Bobcat breaks the mold
While Bobcat is best known for producing utility-specific vehicles and agricultural tools, it has expanded its off-road lineup for 2010 to include some units that are a little more playful in nature. One such model is the 3400 4×4.
Knowing Bobcat products are designed more for work than for play and with us being used to playing more than working, we were prepared for a fairly bland ride. However, we were pleasantly surprised as soon as we hit the gas.
Bobcat told us in the presentation not to exceed 15 miles per hour in low speed and 30 mph in high gear. These seemed reasonable considering the workability of the vehicle. These machines were not designed with racing in mind, so 15 mph was good for the heavy duty work of the farm and 30 mph hour was acceptable for transporting goods or hired hands across the farm as well as cutting it up out on the trail.
So we headed out to the course Bobcat had laid out. The course featured hill climbs, rock crawling areas, mud holes, obstacle crossovers, and long straights to test those maximum speed limits. This type of riding doesn’t exactly scream “Bobcat,” so we were excepting this to be a bit of a challenge.
We came into the first straight, hit the throttle to open up the 32 hp engine and were immediately impressed with the smoothness. As we came onto the first rock crawling area, the four-wheel independent suspension really came into play and showed us that Bobcats are not just for working anymore. Leaving the rock crawling area and going into the mud hole and then immediately up a hill confirmed that Bobcat was serious about is four-wheel drive capabilities as well. The 9.5 inches of ground clearance kept the skid plate off the obstacles surprisingly well.
We went around the course once rather slowly just to see what the machine had to offer and by the time we reached the start line again it was time to test its limits. We pushed the throttle wide open and the 3400 stormed up the hills, through the mud holes, over the ditches and across the rock crawling area without any hesitation whatsoever. The only concern was the look on the face of the Bobcat Representative that was riding shotgun. By the time we went around the course a few more times, he seemed a bit more comfortable with our style of riding and was beginning to enjoy himself as much as we were.
After the test session we headed out to interview some of the Bobcat representatives onsite so we could learn a little more about this new line of vehicles.
The New Breed
According to Bobcat, its new line of UTVs features a new electronic fuel injection system, more horsepower across the board, more versatility, and the ability to do any job in style.
The new electronic fuel injection (EFI) system allows for several benefits, including higher performance at lower RPM, more reliable starting and better responsiveness in colder weather. As well, Bobcat says the bump in horsepower was designed to maximize productivity since it increases the payload capacity and boosts the top speed so you can get your work done faster. We’re not sure if we’re completely buying that argument. If you give somebody a vehicle faster, more powerful vehicle you may find that any productivity gains are offset by the extra time you’ll spend just having fun. But maybe other people are better disciplined than us.
The new Bobcat Utility Vehicles were also designed to be easier to maintain, which should allow for more uptime by keeping the components from becoming damaged and costing owners time and money. Bobcat believes “the easier daily maintenance is, the more likely it will be done.” The number one aspect of this rule is easy access to the maintenance areas. The protection features include radiator guards, CV Guards, Skid Plates and Sealed CVT covers.
These new machines are far more versatile and have a wider range of options and attachments to help accomplish tasks quicker and more efficiently. Some of the more popular attachments include a snow blade, gun scabbards and tools racks. There are many other accessories available such as a brush guard for added radiator protection, power lift for the cargo box and aluminum or black rims to really pimp up your ride.
To keep you protected from the elements you can choose to outfit the 3400 4×4 with a cab, which is a natural partner for the snow blade for those who live in cooler climates. Some of the great worksite accessories available are turn signals, work lights, back-up alarms, strobe lights, as well as some great cargo accessories like the gas can holder, the cargo box dividers or wall extenders and line trimmer racks. Other accessories available to meet individual needs of each rider/owner include radios, nerf bars and vertical tool holders.
The Polaris Ranger 500 EFI side-by-side seems like the closest competitor to the Bobcat 3400 4×4. Both feature 32 HP, 498cc, fuel-injected engines. The Ranger is a little sportier and has a top speed of 44 mph, compared to 30mph for the bobcat. Both models are liquid cooled. Both models have MacPherson Strut front suspension and double A-arm rear suspension. Both models hold 9 gallons of gas. The cargo box on the Bobcat 3400 is 36.5 inches long x 54 inches wide x 11.5 inches deep with a load maximum capacity of 1100 lbs. The cargo box on the Ranger 400 is 32 inches long x 42 inches wide x 11.5 inches deep with a maximum cargo capacity of 500 lbs and a maximum payload capacity of 1000 lbs. Hitch towing capacity for the Bobcat 3400 is 1500 lbs. The towing capacity for the Ranger 400 is 1250 lbs.
While both vehicles offer excellent crossover potential (work and play), the Ranger 500 is one of the more work-geared models in a family of recreational vehicles, while the Bobcat 3400 is one of the more recreational models in a family of work-focused vehicles.
While crossover vehicles in general don’t have the same speed and fun factor of the more recreational vehicles like the Polaris Ranger RZR or the maximum workload capabilities of the Toolcat 5600 and 5610 vehicles, the Bobcat 3400 is an excellent choice if you want to get a lot of work done and have some fun too.
Vehicle Specs: • Overall length: 113 inches • Overall Width: 60 inches • Overall Height: 75 inches • Operating Weight: (Gas) 1440 lbs (Diesel) 1610 lbs • Wheel Base (front/rear): 48 inches, 49 inches • Ground Clearance: 9.5 inches • Turning Radius: 122 inches
Engine: • Fuel: Gas or Diesel • Horsepower: (Gas) 32 HP- up from 23 HP last year (Diesel) 24.8 HP-up from 20 HP last year • Displacement: (Gas) 30.4 Inches x3, 498cc (Diesel) 35.6 Inches x3, 903cc • Injection: (Gas) EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) (Diesel) Indirect • Cooling: Liquid • Fuel Tank Capacity: 9 gallons
Cargo Box Capacity: • Cargo Box Length: 36.5 inches • Cargo Box Width: 54 inches • Cargo Box Height: 11.5 inches • Cargo Box Load Height: 31 inches • Cargo Box Load Maximum: 1100 lb
Vehicle Capacity: • Vehicle Rated Capacity (all inclusive) : 1600 lb • Towing Capacity: 1500 lb
Features: (Standard) • Steel Frame • Lockable Rear Differential • Four Wheel Drive • Gear Selector, R-N-L-H • Front Suspension, MacPherson Strut • Rear Suspension, Double A-Arm • Sealed CVT Cover • 2-inch Rear Receiver • Headlights • Tail/Brake Lights
Features: (Optional) • Brush Guard • Cargo Box with Power Lift Assist • Turn Signals • Work Lights/Strobe Lights
Operator Area Features (Standard): • Headrests • Park Brakes • Beverage Holders • Storage Compartment with Door • Dash Mounted Hour Meter • 12V Power Outlet • 3-Point Seat Belts with Comfort Strap • 4-Point ROPS (Rollover Protective Structure) • Gear Position Indicator Light • Park Brake Indicator Light
Operator Area Features (Optional): • Radio and Speakers