When we finally shifted our Dodge Ram into park position at the Radisson Hotel in Kitchener, Ontario, our 9-hour road trip from Montreal had come to an end. We were in Kitchener to attend the 2015 ARGO EXPO to which we received an invite several months earlier. We were looking forward to this event, since we knew that ARGO would reveal several new vehicles designed for outdoor enthusiasts and commercial applications alike.
The new ARGO line-up was unveiled as part of a week-long sales Expo which had upwards of 150 dealers and internal distributors from 19 countries in attendance. The ARGO was born in 1967 after ODG (Ontario Drive & Gear Limited) realized the potential of the Off-road market and decided to introduce its own 6-wheel amphibious vehicle – the ARGO. In 1969 the Kitchener facility could no longer handle the volume required so ODG purchased a 10-acre site in New Hamburg and began construction. For all you fact seekers out there, the ARGO was named after the “Argonaut” from Greek mythology due to its stamina on land and water!
Following the welcome address and the introduction of several key personnel from the various ARGO divisions, we were invited to observe the ARGO line-up unveil. The line-up reveal took place on an exhibition course on the New Hamburg compound itself. The exhibition course logistics were well designed, enabling the audience to witness the capabilities of the various vehicles presented.
ARGO Wilderness Series – Geared towards outdoorsmen, anglers and hunters who traverse the world’s toughest terrain, the new Wilderness series of vehicles features the ARGO Outfitter, ARGO Scout and ARGO Duck Master, the latter designed in conjunction with feedback from Willie and Jase of Duck Commander fame.
ARGO LX Series – Designed for long rides with ultimate comfort, the ARGO LX Navigator is the first model to be unveiled in the company’s upscale luxury line and includes a host of hot new features that will make users the envy of all their friends.
ARGO Lineman Series – In response to market requests, ARGO has created a dedicated ‘Lineman’ Series of vehicles to meet the demanding applications utilities workers face and its new ARGO Lineman XT model has been created to work harder and stay out longer.
ARGO First Responder Series – Designed for reliable off-road fire and rescue, the ARGO Responder MD and FF provide a safe means of transportation as well as solid platforms from which to attack a fire, treat a patient or perform a rescue with interchangeable stretchers and firefighting solutions.
ARGO Military Series – Deployable, dependable, adaptable – the ARGO Commander LF and MD are the defense industry’s dream machines, offering true all-terrain performance and equipped to meet the tactical requirements that make it ‘mission ready’ anywhere on earth.
ARGO Explorer Series – Designed with miners, environmental surveyors and oil & gas workers in mind, the new ARGO Explorer and ARGO Explorer Jr. include a variety of industry specific features that turn them into extreme terrain workshops for getting the job done.
Aside from the new vehicles, ARGO also revealed some new and exciting product enhancements including a new state-of-the-art anti-corrosion paint system and dual beadlock system which gives users increased suspension, resulting in a smoother, more comfortable ride over rough terrain. The new beadlock system also allows users to operate with tire pressure as low as 1 PSI, while the new anti-corrosion paint system has been implemented to further enhance and increase the longevity of the vehicle’s lifespan.
Immediately following the unit presentations and a short lunch break, we assisted a presentation from ARGO’s Robotics division. The presentation was held in the same location and it featured unmanned (remote controlled) units. The constant innovations from ARGO’s Robotics division permit these unmanned units to be used in almost limitless applications, from Fire and Rescue to Space Exploration. ARGO has been working on the space program for several years now and who knows one day in the not to distant future, we may see an ARGO unmanned robotic unit traversing some planet surface out there.
Once the Robotics Division had concluded their eye opening presentation, we were invited to visit the installations Manufacturing Plants. There are actually two manufacturing plants at the New Hamburg location, the ODG (Ontario Drive & Gear Limited) plant that designs and manufactures transmissions and gears, and the ARGO manufacturing/assembly plant, which we opted to visit. We attended the tour with great interest and got to experience first hand the various processes required to give birth to an ARGO vehicle. The various stations we visited in the plant took us from almost the first weld to the last bolt fasten on the assembly line. Plus I can’t forget to mention what seemed to be an almost endless amount of quality control checks along the way. However, more importantly what really got our attention was the sense of pride exhibited by the plants various technicians we encountered. They were proud to be ARGO employees, but most of all were honored to be involved in the process, which ultimately delivers a quality product “The Argo” to the end consumer. For us, although new to the ARGO branding, this revelation says a mouthful about ARGO as a company and its people.
Towards the end of the Plant tour, Matt Chandler (Project Development Manager) at ARGO, walked up to us and uttered: “you guys ready to demo a unit”? After watching the units in action all day during the various presentations, we were more than ready! We were immediately whisked into a company van and driven to a small wooded area, which would serve as the testing grounds. Although this area was not large in size, it still provided certain obstacles to get a feel for the unit. The area was composed of: hard packed sand surfaces, mud holes, narrow passages and was adjacent to a body of water. After a short introduction on how to operate the unit, we were on our way.
The unit, which we had a chance to demo, was the ARGO 8X8 Frontier EFI. This is the most affordable 8×8 in the ARGO line-up; the unit not only has great performance on rough terrain but also has excellent water crossing capabilities. This 8-wheel drive amphibious off-road vehicle is powered by a 4 stroke OHV V-Twin air-cooled 747cc, 23 hp (17 kW) Kohler Command Pro engine with electronic fuel injection. It has a load capacity of up to 1000 lb. / 454 kg on land or 900 lb. / 408 kg on water, can transport 6 passengers on land, 4 on water and features a towing capacity of 1,400 lb. / 635 kg.
Unfortunately we did not have enough seat time to be able to offer you a full-unbiased review at this time. However we can offer the following comments: our test unit conquered any terrain we navigated with extreme ease. From land to water, nothing held us back and the unit offered a very unique and distinct ride experience. Our ride experience, although short, left us craving for more and we most definitely want to put more of the world’s most versatile All-Terrain vehicles to the test.
After it was all said and done and before starting our long road trip back home, we did manage to make arrangements to have a demo sent to us for a complete shakedown. The vehicle which really has our interest sparked is the “Outfitter” which is part of the wilderness series. The “Outfitter” is designed to meet the specifications of hunt camp operators, lodge owners, and big game hunters who traverse the world’s toughest terrain. This unit deserves our attention not only to satisfy our personal curiosity but those of our hunter readership as well. So stay tuned to a future issue of UTV Planet for the complete shakedown.
Did I leave you wanting more? For now and until we can do a complete shakedown, I encourage you to visit: www.argoutv.com for more information on the extreme terrain vehicle solutions from ARGO.