Vicious power and stunning looks
Something very powerful is lurking in the backwoods. Prowling through the forestland across the United States and Canada there is a creature that will set precedence over all in the same arena. The very existence of this machine will get the blood flowing for many off-road enthusiasts. Being avid Muscle car fans and loving the feel of horsepower under our control it was very exciting to get a shot at riding this beast. The 2010 Arctic Cat Prowler XTZ 1000 is the machine in question and just hearing the displacement gave way to thoughts of controlled chaos!
First released to public for the 2009 model year, the XTZ 1000 was hailed as the largest displacement side-by-side on the market. This Cat would beat its competitors’ bids by almost 200cc. However, we needed several questions answered before giving it our stamp of approval because the Prowler line had known handling issues and adding power to the chassis without building a better foundation was definitely a concern.
The engine would come from the Arctic Cat’s Thunder cat Utility ATV. This machine was introduced back in 2007 and this was also the largest displacement ATV made and it still holds that record for any manufacturer. Let’s get right to the heart of the beast and find out what it’s made of in a literal sense.
Since the biggest interest is in the powerplant of the big Cat we will start here. The 951cc SOHC, four stroke V-Twin is obviously the most powerful engine to date in a side-by-side. The Hemi technology in the head design gives the engine a very efficient and more complete combustion process. This not only helps propel the side-by-side, moving over 1,300 pounds, but it makes better horsepower overall. The engine is liquid cooled as well and has the fuel delivered via an electronic fuel injection system. EFI should help diminish cold-weather starting problems all while allowing fuel delivery to be accurate and consistent when climbing to and from drastic elevations. So combining the large displacement and the fuel saving efforts of the EFI you can have fun and save money on fuel as well.
Getting the power to the ground was surely a concern as well because most current CVT transmissions have been built to only accommodate the milder powerplants. This is where Arctic Cat tuned the clutching with different rollers and clutch weights to not only deliver the power of the V-Twin but to help with acceleration as well. Arctic Cat’s Automatic Duramatic Transmission is similar to past Prowler models with the enhancements to handle the added push from the crankshaft. The basic gear selections are a high, low, neutral and a reverse for getting out of the mistakes you might make with the foot feed. There were also changes made to the differential controls as Arctic Cat combined the selector for 2WD/4WD and 4WD Diff lock all into one rocker switch. If you remember the XT and XTX prowlers had a switch that engaged the 4WD from 2WD but to get differential full lock you had to pull out on a second switch right beside it. The 4WD Diff lock now works via a second stage in the forward motion of this one switch and locks via a small button on the switch. It kind of cleans up the dash a little.
We’ve gotten our powerplant and a way to deliver the rush of energy to the ground, but we have a concern now in the way the chassis can handle the added power. Arctic Cat had already planned for the ride and with ten inches of ground clearance along with the ability for the suspension to travel at 10 inches it seems to be on the right track. The entire suspension geometry had been revamped. The fully independent suspension makes a smooth ride in the rough trails and with the addition of preload adjustable gas charged shocks it was getting even better. The gas charged shocks will perform at a higher level and are built to resist fade during the really rough stuff.
Control is the key to any machine and with the higher power and heavier overall weight there had to be some improvements made to the braking on this Prowler. The inbound brake setup needed to be addressed and it was. Brake rotors and calipers are now mounted out at the wheel to make the stopping power of this machine a little more adequate. The last thing we want is to get the Big Cat hauling only to find we can’t reel it in at the end of the trail. There is also the addition of the hand-style parking brake lever. This eliminates the foot model from the older models and is a welcomed improvement for sure.
Some other features on the XTZ 1000 are found in the cab. Dual bucket seats along with seat belts that include a shoulder strap are a welcome improvement from the days of old. There are cup holders and masses of storage areas. The bed will hold 600 pounds and the under-hood storage can take on an additional 25 pounds. This compartment is sealed fairly well and has room for the lighter stuff. Also, a dash/glove box adds to the carrying capacity of this machine. Towing is not a problem as there are twin two-inch receivers, one front, and one rear, to pull up to 1,500.
The Arctic Cat Prowler XTZ 1000 we tested was painted Sunset Orange Metallic and it can be buffed and waxed just like the car you drive. The sporty look and non-functional hood scoop add to the excitement before the ride. This machine also has a custom wrapped steering wheel that belongs in a rally car; I guess that’s the whole point, though…right?
Well, we have talked about everything except the ride in the beast and let me tell you, it is exciting. The 951cc powerplant fires up with little hesitation and the gear selector slips into high range. The foot pedal is gently pressed and away we go. Our first impression is that the spring on the gas pedal is a bit stiff, making smooth operation a little tough. The jerky forward lunge can also be attributed to the CVT belt, as there is not a smooth enough engagement.
When it comes to power, it is as advertised and it feels incredible. This machine puts me back in a late model dirt car feel where I turned right to go left. You guys that watch dirt track racing will understand. This machine slides around corners with ease and although it rides a bit high in the saddle it does feel stable. The amount of usable power is simply amazing. It’s a bit loud in the cab and vibrations can be felt ripping up from the V-Twin, but its not overbearing.
Seating is comfortable, but I could use a little more side protection like maybe a set of half doors or nets at least. The braking on the machine works well for its weight and although you are not exactly thrilled when the Prowler starts sliding under hard braking you have to remember that this unit tips the scales at 1,340 pounds dry. Add a passenger and its best to just slow down and not tempt fate.
At the higher speeds the XTZ 1000 begins to float along and it can feel a bit, “not connected” to the trail so be cautious when really opening this beast up. The suspension seemed to soak up the terrain of the Badlands and with rutted rocky creek beds as our test area we hammered the gas-charged shocks with little fade and it took whatever we gave it with a smile! We’re sure a day of this would have an effect on any shock though.
Overall, the 2010 Prowler XTZ 1000 is a very classy and impressive machine. The innovation in this ride is tops and with a few safety improvements we feel this is a well-rounded machine. It has become an aftermarket fabricating foundation that has already won the mighty Baja 1000 desert race, which is known for chewing up and spitting out most of its challengers! If you love power and class get in, sit down and hold on!
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