New Model Review – The Gravely Atlas JSV

New Model Review – The Gravely Atlas JSV

2015.gravely.atlas-jsv.red.front.pulling-trailer.jpgAnyone who spends time perched on top of or pushing a mower around the yard knows the Ariens name as one of the premier makers of lawn and garden equipment for homeowners. Ariens doesn’t just limit their reach to residential customers, though. Through their heavy duty Gravely brand, landscape professionals and turf managers have been tackling about any tough job using professional grade, reliable Gravely equipment they can count on all day, every day. In fact, the Gravely brand has been in the field for nearly 100 years and as the company prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2016, they’re introducing an all-new lineup.

Introducing a Job Site Vehicle

In keeping with their hard working, heavy duty line for professionals, Gravely is calling their new Side x Side models the Atlas JSV for Job Site Vehicle, and Atlas for the Greek God who could carry the weight of the world. That’s a bold statement to be sure, but to insure the new JSV models could handle hard work, Gravely tapped one of the industry giants to help with the design and manufacturing of the new machine. Polaris has a huge influence in the recreational side of the sport, and their expertise and advice would be welcome with the new JSV as well.

At the heart of any hard-working machine is a solid chassis and with the new Gravely JSV, that means a steel tube structure with dual A-arms at the front and a suspension at the rear unlike anything else. Rather than going with dual A-arms at the rear, Gravely gave the JSV what is called a de-Dion rear suspension. Although it sounds a bit like a 50’s boy band, we guarantee it’s all muscle. Unlike traditional A-arm independent rear suspension, the de-Deion rear suspension is linked from side to side, but the load carrying capability is increased. This type of suspension has been used for years in the automobile market, primarily for its reduced unsprung weight, easier shock valving, and minimal camber change which helps keep wheels firmly planted on the ground and driving forward. Since the JSV isn’t likely to be turning laps on any race course, though, it was all about handling a heavy load in this case. As the song says, it’s all about the bass! To help dial in the ride, both the front and rear shocks are preload adjustable.2015.gravely.atlas-jsv.red.front-right.loading.dirt.jpg

Inside the cab structure of the new JSV models anyone familiar with the Polaris Ranger lineup will feel right at home. That’s a good thing. Polaris has turned ergonomics and driver and passenger comfort into an art form and it’s easy to see their influence here. On the dash is a handy shift lever with forward, neutral, high, low, and park gears. A tilting steering wheel adjusts for driver comfort, and directly in front of the wheel is a digital instrument display. In the center of the dash are switches for lights and accessories, and two 12V accessory outlets. Thankfully, there is plenty of storage underneath the dash along with a couple cup holders, but Gravely added their own touch by topping the dash with a couple more recessed areas for storing small items, just like in your truck. Down below the serrated floor board offers enough grip to keep your feet in place even in muddy boots, and since the JSV is designed for three people in the front seat, there are seatbelts for all.

Since everything about the JSV vehicles was designed for hard work, they needed a sturdy rear dump box up to the task as well. Rather than a composite box, like most recreational side by sides, the JSV gets a formed and welded steel box with stiffening ribs underneath and along the sides for maximum load carrying capacity. At the rear is a heavy-duty metal tailgate with two metal pins to keep the tailgate closed. It’s a very simple set up, but it is incredibly reliable and it works. It’s not always about getting fancy, but more about getting finished. One feature we really appreciate about the rear dump box is that there are no wheel wells intruding. That means it’s easy to load a pallet with no obstructions. A 2 inch receiver hitch down below also gives the JSV the ability to pull a trailer, and disc brakes at all wheels help you bring everything to a quick stop.2015.gravely.atlas-jsv.red.front.riding.in-woods.jpg

Gravely gave all JSV models Carlisle’s All-Trail tires. These tires feature a much tighter lug pattern than typical off-road tires, which makes for a smoother ride on hard-packed surfaces, increased load carrying capability and control from less sidewall flex, and better puncture resistance. That will be a comfort to construction site managers or anyone operating the JSV on sites littered with construction debris. The only drawback is slightly less traction on muddy surfaces. Steel wheels are used for maximum durability.

The Four Horsemen

Landscapers, construction workers, utility crews, and timber harvesters all have tough jobs and plenty of tools specific to their profession. It would be a mistake to assume that a “one-size-fits-all” vehicle would suit all their needs. Gravely recognized this and there are actually four unique Atlas JSV vehicles to choose from. While they share many of the same hard working features, it is the engine and seating capacity options that create the different models. Here is a breakdown of the four different models:

  • ATLAS JSV 3000 – EFI

Polaris ProStar 570cc 40hp Liquid Cooled EFI equipped GAS engine, seating for three

  • ATLAS JSV-3000 – Diesel

Kohler 24HP / 1028CC liquid cooled, indirect Injection DIESEL engine, seating for three

  • ATLAS JSV 6000 – EFI

Polaris ProStar 570cc 40hp Liquid Cooled EFI equipped GAS engine, seating for six2015.gravely.atlas-jsv.red.front-left.studio.jpg

  • ATLAS JSV-6000 – Diesel

Kohler 24HP / 1028CC liquid cooled, indirect Injection DIESEL engine, seating for six

We’ve always been extremely fond of the Polaris ProStar 570 engine, and it has performed incredibly well in the stock Polaris units. It offers excellent power, it runs smooth, and it has been extremely reliable. We love it. In the JSV chassis, the ProStar 570 will be tuned more for pulling a heavy load than climbing dune faces, and top speed will be dialed back slightly in keeping with its working class mandate. The Kohler diesel engine offers fleet managers a nice option and it definitely simplifies fueling. Whenever you fuel up the dozer or bucket truck, splash a little diesel in the JSV as well and you’ll be good to go! In addition, the enormous torque of the Diesel engine provides plenty of power to pull a trailer loaded with everything from cinder blocks to irrigation pipe, and we expect the reliability of this motor to be outstanding. Both engines are mated to the same CVT/Belt driven transmission which features the Polaris engineered On-Demand True AWD/2WD/VersaTrac with Turf Mode. Turf managers love this feature to avoid damage to sensitive areas, but when things get sticky, all you need to do is flip the switch to engage all four wheels and power out of trouble!

Wisconsin Test Ride

The gently rolling terrain outside the small town of Brillion, Wisconsin provided an excellent place to spend an afternoon with the ATLAS JSV. There were hills, woods, a few rocks, and plenty of fields pocked with farms in every direction. In short, it was just like home! Gravely had a small fleet of JSVs waiting for us, and as usual we were anxious to try them all.2015.gravely.atlas-jsv.close-up.cabin.jpg

We hopped into the three seat, gas version of the Atlas JSV and with a twist of the key, the ProStar engine purred to life. After a couple minutes to warm up, we slipped the gear shifter into High and we were off. Our initial concern with the heavy duty design of the de-Dion rear suspension was that it might offer a harsh ride. Often times machines designed to haul a mountain of gear, dirt, or anything else have a rough ride when the vehicle is carrying less than a full load or only a passenger or two. That was definitely not the case with the Gravely JSV. The suspension was soaking up bumps, rocks, and logs with ease. We were off to a good start, but the next part surprised us even more.

We’ve always loved the ProStar 570 engine, especially in the mid-sized chassis. When Polaris slipped that same engine into a full-sized chassis, though, the relationship ended badly; for unknown reasons, it got LOUD. However, with the Gravely JSV full-sized chassis package, it was back to its quiet self, purring along nicely at all RPM ranges. We’re not sure how they did it, but it works. It was possible to have a normal conversation on the trails without feeling like anyone needed to yell.

Part of the course wound through muddy sections and it gave us a chance to try the JSV in the mud, and with a flip of the switch all four wheels were clawing for traction. The Carlisle tires got us through, but you could tell they are happier on hard-pack. The only other feature we didn’t care for was the extra turning effort required by the too-wide front tires. A wider footprint definitely helps with flotation, but it also requires more turning effort, and we would suggest Gravely opt for a narrower version of this tire on the front of future models. This was something Honda also had to learn with their first Big Red MUV.2015.gravely.atlas-jsv.close-up.engine.jpg

We also had time aboard the Diesel version of the JSV, and although the chassis performs pretty much the same as the gas version, we were highly impressed with the Kohler Diesel engine. It feels like it has enough torque to pull a full-sized log out of the woods, but its best feature is its very quiet and smooth ride. There was no noticeable vibration from the Kohler engine, and again it was quiet on the trail.

Work Ready

The Atlas JSV will fit in nicely with the Gravely brand of power equipment. It’s more than just another product line for their dealers, however. All of the Atlas JSV machines are fully capable of handling all the work you can send their way, and just like any other good member of the crew, they’ll be ready to go again the next morning.

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May 11, 2015

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