UTVs or Side by Sides or Side X Sides… Whatever you want to call them, they have become the most popular OHV on the trails, mountains and dunes. Despite the 50″ width limit that many trails have set, this industry continues to boom. Although Polaris led the pack for many years, several other players have stepped up to the plate to give the RZR a run for their money.
2018 has given birth to some of the baddest machines to be released. In this episode of UTV comparison, we are going to look at the 4 most powerful side by sides available in today’s market. We will be looking at the Yamaha YXZ1000R, the Textron (Arctic Cat) Wildcat XX, the Can-Am Maverick X3 Turbo and the Polaris RZR XP Turbo. All comparison will be done with regard to the base models.
These 4 models were chosen because of their similarities in price. Keep in mind that some factory models are available with greater performance, but not all manufacturers have this option. For this reason the base models are used for this comparison. Some optional upgrades will be referenced throughout this article.
Price – MSRP
This unit is the lowest MSPR of $18,999 for the manual transmission model. But for purposes of this comparison we’ll use the SS (Sport Shift) model which jumps up to $19799. This is more in line with the other machines on the list. Yamaha has a bit smaller line up than Can-Am and Polaris, but they are relatively new to the sport side by side game. They are yet to release a 4-seater in the sport model.
The Maverick has a starting price of $19999 for the basic turbo model. However, the X3 has a slew of upgraded models available from the factory that can run as much as $28999 for the 2-seater or $29899 for the 4-seater! These models are specifically ungraded to dominate specific terrains such as dunes, desert racing, rock crawling and mud. Each comes with specific tires, differentials, suspension, intake systems and more that best fit the targeted terrain.
RZR XP Turbo
The RZR also starts at $19999. With fewer factory options that the Maverick, the RZR still jumps to $27499 for its toughest 2-seater.
Topping the list for base price is the Wildcat XX at $20499. The Wildcat XX is like the Yamaha in that it does not have the variety of factory models that the Polaris and especially the Maverick have.
Power – what we’re most excited about!
You will notice the Yamaha is the odd one out in this bunch, but I feel it’s worth including because of its great speed and unique differences that some riders prefer. The YXZ comes in at 112 hp and boasts a 3 cylinder 998cc engine (first 3 cylinder in the industry) with 11.3:1 compression ratio. This engine redlines at 10,500 rpm and is built to flat out move! Yamaha has always been on the forefront of fast machines and they have continued their trend with the YXZ.
Yamaha has continued in its sporty tradition and gone with a manual transmission. Although popular amongst many Yamaha faithfuls, this does not bode well with many UTV riders. They have also come out with a paddle shift automatic clutch version (the Sport Shift, SS), but this still is not as popular as the belt driven automatic transmissions from other manufacturers. That being said, both the Yamaha transmissions tend to be more robust in the long run than the automatics.
The X3 is next with its 120 hp turbocharged Rotax ACE engine. Can-Am touts torque and seamless, shift-less power as the main selling points to this engine. At 900cc this is the smallest engine of the 4, but you wouldn’t know it based on performance. It fits right in! For as little as $3000 you can get the next model up from base and horsepower jumps to a whopping 172hp!! That’s the most in the industry!
With the X3’s automatic CVT (continuously variable transmission), you’re never in the wrong gear. Calibrated to work with the turbo, Can-Am claims virtually no lag or interruption in power delivery. The nice thing for beginners is you don’t have to learn how to shift and stay in the right gear.
Next on the list for power is the Wildcat, coming in at 125hp. Like the YXZ, the Wildcat has 998cc engine which is the biggest engine in the industry (for now). Textron claims best-in-class naturally aspirated engine that can take any challenge.
The Wildcat XX also uses a CVT for smooth, constant power delivery. Electronic 2WD/4WD and 4WD lock allow for flexibility on all kinds of terrain. CVT transmissions yield an infinite amount of gear ratios, so riders are always in the optimal gear for whatever terrain they are on.
Topping the list for power (at the $20k price) is the Polaris RZR XP Turbo. It’s listed to come standard with 168hp! The RZR engine is 925cc ProStar turbo H.O. The RZR does not give you horsepower boost by going to the RZR XP Turbo S, its upgrades are more suspension related.
Polaris probably has the most experience with the automatic transmission as they were the first to go full automatic in their ATVs. As with all their models, the RZR too comes with a PVT transmission. Some say this is slightly different than the CVT, but it works in the same way by keeping you in the optimal gear ratio.
With fully adjustable FOX 2.5 Podium RC2 shocks on all four corners, the YXZ gives you 16.2 inches of travel on the front end and 17 inches on the back with 13.2 inches of ground clearance. These shocks are exceptional for ride quality, tuning and handling. Yamaha has paired this suspension with 29 inch Maxxis Bighorn tires on 14 inch aluminum wheels. These are 8–ply tires which has become common in the industry as they will hold up better to the abuse these side by sides dish out.
The Wildcat XX comes with a little more travel at 18 inches in both front and back. The biggest tires in the bunch, 30 inch CST Behemoth tires, are paired with FOX Podium 2.5 QS3 shock with Bottom-Out control. Textron claims these shocks are meant for big impact and comfortable ride. The Behemoth tires are mounted on 15 inch Aluminum KMC wheels and give an overall 14 inches of ground clearance.
The Maverick X3 also comes with FOX shocks. The front has Podium 2.5 Piggyback with compression adjustment. On the back end you’ll find Podium 2.5 with compression adjustment and bottom-out control. This suspension allows for a massive 20 inches of travel along with 14 inches of ground clearance. They’ve paired this impressive setup with 28 inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires mounted on 14 inch aluminum wheels.
Last, but certainly not least, the RZR’s 21 inches of travel leads the group and the UTV world for factory suspension. Different from the rest of the pack, Polaris has gone with Walker Evans Needle Shocks and claims industry leading suspension. With it’s 29 inch Maxxis Bighorn tires mounted on 14 inch aluminum wheels, the RZR gives you 13.5 inches of ground clearance.
Who is the Biggest and Baddest…?
If I were shopping for a new UTV in this price range, I would have a really hard time not going with the Polaris! However, the new Wildcat XX is getting pretty awesome feedback from pro riders, so I’m excited to try one out and see if it can change my mind. Also, if I were willing to throw down some extra change, I would seriously have a look at the 172 hp Maverick X3 Turbo S models. As for the Yamaha YXZ1000R, I have always enjoyed my Yamaha ATVs in the past, but when it comes to side by sides, the automatic transmission is just too convenient not to have! Maybe I’m just getting old!
So, do you want horsepower? or do you want more clearance and bigger tires? Maybe you just want a high reving speed demon. The UTV industry is hotter than ever and can provide a vehicle to fit any style of rider.
When doing a UTV comparison, it’s nearly impossible to pick one clear winner. There are obviously many other features that could be compared on these machines, but I’ll leave some of those details up to you… for now.
What machine would you pick from this group? Or would you prefer something completely different? Let me know in the comments!