As the meeting began to unfold, the new models seemed to be eyeballing the most active area of our ATV industry. In the competitive world of 350cc to 450cc ATVs lies a hotbed of consumers who want the best bang for their buck and who have a need for function over flame-throwing. These same consumers, according to Arctic Cat, would look at models like the Yamaha Grizzly 350, Honda Rancher 420 or Polaris Scrambler 500. In the end, it will be the ATV riding public that decides if the guys at Arctic Cat have it right.
What's New In 2011
The first ATV revealed was a mid-displacement ute that features full-time 4WD and a 366cc engine. Labeled the 350 4x4, this $5,499 model is poised as Arctic Cat's "value-priced leader." Its carbureted single cylinder is air-and-oil-cooled with a high-capacity oil cooler added for extra heat reduction. (This same engine was originally used in AC's 366SE model from years past.) The machine rolls on 24-inch Kenda tires and steel rims. Suspension is handled via dual A-arms front and rear; a rolling ground clearance of 10 inches will make crossing tough trail obstacles possible. The CVT transmission has a long-life maintenance-free belt, which Arctic Cat claims is properly sealed from debris like mud and dirt. This unique ride will dress in colors such as Arctic Cat's lime green as well as red and a deep green.
Getting on to the next of the three new rides, we found a utility-style ATV with a bucket list of familiar features. Arctic Cat's $5,999 425 is a pure breed of utility prowess and has all the equipment needed to stand in the midsize ATV ranks. Comparisons were made to the Polaris Sportsman 500 and the Honda Rancher 420; Arctic Cat said it focused on this group for the 425's success. The four-stroke, midsize, 443cc powerplant makes waves with its electronic fuel injection over the 350's carburetor. Having an independent A-arm suspension on all four corners yields the same travel as its lower-displacement counterpart of 7 inches both front and rear. The ground clearance is also the same as the 350's at 10 inches down the center of the machine. Having a weight advantage, the 425 tips the scale in just over the 600 mark (at 613 pounds dry), while others in the same class will drag their feet at the 650 mark. Dressed in several colors like green, lime green and bright red, the machine we tested wore some rare items not usually found on a utility ATV in the US market. Adding twin brake lights isn't really a new item, but having dual reverse lights is. The 425, just like its 350cc sibling, comes with back-up lights for the 2011 model year. The digital dash also yields quite a bit of information thanks to a tripmeter, gear indicator and high-temperature and low-battery warnings; this should provide all the discriminating rider needs. With a fuel capacity of 4.3 gallons coupled with fuel injection, the ride will last a while before refueling is necessary. Seating on the 425 4x4 is plush and adequate for trail riding or work, and there is plenty of room for the big-footed Texan on the farm in the footwells of the beast. That's what matters most anyhow, right?