New Model Preview – 15 for 2015

New Model Preview – 15 for 2015

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2015.arctic-cat.xr700xt.red.front-left.riding.over-rocks.jpgThe Arctic Cat product development team is on a roll! A few years back, they introduced the incredible Wildcat 1000 Side x Side, followed by a four-seat version, and last year they rolled out our favorite trail loving Side x Side, the Wildcat Trail. We wondered how they would top that for 2015, but as it turns out, they were just getting warmed up!

15 for 2015 – NEW ATVs and UTVs

For 2015 Arctic Cat has added new models to both their Side x Side and their ATV lineup. It’s a great time to be a ‘Cat lover!

On the ATV side, rather than a single model or two, Arctic Cat is introducing an entire new class called the XR line, and there are seven models to choose from with engines ranging from 550 to 700cc’s. Each model is packed with innovation and features, and it’s clear ‘Cat is going after the heart of ATV sales – mid-sized engine machines – with an all-new line. Highlights of the new XR lineup include:

  • Longer chassis for smoother ride

  • Engine positioned further forward for improved weight balance and more foot room

  • Revised rider seating triangle with a smooth, flatter saddle for body position shifts and feet closer together

  • New steering angle for improved trail comfort, less steering effort, and easier reach in turns.

  • New front end suspension design for longer wheel travel and precise handling

  • LED lights front and rear, with LED accents providing more light with less amp draw

  • MUCH quieter engine – 8db less!2015.arctic-cat.prowler700.red.left.loading-hay.on-farm.jpg

  • 25% increase in fuel economy

  • Redesigned rack system, and new Speedrack integration

With the introduction of the XR models, Arctic Cat has taken a major leap forward with their ATV lineup. They’re the most refined ‘Cat ATVs ever and it all begins with a new chassis.

All of the new XR models share a common chassis, and this makes a lot of sense in many ways. It’s much more efficient to manufacture, and parts used between several models definitely help with price and inventory control. Most of the chassis is made from high strength steel tubing, and ‘Cat put a huge amount of time into reworking front end geometry for longer wheel travel and a more plush, predictable ride. Dual A-arms are used at both ends with 10 inches of wheel travel, and 11 inches of ground clearance. Arctic Cat engineers have always prided themselves on providing excellent ground clearance, but they also were able to maintain a relatively low center of gravity through careful component placement. What it means is a smooth, precise ride ready to clear pretty much any trail obstacle smaller than a bowling ball, with no tippy feeling. At the rear is a 2” receiver style hitch, but at the front ‘Cat came up with something new and we’re very glad to have it. Tow hooks have been around for a long, long time, but it’s a first to have one on the front of any ATV, and it’s really one of those “why didn’t somebody think of this sooner moments.” With plastic increasingly covering most machines’ bodywork, there is really no good place to hook a tow strap or tie down to the front of any utility ATV. That is, until now. This will be a VERY welcome feature when strapping your machine down to a trailer, or for giving your buddy with the worn out tires a pull. Thank you ‘Cat!2015.arctic-cat.wildcat-sport.white.front-right.riding.over-rocks.jpg

Visually, the new Arctic Cat XR models look GREAT from any angle. We love the new body styling that definitely promises a sporty ride. Notice the body lines that flow from front to rear, and how lines and angles on the front bodywork are repeated on the back. Inset LED lights on both the front and rear complete the look and it all adds up to a very appealing, aggressive, refined, sporty visual image, but it also has to work.

From our first look, it appears the fenders still give excellent tire coverage which should help keep the rider dry and mostly free of any flying mud or water. We also love the new seat which is wide where you normally sit, then narrows between the knees for comfort and transitions smoothly into the traditional tank area (The fuel cap is located on the left rear fender). ‘Cat revised the controls as well, and we like the small, unobtrusive shifter just ahead of your left knee. In front of the steering column is an instrument cluster along with the key and a 12V accessory outlet, while the handlebars have a brake, switches for the lights, and differential lock. On both the front and rear fenders is a steel reinforced, polycarbonate cargo rack with integrated tie down points for straps, or numerous SpeedRack accessories. Rubber pads will keep vibration to a minimum and keep gear from sliding around. We like the new rack design and it should work excellent. Arctic Cat also gave the XR models a large, rear storage container that can easily haul tools, tie downs, bottles of water, or anything else you need on the trail. For larger items, the SpeedRack line has plenty of accessory boxes to choose from as well.2015.arctic-cat.wildcat-sport.close-up.rear-suspension.jpg

New ARCTIC CAT 2015 XR ATV models include:

  • XR 700 LIMITED EPS – Electronic Power Steering, Winch, Heavy Duty Front & Rear Bumpers, Cast aluminum wheels – msrp: $11,199

  • XR 700 XT EPS – Electronic Power Steering, Cast Al. wheels – msrp: $10,499

  • XR 700 – msrp: $9,199

  • XR 550 LIMITED EPS – Electronic Power Steering, Winch, Heavy Duty Front & Rear Bumpers, Cast aluminum wheels – msrp: $10,399

  • XR 550 XT EPS – Electronic Power Steering, Cast Al. wheels – msrp: $9,699

  • XR 550 – msrp: $8,399

  • XR 500 – msrp: $7,799

With the changes Arctic Cat has offered on the new XR models, it’s a good bet that in the next year we will see the rest of their ATV lineup upgraded and transferred into the new chassis and bodywork as well. That’s a very good thing, and we can’t wait to get some seat time on any of the new ‘Cats.2015.arctic-cat.xr700xt.red.front.riding.on-dirt.jpg

New Wildcats and Updated Prowlers

This is the strongest new product launch for the ATV and ROV markets in our company’s history,” claims Arctic Cat CEO Christopher Twomey. Few would argue with that statement and it caught us off guard as well. While we were immensely impressed with the Wildcat Trail, we didn’t expect an even more capable version nine months after the original. However, it was all part of the Arctic Cat plan.

The Wildcat Sport finds itself squarely between the desert loving standard Wildcat and our favorite woods machine, the Wildcat Trail. The main chassis, engine, and interior are identical to the Wildcat Trail, but the Sport gets a major upgrade in the suspension department. While the Wildcat Trail comes in at a woods loving 50 inches, the new Sport is 60 inches wide, making it much more adept at aggressive driving. It’s the perfect bridge between desert and trail.

Last year we were highly impressed with the 700cc engine on the Wildcat Trail. Power was excellent, the fuel injection performed flawlessly, and with the CVT right behind the motor, it was a very compact package. Thanks to an excellent clutch, it also reacted extremely well to throttle input. Arctic Cat and their manufacturing partner Kymco really hit this one out of the park! ‘Cat felt there was room for improvement, though, and for 2015, all Wildcat Trail models get a revised motor for even more performance. We can’t wait. Here is how the three Wildcat Sport models stack up:2015.arctic-cat.xr550ltd.black.front-left.studio.jpg

  • Wildcat Sport Limited EPS – Automotive paint, color-matched suspension Arms, Elka Stage 5 Shocks with dual speed compression adjustment and rebound adjustment, full aluminum doors, and tilt steering, rear sway bar, underhood storage, Carlisle Trail Pro tires on cast Al. wheels. MSRP: $15,699

  • Wildcat Sport XT – Automotive paint, color-matched suspension Arms, JRi ECX-1 Compression Adjustable Shocks, tilt steering, rear sway bar, Carlisle Trail Pro tires on cast Al. wheels. MSRP: $13,999

  • Wildcat Sport – JRi ECX-1 Compression Adjustable Shocks, tilt steering, rear sway bar, Carlisle Trail Pro tires on steel wheels. MSRP: $13,399

Prowler Upgrades

We’ve always liked the Prowler lineup. They feature some of the smoothest running, most powerful models in their class, but Arctic Cat opted to give them an upgrade that was much more about rider and passenger comfort than chassis or engine changes.2015.arctic-cat.prowler700.red.front-left.studio.jpg

We really like the new body style on the 2015 Prowlers. Like the XR ATV lineup, it’s much more refined. Called the Trail Blazer line, the new Prowler is available with 550, 700, and 1000cc engine packages, but visually they are very similar. Inside the cab area riders will now find all controls on the dash including the shift lever, along with the Power Sport Digital Gauge, and a handy glove box. Overall styling is very automotive like, and one benefit we find is improved sight lines over the hood for a better view of the trail ahead. Tilt steering lets the driver position the wheel perfectly as well, and electronic power steering is available on some models.

Under the front hood is an incredibly handy, 22 gallon water resistant storage container that looks as if it could double for a small bathtub or cow water tank. We love it! The chassis and motor packages are very similar to previous Prowler models and ‘Cats’ proven Duramatic transmission. All models also feature Independent Suspension at all corners, a rear receiver hitch, a tough frame made for abuse, and a durable cargo bed for anything you need to haul.

A New ‘Cat Lover

We didn’t expect all the changes Arctic Cat brought to the game with their 2015 lineup, but you can bet we’re happy to see them and we can’t wait to give them all a try. Allergies aside, it’s enough to make even our editor Pete a ‘Cat lover!

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December 27, 2014

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