UTV TEST: 350-MILE ADVENTURE IN THE SEGWAY VILLAIN
Two-day torture test
By the staff of Dirt Wheels
When a new ATV or UTV comes out, we like to dissect it with a fine-tooth comb before giving it our approval. When a brand-new machine is introduced by an all-new company, we scrutinize it even more. The Segway Villain is that new car from a new brand to the off-road space.
To follow up on our short ride in Sand Hollow, Utah, in the 72-inch Villain, we wanted to get real seat time in the machine and make a final decision. We invited Segway to bring out a 64-inch ($18,299) and a 72-inch ($19,299) Villain so we could test them around our two-day, 350-mile Mojave Desert adventure test loop. If the Villain makes it through the test, we might be believers in the new product line.
GAS-POWERED SEGWAY VILLAIN
To clear up any confusion, the Villains out in the wild now are gas-powered. 2023 is the first year of production for the U.S. market, and they will be available in all 50 states. A hybrid electric model will be introduced in the future, not this year.
The Villain gets a parallel, twin-cylinder, four-stoke powerplant with 105 horsepower. It’s fuel-injected, liquid-cooled and is mated to a CVT transmission. While the engine looks like a typical twin that you would find in a RZR or Kawasaki KRX, this one has its CVT system on the passenger side of the vehicle.
Its chassis reminds us of a smaller Can-Am X3 primarily because it has three radius rods on the back end controlling movement of the trailing arms. Rear travel is a respectable 17 inches, and up front you will find 14 inches out of dual A-arms. Reservoir-equipped shocks are found on all four corners, and they feature full adjustability through high-/low-speed compression, rebound and dual-stage springs with adjustable cross-over and preload rings. The tires on the 64-inch model are 29 inches tall with 8-ply CST Stags mounted on 14-inch beadlock wheels.
As you can see, the bodywork is very futuristic looking and reminiscent of a Tesla. More Elon Musk cues can be seen inside the cockpit. There is a huge infotainment screen to control music, navigation and such, along with sleek doors and bucket seats. The driver gets a retractable four-point seat belt, and both occupants have seat sliders. The floorboard area is ample and has good footrests and heel pockets. The door is rather skinny, but shuts solidly and does not rattle. It makes for a great armrest, too.
Editor Cain Smead
(@cainsappetite4adventure) has mapped out great loop trails all throughout the Mojave Desert with guiding tours to test ATVs and UTVs in. This particular one consisted of 175 miles per day with a perfect mix of high-speed and tight terrain, bumps, rocks, sand and elevation changes. In two days we can put the kind of stress on a UTV a typical owner does in six months. Although the photos don’t show it, we ran two up in both Villains for most of the trip. Both cars also carried a spare tire, coolers and camera gear.
Although the cabin is roomy for two people, there’s not much room for anything else, like most two-seat sport UTVs. The glove box is decently sized, but there is no room under the seats or behind them for additional storage. The cargo box was able to fit a full spare tire, and we strapped extra gear on top of that.
On take-off we noticed there’s lots of intake noise coming from the vents between the seats. The exhaust note is pleasant and not overly loud or very racy. Low- to mid-range power is similar to other non-turbo UTVs. It gets going quickly down the trail. Mid-range or torque from, say, 30 mph is on par with other machines but doesn’t stand out.
The seat height in the Segway is notably lower than other UTVs. You definitely feel it as if you are down in the car rather than up on the steering wheel. However, the view over the rather large dash is excellent. You can see right in front of the car perfectly. Our test units were equipped with half windshields, and they are the perfect height for our 6-foot-tall drivers.
The steering wheel has a good, positive feeling, and the assist from the EPS unit was perfect. When we started hitting bumps, there was zero feedback in the wheel of the 64-inch car. The wider one with its larger tires had noticeably more feedback, but it wasn’t as bad as on a Can-Am Maverick X.
Railing around twisty trails is a blast. The machine sits very low to the ground and stays relatively flat. It carves like an Arctic Cat Wildcat. On most trails we were able to get the Villain up to 70 mph. That was pretty much the max speed unless you’re on a downhill with wind at your back. It didn’t feel as slow as a Kawasaki KRX or as quick as a RZR. Power was more on par with a Can-Am Commander or Maverick Sport, which is adequate for trail riding.
As with many UTVs, for example the Polaris RZR Pro XP, Kawasaki KRX and Can-Am Maverick Sport, you can blow through the rear suspension on small G-outs easy. It was no different in the Segway with the stock suspension settings. A few times during the trip we added high- and low-speed compression damping, along with a little rebound. We were able to get them to work better. They did work great everywhere except the sections of multiple whoops or those larger G-outs. However, the same can be said for many other UTVs, too. After we hit bottom a couple of times, we checked under the rear skid plate to make sure we weren’t hurting anything. The drivetrain was fine, but if we owned this car, we would definitely invest in better under-belly protection for that rear section.
The Segway’s suspension was as good as almost any rear-A-arm-equipped UTV except for the Yamaha RMAX or Polaris General. The 72-inch-wide version was noticeably better in the suspension department and surprisingly felt exactly the same in the power department. There was no reduction of power with the wider stance and larger tires. The larger tires helped in the rocks, too.
We were only forced to use low range one time as we navigated a rock pile in the middle of the trail. It was needed, as the clutching needs the lower gear to keep the belt from slipping. In the 350-mile trip, we never heard the belt squeal or had one break, and that was in two different cars. We were prepared with spare belts and the tools to change them but didn’t need to. The Villain has a positive locking front differential if needed; however, we didn’t.
As far as fuel mileage, our fuel stops were 75 miles apart, and we used 6 gallons of gas. The dash has a fuel gauge that sort of jumps around when nearing empty, but we could expect to get over 125 miles out of a full tank. There’s also a spot on the dash that tells you how many miles to empty, but it would jump from 50–90, so it wasn’t reliable.
At each stop we checked areas like the radius rods, wheel bearings and steering, and everything stayed solid. Other than the intake noise at wide-open throttle, the Villain is very quiet and rattle-free. The one trail we always test new UTVs on to see how much they rattle, we can say in confidence the Villain is the tightest machine we have ever driven over that trail, and that was after 310 miles of our trip. In fact, at the end of our ride the doors were still completely tight, as were all of the fenders and bodywork. Furthermore, the suspension pieces were all just as tight as when we began. The CST Stag tires performed flawlessly as expected. So, with that said, from top to bottom the Segway Villain UTV is a solid machine capable of running right with cars from the other major OEMs. Until this two-day trip we weren’t confident to say that, but now were are. Will we name it the “New UTV of the Year for 2023”? That’s yet to be seen, but it will be considered, so stay tuned.