In the UTV world, the only thing better than seeing the new models from the various manufacturers each year, is listening to the ever-changing rumor mill churning out theories and “first-hand accounts” of what the companies are secretly working on. In our line of work, we sometimes get privileged information about new machines, but we never say anything for fear of making enemies with the companies, or worse, being wrong. The new Textron Wildcat XX is an odd case, however, that flew in the face of how new machines are typically unveiled and the rumor mill surrounding them.
We have known ever since the release of the Stampede that Textron Off-Road was working on something for the high-performance market beyond what we now know as the Havoc X. And Arctic Cat did something really odd in our circuit. They announced a new machine, the Wildcat XX and even had several prototypes running around. We all saw photos of dealerships that had one of the machines on display, only as a display. Interesting marketing technique – Let everyone see what you’re doing but then don’t let anyone have it. We speculated, and the rumor mills went crazy, over what was going on with Cat. When would we see the XX? Then it really got messed up. Textron Off-Road announced they had purchased Arctic Cat. Suddenly everyone was tight lipped. Finally, last year, Textron brought people in and explained the plans. The two companies were merging under the Textron flag. We knew then that the Textron performance project and the Wildcat XX were merging as well, and that Textron was pushing back the release until it was the machine they wanted it to be.
Recently, and under a cloak of secrecy, we flew out to Victorville, California to test the Wildcat XX in its native environment, cruising the desert and rocks at higher rates of speed. We had some idea what to expect, because like we said, this machine wasn’t a complete mystery. We had all seen it and knew basically what they were planning. We’ll start off by saying that the Wildcat XX was well worth the wait. It is leaps and bounds better than any Wildcat machine before it and its better than several other manufacturers machines available today. It’s really impressive.
Breaking it down
The Wildcat has an interesting powerplant. The engine is a 998cc inline three-cylinder, four-stroke, naturally-aspirated motor. Yes, you read that right – no turbo charger! The engine is still rated for 125 horsepower though and believe us when we say that it moves. No, it MOVES. Some other editors were saying they felt a little bit of lag in the engine, but we didn’t experience any of it. The engine has full electronic fuel injection and the whole package looks oddly familiar. That’s all we’ll say, but if you’ve been around power sports much and see the engine, you’ll see what we mean.
We’ve already heard some chatter about how the engine isn’t competitive because of the lack of a turbo. We’ll be honest and say that you really don’t always need a turbo-charged engine and for a non-turbo platform, this machine rocks when it comes to power and output. It did everything we wanted it to do and then some.
It’s no secret that Textron was doing some work with Robby Gordon, and this machine has his signature all over it. The suspension systems are the best for any Wildcat machine every produced, and that is saying something. We all know that the Wildcat lineup has had some really good suspension designs over the years. The Wildcat XX features an all-new suspension system utilizing front A-Arms with unequal length top to bottom. The rear system uses a trailing arm setup that is directly inspired by the leading off-road racers. This combination reduces changes in the track width by up to 40-percent in the front and an astounding 80-percent in the rear when compared to what the competition is currently doing. This gives the XX unmatched stability and control, which we experienced firsthand.
The shocks are FOX 2.5 Podium QS3 Shocks with Bottom-Out Control. These are an excellent choice for this machine with a solid feel throughout the full 18-inches of front and rear travel. Now, we know what you’re thinking. Those first reports of the XX had a different Shock coming standard. Trust us when we say that the Fox Shocks are about perfect for this machine. We hammered it through some of the most serious whoops we’ve ever driven through and the action is as good as we’ve experienced.
The whole suspension system works together extremely well. The shocks are mounted at an angle for a better motion ratio and the fronts are mounted to the lower A-arm, lowering the center of gravity. The geometry of the Wildcat XX’s rear trailing arms allows for the tires to travel virtually up-and-down, with a reduction in side-to-side movement. The unequal length of the front A-arms to adjust the tire camber, too. This keeps maximum tire contact with the ground throughout the movement of the travel. Robby was on hand at our ride to discuss the work they did and you can really tell how much work went into making this system amazing.
But wait, there’s more.
One of the biggest elements that went into the design of the XX is durability. Textron said they didn’t want to come out with a performance machine and it have issues right off the bat. One of the coolest things, and something no other UTV manufacturer has done yet, is all of the steering and suspension components are double shear. This means that all of these components are supported on two sides instead of one with the bolt passing through two supporting members for increased durability. Very cool stuff, especially for how hard this machine likes to be driven.
Textron also designed the machine to be easier to work on, with key areas having much easier access than most of the competition. You can have access to the powertrain by removing the cargo box and to do this, you don’t need any tools. This will make servicing things easy. You can also access the rear engine and transaxle with the removal of just six bolts. Zerk fitting abound on the XX and everything was looked at for how it could be serviced if need be, and how it could be made tougher, so you don’t have to.
It’s all about you
One of the complaints we’ve had and have heard from others when it comes to upper echelon sport UTVs is driver comfort. That is yet another area that Textron looked at with the XX. The cab is big, and by that we mean it accommodates a wide range of drivers and passengers. The driver’s seat is adjustable and there is a dead pedal on the left so the driver’s feet aren’t at weird angles, making it uncomfortable on longer rides. Even the dash is geared 60-percent toward the driver, with the center console angled toward the driver, all to make seeing controls and gauges easier for the driver to access. This is a nice touch, especially when you’re on the gas through a rough section and you need to see your gauges. You can use less effort and keep the focus on the trail in front of you.
The ROPS was designed to be more like the competition ROPS we often see custom made by the aftermarket, making it a very sturdy machine. The XX also has full doors, which add protection and style. People either love or hate the looks of the XX, but we are firmly on the love side of it.
The Wildcat XX rolls on custom 15-inch KMC wheels wrapped with 30-inch CST Behemoth tires. The tires are huge and the cargo area, which is rated to 300-pounds, is designed to hold up to a 32-inch spare tire. That’s a nice feature, especially if you’re going to go adventuring, or racing with the XX.
The electrical system was also designed to make your life easier. The Wildcat is pre-wired for accessories. All you need to do is mount them, run the wires down to the connectors and plug them in and run the switches. Adding a light bar takes about a half-hour tops. The machine comes with a 60-amp alternator, too, to give you enough juice to run stuff.
We could go on and on gushing about this machine and what we think of each little feature. We’ll just say this – it is the best Wildcat ever produced. It blows every previous Cat away in terms of comfort, ability and durability. Yes, it’s not a turbo, so if you’re dead set on owning the highest horsepower machine, this one isn’t for you. However, if that guy is your buddy, you can buy a Wildcat XX and when you go trail riding with him and his turbo monster, blow past him in some whoop sections and watch him break down trying to keep up. We can’t wait to spend some more time behind the wheel of the XX!
For more information, visit a local Textron Off Road dealer or go to TextronOffRoad.com
|Battery||Single 12V Starter|
|Engine Type||Liquid-Cooled, 4-Stroke Inline Triple Cylinder Dual Overhead Cam, Gas Engine|
|Drive System||Electric 2/4WD with 4WD Lock|
|Fuel System||Electronic Fuel Injection|
|Gear Selection||TEAM Rapid Response Clutches (H,L,N,R,P)|
|Front Differential||Front Locking Differential with Electrical Actuator|
|Rear Differential||Rear Transaxle|
|Total Capacity||730 lb (331.1 kg)|
|Bed Load Capacity||300 lb (136.1 kg)|
|Steering||Rack & Pinion w/ Electronic Power Steering, Tilt Steering Wheel with Sport Design|
|Front Suspension||Double A-Arm with 18 in (45.7 cm) Travel|
|Rear Suspension||Trailing Arm with 18 in (45.7 cm) Travel|
|Shock Absorbers||FOX 2.5 PODIUM QS3 with Compression Adjustment (Front) FOX 2.5 PODIUM QS3 with Compression Adjustment and Bottom-Out Control (Rear)|
|Brake System||Dual Piston Front Calipers and Single Piston Rear Calipers|
|Front Tires||30 x 10 x 15 in CST Behemoth Tires|
|Rear Tires||30 x 10 x 15 in CST Behemoth Tires|
|Wheels||15 in Aluminum KMC Wheels|
|Overall Length||136 in (345.4 cm)|
|Overall Width||64 in (162.6 cm)|
|Overall Height||67.5 in (171.5 cm) w/o roof | 68 in (172.7 cm) w/ roof|
|Overall Weight||1,816 lb (823.7 kg) (Dry) | 1,868 lb (847.3 kg) (Curb)|
|Wheelbase||95 in (241.3 cm)|
|Ground Clearance||14 in (35.6 cm)|
|Fuel Capacity||10 gal (37.9 L)|
|Bed Dimensions||34 x 32 x 9 in (86.4 x 81.3 x 22.9 cm)|
|Instrumentation||Dual Screen LCD Gauge with Seatbelt Indicator, High Beam Indicator, Oil Pressure Indicator, Coolant Temp. Warning Light, Check Engine Light, Engine Hour Meter, Odometer & Trip Meter, Clock, Gear Position, Diagnostics|
|Alternator (Electrical Charging System)||470 Watt Stator and 65 Amp Alternator|
|Accessory Connection System||Pre-Wired Connections for up to 8 Accessories (4 Switch & 4 Key-on)|
|Lighting||Low/High Beam Halogen Headlights with LED Accent|
|Seating||Stitched, Two-Tone, Contoured Bucket Seats|
|Storage Components||Cargo Bed, Glove Box, Cup Holders (2)|
|Safety||3-Point Seat Belts (4-Point and Click-6 Ready), Seat Belt Rev Limiter, Standard Full Doors, Race-Inspired ROPS with Front and Rear Intrusion Bars, 2 Passenger Grab Handles, Headlights, Brake Lights|