2018 SIDE x SIDE of the YEAR - The TEXTRON WILDCAT XX
Going fast is all about suspension and handling and not about a horsepower war. Winning Side x Side of the Year is all about how well a machine works as a package. The Textron Wildcat XX reigns supreme at both.
It’s the details that make or break any design, and we love the engineering innovation the Wildcat XX brings to the table. Key features are:
- Modular chassis build from High Strength Low Alloy steels. It’s strong, light, and highly durable. The front, rear, and middle sections bolt together allowing you to replace any damage. Full length skid plates provide excellent underbody protection.
- Extra stiffening bars in the roll cage increase the strength and safety. It’s built like an aftermarket racing cage right from the factory
- Low center of gravity for excellent stability
- Unique hanging motor - The engine hangs from large, vibration dampening rubber mounts. When something hits the frame bottom the impact force is not transmitted to the engine or drivetrain. GREAT FEATURE!
- Unique front suspension upright is unlike any traditional steering knuckle, allowing for more than 18 inches of front and rear wheel travel, and 14 inches of ground clearance. Leading tie rods give extra strength.
- All components bolted into double-shear brackets for supreme durability. Rear suspension arms have stiffening ribs formed in for extra strength and less flex.
- Rear bed is extended for unobstructed view, and it can be removed with no tools for easy engine access.
The Wildcat XX is the perfect balance between power, suspension and handling. At its core it is a desert racer. Interior styling is slightly boxy but it is supremely well designed. It’s got exactly what driver and passenger need, where you need it, from the switches to the gear shift lever. The seats feel slightly stiff at first, but they provide very good support, and we LOVE the flat bottom wheel and quick steering ratio. Both help you drive this car aggressively. What the Wildcat XX gives up in style points to the Yamaha and top speed to the Can-Am it more than makes up for when the trail gets rough. We skipped across knee deep desert whoops faster than we ever had before thanks to a powerful engine and excellent suspension.
Textron developed a new, 998cc, naturally aspirated, 3-cylinder EFI engine with 125 horsepower for the Wildcat XX. The engine is unique in that it features a small alternator to power accessories, and it does not have a turbocharger but it doesn’t need one. We were happy to find the CVT has fan fins cast into all pulleys for extra airflow and it’s another example of excellent, creative engineering. The engine makes power from immediately off idle to approximately 7600 rpms, with a top speed of about 75mph. There are faster cars in a drag race, but nothing will pass the Wildcat XX in the whoops.
On the trail the Wildcat XX is VERY, VERY predictable and confidence inspiring. More so than any performance Side x Side we’ve ever driven. It’s stable, nimble, and precise. It’s like riding a Cheetah. The head stays on target while the body and suspension floats beneath, and we do mean float. You can charge into waist deep whoops AT ANY SPEED! All you need to do is point it where you want to go. The Wildcat XX jumps on top and floats like a magic carpet without a hint of swapping.
It’s the sum of all parts and how well they work together that creates a great machine. Textron engineers began with an excellent design that brought creativity and new features to the category and the result is a package that works extremely well. There has been no vehicle in any class that impressed us more than the Textron Wildcat XX this year. It’s the last vehicle we want to get out of at the end of the trail. We’re completely impressed with the Wildcat XX and for the design creativity, excellent build quality, and the performance it provides it is our pick for the best Side x Side of 2018. It’s not just our pick as the best high performance Side x Side of 2018, it’s our pick over every class. It’s a winner in every way.
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