Best UTV of 2012

Best UTV of 2012 sold over 500,000 Gator utility vehicles, John Deere’s Gator is the best-selling UTV ever built.  Successful products must continually evolve to survive though, and with their 825i XUV, Deere is taking the Gator lineup in a whole new direction.  

Rather than a motorcycle or industrial engine, the Gator 825i is powered by a DOHC, liquid cooled, triple cylinder, automotive style engine with EFI and it cranks out 50hp.  Mated to the engine is a CVT transmission with Low, High, Neutral and Reverse.  We love the oil fill and dip stick locations, and air filter access is excellent as well; although it could be located higher in the chassis for better protection against any water accidentally entering the system. 

On the trail the 825i gets up to speed quickly then tops out at 44 mph.  The engine has plenty of torque for towing or hauling a load, but it is slightly louder than many other models.  At speed, the Gator is extremely stable and predictable with no tendency to wander, and on uneven terrain or slopes, it feels very secure.  Shifting between gears is easy and it goes from forward to reverse gears smoothly.  Suspension is plush and we’ve taken the new Gator 825i XUV on long trail rides, across deep water, through mud, and we’ve loaded everything from wood to whitetails in the back.

The chassis on the Gator 825i XUV is very beefy with a 2 inch receiver hitch at both ends and a triple certified, Roll Over Protection structure.  The 825i gets real underbody protection and rather than plastic skid plates, the Gator gets thick steel armor.  It can handle all the hard work you can give it, but it also has a sporty side.  Dual A-arms are used at both ends with 8 inches of front wheel travel and 9 inches at the rear.  Tough, cast aluminum wheels are shod with Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires and five way, preload adjustable shocks smooth out the trail.

Control layout on the Gator 825i is similar to other Gators but it also features an EXCELLENT digital display that is very easy to read.  There are three storage 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, composite box with removable sides and a handy 44 inch ruler molded into the tail gate.

As a package, the John Deere Gator 825i is built for durability under the hardest working conditions, but it’s also capable of weekend play as well.  It marks a whole new direction for the Gator line and it’s our pick as the best hard working UTV of 2012. 

January 11, 2013

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