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Off-Road Vehicle of the Year - The 2011 Can-Am Commander 1000 XT

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We’ve never been to a ride area and had more reaction than when we rolled into the dunes with the CAN-AM Commander 1000XT. Even before we parked, there was a small flock heading our way, all eager to see for themselves the most anticipated Side X Side in years. It was as if the Commander was a divine revelation and the masses were eager to worship on its gleaming, bright yellow altar of performance. There would be no stealthy testing on this day.

Best Hi-Performance Side-x-Side - The 2011 Can-Am Commander 1000 XT

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It took an extra year of rumors and speculation, but when CAN-AM pulled back the curtains to reveal their 2011 new model lineup, there was not just one new Commander Side X Side but FIVE --and they looked stunning! Body styling fit in perfectly with the CAN-AM penchant for an aggressive, in-your-face, muscular look that hints at the performance within. From our first ride, it was clear this was a whole new level of UTV performance whether it was the COMMANDER 800, 1000, or the go-for-broke 1000 X-Package.

Best Heavy Duty Side-x-Side - The 2011 Arctic Cat Prowler HDX 700

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When one of the design parameters is that the vehicle must be able to carry a round bale almost as big as the vehicle itself, you know it’s going to be one tough, hard working UTV. Arctic Cat’s new Prowler HDX 700 can carry the bale, 3 passengers, and with a dump box seemingly half as big as a football field, practically the whole barn! We spent several days and 400 miles picking our way through the rocks, canyons, and desert to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and back, and the HDX 700 was as reliable as a trusty dog or sure footed horse. Driving the HDX is much more comfortable, though.

Best 450cc Hi-Performance ATV - The 2011 Yamaha YFZ 450X

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Yamaha set the pace in the Hi-Performance ATV world with the introduction of their original YFZ 450, then upped the ante when they built a second generation racer, the YFZ 450R. The new ‘R came with a high tech aluminum chassis, fuel injection, a powerful engine, and racing quality, long travel suspension. Whether in the hands of a pro racer or an intermediate class rider, it made every rider better. Many riders hit the trails as well, however, and often that means a full width racer simply won’t fit between the trees.

Best 300cc Class Sport ATV - The 2011 Yamaha Raptor 250

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In our original review of the Yamaha Raptor 250, we said that it’s the best ATV there has ever been for new sport riders, and we still stand by that statement. What makes the Raptor 250 special - and the entire Yamaha Raptor family - is that it’s a true sport machine designed for superb handling, with a snappy, fun powerband from a bullet proof motor capable of decades of reliable riding. No other quad we have been on inspires more pure fun. Without fail, every time two or more Raptor 250 riders get together, an impromptu race breaks out.

Best Open Class Utility ATV - The 2011 Polaris Sportsman XP 850

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When it was introduced 2 years ago, the Polaris Sportsman XP 850 set a new standard for big bore utility ATVs that has yet to be matched. In our experience logging over a thousand odd trail miles, reliability has been perfect, and it has never let us down. The engine runs smooth, quiet, and crisp thanks to electronic fuel injection. We’re especially happy to report maintenance tasks are a breeze due to a spin off oil filter, a cartridge type air filter, and a handy, easy access dipstick (Take note Suzuki).

Best 500cc Class Utility ATV - The 2011 Polaris Sportsman XP 550

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Polaris engineers came up with a simple solution for riders who love the XP 850’s excellent features, but may feel intimidated with an 850cc engine – offer the same features and chassis with a 550cc engine! As a smaller brother to the XP 850, the Sportsman XP 550 shares an almost identical chassis but with a liquid cooled, single cylinder, EFI equipped engine mated to a carefree, CVT transmission. The engine runs crisp and smooth, and the XP550 gets a high performance clutch with a roller system for a very noticeable snap off the bottom.

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