2015 Sport ATV Buyer's Guide
While the off-road industry rides the wave of UTVs to great success, those devoted to the pure Sport ATVs haven’t had much to cheer about in recent years.
It wasn’t long ago that eight different manufacturers had race-ready 450cc class machines, but for the 2016 model year only Yamaha remains in the segment. Suzuki, KTM and Hyosung left the class behind after 2009, followed by Polaris in 2011, Kawasaki and Honda in 2014, and Can-Am in 2015.
But rather than disappearing, the Sport ATV class has evolved. In fact, only three Sport ATVs remain that have a proper manual transmission, with the rest going automatic. Both Can-Am and Polaris have focused their efforts on high-powered Sport 4×4 ATVs, while a handful of manufacturers offer some lower displacement machines that bare some resemblance to the pure Sport ATVs of 2009.
We’ve decided to highlight every current model that falls in the modern Sport ATV class. You might have scoffed at calling some of these Sport ATVs six or seven years ago, but the times they are a changing.
As a callback to golden age of Sport ATVs, we’ll start with the lone remaining 450-class machine – the Yamaha YFZ450R (and YFZ450R SE). It’s reasonable to say this is the last of the pure Sport ATVs and it remains a dominant force on the motocross track and cross country racing circuit. It last received an update in 2014, which included the addition of a slipper clutch. Highlights include a high-performance 449cc engine and fully adjustable KYB shocks controlling 9.8 inches of travel up front and 11 inches out back. Read our latest YXZ450R review here.
MSRP: $8,899 – $9,199
Yamaha Raptor 700
The Yamaha Raptor 700 has long been king of the dunes. Boasting a deliciously torquey engine and a five-speed manual transmission, this Sport ATV is available in three iterations – Raptor 700, Raptor 700R, and Raptor 700R SE. Yamaha updated the Raptor in 2015, which included a 10% power increase and improved fuel economy. For a comfortable ride with sporty performance, the Raptor 700 is worth exploring. Read our latest Raptor 700 review here.
MSRP: $7,799 – $8,999
Honda dropped all of its Sport ATVs after the 2014, but the TRX250X returns for 2016. This model features a 229cc single cylinder engine and a manual transmission with Honda’s SportClutch, which allows new riders learn clutch control without worrying about stalling. Outside of updated graphics and colors, the TRX250X has been left unchanged for several years. Read our most recent TRX250X review here.
Can-Am Renegade 1000R
Can-Am’s heavyweight Sport ATV is built around an 89-horsepower 976cc V-Twin engine and comes in three iterations. The base Renegade 1000R features front and rear FOX HPG shocks and 25-inch ITP Holeshot tires wrapped around cast aluminum wheels. Step up to the Renegade 1000R X XC and you get Tri-Mode Dynamic Power Steering, FOX Performance Series 1.5 Podium RC2 shocks, and 12-inch aluminum beadlock wheels. The baddest Renegade of them all is the mud-specific 1000R X MR, which features a snorkel system, relocated CVT intake and outlet, FOX Performance 1.5 Podium RC2 shocks, and 3,000-pound WARN winch
MSRP: $11,249 – $15,149
Can-Am Renegade 850
Can-Am bumped the displacement of this Renegade up to 854cc for 2016, which resulted in an impressive 78 horsepower – a gain of seven horsepower. The middle child of the Renegade family comes in two iterations; Renegade 850 and Renegade 850 X XC. Both of these share the same features of the Base and X XC versions of the Renegade 1000R listed above.
MSRP: $10,199 – $12,699
Can-Am Renegade 570
Boasting a new engine for 2016, the Renegade 570 produces a claimed 48 horsepower from its 570cc engine, which is more than any other ATV in the 500-600 class. The Renegade 570 shares the same Torsional Trailing Arm independent rear suspension and Surround Spar Technology (SST) G2 frame as its big brothers, along with FOX HPG shocks and 25-inch ITP Holeshore tires and cast aluminum wheels.
Can-Am DS 250
Designed for riders 14 and up, the Can-Am DS 250 looks much like a traditional Sport ATV, but features a continuously variable transmission with Forward, Neutral, and Reverse selected with a gated shifter. Power comes from a 249.4cc single-cylinder engine. Features include push-button electric start, double A-arm front suspension, and five-position preload adjustable front and rear shocks controlling 5.5 inches of travel up front and 6.7 inches out back.
Polaris Scrambler 850
The original Scrambler was a mainstay in the Polaris ATV lineup for many years, but in 2013 Polaris replaced the design with a new Sport-Utility machine meant to take on the Can-Am Renegade. The new Scrambler 850 comes equipped with a stout 850cc Parallel Twin engine that pumps out a claimed 78 horsepower. Features include dual A-arm front and rear suspension controlling nine inches of travel up front and 10.25 inches in the rear, 11.5 inches of ground clearance, on-demand all-wheel drive, and 26-inch CST tires with 14-inch steel wheels. Read our Scrambler 850 review here.
Polaris Scrambler XP 1000
Debuting a year after its little brother is the Scrambler XP 1000, which boasts a 952cc engine producing a claimed 89 horsepower. Features include FOX Podium shocks with 24-position compression adjustment, high-performance close ratio all-wheel drive system, electronic power steering, and cast aluminum wheels. Read our Scrambler 1000 review here.
Polaris Phoenix 200
Straddling the line between the Sport and Youth classes is the Polaris Phoenix 200, which is intended for riders 14 and older. This entry level ATV features a 196cc single-cylinder carbureted motor, automatic transmission with F/N/R gears, dual A-arm front suspension (seven inches of travel), and mono-shock rear swingarm (6.5 inches of travel). Read our Phoenix 200 review here.
Arctic Cat XC 450
Arctic Cat’s only Sport ATV, the XC 450, is actually built by KYMCO and is powered by a 443cc single-cylinder engine. Features include on-the-fly 2×4/4×4, electronic fuel injection, double A-arm front and rear suspension, preload adjustable shocks controlling seven inches of travel, Maxxis tires, and cast-aluminum wheels. Read our most recent XC 450 review here.
KYMCO Maxxer 450i
KYMCO’s Sport-Utility ATV, the Maxxer 450i, is powered by a 443cc single-cylinder liquid-cooled engine. Features include on-demand 2WD/4WD, automatic CVT, independent front and rear suspension with preload adjustable shocks, 150-pound rear rack capacity, two-inch receiver hitch, and one-year limited factory warranty. Read our Maxxer 450i review here.
KYMCO Mongoose SE 270
New for 2016, the Mongoose SE 270 replaces the Mongoose 300 in KYMCO’s Sport ATV lineup. Features include 270cc carbureted engine, automatic CVT with F/N/R gears, chain drive, dual A-arm front suspension, linked rear suspension, and preload adjustable shock. Read our Mongoose 300 review here.
I have been working exclusively in digital media since 1997. I started out with TSN.ca, spending nearly nine years creating and editing content on Canada's leading sports website. I left to join VerticalScope, Inc., one of the world's largest online publishers, to start a number of powersports publications. While at VerticalScope, I've helped create and oversee content for a wide variety of different publications, including ATV.com, Off-Road.com, ArcheryTalk.com, Tractor.com, RVGuide.com, and many more.
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