2019 ATV.com Sport UTV of the Year
The UTV is a curious machine. What first started out as a work platform, designed to expand the capabilities of an ATV for utility purposes and add passenger space as well as extended cargo, shifted some with the introduction of Yamaha’s original Rhino, a machine that showed UTVs were capable of much more than work. Polaris seized on that concept and developed a new machine for their Ranger division aptly named the Ranger RZR. The consumer response was immediate and overnight a new category of UTV took off. Since then, the Sport UTV category has become ultra-competitive. Each manufacturer keeps pushing the envelope to find the edge in horsepower, handling, suspension and, above all, market share. Picking one machine as the best Sport UTV for 2019 isn’t easy, as each company in the space has some seriously sweet machinery. One machine that stands out is the Textron/Arctic Cat Wildcat XX, and it is the ATV.com 2019 Sport UTV of the Year.
The Wildcat XX, as many of us know, was in development with Arctic Cat before the Textron buy out. When Textron came in, it put the brakes on the development because it knew the machine had to be a home run. Under the newly-branded Textron Off-Road, the Wildcat XX became that brand’s new flagship sport machine when it came out officially halfway through 2018.
One thing Textron hadn’t really counted on is the fierce brand loyalty present in the off-road world. Very rarely does it work the way it is envisioned. Most Ram truck drivers still say they drive a Dodge. So for 2019, Textron Off-Road is rebranding back to Arctic Cat. Don’t let it confuse you, though These are still the same great machines.
Why the XX?
This is the easy part. We picked the Wildcat XX as Sport UTV of the Year for 2019 because it is such a fun machine to drive. It’s big and extremely stable, so you feel invincible behind the wheel. The interior is very roomy, so everyone can relax and enjoy it. When you have rough terrain and want to go wide open into it, the XX has your back, Jack!
The Yamaha-built 998cc inline triple is naturally aspirated and produces 130HP, which is plenty. Will there be a turbo version? We suspect soon, as we’ve all seen it. Besides, you can retro-fit a Yamaha turbo kit off their snowmobiles, and in the sleds, they are making over 200 horses! In stock trim, we find the XX has ample horses for anything we’ve done with the machine.
Suspension-wise, the XX was designed with input from Robby Gordon. Fox Podium 2.5 QS3 shocks ride at all four corners with 18 inches of travel. The front is an offset A-arm system and the rear, a trailing arm set up. Both are inspired from trophy-truck designs and are smooth at speed.
The XX fits in well with aggressive driving in many conditions. You can hammer the dessert, or slam through the woods with it and it just keeps going smoothly. By living up to the promise of being a machine we waited a long time for, and now that we have it, it works, that’s why we selected the Wildcat XX as the 2019 ATV.com Sport UTV of the Year.
Honorable Mention – Polaris RZR XP 4 Turbo S
This is the biggest, meanest RZR to date. Seating for four, 168 HP, 25 inches of active Dynamix suspension travel and 16 inches of ground clearance make the XP 4 Turbo S a true monster. Oh and let’s not forget Polaris’ Ride Command system, too. Some people save up and take their families to roller coasters for vacation. The XP 4 Turbo S is the extreme roller coaster that you can take with you. And you don’t even have to stand in line.
Honorable Mention – Yamaha YXZ 1000R SS
Yamaha’s amazing YXZ 1000R has always been a favorite of ours since it’s introduction. For 2019, Yamaha beefed up the engine and transmission, making the machine from arguably the most dependable brand even more bulletproof. Yamaha also boosted the cooling system, and gave everyone the option of their bolt-on turbocharger kit that makes the YXZ a true screamer. The SS model has Yamaha’s sequential shifting transmission with the addition of the automatic clutch, giving you more options for driving fun. A truly great machine.