Kymco takes it to the next level
When Kymco unveiled its 2010 ATV lineup much of the attention was focused on the brand new Maxxer 375, a sport/utility crossover that we thoroughly enjoyed. However, Kymco also introduced a new middleweight utility ATV that may be even more significant for the company’s progression – the MXU 500 IRS 4×4.
One of the reasons the new MXU didn’t garner too much attention was because it sounds and looks very familiar. Kymco has had an MXU 500 in its lineup since 2007, but until now it featured a swing arm rear suspension. Outfitted with Kymco’s largest displacement engine, the MXU 500 was in need of a big overhaul to catch up the major manufacturers. For 2010 it got just that.
Kymco is no stranger to independent rear suspension. Its MXU 375 features IRS and was clearly used as the blueprint for its big brother. The MXU 500 IRS 4×4 features a comfortable 7.5 inches of travel front and rear and boasts in impressive 10.2 inches of ground clearance. More important, however, is how it performs. In our limited seat time, we found the MXU 500 offered confidence-inspiring handling.
Kymco’s engineers certainly did their due diligence as the steering response sharp and true. Though far from sporty, in 2WD it was easy enough to slide the rear wheels around a corner.
We didn’t have the opportunity to do much in the way of rock crawling and technical hill climbing, but taking on rutted-out trails, fallen trees and a few deep mud crossings did little to deter the MXU’s progress.
Should you encounter more gnarly terrain than we did, the MXU 500 comes outfitted with a differential lock that will help you push through the rough stuff. Four-ply Kenda Pathfinder tires (25×8-12 front, 25×10-12 rear) are wrapped around basic steel rims (on the base model) and do an adequate job of navigating the trails.
Four yeas ago the largest engine in Kymco’s ATV lineup was a 270cc mill that produced 18 horsepower. Though still not a player among today’s heavyweights, the 499cc, 4-stroke, single cylinder, liquid-cooled engine that powers the MXU 500 shows that Kymco has come a long way in a short time. It’s no slouch in comparison to middleweight quads from any of the major manufacturers, which is not something we would have thought just a short time ago. The only thing setting Kymco apart from some of the big boys is the lack of electronic fuel injection and we suspect it won’t be long before Kymco adopts EFI.
Overall, we were wholly impressed with the powerband of the MXU 500. It felt smooth and linear from takeoff to top speed, which makes for very pleasant trail cruising. We were also surprised by the unit’s low-end pull. While getting some photos taken, we were messing around a bit by riding over some small logs and other trail debris. On one take we gunned it from idle with our front wheel at the base of the log and we lifted all four wheels off the ground in an instant. That was unexpected.
We spent most of our testing time riding in the woods with plenty of sharp turns, so opportunities for wide-open throttle were limited. When we did have a stretch of open trail the MXU was a capable performer. We saw mid-to-high 50s on the speedo, which is more than enough for the vast majority of riding most of us do and right in line with other ATVs in this class. Better yet, even while riding at high speed the MXU felt stable and easy to handle. It really is a well put together ATV.
We generally don’t spend much time talking about brakes – it doesn’t exactly make for exciting copy – but the brakes on the MXU are worth noting. Dual discs up front and a single disc in the rear are operated via dual brake levers. Braking performance was top notch and another sign that Kymco is serious about making competitive ATVs.
The MXU 500 we tested was actually one of Kymco’s Limited Edition models. Limited Editions have been a mainstay of several major manufacturers in recent years. Sometimes you get little more than some new paint and sometimes it’s a pile of top notch options and accessories. This is Kymco’s first foray into the realm of Limited Editions and it falls somewhere in the middle. Nothing in this package will provide notable performance gains, but Kymco’s LE package offers good value.
While the base MXU 500 comes in green or red, the LE version is only available in basic black – same goes for the LE versions of the MXU 375 and the UXV 500. Beyond paint, the most striking addition to the LE package is Kymco’s alloy rims. Let’s face it; basic stamped steel rims are a little dull. A set of shiny alloy rims makes a huge difference in the looks department.
Kymco also included a 2,500-pound winch. We didn’t get in enough trouble to use the winch, which says a lot about the MXU’s ability, but if you ride an ATV long enough you’ll almost certainly find yourself wishing you had a winch to help get you out of a jam.
Finishing off the LE package is an assortment of goodies from Kolpin Powersports, including a rear contoured cargo box, gear grips, and side-view mirror handguards. The cargo box is impressively spacious and fits nicely around the rear of the seat on the rear cargo rack. The handguards provide a little protection from the elements, but the mirrors are too small and vibrate too much to be of much use. Gear grips work well for clamping onto a gun or maybe some fishing gear, but we’d probably take them off until they were needed.
What makes Kymco’s LE package most impressive is its cost. With an MSRP of $6,999, the MXU 500 IRS 4×4 LE is only $700 more than the base model ($6,299). We think that’s really good value for what essentially turns the MXU into a well-equipped tourer.
It will be interesting to see how consumers will react to this unit. We haven’t tested it head-to-head against anything from the likes of Polaris or Honda, but we’d guess it would hold its own. It’s generally priced a few hundred dollars less than ATVs from the heavily established manufacturers. Will that savings be enough to sway buyers Kymco’s way? We don’t know the answer to that, but buyers would be remiss if they didn’t at least give Kymco serious look before making a final decision.
|2010 Kymco MXU 500 IRS Specs|
|Engine Type:||4-stroke water-cooled, DOHC|
|Bore x Stroke:||92mm x75mm|
|Starting System:||Electric w/pull start backup|
|Gearbox:||CVT Automatic F-N-R-L-P W/Differential Lock|
|Drive System:||Shaft with 2WD/4WD & H-L|
|Front Suspension:||Independent dual A-arm/7.5 in. travel|
|Rear Suspension:||Independent dual A-arm/7.5 in. travel|
|Front Brakes:||Hydraulic Dual Disc|
|Rear Brake:||Hydraulic disc|
|Front Tires:||25×8-12 Kenda Pathfinder|
|Rear Tires:||25×10-12 Kenda Pathfinder|
|Length x Width x Height:||84” x 48” x 47”|
|Ground Clearance:||10.2 in average|
|Fuel Capacity:||4.7 gal|
|Dry Weight:||661 lb|
|Front/Rear Rack Capacity:||100 lb/200 lb|
|Towing Hitch:||Standard/1000 lb Capacity|
|LE Accessories:||Alloy Rims, 2,500 lb Winch, Rear Cargo Box, Hand Guards with Mirrors, Utilty Gear Grips|
|Instrumentation:||Digital fuel gauge, Speedometer, Odometer, Trip Meter, High Temperature Light|
|Colors:||Green, Red, Black (LE)|
|MSRP:||$6,299 (Base), $6,999 (LE)|
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