TEXTRON OFF ROAD HAVOC X

— UTV TEST —

American hot rod style — By the staff of Dirt Wheels: 

Dune sand is perhaps not the happiest place on earth for the Havoc X, but the machine handled the punishment easily.

Dirt Wheels’ first experience with the Textron Stampede was back when the brand was called Bad Boy. Since then, parent company Textron has changed their name, though the impressive Stampede remains pretty much the same. Even though the Stampede is largely intended as a utility and recreation UTV, we found it pretty sporty, and twice during our time with it, we took it to the dunes. Dune running isn’t exactly what it was designed

Beefy rear A-arms and trick Kings adjustable, piggyback shocks work together to provide truly impressive suspension.

for, but it did fine. We recognized the sport potential in the machine. Since then, Textron has announced the Stampede-based Havoc X. The Havoc X is the machine we would expect if the aftermarket got a hold of a Stampede for some good ol’ American hot rodding. It jumped from 80-ish to 100 horsepower, grew wider and gained wheel travel. Textron Off Road is part of the Textron family, a Fortune 500 company known for Cushman industrial vehicles, Cessna aircraft, Bell helicopters and Greenlee tools.

Since that first Stampede test, Textron vastly expanded its quad and UTV lineup when it acquired Arctic Cat. Textron trimmed the lineup some but added the Stampede models. The Havoc X 1000 is the first fruit of the combined company. The Havoc X joins the sport-utility side of the market currently epitomized by the Polaris General. Sport-utility machines are well-suited for the work/camping/hunting/trail work that makes up the majority of the UTV market.

We are impressed with the Textron cab and bucket seats, but they compromise cab room compared to the Stampede bench seat.

THE TARGET

These are machines that have dump beds (or at least beds) and trailer hitch receivers but have suspension quality and engine performance that make them attractive for sport endeavors like camping, hunting or just exploring and rock crawling. Some of the very popular trail systems—the Hatfield-McCoy system for example—are better suited to a well-suspended utility machine than to a wide sport unit with over 100 horsepower. Like the General, the Havoc X straddles the sport-utility/sport line.

Where the Stampede 900 has basic shocks and 9.5 to 10.5 inches of suspension travel, the Havoc X derivative of the platform is pushing 13 inches of travel with sport-quality Kings 2.5-inch piggyback reservoir-adjustable shocks. The track width increased nearly 6 inches to 64 inches. It is likely that some of the added travel came naturally when the A-arms were widened. The wider A-arms are heavier duty than the Stampede arms. Textron boosted more than the suspension and track. The Havoc X has a tough, sporty look thanks to a new 28×10 tire and wheel combo compared to the 26×9 front and 26×11 rear combo on the Stampede. The wider track, taller tire and wider front wheel/tire combo has a definite visual impact in the front.

The Havoc X is far happier with rock litter and ledges than it is with endless whoops. It handles the rough nicely.

CONTROL ROOM

Textron kept the controls clean and simple. Rocker switches toggle between 2WD, AWD and rear-diff status. The choices are 2WD in the rear or a turf mode where there is power to only one rear wheel. That allows the Havoc X to avoid leaving tire tracks on cement and to drive on grass without tearing it up. More rockers control lighting and the winch. A dash-mounted shifter with park at the bottom lets you shift up for reverse, neutral, low and high. You won’t use low range much. We found the overall gearing in high and low to be low in the Stampede, but the larger tires on the Havoc X allow the gearing to feel quite normal.

One big change for the Havoc X is the seating. It has two bucket seats where the Stampede has a bench seat. Textron didn’t make any dimensional changes to the cab, and bucket seats always take up more room than a bench seat. As a result, the Havoc X seats have a fairly short bottom cushion, and the seat backs do take up some of the roomy feel that the Stampede has. The seating position remains upright, and in general we didn’t find that a problem. Until you get used to the feeling, the seating position does get disconcerting when you are on steep cambers.

With the stock ITP Ultra Cross R Spec tires, the Havoc X was very happy playing on technical, packed and rocky trails.

FEATURES

Textron has a clever display on the dash that performs all the meter functions—everything from speed readout to fuel gauge. Next to the meter is a five-button combo switch. You can use that to run diagnostics on the machine. We found the display easy to read with all the handy information we needed.

Kings coil-over shocks look amazing, and they work as well as they look. The billet shocks have the blue accents we know Kings for, but with Textron Green springs. Each piggyback reservoir shock has fully adjustable preload with a split threaded ring that compresses the spring and an Allen bolt that locks the ring. Under the dual-rate rear springs are crossover rings. Compression is externally adjustable as well.

Some machines don’t provide much in the way of tie-down points for transporting the machine. Like the Stampede, the two tow hooks on the front and the trailer hitch on the rear made tying the Stampede down safe and quick.

RIDE TIME

We thought the 80-horsepower engine in the Stampede was pretty impressive, but the jump to 100 ponies makes a big difference. We played with the Havoc X in Johnson Valley near the infamous King of the Hammers. The area is obviously known for the massive rock crawling that gives Hammers its name, but there is deep, power-robbing sand in addition to steep and rugged desert terrain. This area is the natural home of high-power, long-travel sport machines. In spite of being thrown in the deep end, the Havoc X did just fine. For the rocks and desert terrain, the ITP Ultra Cross R Spec tires with closely spaced tread blocks were fantastic. For the deep sugar sand, we could have used more tire, but the Havoc is a very able mount.

When you are climbing, whether it is technical and packed like this trail or a long sand hill, the 100-horsepower engine is up to the task.

The Havoc X is not our first choice to hammer whoops, but it handles them readily enough. Less extreme trail features like roots, G-outs and ditches are handled fine. The same is true with slow, rocky, chattery surfaces. When we did find technical rocks to play in, the smooth, torquey power and 64-inch track width kept things calm.

Keep in mind that we were playing in the land of extreme machines, and we were there on a machine with towing capacity and all the features needed for work, including a winch. We can’t think of any task that the Stampede can handle that the Havoc X couldn’t do as well.

The Stampede/Havoc layout is particularly suited to camping, fishing and hunting. It has a handy and effective dump bed, but another storage area between the seats and the bed that Textron calls an extra cab. It is the perfect space for tools, coolers, fishing gear or gun cases. You can dump your firewood without affecting the contents of the extra cab, and it has top and side access to remove anything stored there.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Without diluting any of the utility DNA of the original Stampede, Textron has made the Havoc X fully capable of doing a hard day’s work with ease. It looks sleek and purposeful, and it has everything you will need for recreation as well. There are many machines that can do that sort of double duty. The difference is that the Havoc X can also hang out in the land of sport machines and provide a third performance facet.

When we tested the new Textron Wildcat XX last month, the support staff were in Havoc X machines, and one was loaded with everything needed to be a mobile EMT wagon. It went everywhere we did in the XX. If all of your driving is in high-speed whoops and sand dunes, there are better choices. For work, recreation and sport-trail driving, the Havoc X is a great option.

The extra cab area provides storage between the seats and the bed. We love this storage, but would like the Havoc X to steal part of it for added seat room.

TEXTRON OFF ROAD HAVOC X

Engine Twin-cylinder, SOHC liquid-cooled 4-stroke

Displacement 957cc

Transmission CVT

Final drive Shaft

Fuel system EFI

Fuel capacity 9.5 gal

Length/width/height 126.0”/64.0”/76.5”

Ground clearance .13.0”

Wheelbase .85.2”

Curb weight (ready to ride) 1755 lb.

Suspension/wheel travel:

Front Double A-arm/ 12.8”

Rear Double A-arm; 12.9”

Tires:

Front 28×10-14 ITP

Rear 28×10-14 ITP

Brakes:

Front Dual hydraulic, 9” discs

Rear Dual hydraulic, 9” discs

Bed capacity 600 lb.

Towing 2000 lb.

Colors Dynamic Grey

Price $17,299

Contact www.textronoffroad.com

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