Over the past few months, we have dissected the big-bore Utility class. We started with the four power steering-equipped units—Can-Am’s Outlander 800, the Polaris Sportsman 850, Suzuki’s KingQuad 750 and Yamaha’s Grizzly 700—in our February issue. We followed up with a test of one of the best non-power steering models, Kawasaki’s 2010 Brute Force 750. This month, we took a trip to Moab, Utah. This 4×4 mecca served as the perfect testing ground for Arctic Cat’s latest surprise: the 2010 power steering-equipped 700 H1 S Limited Edition.
Drifting while in 4WD is a blast on the 700 H1 S. It slides predictably and there is a bunch of power on tap.
WHAT YOU GET
Arctic Cat’s 700 H1 S is equipped with a peppy 695cc, SOHC, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, four-valve, four-stroke motor. It offers electric fuel injection as well, so cold weather and change of altitude is not a problem. The snow-covered Moab, Utah, ride area saw us cruising in freezing cold weather from altitudes of 3000 to over 10,000 feet. The motor had a slight drop-off in power from bottom to top, but it was minimal. The mid 60 mph top speed was thrilling. The great low-end torque pulled us up every technical climb, and it even excelled in the ten to 12 inches of fresh snow.
The transmission is smooth in either high or low range. It is responsive, and has great engine braking. Plus, you can start it in gear. Reverse is engaged from the same left-side mounted lever, and features a high-speed over-ride button located next to the start button on the left-hand controls.
Going from 2WD to 4WD just takes a simple slide of a switch. Activating the full-lock differential requires a slide as well. On the fly, the 4WD transition was excellent. We had the 700 H1 flying down a smooth trail that led straight into a rocky mountain climb. We easily shifted the transmission from 2WD to 4WD at speeds close to 25 mph.
For the past several seasons, the Arctic Cat engineers have been dissecting and studying the competitor’s power assist devices. What they wound up with was a Globe Power Assist motor, which is similar to the ones found on the Polaris Sportsman models. This system ups the cost of the vehicle around $600 more, but is a justified cost for anyone who has tried a power-assisted vehicle. This system adjusts for rpm, speed and input from the operator and the wheels. Arctic Cat made two adjustments to the standard 500 and 700 H1 models. First, a slight frame modification was required to make room for the power steering unit. Second, the front end was adjusted from slightly toed in (stock), to slightly toed out.
How did it work? From the turn of the key, the power assist is activated. Even parked on pavement, the bars turn with little effort. We spent the majority of our test on tight, winding turns and in the snow, which is a perfect demonstration to the assist unit. Steering is effortless, and it’s there to help when needed. One part of the trail saw a large rock jump out in front of the test rider. The rock and the left wheel collided, which would typically put a non-power steering or non-steering-stabilizer-equipped quad in a heap of trouble. With help from the power steering Arctic Cat 700 H1 S, the rock will lose every time.
The Globe power steering system adjusts for rpm, mph and operator and wheel input.
SUSPENSION AND MORE
Up front on the 700 H1 S Arctic Cat is double A-arm front suspension equipped with pre-load adjustable shocks and ten inches of travel. The fully independent rear suspension matches the front with ten inches of travel. The 700 H1 S has a comfortable feel to it. It is narrow enough to grip with your knees and allows you to get aggressive on the trail. The shocks are plush on typical 4×4 terrain, and we were impressed with the ride over high-speed rocky sections. Ten inches of travel all around competes with the best as well.
The Arctic Cat 700 H1 offers over 11 inches of ground clearance and is great for railing through mud, over large rocks and logs, and other types of rough terrain. With its on-the-go 4WD, this thing climbed just about anything we put in front of it.
The Limited Edition Arctic Cat 700 H1 S we tested runs on polished aluminum wheels that are wrapped with some of our favorite utility tires: Goodyear’s Rawhide RSs (25×8-12 front, 25×10-12 rear). The stock 700 H1 runs standard steel wheels. This setup works great in all types of terrain. They offer great traction, are long-lasting and ride smoothly.
Floating hydraulic disc brakes stop all four wheels well, but the fact that they only have one brake control mounted on the handlebars is beyond us. Having two controls up front allows you to be smoother on the stop. Controls play a major role in how a machine fairs while testing. If every other manufacturer uses dual-brake controls, why doesn’t Arctic Cat?
The 700 H1 and its 11 inches of ground clearance sits and feels taller than Yamaha’s Grizzly 700, as well as the Polaris Sportsman series. However, we felt comfortable in high-speed corners, and it slid well in controllable drifts. Arctic Cat has an optional swaybar available for an accessory purchase. Similar to any off-road capable vehicle, eliminating the swaybar lets the ten inches of independent front and rear suspension articulate through the full range. This increased articulation provides full tire contact in all types of off-camber terrain. The addition of the swaybar will impact the traction capabilities; however, it will enhance flatter cornering in aggressive trail riding.
A digital Instrument Pod on the mid-section of the handlebars displays clock/hour meter, fuel level mode, set/reset, odometer, gear, speedometer, differential lock, high beam, battery condition, and temperature and oil pressure.
Our Limited Edition 700 H1 S came with front and rear brush guard bumpers, a 2500-pound Warn winch and a cool, metallic blue paint job. A digital instrument pod on the mid-section of the handlebars displays clock/hour meter, fuel level mode, set/reset, odometer, gear, speedometer, differential lock, high beam, battery condition, and temperature and oil pressure.
The machine’s extra-wide fenders add protection on muddy trails, and the seat latch allows quick access to a special tool tray. In front of the seat, there is a small storage compartment as well.
Arctic Cat’s SpeedRacks have a pound capacity of 100 in the front and 200 in the rear. They also allow for quick installation and removal of a wide variety of Arctic Cat exclusive accessories without the need for tools. Their SpeedPoint equipment is great! They have every tool you need to plant your field or mow your lawn.
Artic Cat’s SpeedRacks allow for quick installation and removal of a wide variety of accessories without the need for tools.
HOW DOES IT COMPARE?
Arctic Cat’s 700 H1 S LE runs $9300. That’s over a grand cheaper than their super-fast ThunderCat 1000. We had more fun on the 700 H1 S, too. Unfortunately, the timing of the 700 H1 release left it out of our latest power steering shootout, but we’re confident this machine would have competed nicely. Suzuki’s KingQuad 750 brought up the rear, Can-Am’s Outlander 800 took third place, the Polaris Sportsman 850 took the runner-up position, and Yamaha’s Grizzly 700 continued its dominance for 2010. Look for a few similar shootouts with the involvement of Arctic Cat in the future.
The Arctic Cat 700 EFI is a good machine. It provided us with a solid test, and we came away impressed. The power steering system is one of the best on the market, too. It has a smooth powerplant, which is bolted to a very reliable chassis. The suspension is plush. Eleven inches of ground clearance is class-leading, and you can pull it up absolutely anything.