|Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail Review
By Jon Crowley, UTV Guide
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Gateway Colorado to ride with Arctic Cat. Gateway is home to the Gateway Canyons Resort and Auto Museum which was established by Discovery Channel founder John S. Hendricks. The resort pretty much dominates the small unincorporated town of Gateway. The geography of this area is incredibly beautiful and the resort is first class.
After nearly a year of teasing us, Arctic Cat was finally ready to get us behind the wheel of their new Wildcat Trail. While the new Wildcat Trail shares much of the Wildcat’s styling, it is definitely Wildcat’s little brother. The Wildcat is much bigger and it built for bombing through the open desert and the Wildcat Trail is smaller and able to ride on trails only legal to ATVs and 50-inch or less UTVs.
Wildcat Trail vs. RZR 800
The 50-inch trail legal market segment has been dominated by thePolaris RZR 800 and Arctic Cat is aiming for a chunk of the market with the new Wildcat Trail. Both vehicles come it at 50 inches wide and under 1000 lbs. Let’s look at how some of the other features stack up:
Wildcat Trail vs. Polaris RZR 800
As you can see, the specs line up pretty close. The Wildcat Trail’s longer wheelbase, 1 inch more wheel travel and premium FOX nitrogen charged shocks will give it an advantage, but the numbers are really close. I do really like doors instead of nets.
The biggest difference comes in the Wildcat Trail’s new engine. The new Arctic Cat designed 700 parallel-twin features EFI puts down over 60 horsepower which translates to the industrys highest power-to-weight ratio. The power is delivered through a new Team Industries clutch that hooks up well. And the packaging of the engine and clutch is very compact. I wouldn’t doubt it if we see this sort of package in other Arctic Cat side by sides in the near future. Maybe even a 1000 cc version for the Wildcat?
This next generation 60-plus horsepower engine is built by Kymco and was designed specifically for the Wildcat Trail chassis and the engine feeds into the TEAM Rapid Response clutches and electronic selectable 2WD/4WD with front differential lock.
Although the Wildcat Trail’s suspension cannot compare to the full-size Wildcat, I was pleased to see that it came with FOX shocks. The suspension soaked up some mildly rough terrain on the trails near Gateway and I never felt the suspension bottom out.
The Wildcat Trail seating position is 3 inches lower than the RZR 800 and it has front and rear swaybars. Even with the narrow track width, I felt fairly stable with no noticeable body roll at all even during hard cornering. But you cannot toss it into corners as you can with the full-size Wildcat. Remember this is a trail machine!
One of the features I really liked on the Wildcat Trail is the addition information provided by the new Digital Gauge. While everyone expects speed, fuel level and tach, the Trail’s gauge can also display battery voltage, coolant temperature and intake air temperature. I find coolant temperature and batter voltage very important and I am glad that Arctic Cat added this to their display.
Arctic Cat spent some time on ease of maintenance for the Wildcat Trail. Oil filter and oil level dipstick are easily accessible behind a panel in the between the seats. And the air filter is right at the back of the vehicle. This might seem like a simple thing, but proper maintenance is important and if it isn’t easy to do, people tend to put it off.
The big thing you must remember about the Wildcat Trail is its intended purpose. This is a nimble vehicle that will excel in the 50-inch trail market. I don’t think you will see many in Glamis or hauling through the whoops in desert near Barstow. But there are many place where 50 inch wide is the maximum, and a side by side is much more comfortable than a two-up ATV.
The Wildcat Trail is priced at $10,999, and the Trail XT comes in at $11,999. This positions the Trail $500 cheaper than the RZR. And with more power and better suspension, it might just mean that the Wildcat is poised to take slice out of the Polaris RZR’s market.
After a great day on the trail, we got cleaned up then headed over to theGateway Colorado Automobile Museum for a private tour and dinner. The museum displays illustrate over a century of automotive history in America from the 1906 Cadillac Model H Coupe to the first special 2006 Chip Foose Mustang Stallion, and a historic NASCAR Chevrolet raced by driver Jimmie Johnson.
The museum was an incredible way to put the cap on a great trip and an awesome new vehicle.
Wildcat Trail – Leading Features:
Wildcat Trail Specifications:
Arctic Cat Inc.
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