Of all the manufacturers of ATVs and UTVs, only one is working with NASA in preparing one of their machines for operation on the moon. And it’s not the two manufacturers that have actual aerospace divisions. When NASA went looking for a company to partner with that had experience in producing vehicles capable of crossing any type of terrain, solid or liquid, there was really only one to turn to: ARGO!
ARGO CAN GO
Since over 2/3rds of the planet is covered by water, you’re effectively locked out of most of the globe’s surface. Argo can take some of it back. Not that you’re going to make a Northern Atlantic crossing with the Argo, but you can venture into areas no other machine on the planet would dare to tread.
All Argo models get their impressive terrain crossing capabilities through the use of multiple low pressure tires to propel the vehicle along on land or water. The main part of the chassis is more of a hull than a traditional frame, and a motor sits down inside along with a transmission. Getting power to the wheels is pretty basic with the Argo models. It’s chain and sprockets driving each of the wheels, but thankfully Argo went with automatic chain tensioners a few years ago making maintenance much easier. There is no suspension on the Argo other than by adjusting ride quality through tire air pressure, but the primary concern for most Argo users was always access to difficult territory, with a smooth ride far down the list of priorities. It was pretty basic in every way. That was also part of the problem. The Argo had always been seen as a lumbering utility vehicle with almost no recreational capability or comfort. That was about to change.
A NEW ARGO
There are many different models in the Argo lineup for every type of industry or recreation. Most can be had with either 6 or 8 wheels, and with different engine and option packages. The trick was to improve the ride and comfort inside the Argo without limiting its legendary capability. The new Argo 8x8 LX would meet those goals and more, offering a long list of upgrades such as:
New, larger tires capable of ultra-low pressure for a smoother ride
Liquid-cooled 30 hp (22 kW) Kohler 748 cc EFI engine
Advanced Admiral LS drive train and transmission for top speeds up to 25% faster than previous ARGOs and better steering.
A brush guard for protection from branches or impacts
Improved, lower skid plates to glide over obstacles
A 3500lb capable WARN front winch
New interior package with upgraded seat trim
New dash with controls mounted on dash, a new digital display, 12V power outlets, and USB ports.
A new entertainment and communications system with Jensen 4-channel 40 Watt sound system - Front and rear marine-duty speakers - Bluetooth streaming audio, iOS or Android wireless apps and USB port
Some vehicles just beg to be driven and the ARGO definitely counts as one of those. Who doesn’t want to take control of an amphibious vehicle and point it at the water’s edge? We’ve spent time in Argo models at home, prowling around rock quarries, sandy trails, and small ponds so we were eager to see what the new LX could do.
Argo wanted to give the 8x8 LX a new look and we like the color schemes which can be Black, Cranberry, or Orange depending on your preference. Besides the color, the most noticeable feature is the eight bead lock wheels. To achieve a smoother ride, a lower tire pressure would be needed, but lowering the pressure on a standard wheel and then making a tight pivot turn, like the Argo is capable of, would almost certainly peel the tire off the rim. With bead locks clamping the tire to the rim, that can’t happen. The taller 25” tires also provide very good ground clearance, but with 8 wheels ready to push you along, you can get over pretty much anything.
SURF or TURF?
Getting into an Argo isn’t always the easiest maneuver for shorter individuals who sometimes look like a small dog trying to escape the bath tub. Thankfully, Argo installed a couple small steps on the 8x8 LX and it makes it a lot easier for all to climb in and out. Argo really went all out on the seats as well, and the stitching and embossed logo looks great. It’s a nice touch, but also comfortable and functional. The new carbon backed dash panel really dresses up the instrument panel and the control layout is simple to understand. All controls are easily reached by the driver and we like the digital display. One feature we’ve never had on an ATV is a bilge pump, and to be honest, we were anxious to use it! We fired up the engine, slipped the transmission into Forward, and were off to conquer both surf and turf.
The Argo comes with a set of handlebars for steering, but that’s about as close to familiar controls as you’re likely to get when piloting an Argo. You’re sure not going to lean into a turn like on a motorcycle, or sling the back end out in a corner like on an ATV, although you can make a zero radius turn. The steering works much like it does on a skid-loader or even a bulldozer, and it’s possible to sit in one spot and spin donuts until you make yourself and all passengers aboard sick. We’re talking head over the side green, with the inevitable reverse action of the digestive system intake tract. We don’t recommend pulling this maneuver at speed, and since the 8x8 LX is capable of over 25mph, you definitely want to make any steering changes smoothly. You could probably pitch yourself right out of the Argo if you really cranked the bars at speed. Smooth action is the key. Rock crawling is an interesting challenge on the Argo. They are immensely stable and with 6 or 8 wheels, there are always a couple on the ground to drive you forward. We even managed to drive up and down some rocky slopes and ledges that would be a challenge on an ATV, and we never felt like it was time to bail. It’s not the quickest trail machine, but it has no problem getting through the woods or back to deer camp, and if there is mud or swampy, soft terrain ahead, well, that is the Argo’s bread and butter. Good luck with your buddy’s Gator in that terrain! Our next goal was to reach the deep water!
We’ve crossed water thousands of times in ATVs and UTVs, but this would be different. Rather than plowing into the water and driving across the bottom, the Argo gently morphed into a boat. The same tires that could conquer rock and trail now churned away at the water. We noticed the front of the vehicle, now called a bow, was slightly lower in the water than the stern. This was by design and all 8 wheels work better in this configuration rather than churning away in water that is already disturbed. On the water or land the speed is controlled by the motorcycle style twist throttle, but on water you’re not going anywhere fast. 4mph is about top speed for the Argo when on water; which means an Olympic swimmer could likely pass you, but they’re not going to do it carrying a shotgun, all your duck hunting decoys, a buddy, and a confused looking retriever. The Argo is rated for 900 pounds of gear on water, and 1000 on land. If you need faster speed in the water, the Argo can accept an outboard mounted to the back. Just don’t forget to pull it up when you reach the beach. Still, even at 4mph, it is a blast to ford crossings and prowl around ponds where no ATV in your garage could hope to go.
COMFORT & STYLE
Machines designed to conquer both mud and swamp aren’t generally well equipped for passenger comfort. The Argo 8x8 LX is, and besides the comfy seats, there are 12V and USB plugs for your phone, GPS, or maybe even a fish finder. Argo even equips the LX with a marine grade, Jensen Audio four speaker system! It’s trail and stream comfort! With the type of terrain the Argo is capable of covering, bringing your GPS along isn’t a bad idea either. With the Argo now you can get lost in new places, and it might take another Argo to come find you!
THE ARGO WAY
Whether equipped with 6 wheels or 8, with the top-of-the-line 8x8 LX package or a bare bones model meant to haul tools to the job site, all of the Argos are definitely off-road machines. In fact, they’re probably the most capable off-road machines on the planet. If NASA and Argo have their way, they may just be the most capable off-road machines on other planets as well.
ARGO AVENGER 8x8 LX Specifications:
Engine: Kohler Aegis LH775 - 747cc, liquid cooled,30hp, 4 cycle OHV V-Twin gasoline engine, electronic ignition, full pressure lubrication. Electric start - 3yr warranty
Steering: Handlebar steering control with hand brake. Steering transmission provides continuous torque to all axles.
Clutch: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) belt drive to transmission.
Transmission: ADMIRAL HS triple differential steering transmission with dedicated Hi and Low selector; Forward, Neutral, Reverse.
Drive System: Roller chains drive machined sprockets that are spline-fit onto 1 3/8" diameter axles and are protected with triple-sealed greasable bearings.
Frame: Formed steel channel construction, welded for high strength and durability. Protected with Bonderite® M-PP 930™ epoxy-acrylic autodeposition coating.
Body: Vacuum formed High Molecular Weight Polyethylene.
Full Skid Plate: Standard
Load Capacity: Land - 1000 lb. / 450 kg total, Water - 900 lb. / 410 kg total,
Towing: 1800 lb. / 816 kg
Seating: Land - 6 persons, Water - 4 persons
Fuel Capacity: 7.1 Us gallons (27 litres) See-through polyethylene fuel tank. 8 hours of operation.
Speed: Land - 25 mph / 39.5 km per hour, Water - 3 mph / 5 km per hour
Weight: 1350 lb. / 612 kg
Instruments: LCD Digital Gauge Cluster Speedometer, Odometer, Voltmeter, Hour meter, Tachometer, Engine Coolant Temperature, Low Oil Pressure, Parking Brake Reminder lights and Check Engine Light.
Tires: AT189 25x12.00-9 NHS
Ground Pressure: 1.7 psi (13.5 kPa) using tires, 0.67 psi (4.6 kPa) using tracks
Ground Clrnce Tires: 9.5" (240 mm)
Ground Clrnce Tracks: 11" (279 mm)
Operating Conditions: All weather, all terrain, -40C to +40C