Gear: MSR Strike Force Helmet:...
Gear: MSR Strike Force
Helmet: MSR Velocity
Boots: Sidi Crossfire
Goggles: Smith Fuel
Ergonomically speaking, the Cat is average sized when compared to the other machines. The instrument cluster is filled with useful info (digital displays of clock/hourmeter, mode button, set/reset button, odometer/tripmeter, gear position, speedometer, drive select, high beam, battery condition, temperature and oil pressure), but the aforementioned ape-hanger handlebar was a bit awkward to get used to. All of the controls are easily reachable and well-thought-out with the exception of the nonexistent handlebar-mounted rear brakes. The floorboards are roomy, and the majority of the motor is hidden from view via easily removable plastic sidepanels. The seat is soft and comfortable, but the tank width makes you feel a bit bow-legged while seated. The racks are top-notch, but the only real storage is under the seat in an unsealed compartment (which was the case for nearly all the other units we tested). The 2-inch hitch receiver is great when in work mode, but for serious mud play it tends to hang up on obstacles.
Braking duties are handled by a left-hand-actuated front brake and right-foot-operated rear brake. Overall, the brakes were OK, but the lack of a right-hand brake lever takes away from the overall brake performance. We hate to harp on this, but not having a rear brake lever on the bar really is a mark against it, which the 366 shared with various other machines in this comparison. To its credit, though, the 366 was predictable when stopping at any speed.
At low speeds and through technical terrain, the Cat feels right at home and works well. At anything over medium speed, the steering leaves quite a bit to be desired. Among the seven units tested, the Cat's steering ranked second lowest by our crew and was easily the worst feature of the machine. With that said, under the previously mentioned low-speed conditions the 366's steering isn't nearly as big of an issue.
The suspension suffers from much of the same woes as the steering. In other words, the lower the speed, the better it performs. For utilitarian applications, the shocks were fine, and when towing or loaded with equipment, they actually worked really well.
Power, 4WD and ground clearance all pretty much go hand in hand and play off of each other. The Arctic Cat is adequately powered in dry conditions, but within minutes of introducing the 366 to water, the belt began slipping and the power was effectively robbed. Despite having 10 inches of ground clearance, the Cat continually got stuck in mud sections. The hitch was partially to blame as it high-centered us constantly, but belt slippage was the bigger culprit. Overall, just like most felines, the Arctic Cat has an aversion to water.
Would the Arctic Cat 366 be our first choice for high-speed trail riding? Not really. Then again, that's not exactly what this machine is designed for (just like we wouldn't expect a 450 sport quad to handle farm chores), and overall the 366 performed adequately in low-speed, dry working conditions, which are probably more in line with its intended use.