May 03, 2016
Have you noticed an explosion in the number of options in the side-by-side market? Used to be, ATVs were everywhere during hunting season.
Now, you're much more likely to see a side-by-side, also known as a UTV, being trailered to hunt camps or fish camps.
Well, that demand has resulted in outstanding 2016 vehicles for you to choose from. We have our favorite. How about you? — John Geiger, senior editor
Following are 6 new UTV's for 2016.
Our Standout: Pioneer 1000-5 | Honda
What makes this vehicle different from the others? Well, it's extremely powerful. At 999cc, only the Polaris General can compare. You'll like that extra power for working around the farm or food plot, and you'll love it when you get to open it up and sport around. The other distinguishing feature is that wonderful paddle-shifter on the electronic power steering version. Maybe it's me, but you can shift your own gears whenever you want, or let the transmission do it for you.
So, if you are in automatic and your approaching a fire-road curve, you can tap a paddle twice to quickly down shift from 4th to 2nd going into a turn to give maximum power leaving the curve. Then, you can shift back to 3rd and 4th, or the engine will do it for you on its time. Incredible.
Or, if you are pulling a plow or food-plot implement in low gear, you have much more control over the engine's output. And even if you're not a control freak, the vehicle's new dual clutch is a fascinating innovation to address jerky automatic gear changes. There is no belt in this vehicle, just two sets of all-gear clutches. While one clutch is engaged, the second clutch is getting ready for the next change: smooth. Ground clearance is 12.4 inches.
The new Pioneer comes in a three-seat or five-seat model. We really like the three-seat because of the QuickFlip option to choose another two passenger or a bigger bed. Honda has made many engine, cab, chassis and fit-and-finish improvements. If you haven't ridden one since the Big Red years, you're missing out. — John Geiger
WHAT WE LIKED: Dual clutch and manual transmission option are second-to-none in the industry.
WHAT WE'D CHANGE: We saw a big performance drop from the three-seat to the five-seat version despite a similar wheel base. Less weight could even the score.
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder four-stroke
Engine Size: 999cc
Bed Capacity: 1,000 lbs
Max Towing: 2,000 lbs
Curb Weight: 1,706 lbs
MSRP: Starting at $17,199
Wolverine Standard | Yamaha
Yamaha has been working a new plan in recent years by releasing different versions of basically the same machine, but at various price points. The non-EPS Wolverine base model has basic shocks along with many killer features from the R-Spec units, but at a much lower price.
You get the same awesome 708cc single-cylinder engine that provides plenty of torque. The engine is amazing. It has plenty of low-end power and can get up and move when the trails open up. While not the plush suspension of the more expensive R-Spec, the base Wolverine has pretty good shocks. You do, however, come to miss the power steering in the slower, tighter woods.
The seats and overall layout are excellent and confidence inspiring. You feel like you can go anywhere, and with the engine, Yamaha's On Command four-wheel drive system and industry best engine braking, you just about can. — Derrek J. Sigler
WHAT WE LIKED: The price. You get a high-quality Yamaha, just without the upgraded suspension or power steering.
WHAT WE'D CHANGE: The box. It really needs a dumping cargo box.
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled DOHC single-cylinder, four-valve four stroke
Engine Size: 708cc
Bed Capacity: 300 lbs
Max Towing: 1,500 lbs
Curb Weight: 1,287 lbs
Off-Road Stampede 900 EPS | Bad Boy
Bad Boy is going in a completely new direction, starting with the new Stampede UTV. Powered by an all-new 849cc German-engineered engine that kicks out 80hp, the company known for quiet vehicles is ready to make some noise with this machine. Being a smaller company trying to make a dent in a crowded market has allowed for innovative ideas.
Bad Boy added a few interesting features to the Stampede, such as the extended cab. They have created a configurable space behind the seating for things like gun boot options, bow holders and much more. You'll also notice full doors. Suspension is pretty good for a utility-class machine, and it rides really quite nice.
The engine sounds great and makes a ton of torquey, low-end power. Bad boy is confident enough in the Stampede to put a two-year warranty on it, too. — Derrek J. Sigler
WHAT WE LIKED: The engine produces a lot of low-end power. We liked the extended cab feature, too.
WHAT WE'D CHANGE: The steering wheel has a lot of flex to it, making it feel less-than-solid.
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, DOHC twin-cylinder four-stroke
Engine Size: 846cc
Bed Capacity: 600 lbs
Max Towing: 2,000 lbs
Curb Weight: 1,690 lbs
Mule Pro-DX EPS LE | Kawasaki
Back in 1988, the Mule was first UTV at the gate. Side-by-sides are supposed to be inherently practical and fun, but clearly landowners and outdoorsmen asked a lot more from them. The new diesel Mule is beyond practical with a steel-tube ladder chassis that sets an industry standard for strength.
It's paired with a suspension that actually makes it nimble, and the steering is classic Kawasaki, flawless. Other features include a spacious, comfortable cab (even for a big guy), clear instrumentation and a stout headache rack. You can tow 2,000 pounds and the bed will accept a standard pallet with a 1,000 pounds of cargo. All of this practical function should not overshadow the excellent downhill braking and bonus of strong off-road performance.
If you want to race, this not your ride; it's powerful, but not fast. This vehicle is all about function, capacities and long-term durability. There is no question the engineers at Kawasaki nailed all of those goals.
WHAT WE LIKED: The most robust frame in the industry, and a practical intuitive interface allowing anyone to just get in and drive.
WHAT WE'D CHANGE: The bench seat is uncomfortable. It should be more form-fitting.
Engine Type: Diesel, 3-cylinder OHV
Engine Size: 993cc
Bed Capacity: 1000 lbs
Max Towing: 2,000 lbs
Curb Weight: 1,841 lbs
Defender | Can-Am
BRP's inaugural offering to the utility-recreation market, the Can-Am Defender side-by-side, had its debut in 2016, bringing a mix of rugged utility and sportiness to the marketplace. A pair of Rotax V-twins are available in rear-mounted configuration, with power getting to the ground through a new PRO-TORQ belt-drive transmission.
The flagship HD10 gets 72 horsepower and 61 foot-pound of torque out of its 976cc engine. Ground clearance is about 11 inches. For most hunters and other outdoorsmen, the scaled back HD8 model is a better option based on price and performance.
But if you want a little more sport to go with your utility, the bigger HD10 has an edge when it comes to the power and acceleration. In testing, the HD10 cargo bed handled a 1,000-pound load and the vehicle's performance barely changed. — Shaun Epperson
WHAT WE LIKED: The base model HD8 offers the same outstanding towing capability and bed capacity as the more expensive HD10.
WHAT WE'D CHANGE: Up to 10.4 gallons of in-cab storage options are available on the Defender, but base HD8 only has about 3 gallons of space.
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled V-twin
Engine Size: 976cc
Bed Capacity:1,000 lbs
Max Towing: 2,000 lbs
Curb Weight: 1,395 lbs
MSRP: Starting at $10,999
General 1000 EPS Deluxe | Polaris
The all-new General is the outcome from Polaris basically taking the Ranger and the RZR and smashing them together. But don't be mistaken, they didn't just take a RZR and add a dump box. There is a 100hp engine paired with Polaris' On Demand all-wheel drive.
The interior is unique to the General. It has extremely comfortable seating and the gauge cluster tilts with the steering column. Ergonomically, this is the most comfortable Polaris to date. The Deluxe model even comes equipped with a Bluetooth-enabled stereo bar, as well as top-of-the-line Fox shocks. Out back, there is a 27.5 by 43.1 by 11.6-inch bed that dumps, as well as a 2-inch receiver hitch.
Driving the General is a blast. It has ridiculous amounts of power and the ability to go just about anywhere. For the user looking for a machine to trail ride and explore with, yet still have the basic features to work up flood plots, or do tasks around the property, the General is a leader. — Derrek J. Sigler
WHAT WE LIKED: The factory installed 4,500-pound winch on Premium and Deluxe models.
WHAT WE'D CHANGE: The price. To get the better shocks of the Deluxe version, plan to spend around $20,000. (They have plans for a base model at about $16,000.)
Engine Type: 4-stroke, twin cylinder DOHC
Engine size: 999cc
Bed Capacity: 1,100 lbs
Max Towing: 1,500 lbs
Curb Weight: 1,491 lbs