2011 POLARIS SPORTSMAN 550/550 EPS ($7299/$8499)Displacement is the only significant difference between the Sportsman 550 and 850. It offers dual A-arms front and rear, and the same Active Decent Control engine braking as the 850. Also like the 850, it is available with power steering. This year it gets more splash protection, a 12-pound weight reduction and a tougher/grippier seat. The EPS model now features the same 5.25-gallon tank as the non-EPS models.
2011 POLARIS SPORTSMAN 500 H.O. ($5999)This machine offers excellent value in today’s 4x4 market. It uses the same chassis as the 800 H.O., which was top of the line not that long ago. It still uses MacPherson strut front suspension and independent rear shocks. The 500 uses a single-cylinder motor and as a result, sells for about $1500 less than the 800, which already has a good price. The styling is less clumsy looking for 2011 and it offers Lock N Ride front and rear racks.
2011 POLARIS TRAIL BOSS 330 ($4299)The Trail Boss is basically a rack-equipped Trail Blazer. Like the Trail Blazer, it features a 329cc, air-cooled, four-stroke powerplant and an automatic CV transmission with reverse. It has a one-lever braking system as well. Like most 4x2 ATVs, it’s a thinly disguised sport model. Anyone who likes play better than work should be fine with that.
2011 ARCTIC CAT TRV 450 ($7699)The TRV 450 replaces the 400 with a motor upgrade. The SOHC, liquid-cooled motor displaces 443cc and still has electronically selected 2WD/4WD and diff-lock. It gets the passenger seat, which is easily removed and replaced with a cargo box. Passengers also get integrated footrests and handholds.
2011 KYMCO MXU 375 ($5449)It’s hard to find a legitimate 4x4 with better value. Kymco has surprisingly good quality, and the MXU line has features like a CV transmission, push-button four-wheel drive, twin A-arm front suspension and full racks. Through December 2010, there’s a promotion that allows you to add a winch to your MXU for as little as $49.
2011 ARCTIC CAT 300 UTILITY ($3999)Under the utilitarian bodywork and racks, the 300 has the same basic chassis and powerplant as the sporty 300 DVX. The motor displaces 270cc, is liquid-cooled and has a fan. It also has a continuously variable transmission with reverse. Since it sells for the same price as the DVX, it’s like getting the racks for free.
2011 POLARIS OUTLAW 90 ($2499)The Outlaw 90 features the same 89cc, air-cooled four-stroke as its Sportsman 90 cousin. It offers a CVT transmission with reverse and comes with electronic throttle control. It is available in color options of pink or red and offers expandable floorboards for growing feet.
2011 KYMCO MAXXER 375The Maxxer fits into that gray area between pure sport and pure 4x4. It’s made for handling gnarly terrain fast. We raced one in a GNCC last year and came away impressed. The quad comes with alloy wheels, upgraded suspension, bumpers and hand guards. The motor is a liquid-cooled 4WD with a CV transmission.
2011 POLARIS SPORTSMAN X2 550 ($8999)Polaris designed the X2 as a convertible ATV that lets you go from two-rider configuration to cargo configuration. The passenger seat flips down and allows access to a 400-pound dump box. It features the 550XP powerplant and double-A-arm front suspension. It now features a new front electrical compartment, an improved dump box latch and a new digital gauge. The passenger seat was also bulked up for a more comfortable ride.
2011 ARCTIC CAT TRV 1000 ($13,799)If your passenger is your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend or a troll who you’re fond of, you don’t want them to see you struggle. It’s better to impress them with your strength and the ease with which you handle your machine. You don’t have to tell them the Arctic Cat 1000 comes standard with power steering. It also has the V-twin motor of the Thundercat fame.
2011 ARCTIC CAT TRV 550 ($8499)Arctic Cat has enjoyed success with the TRV two-up line, and so there are more versions offered for 2011. The 550 is similar to the 700, sharing the same two-seat chassis and most of the same powertrain. The motor displaces 545cc but has the same towing capacity. Add $1050 for power steering. Add $1900 for the Cruiser package with fairing.
2011 ARCTIC CAT 550 EFI ($7799)We got our first ride on the 550 last year and liked it. The motor is a 545cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled four-valver, and it has all the same features of the bigger machines. That includes a CV transmission, electronically selected 4WD and diff-lock. Add $500 for Advantage Timber. Add $800 for power steering.