Features that make the best off-road vehicles stand out
ATV and UTV enthusiasts have benefited from some amazing technology that has helped make our off-road vehicles more fun, more durable and more adaptable. And while there are a lot of amazing features that we have enjoyed using over the years, we thought we would give a little love to five of our favorite ATV and UTV features that can be found on the best machines in the industry.
Polaris Dynamix Active Suspension
Not too long ago, it felt like you needed a degree in shock tuning to get your ATV or UTV to handle its best. Things have gotten easier in recent years thanks to things like FOX QS3 shocks with three available shocks settings (soft, medium, firm). Well, Polaris found a way to make that even easier when it unveiled the Polaris Dynamix Suspension on select RZR models. This suspension system works in conjunction with a onboard computer to adjust the shocks on the fly. So even if you have your machine set up for a softer ride (you can choose between Firm, Sport or Comfort profiles), if you happen to catch a little air, the shocks will automatically go full firm so they can better absorb the impact when you land so you don’t bottom out. Adjustments are also automatically made while cornering, braking or accelerating. This is an ingenious system and we are bound to see more manufacturers develop something similar. In fact, the Honda Talon Fox Live Valve models offer just that.
Speaking of Honda, Big Red has developed its own share of off-road innovations over the years and the most recent is I-4WD. Excuse us while we get a little technical here, but I-4WD combines brake traction control with a torque-biasing limited slip differential. Basically, the system monitors left and right front wheel speed and applies brake to the wheel that is spinning and more drive force to the wheel with better traction. The result is an improved ability to get up, over and through more and tougher obstacles. And I-4WD is always ready, so you never have to stop and engage it. I-4WD also makes Honda’s Hill Start Assist possible. This little beauty of a feature comes in handy if you happen to stop on an incline. When you get going again, Hill Start Assist lets you take your foot off the brake without rolling backward before you can hit the gas. This equates to simple, one-foot operation when you are in a tricky spot. Brilliant! You can find I-4WD and Hill Start Assist in both the Honda Talon and Honda Pioneer.
Yamaha Ultramatic Transmission
The Yamaha Ultramatic transmission might not be a sexy pick for this list, as you probably won’t ever notice it. But that’s the point! This transmission has been proven to be incredibly durable and reliable, so there’s a very good chance you will never have to worry about it not working properly as long as you own your machine. And you know Yamaha is confident in its Ultramatic transmission when it offers an eye-popping 10-year warranty on the belt for all Ultramatic transmission-equipped Wolverine, Viking, Kodiak and Grizzly models. Good luck finding a warranty like that on any stock component on an ATV or UTV.
Can-Am Storage Solutions
Can-Am has been among the most innovative off-road manufacturers for years now and has brought many interesting and useful features to the industry. But when we think Can-Am, the first thing that comes to mind is amazing storage solutions. It started with the original Can-Am Commander with the dual-level cargo bed and carried over to the removable glove box/tool box on the Defender, which allows you to pull out the glove box and take it with you anywhere. More recently you have the mammoth lower storage area on the new Can-Am Defender Pro models. This is a pass-through storage system that offers up 83.6 gallons of additional storage space that spans the entire width of the vehicle with access doors on each side. That same Defender Pro also has removable sides on the cargo bed, which gives the user a flat bed for carrying larger items.
Kawasaki Mule Convertible Bed
While we’ve seen the likes of Yamaha and Honda offer fold down rear seats the past few years, it was Kawasaki that introduced the world to the idea of a convertible cargo bed in a UTV. We will use the Mule Pro-FXT as an example, though this technology is offered on several Mule models. With this machine, you can have it set up with two rows of seating to hold up to six people (driver and five passengers) and still have a sizeable cargo bed that holds up to 350 pounds. But if you have a larger load to carry, the rear seats fold up and slide forward and the cargo bed nearly doubles in size from 22″ x 53.7″ x 11” to 42.7″ x 53.7″ x 11” and can now carry up to 1000 pounds. It’s all designed so that one person can do the conversion in less than a minute.