Kymco finally comes to market with a big bore ATV
With a mind on staying competitive with the industry’s major players by providing consumers with the more powerful ATVs they crave, Kymco has stepped up its game for the 2013 model year with a brand new engine powering a brand new Utility ATV – the MXU 700i.
When a manufacturer invites the press out to any sort of intro event, the first question on everyone’s mind is “will there be something new or will we be reporting on a few changes to the same machine we’ve seen in previous years?” Fortunately for us, when Kymco invited ATV.com out to see its lineup of 2013 ATVs and UTVs we were greeted by its first ever heavyweight ATV.
In our minds, this felt very much like Kymco stepping up to compete with the major North American and Japanese manufacturers. After all, the MXU 700i is actually larger in displacement than anything offered in Honda’s or Yamaha’s off-road lineups. If Kymco was aiming to break the Made in Taiwan stereotype, this is the kind of ATV it had to build. It’s awfully difficult to compete with the big boys if you’re starting out with a much smaller powerplant.
Kymco unveiled the all new MXU 700i at a press intro held in Concord, NC next to Charlotte Motor Speedway. The property, owned by the speedway, is an undeveloped plot of land filled with ponds, streams and a few elevation changes. Though not an actual trail system, Kymco spent several weeks prior to our arrival carving through the foliage to create a testing ground for us to put the MXU 700i through its paces. The eight-mile course provided a good level of diverse terrain, giving us the opportunity to test out the machine in a variety of conditions.
Before we took to the course, our host gave a small presentation to introduce us to the machine as well as point out a few key features. We were pleased to notice immediately that the engineers gave the 700i an all-new look over its predecessor, the MXU 500i. The automotive-inspired styling is very impressive and certainly makes your first impression of the 700i a good one.
Clearly, this brand new machine revolves around its all-new 695cc powerplant – nearly 200cc larger than anything else in Kymco’s off-road lineup. Engineers went back to the drawing board to build an engine that would both increase displacement and keep the weight down. The new motor produces a claimed 45 horsepower and actually weighs less than the motor used in the MXU 500i. It accelerates well with just a push of the throttle and we topped it out at around 57 mph. It may go faster, but that was about all we could muster on this particular course. The engine makes great power and it comes on smooth thanks to electronic fuel injection.
One simple feature we always seem to take notice of on automatic quads is the shift lever. It’s frustrating trying to shift into reverse or between high and low range and have the transmission lock up or have to rock back and forth to get it to engage. This MXU’s CVT transmission features Hi, Low, Reverse, Neutral and Park and shifting between gears is hassle free. There was one instance where we had trouble getting it to engage in Low range and it popped out of gear shortly after hitting the throttle, but for the most part it shifted between gears easily all day long. We were constantly in and out of reverse when we would stop for photos, so smooth shifting eliminated the potential for some serious headaches.
Speaking of reverse, the lack of a speed governor restricting the throttle while backing up was a very nice feature. Many ATVs seem to have barely enough oomph to pull themselves along and certainly not enough to back over a large rock or a fallen tree. With the 700i you can back up as quickly as you feel comfortable with and should have no trouble if you need to back over an obstacle.
When designing the frame, engineers started with the same frame used on its MXU 500i model with a few modifications. In an attempt to increase suspension travel, they narrowed the front portion of the frame and lengthened the A-arms. This also positioned the motor farther back, allowing for a more even distribution of weight. We’re not sure that the changes had the intended effect, as the front end seemed very light and had a quite a bit of bump steer, especially in rutted out areas.
Like its predecessor, the MXU 700i features dual A-arms and independent rear suspension with 6.5 in. of travel in the rear and 6.0 in. up front. IRS is a huge asset when it comes to suspension and to compliment it Kymco added a sway bar in the rear. This really helped the machine stay planted in turns and minimized body roll. The suspension worked well for the majority of the terrain we came across, but we’d love to see a little more travel in the future.
Switching to 4WD as well as differential lock can be done on the fly; however, the push and twist control will be somewhat challenging to do while moving at any type of speed. The bottle cap shaped button requires you to push in while rotating it to the desired setting. You can do it with just your thumb, but we found it easier to use your thumb and index finger to twist the knob – much like turning a key in the ignition of a car. Since you’ll have to let go of the handlebar to do this you’d be wise to come to a complete stop first.
The rest of the controls were comfortably placed and the digital display/speedometer was a nice touch. We love the instant throttle response of EFI and our thumb wasn’t the least bit fatigued after pressing the throttle for two days. The MXU 700i features a 12-volt accessory outlet and also has a two-inch receiver out back, in case you need to tow a trailer. As well, the MXU offers plenty of storage for a small tool kit, tow strap or anything else you might want to have with you on the trail by way of a compartment under the right rear fender and locking storage boxes in each of the front fenders.
Kymco included a break lever on each of the handlebars in addition to the foot pedal to give you complete control of the hydraulic discs up front and a shaft-mounted single hydraulic disc in the rear. We found if you hit the brakes aggressively the engine breaking would keep the wheels from locking entirely, making for a half bounce/half skid as you come to a stop.
To meet the needs of the cost-conscious consumer, Kymco is offering the MXU 700i in two configurations; a base model ($8,599 MSRP) and limited edition ($9,399). The L.E. version comes with stylish aluminum alloy wheels and 26-inch Kenda tires, verses the smaller 25-inch Maxxis treads and steel wheels found on the base model. Finally, the L.E. model also includes a 3000 lb capacity winch and painted plastics. These are nice options for those looking for a little something extra, but we think most people will be content with the base model and pocket the $800 is savings.
Our overall impression is that Kymco is on the right track and filled a significant void in its lineup with the MXU 700i. To be considered a serious player in the Utility segment, offering a big bore ATV is a must. Kymco has a good motor with the 700i and as it continues to fine tune the chassis and suspension, we trust the machine will only get better. As it stands, it’s a great workhorse for use around the farm and it was a blast to play around on in rough, slow speed sections. A couple of us spent a good bit of time rock crawling through some severely washed out areas and with the differential lock engaged, we found was almost nothing the MXU 700i couldn’t tame.
One final note: though the new 695cc engine is only found in the MXU 700i for the 2013 model year, we would be stunned if it didn’t see its way into Kymco’s UXV line of side-by-sides in the very near future. In fact, we’re a little surprised this wasn’t the first platform Kymco used to introduce the new mill.