Best ATVs and UTVs of 2012
We look at the best machines in every class
Story by Rick Sosebee, Dec. 24, 2012
We find it hard to believe that an entire year has passed us by and we are already looking for a whole new year of incredible off-road machines and products. The last thing we ever expected to catch us off guard was the industry that we love so much, but in 2012 we lost our breath more than once – especially on the UTV side of things. The trend setters brought out off-road rigs that made the entire community do a double take.
With a new year upon us, we decided to highlight a handful of our favorite ATVs and UTVs that, in our humble opinion, stepped above grade or helpe elevate the off-road market. Though it was hard to choose just one machine as an overall winner, we managed to pick out what we thing are the best machines in each class for 2012.
ATV/UTV of the Year
Polaris RZR XP 900
In January 2011, the off-road community was spun on its head by the totally new and totally awesome Polaris RZR XP 900. This machine not only gave us a new type of seat-of-the-pants power from the ProStar 900 engine platform, but it set yet another bar high into the clouds for which other companies would reach for during the coming years. The muscle displayed by Polaris has become the wildest ride we have experienced.
Can-Am Maverick 1000
Getting into the market late in the year, the Can-Am Maverick made quite a debut. The comfort of the Commander-style cab and the announcement of 101 hp gave us chills just reading it. This machine is what we expect from Can-Am as it is a perfect example of well produced and very well thought out engineering that will no doubt become a staple in our industry. Matching the class with competitive suspension travel and grin-inducing performance we know all too well from Can-Am, this machine stands very close to the number one spot.
Best Sport ATV
Taking an industry by storm is an understatement and with the many championships the YFZ450R has under its belt the raw power and reliability of the Yamaha Sport segment makes this one our choice. The sheer power built into the stock motor powers through many types of trails and provides torque by the buckets.
Can-Am DS 450
With many championships also, the DS 450 by Can-Am has earned its status as runner-up. With a Baja 1000 win under the Canadian brand’s wing fresh from this year’s race, it is most definitely a force to reckoned with!
Best Big Bore Utility ATV
Can-Am Outlander 1000
If big bore is the category then Can-Am surely has the muscle. The 1000cc Outlander line is incredible and the big V-Twin Rotax power combined with the new, better handling G2 chassis makes this an all-time favorite!
Kawasaki Brute Force 750
Starting a Kawasaki V-Twin four stroke will bring a smile to anyone’s face, but it’s the smooth linear power and prowess of the big 4WD Brute Force that makes it a dream to ride in any conditions for hour upon hour.
Middleweight Utility ATV
Yamaha Grizzly 550
The Grizzly line by Yamaha has had a massive following since its debut way back in the day. The Grizzly is probably more widely known in the 660 engine size, but the 550 has helped us realize that you do not have to have volumes of cubic inches to be a total blast to ride. Easy handling and plenty of roost power makes this our choice for the middle weight belt!
Polaris Sportsman 550
Like its 850cc sibling, the Polaris Sportsman 550 offers impressive power and comfortably roomy saddle that allows riders to hit the trails forever and a day without feeling like they just stepped off a rodeo horse.
Best Budget ATV
Kawasaki Brute Force 300
With distinct looks familiar to the big brother Brute, this small package contains dynamite for its owner. The price is perfect for any budget and with great style as well as a stout little motor the Brute Force 300 has our vote. Whether its hauling the corn or hauling the mail this small yet brutish ATV is ready.
Best Sport UTV
In any displacement, this model from our friends at Can-Am sets the stage for a multitude of fine rides. The comfort of the Commander cab cannot be beat and with just a few accessories this becomes the ride for that great adventure with the family and a little dirt slinging to add effect! The powerful Rotax engine rumbles through the tree lines to let everyone know something serious this way comes!
John Deere RSX850i
For styling and comfort as well as all-around performance, the John Deere RSX850i is hard to beat. This new model was introduced in 2012 with great reception. With many competitors in its class, the RSX850i managed best nearly all of them. The comfort of the RSX cab and the great overall performance and stability of this entire model gives us the ride we’re looking for.
Best Utility UTV
Polaris Ranger XP 900
This totally new machine for 2013 has probably become the most comfortable and powerful worker available on the market. With a near silent cab while the engine is running and creature comforts to boot, The Ranger XP 900 is what we would want to be on our equipment list at our ranch.
Arctic Cat HDX 700i
If you’re looking for a very versatile working UTV than you have to consider the Arctic Cat HDX 700i. The transformer-style bed allows you to carry many different types of products for working around the ranch. Add in the fact that storage is found in many places on the machine, and it’s very much worth a close look.
Best Family UTV
Anybody in the market for the ultimate in family comfort, safety, and usefulness should take a long look at the Kawasaki Teryx4. This machine boasts the V-Twin engine from its two-seat sibling with space for four. If room for cargo and work is what you need, than simply remove the rear seats and there you have more hauling capability for those work days. Save bucks and get something that requires one trailer and four helmets to make a weekend for the entire family.
Best Budget UTV
Kymco UXV 500i
Holding steady in a market of definite ups and downs, Kymco has stood steady in our industry. Known for economical UTV selections, the North Carolina-based company drives on. Building some of the lowest priced yet most accessorized units, we count on Kymco when funds are low. With budget pricing there are some creature comforts that are sacrificed, but for a great ride the fuel-injected UXV 500i works fine.
Diamondback Bed Covers
The ability to haul your ATV or UTV for without towing a trailer has its advantages. The fact that we can now store all of the essential gear under a heavy-duty lockable cover and ride our ATV or UTV right up on top makes this the must-have item of the year. With a very stable and sturdy surface that includes tie down points in many useful places, the Diamondback Bed Cover gives us assurance that our ride will be secure during the trip to our local ride spot. Visit http://www.diamondbackcovers.com/ for more information.
SENA Helmet Communications
The ride outdoors is made fun only if you can share it with a friend, family member or spouse (and there is nothing better than clear communications between a married couple). The SENA SMH10 gives us Bluetooth connectivity as well as awesome noise reduction for clear audible communications between friends on the ride. Add in a second matched set to allow the entire group in your four-seat UTV to chatter all day long! Visit http://www.senabluetooth.com/ for more information.
Story Of The Year
John Deere Enters Sport UTV Market
In the world of side-by-sides, the market is booming. Who better to jump into a Sport segment than John Deere? Using years of research and the experience from the working community of side-by-side vehicles, the fine people at John Deere made a huge leap in 2012. The RSX850i is a very stable, powerful, and comfortable machine. This was great news indeed!
Polaris Gives Back To Wounded Warriors
In this world we live in sometimes we do not take time to thank those that make our lives the way they are, and by that we mean to be free. When our friends at Polaris announced that they had planned to give away a few RZR XP 900 4 UTVs to military families in conjunction with the Wounded Warriors Project, a feeling of good swept our minds. Men and women fight every day so we can be free in this country and giving a simple gesture of thanks goes a long way.