Best UTV of 2011
John Deere’s Gator is one of the original UTVs and they’ve made their way to every farm, campus, and parks department in the country. Competitors had left the Gator in the dust for most trail loving recreational riders, however, that is changing. With their 825i XUV, the Gator has evolved.
The new Gator 825i XUV arrived on an all-new chassis that offered more wheel travel and ground clearance, and more features than any previous Gator. Dual A-arms are used at both ends with 8 inches of front wheel travel and 9 inches at the rear. Lightweight, tough, cast aluminum wheels are shod with Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires and five way, preload adjustable shocks smooth out the trail. True to its hard working roots, the new chassis is very beefy with a 2 inch receiver hitch at both ends and a triple certified Roll Over Protection structure. Underneath, Deere gave the Gator real protection and rather than plastic skid plates, the Gator gets thick steel armor.
The Gator 825i is powered by a DOHC, liquid cooled, triple cylinder engine with EFI and it cranks out a healthy 50hp. We love the oil fill and dip stick locations, although we wish the air filter and CVT air intake were located higher in the chassis for better protection. Mated to the engine is a CVT transmission with Low, High, Neutral and Reverse.
Control layout is simple with high quality switches and an EXCELLENT digital display that is very easy to read on the trail. Storage is vastly improved with three different compartments: one under the hood, one between the seats with a 12v outlet, and an open dash bin. At the rear is a 1000lb capacity, super tough, composite box with a steel bottom, removable sides, hand holds molded in, 21 tie down points, and a stroke of genius. Deere molded a 44 inch ruler into the tail gate.
On the trail the 50hp engine easily pulls the Gator along and gets up to speed quickly then tops out at 44 mph where it is happy to remain all day. It’s a little louder than some others, but Deere can easily remedy that with a much needed splash guard / firewall behind the seats. At speed the Gator is extremely stable and predictable with no tendency to wander, and on uneven terrain or slopes, it feels very safe thanks to a wide footprint and low center of mass. The suspension is plush and the 825i is confidence inspiring! Shifting between gears is easy and it goes from forward to reverse gears smoothly. We’ve taken the new Gator 825i XUV on long trails rides, across deep water, through mud, loaded wood and white tails in the back, and even rescued an older, hopelessly stuck Gator with it. The new Gator 825i is built for durability with excellent attention to detail and it certainly lives up to the hard working heritage of every Deere before it. If we’ve got a tough job to do, the Gator 825i XUV is our pick, but it’s ready for fun anytime too.