For the avid outdoorsman, ATVs are a tremendous tool. Most of us either own one or are looking to buy one.
For the past decade, manufacturers have been producing larger and larger displacements with thunderous horsepower.
While "fastest ATV" bragging rights in camp are important to some, this kind of over-the-top performance isn't necessary.
Of late, manufacturers have been releasing mid-sized machines with plenty of power to make the ride fun and functional without remortgaging the house to saddle up.
Here are some of the best mid-sized ATVs out there.
The Alterra VLX 700 doesn't have a lot of the options other manufacturers include. But you do get a machine with a big 695cc engine for a base MSRP of $5,999. Kick in another $1K, and you can get the ALX 700 with electronic power steering (a camo finish will cost you bit more, too). Examples of the Textron's fundamental design philosophy are seen in its simple display and mechanical 4-wheel drive switch. However, a fully independent suspension with 10 inches of travel and 11 inches of ground clearance is included with the base model. Steel racks front and rear are included and are perfect for carrying plenty of gear. The machine is made in Thief River Falls, Minn., and carries a six-month warranty.
What We Like: An attractive MSRP makes this a player for those shopping pure price.
What We'd Change: This four-wheeler could use a makeover as it is a bit plain.
- Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke
- Engine Size: 695cc
- Cargo Capacity: 100 lbs. (front), 200 lbs. (rear)
- Towing Capacity: 1,050 lbs.
- Curb Weight: 724 lbs.
- MSRP: $5,999
The H.O. is well-suited for land duties and herd management. The Sportsman 450 H.O. is placarded as a "450," but it's actually equipped with a 500cc, 33-horsepower ProStar motor (hence the "H.O." or "high output"). The H.O. is a workhorse, an asset for helping set stands, mending farm fencing or hauling heavy sacks to feeders. The H.O. sports all-steel front and rear racks, both designed to accommodate hard work. The rear rack has special trays built-in for carrying smaller items, like tools or securing 5-gallon buckets. A heavy-duty front bumper with a 1.25-inch receiver hitch (a clone to the rear hitch) comes standard. This feature really helps when moving trailers around in tight quarters. The H.O. offers lots of value for cost-conscious shoppers.
What We Like: It's a no-nonsense design. The steel racks and receivers offer functionality.
What We'd Change: This unit does not come with power steering.
Engine Type: Single-cylinder, Four-stroke, single overhead cam
Engine Size: 500cc
Cargo Capacity: 90 lbs. (front), 180 lbs. (rear)
Towing Capacity: 850 lbs. (front), 1,225 lbs. (rear)
Curb Weight: 721 lbs.
Honda's mid-sized Rancher has a long list of options. Pricing ranges from $5,349 for the base model up to $8,099 for a completely decked-out machine. For those wanting four-wheel drive and independent suspension, the price will fall in the middle. The FourTrax offers Honda's legendary reliability, and its 420cc engine feels bigger than it is. The optional Traxlok locking differential is worth a look because it gives maximum traction when the going gets particularly tough. Similarly, the optional independent rear suspension, with its 8-inch-plus of travel and 9 inches of clearance, ensures there is constant tire contact with the ground. Beyond clearance, the suspension smooths out even the roughest terrain.
What We Like: Honda reliability in a lightweight and nimble handling package.
What We'd Change: All the bells and whistles are available, but they drive up the cost.
Engine Type: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder
Engine Size: 420cc
Cargo Capacity: 90 lbs. (front) 180 lbs. (rear)
Towing Capacity: N/A
Curb Weight: 686 lbs.
Can-Am's Outlander ATV line has built their reputation on producing horsepower. The 450 is the smallest in the line, but at 38-horsepower, there is no lack of oomph. For those shopping for a hunting vehicle, the Mossy Oak Hunting Edition may be just what the ticket. The Mossy Oak Edition comes standard with additional skid plates, 3,000-pound winch, Kolpin gun boot, aggressive tires on aluminum wheels, Mossy Oak camo cladding and more. With an MSRP of $8,999, it's not cheap, but there's lots of machine here. While this version is around $2K more than the base model, when you start adding up the accessories, it starts looking much better. Plus, those accessories are then covered under the warranty and come installed from the factory.
What We Like: Put gas in it and go hunting. A true turn-key hunting package.
What We'd Change: Brimming with desirable options, it may be cost-prohibitive for some.
Engine Type: Rotax, single-cylinder
Engine Size: 427cc
Cargo Capacity: 120 lbs. (front) 240 lbs. (rear)
Towing Capacity: 1,300 lbs.
Curb Weight: 678 lbs.
With features like power steering and fuel injection, the latest ATV from Yamaha is all about affordable fun and getting work done. The Kodiak boasts a 421cc single overhead cam engine in a true mid-sized frame. With 9.6 inches of ground clearance underneath and a completely new saddle experience, I, a 250-pound rider, enjoyed this machine. The floor boards are massive and the leg and knee room ample. The gear selector is out of the rider's mobility area. With all of the simple-to-use controls for 2wd/4wd and a tidy digital display close at hand, your ride is focused on the trail ahead. Possibly the best thing of all is a base price starting at $5,999. If you want electronic power steering, then a $6,899 price tag gets you started. — Rick Sosebee
What We Like: Incredible mobility in tight spaces. It's built for tough terrain.
What We'd Change: Sacrificing some trail comfort, a stouter tire would be advantageous.
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke
Engine Size: 421cc
Cargo Capacity: 100 lbs. (front) 200 lbs. (rear)
Towing Capacity: 1,050 lbs.
Curb Weight: 724 lbs.
Mahindra is widely known as a tractor manufacturer. Their M-Pact series of UTVs are serious work machines, but not exactly what you'd call challengers to the Polaris Ranger market-share segment, which is the biggest-selling UTV today.
That changes with the new Retriever lineup.
The Mahindra Retriever 1000 has a 999cc twin cylinder engine that produces a about 83 horsepower. The Retriever also boasts 67 foot-pounds of torque, and a top speed around 60 mph. The Retriever's 1,200-pound capacity in the hydraulic-dumping cargo box is also impressive. It has 2,500 pounds of towing capacity and a 2-inch receiver hitch standard.
The Mahindra rolls on 14-inch aluminum wheels that are very stylish. These are laced with 27-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires and 13-inches of ground clearance underneath. You'll find 10-inches of wheel travel from the gas-charged shocks, too.
The interior of the Retriever is interesting. The seats are high-back style with lots of bolstering. They look great and comfortable too. Mahindra claims in their information that there is more room to get in and out of the Retriever than any other machine in the class.
The $16,899 Mahindra is offered in red, green or Realtree AP camo. Get it with Mahindra's Flexhauler cargo box, which is steel and offers several different options to configure it for your use, for $450 more. You can also find the Retriever 1000 in a diesel version for only $100 more. Mahindra offers a 3-year warranty.
What we like: Hydraulic-dumping cargo box
What we'd change: High price
Engine: 999cc Twin-cylinder four stroke
Wheel Travel: 10-inches
Bed Capacity: 1,200 lbs.
Towing Capacity: 2,500 lbs.