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ATVs & UTVs Gear & Accessories

Hauling Class: 6 Side-By-Side Vehicles for 2017

May 22nd, 2017 0

The right gear matters. That’s especially true if you’re putting down thousands of dollars on side-by-side vehicles.

We drove these six new models and looked at each one from the perspective of a hunter. Maybe one of these side-by-sides is the right one for you.

Game & Fish Reviews: Side-By-Side Vehicles for 2017

By Derrek Sigler & David Johnson

Side-By-Side Vehicles


Yamaha’s Viking keeps on trucking with refinements that increase its already capable platform. The Viking’s handling is pretty phenomenal too, with light and precise steering, solid engine braking and supportive seating. This is a true three-seat-across configuration, and there’s more room than you’d think. The middle seat is a few inches back from the passenger and driver so you’re not bumping shoulders. The automatic transmission is impressive. The centrifugal clutch never loses contact with the belt, so gear changes are seamless and power is there when you need it. Yamaha added a factory roof, which fits flush with the rails on the top, making for a sleek look. Nice style points to the Yamaha folks.

Side-By-Side Vehicles

Yamaha Viking EPS

What We Liked: You can fit three adults across front seats and not sacrifice rear cargo capacity.

What We’d Change: A 686cc engine is powerful, but a bigger twin would be a great addition.


  • Engine Type: Liquid-cooled SOHC 4-stroke
  • Engine Size: 686cc
  • Bed Capacity: 600 lbs
  • Towing Capacity: 1,500 lbs
  • Curb Weight: 1,431 lbs
  • MSRP: $13,599 with Realtree Camo

>> See more gear reviews from Game & Fish

Side-By-Side Vehicles


Textron Off-Road is the new name for Bad Boy Off-Road, which was originally named Bad Boy Buggie. Their new Stampede 900 is an ambitious machine. It jumps into an already crowded pool with both feet and is making a big splash. Textron built a great motor with 59 pounds of stump-pulling torque and put it into a machine that is competitive in the utility/rec class of side-by-sides. With two- or four-seat models, the Textron machine comes with an extended cab that gives you a semi-protected area to haul your stuff, plus a dumping cargo bed. The best part of these machines is the engine. Keep the RPMs up, and you’ll have engine braking for days. The engines are designed in Europe and assembled in Georgia

What We Liked: The engine has a lot of torque and has a great mid-range pull.

What We’d Change: The steering wheel flexes, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it really feels odd when it does.

Side-By-Side Vehicles

Textron Off-Road Stampede


  • Engine Type: Four-stroke, twin-cylinder
  • Engine Size: 849cc
  • Bed Capacity: 600 lbs
  • Towing Capacity: 2,000 lbs
  • Curb Weight: 1,690 lbs
  • MSRP: $14,799


Side-By-Side Vehicles


We already have a pretty high opinion of the Pioneer 1000, and we named it the Standout in 2016. The new Limited Edition model for 2017 also comes with some other features that should get your attention. First and foremost is Honda’s new I-4WD system. Honda borrowed from their automotive division to create a 4-wheel-drive that senses which wheels are slipping, giving you all the traction of a locked differential, but retaining the handing and steerability of a 2-wheel-drive system. Add to that Fox remote reservoir QS-3 shocks, a front brushguard and some cool styling, and you’ve got a sweet new ride. And like the 2016 model, the LE has a 999cc engine and DCT transmission that gives you six gears in high and low range.

What We Liked: Selecting your gear in both high and low range makes for amazing control and engine braking.

What We’d Change: The door nets are kind of clunky and get in the way. It’s also a lot of money.

Side-By-Side Vehicles

Honda Pioneer 1000 LE


  • Engine Type: Four-stroke, twin-cylinder
  • Engine Size: 999cc
  • Bed Capacity: 1,000 lbs (600 lbs in California)
  • Towing Capacity: 2,000 lbs
  • Curb Weight: 1,526 lbs
  • MSRP: $19,999, $21,599 for the 1000-5 LE



The Can-Am Defender hit the scene and impressed a lot of people right off the bat. It is an extremely well-thought-out design with innovative features, like a removeable tool box and seats that flip up so your hunting dog has a place to ride. This year, they pulled the cover off the new Mossy Oak Hunting Edition, which takes the awesome 72-horspower HD10 Defender XT, wraps it in Mossy Oak Breakup Country camo, and adds a steel front bumper, full aluminum skid plates, a headache rack, half windshield, two Kolpin gun scabbards, and a removable LED spotlight. This is on top of having a roof and a 4,500-pound factory-installed winch. It creates one awesome package with every accessory a hunter could want.

What We Liked: The Rotax V-twin pumps out 72 horses and is a lot of fun to drive.

What We’d Change: Sure it’s got a lot, but this new edition brings the price tage to an upper-range $20k.

Side-By-Side Vehicles

Can-Am Defender Hunting Edition


  • Engine Type: 4-stroke, V-twin
  • Engine Size: 976cc
  • Bed Capacity: 1,000 lbs
  • Towing Capacity: 2,000 lbs
  • Curb Weight: 1,658 lbs
  • MSRP: $19,699

Side-By-Side Vehicles


Polaris stepped up their game with the new Ranger 1000. But it’s far more than another Ranger with a 1,000-class engine. They added an all-new digital tri-mode digital throttle as well, which really changes how you can use the machine. Work mode captures the torque, while normal mode spreads everything out with a dash of subtleness. But when you snap it into performance mode, it really lets the full engine come to life. The Hunter’s Edition adds Active Descent Control, a new advanced engine braking system that comes in handy when you’ve got all your gear and a dressed-out whitetail in the back and you’ve got some steep downhills to maneuver. Polaris has now made the Ranger one of the most versatile platforms in the segment.

What We Liked: One of the most comfortable machines to drive. Great seatbelt location.

What We’d Change: Steering is a little slack. You really have to crank on the wheel to get it to turn.

Side-By-Side Vehicles

Polaris Ranger XP 1000 EPS


  • Engine Type: 4-stroke, twin-cylinder
  • Engine Size: 999cc
  • Bed Capacity: 1,000 lbs
  • Towing Capacity: 2,000 lbs
  • Curb Weight: 1,336 lbs
  • MSRP: $15,999


Side-By-Side Vehicles


The 750 model doesn’t have the engine size of most of these other vehicles, but it does have clever standard features that would make any hunter give it a second look. Plus, the price is closer to $10k. The 500-pound capacity bed can be dumped from either side of the vehicle. It comes with a 3,500-pound-capacity winch and 2-inch hitch receivers on both the front and rear. In our off-road testing, the 35.8hp 750 handled rough terrain and steep off-road trails without laboring. Cub Cadet has a cool way to improve their vehicles and add options: They visit customers, watch how they use them in the field and video tape them. Then they catch small “work arounds” and bring them to the engineers who incorporate them into new versions.

What We Liked: Winch, plus front and rear 2-inch receiver, are both standard. There’s a large dump box for gear or game.

What We’d Change: We’d like an EPS option and adjustable seats.

Side-By-Side Vehicles

Cub Cadet Challenger 750 Camo


  • Engine Type: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke EFI, single-cylinder
  • Engine Size: 735cc
  • Bed Capacity: 500 lbs
  • Towing Capacity: 1,200 lbs
  • Curb Weight: 1,648 lbs
  • MSRP: $10,999
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