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HUNTING's 2015 ATV Buyers Guide

HUNTING's 2015 ATV Buyers Guide

For outdoor enthusiasts looking for a new ATV or UTV in 2015, the major manufacturers now have more new models and better offerings than ever before.

Regardless of the terrain, wherever your passion leads you, there is an ATV or UTV that will get you there and back home at the end of the trip.

There's a whole new world out there.

Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec EPS


The tuning fork company has built a reputation of quality, reliability, and durability. For 2015, Yamaha has two new UTV models that deserve a serious look. The Wolverine R-Spec EPS is aimed at the driver looking for something more for recreation than hard-core work machine.

Yamaha took cues from its class-leading sport and racing quads for the Wolverine's suspension. They made the sight-lines easier on the driver by bringing in the nose of the machine and positioning the driver in an upright seating position in a high-back seat. The Wolverine is powered by an all-new dual overhead cam 708cc single-cylinder engine that provides tons of bottom-end torque.

Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec EPS Specifications

Engine | 708cc, liquid-cooled 4-stroke, DOHC

Transmission | Yamaha Ultramatic V-belt with all-wheel engine braking locking differential

Suspension Type | Independent double wishbone


Wheel Travel | 9.7 in., front; 10.6 in., rear 11.4 in. of ground clearance

Cargo Capacity | 300 lbs., bed; 1,500 lbs., towing

Colors | Steel Blue, Hunter Green, Realtree Xtra

MSRP | $13,199, $13,799 Realtree

 Yamaha Viking VI EPS


Getting that power to the ground is Yamaha's outstanding Ultramatic transmission. You're not very likely to burn up a belt when you're in the backcountry chasing elk or mule deer. Another new machine from Yamaha is the Viking VI, a true multi-passenger machine for those of us who have more than just gear to haul in to those hard-to-reach areas.

The Viking VI takes the three-passenger Viking and adds an additional three seats with a second row. This puts the center passenger's shoulders slightly behind the outside two passengers. One of the things that has impressed us the most with the Yamaha Viking VI is its ability to haul a full load of cargo and passengers, even tow a hefty load, and still drive the same as it does with just the driver at the wheel.

Have a trailer full of decoys and five buddies that want to hit the goose fields with you? You can do it with just one Viking VI. You can't say that for many other machines this side of a crew cab truck.

Yamaha Viking VI EPS Specifications

Engine | 686cc liquid-cooled w/fan 4-stroke; SOHC, 4 valves

Transmission | Yamaha Ultramatic V-belt with all-wheel engine braking locking differential

Suspension Type | Independent double wishbone

Wheel Travel | 8.1 in., front / rear 11.4 in. of ground clearance

Cargo Capacity | 600 lbs., bed; 1,500 lbs., towing

Colors | Steel Blue, Red, Hunter Green Realtree AP

MSRP | $13,799, $14,599 Realtree

 Kawasaki Mule Pro-FXT EPS


The Team Green company stepped up for 2015 with the Mule Pro-FXT. The Pro-FXT is powered by a new 812cc, three-cylinder, liquid-cooled, four-stroke engine that has torque to spare.

The engine is rear-mounted to keep the center of gravity over the drivetrain, providing a smooth ride and gobs of traction. It also keeps cabin noise down, allowing the passengers to talk and hear outside noises. Kawasaki added a large radiator and high-capacity fan to keep the engine running cool, even in the hottest temperatures and toughest load situations.

The new breed of Mule converts from a six-passenger UTV to a three-passenger in under a minute, and it only takes one person to do so. In six-passenger mode, the cargo capacity of the steel cargo bed is 350 lbs. In three-passenger mode, the capacity jumps to 1,000 lbs. The bed dumps as well, but only in the three-passenger configuration. An electric dump assist is available.

The Pro-FXT also comes with an automatic transmission with high and low range and two- and four-wheel drive, operated by a nice switch on the dash. Kawasaki also added a locking differential for extreme situations. The transmission operates under a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) system and is paired with other features like electronic power steering and direct fuel injection.

The Camo and LE models give you extra lighting that really enhances night-time use. After putting a hunting season on one, we feel the Mule Pro-FXT may be the ultimate working and hunting machine.

Kawasaki Mule Pro FXT EPS Specifications

Engine | 812cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled DOHC, 3-cylinder

Transmission | Continuously VariableTransmission with high/low range locking differential

Suspension Type | Double wishbone

Wheel Travel | 8.7 in. front/rear 10.2 in. ground clearance

Cargo Capacity | Up to 1,000 lbs. 2,000 lbs., towing capacity

Colors | Super Black, Timberline Green, Dark Royal Red, Realtree Xtra Green

MSRP | $12,999 — $15,599

Can-Am Outlander L 500 DPS


From north of the border comes a couple of new machines from Can-Am. The one that has many people talking is the game-changing Outlander L series. The L series machines have all the features of the bigger machines, but are priced way less. The engine has a lot of torque on the low end and builds very smoothly as you accelerate.

The L models are built on a new SST G2 frame, which is designed to use fewer welds but have increased durability and integrity, as well as being stronger compared to a tubular-steel frame. Having used the Outlander L for some time now, we can say that while it is marketed as a budget machine, it rides and performs just as well as machines costing much more.

If you're looking for a tank to haul your gear in and out of the gnarliest terrain imaginable and you've got a lot of hauling to do, well, then, you probably need the Can-Am Outlander 6X6 XT. The 6X6 is just awesome with an honest six-wheel-drive system and a massive dual-level cargo box that dumps and hauls 700 lbs. of stuff.

Can-Am could have just stopped there, but they added a 3,000-lb. Warn winch and a brush guard. We kind of grunt a little when we say that. You can get it with a 649cc engine, but why not go for the 976cc beast? If Bigfoot rode an ATV, it would be this one.

Another new feature for all of the Can-Am lineup is a partnership with Mossy Oak that was announced at SHOT Show 2015.

Can-Am Outlander L 500 DPS Specifications

Engine | 499.6cc, V-twin, liquid-cooled SOHC, 8 valve

Transmission | CVT, sub-transmission with high, low, park, neutral & reverse

Suspension Type | Double A-arm front, torsional trailing arm independent rear

Wheel Travel | 9 in., front; 8.8 in., rear 10.5 in. ground clearance

Cargo Capacity | 120 lbs., front; 240 lbs., rear 1,300 lbs., towing capacity

Colors | Yellow, Gray, Mossy Oak Break-Up Country

MSRP | $7,899, $8,399 Mossy Oak

 Arctic Cat Prowler 700 HDX


The folks up in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, pulled the covers off a pile of new machines this year. Topping the list are the new XR ATVs. The flagship of the new XR line for Arctic Cat, the XR 700 Limited EPS comes with a big 695cc single-cylinder SOHC, four-valve, Minnesota-made engine that rips out serious power.

The XR has 10 inches of wheel travel at all four corners, and they really mean the corners. The way AC designed the suspension, it is mounted low and to the outside of the A-arms, giving the rider the most responsive ride yet from the Cat brand. Adding to that is 11 inches of ground clearance and a 2-inch standard receiver hitch for towing.

The Cat's Limited package includes a 3,000-lb. winch, bumpers, and other features that folks often buy to customize their machines. You've got to like the sharp looks and a design that is ready for a wild adventure. We know we do. Arctic Cat also completely redesigned the Prowler UTV lineup, including the HDX.

The Prowler HDX, technically a 2016 model, is a hunter's dream with outstanding cargo capacity mixed with rugged features that allow you to take it anywhere and haul more than you could with other machines. They put Fox Float coil-over shocks out back. The shocks help give the rear cargo box a 1,000-lb. capacity.

But what if your cargo exceeds the box? No worries; the sides fold flat. Want to haul your entire elk down the mountain? The HDX is up to it. Need more cargo capacity? AC added a 22.4-gallon storage box, a 2.3-gallon glove box, and side storage boxes that give you 42.75 gallons of total cargo space.

The HDX blurs the lines of recreation and utility, making it a great hunting vehicle.

Arctic Cat Prowler 700 HDX Specifications

Engine | 695cc SOHC, 4-Stroke 4-Valve with EFI

Transmission | Automatic CVT with EBS Hi/Lo Range and differential lock

Suspension Type | Dual A-arm with Fox Float rear shocks

Wheel Travel | 10 in. front and rear 10 in. of ground clearance

Cargo Capacity | 1,000 lbs., box; 1,500 lbs., towing

Colors | Team Arctic Green, camo

MSRP | $13,599, $13,949 camo

Polaris Sportsman 1000 XP


When Polaris announced its new lineup for 2015, it took some time to take it all in. It unveiled 14 new models for the new year! A couple of the most exciting new rides are aimed right at the hunter. The Sportsman 1000 XP boasts an 88 horsepower 952cc ProStar twin-cylinder engine.

Despite having all that power on tap, the Sportsman is extremely controllable and fun to ride. Having used one in extreme terrain in the mountains out West and the broad, wide-open fields of the Midwest, the big-bore Sportsman was able to handle anything we threw at it but never once felt like it was going to overpower us.

Added features to the Hunter Edition include Polaris's Pursuit camo pattern, a steel rack extension on the rear rack, and a 2,500 winch built into the front of the unit. There are other variations available, too, but who doesn't want camo? All that power means you're easily going to be the first one to deer camp.

No more sleeping on the top bunk this year! Also for 2015, the Ranger 900 XP received an all-new ProStar engine design that produces 68 horsepower. Of real interest to hunters is the Hunter Deluxe package.

It boasts glass windshields, a hard roof, half doors, heated interior seats, a gun rack with two scabbards, a rear cargo box, a rear bumper, nerf bars, a front brush guard, and a 4,500-lb. winch with remote control.

Polaris Sportsman 1000 XP Specifications

Engine | 952cc, 4-Stroke SOHC Twin Cylinder

Transmission | Automatic PVT P/R/N/L/H

Suspension Type | Dual A-arm

Wheel Travel | 9 in., front; 10.25 in., rear 11.5 in. ground clearance

Cargo Capacity | 120 lbs., front; 240 lbs., rear 1,500 lbs., towing capacity

Colors | Black, Polaris Pursuit Camo

MSRP | $11,999, $12,299 camo

 Honda Foreman Rubicon 500


Honda is a name synonymous with quality and durability. After a few years of research and development, Honda stormed back in the innovation department with the Foreman Rubicon ATV. The Rubicon features a 500-class engine that truly has to be ridden to be fully believed.

While it may be only a 500-class engine, it doesn't feel like one. Part of the fun is all of the options in transmissions Honda offers. You can buy a manual shift that uses a foot shift on the left side, or you can go with Honda's DCT system. It lets you select a true automatic system where the machine selects the gear, or you can select the electronic shift system you control.

We've been running one for some time now and find that we're drawn to taking the Honda over some of the bigger machines. It's that fun to ride.

Honda Foreman Rubicon 500 Specifications

Engine | 686cc liquid-cooled w/fan 4-stroke; SOHC, 4 valves

Transmission | Five-speed with reverse dual-clutch

Suspension Type | Independent double wishbone

Wheel Travel | 7.28 in., front; 8.46 in., rear 9.4 in. ground clearance

Cargo Capacity | 99 lbs., front; 187 lbs., rear 1,322 lbs. towing capacity

Colors | Red, olive, white, black, Honda Phantom camo

MSRP | Starting at $7,799

Honda Pioneer 500

Another new machine from Honda is the Pioneer 500, a different kind of UTV. Like other machines, it has a passenger seat, allowing you to take someone along for the ride.

But unlike other UTVs, the Pioneer 500 is smaller, coming in at just 50 inches wide. Powered by a 475cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke single, the Pioneer is a fun, peppy ride that is further enhanced by the electronic paddle-style shifters. The size of the Pioneer means it not only will fit into the back of most truck beds, but also you can drive it just about anywhere you can imagine.

There aren't many trails that are too tight for the Pioneer 500. You can't say that for many other side-by-side UTVs. And now for the best part — the price. It starts at $8,499.

A compact, go-anywhere, paddle-shifting UTV for under nine grand and the durability and reliability of a Honda? Sign us up!

Honda Pioneer 500 Specifications

Engine | 475cc liquid-cooled single cylinder, 4-stroke

Transmission | Electric-shift five-speed with reverse

Suspension Type | Independent double wishbone

Wheel Travel | 5.9 in. front/rear 9.6 in. ground clearance

Cargo Capacity | 450 lbs., rear 1,050 lbs., towing capacity

Colors | Red, yellow, olive, Honda Phantom camo

MSRP | $8,499

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