Top 10 Most Exciting ATVs and UTVs of 2011

A look back at an exciting year of off-road funsters

Story by Lucas Cooney, Jan. 12, 2012

We may still be mired in a sluggish economy, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it if you looked at what the ATV and UTV manufacturers introduced in 2011.

It really was an interesting year.  Not only did 2011 reveal the most expensive and wildest machines ever produced by major ATV/UTV manufacturers, but we also saw some machines that were specifically targeting those a little lighter in the wallet. If the past 12 months taught us anything it’s that there really is something for everybody.

Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000i

We can’t think of a single instance in our years of covering the off-road universe where a manufacturer did as good a job of building up suspense and anticipation of a new product like Arctic Cat did with the Wildcat 1000i.

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It all started in March, 2011 with a leaked video from an Arctic Cat dealer event that gave everybody a glimpse of what was to come. No details were revealed – just a quick look at what Arctic Cat had in mind. Cat followed that up a few weeks later with just a few vague details when CEO Claude Jordan said the machine was inspired by race bred and race proven designs and would feature an extremely capable suspension.

2012 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000i

As customers salivated over the possibilities, Arctic Cat kept everybody waiting for more until July when it finally provided a clearer picture of what was to come. Not only did Arctic Cat finally provide more photos, but we learned the Wildcat would have 18 inches of rear suspension travel, full perimeter frame, electronic power steering, and a 951cc engine. Anticipation was so strong that we wrote an article about why we were excited about the Wildcat.

2012 Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000i

Finally, in October, we were finally able to get behind the wheel of the $16,599 beast. Though we thought it could use a little more power, there was no doubt that the Arctic Cat Wildcat lived up to our lofty expectations. The Wildcat’s suspension was as amazing as we’d hoped – it soaked up every bump and whoop we put in its path and asked for more. If you’ve never had a chance to ride one, drop what you’re doing and find the nearest demo ride.

Polaris Ranger RZR XP 900

While Arctic Cat chose to slowly leak out information on the Wildcat, Polaris almost always hits you over the head with something completely new and unexpected all at once. Such was the case with the fantastic Ranger RZR XP 900 … sort of.

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2011 Polaris Ranger RZR XP Action

Polaris did tease that something new was coming on Jan. 1, 2011, but that was all we were told. When the new year was born, Polaris stunned the off-road world with the Ranger RZR XP 900. It was a complete surprise because Polaris already had far and away the sportiest UTV available with the Ranger RZR S 800 and as far as we knew nobody was working on a competitor. But that’s typical Polaris. When the competition isn’t there, just compete with yourself and continue to push the envelope.

Everything about the RZR XP 900 is exciting. It features the only purpose-built UTV engine in the industry (the ProStar 900) and a game-changing 3-Link Trailing Arm Independent Rear Suspension with 14 inches of travel. Fox Podium X 2.0 shocks are found at all four corners and when it was released this package simply decimated anything offered from a competitor.

2011 Polaris Ranger RZR XP Rock Crawling

Just a few weeks after learning of the RZR XP 900’s existence we were behind the wheel and finding out exactly how fun a UTV could be. It was an amazing experience and left us scrambling to find any negatives besides its lofty price tag of $15,9999 (it could use power steering, but we expect that in the near future).

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