When you think about John Deere it may not come to mind as a company that builds utility side-by-sides at first. The Moline Illinois based company is best known for building some of our nation’s incredible farming equipment. These same engineers are also producing military vehicles, including ROVs otherwise known as remote operated vehicles. With all that John Deere offers, it will come as no surprise that the same company has a great machine that does indeed run like a Deere.
The power of this new John Deere Gator RSX850i comes from its Piaggio built powerhouse. Using the four-stroke platform, the electronic fuel injection gives this machine a quick start in most any conditions. This 839cc engine is a V-twin model and it produces a modest 62-horsepower for the 1360-pound machine. With an available torque rating in the area of 57.5 the low-end grunt of this new Gator should impress any owner. The RSX850i is also a liquid cooled engine so working or riding in the heat isn’t an issue.
In the transmission of the new John Deere Gator RSX850i you will find some standard features for our industry. The four-wheel drive system has the rear wheels locked in full time and the front differential will be limited slip until you lock the machine into full locked position by the twist knob located just to the right of the steering wheel on the dash. This transmission incorporates Low, High, Reverse and Park as its choices and low is at the bottom with Park being the top position. Seems like that was planned just right as a short reach in between the seats gets you in the proper gear. The enclosed and sealed CVT belt drive is also an industry standard and this has worked for years as a reliable form of putting the power to the ground.
Getting through the rough stuff is something this machine was intended to do and with fully independent front and rear suspension you can tell right away it is possible. The front end of the new John Deere Gator RSX850i has nine inches of travel and an anti-sway bar to keep things stable. The rear wheel travel is 9-inches as well and with sway control on the back this machine is truly a stable ride. It’s great to see the development of this machine coming along and with the knowledge of larger than life chassis engineers helping its bound to work great.
Looking at the unique lines of the John Deere Gator RSX850i we were just amazed at the overall styling in this machines design. This model stands out with its great look. The sleek curves make the RSX just look fast and with things like high back seats peaking up over the dash it is very inviting. The sport model of the RSX850i gives the feel and look of a Baja type vehicle. With the design leaning towards harsh desert terrain and technical rocky sections of the narliest trail you know it should inspire confidence right from the showroom floor. The tubular cage surrounding the driver and passenger as they slip into the seats is ROPs approved and John Deere used one and three quarter inch tubing to get the roll over protection in spec. Keeping the riders in their seats are the three point seat belts, which are also pretty standard for today’s UTV world. This sport model was standing on 14-inch custom wheels and wrapped in the Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tire. This combination is rugged and with a brand like Maxxis on board the trail is now your slave.
Most loyal John Deere owners may be interested to know that the towability of this machine is also impressive. The tow rating for the John Deere Gator RSX850i is a massive 1200lbs and after you fill up the 8.9 cubic feet of rear cargo bed space you can dump the load back out via the manually released cargo bed dump lever.
With many details already listed, our real world experience and how this off road machine handled the trails is the next item up for discussion. Sitting in the John Deere Gator RSX850i you immediately feel comfortable. The high back seating wraps itself around you and welcomes you in. It would be nice to see these great seats tilted back just a couple of inches to give your legs more support or more bolstering on the front of the seat. They were in no way uncomfortable to us, just needed a bit more perfection… The three point seat belts worked well and the only thing I would add to them would be the anti-cinch mechanism so they let you flex just a bit without binding up.
As we pushed the John Deere green machine into high and gave the foot feed a poke the Gator launched into motion and we were off down the trail. Getting the power out of the machine wasn’t very hard as it seemed to reach its peak fairly quickly. The top speed of the new Gator was around 53-55 mph (85-88 km/h) and honestly for the general public that is just fine. Most will modify the stocker to get a bit more out of it anyway so the factory has done its job well. One thing that caught my attention was the torque rating as it was around 57.5 foot-pounds. The RSX feels as if it reaches its potential a little before the engine is actually ready to quit and most of the power can be felt right off the bottom. This could be in the CVT clutch but it could be a bit more linear to distribute the power out evenly in the RPM range. With 62HP available there is enough to go around if the machine is geared for it.
The absolute nimbleness and carefree terrain ability of this John Deere Gator RSX850i was really refreshing. The Gator RSX850i handled any trail obstacle we could throw its way and surprisingly enough it remained mild mannered and I never felt as if I was out of control. Riding in mountains of Northern Georgia and being able to tackle any rutted root covered trail at our disposal was indeed proof that John Deere has a winner. This RSX850i handled all of our rock covered steep inclines and washed out portions of the same trails that snuck up on us with no way out, very well. Are there things that may need a second look for refinement on the machine? Well sure there were a couple but like anything in development the next years it just keeps getting better and better. It’s exciting to know that John Deere gets our crowd and with a great product like this we are sure they will get our attention for years to come. If you need the reliability of a working UTV with the standout looks of a razor sharp off road adventure machine then this could be your rig!
For more information, visit John Deere at its worldwide website at www.JohnDeere.com.