 12.8”

Wheelbase 52”

Curb weight 891.7 lb.

Rack capacity:

Front N/A

Rear 200 lb.

Towing capacity 1050 lb.

Colors Quicksilver

Price $11,599

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