Gear Test: The 6 Best ATVs for Hunters | Outdoor Life
Matt Nager

Gear Test: The 6 Best ATVs for Hunters

We put the latest crop of machines to the test to find the best one for the field

There are few pieces of outdoor gear that cost as much—or are intended to be kept in service for as long—as ATVs and UTVs.

The world of utility vehicles is far larger than it once was, and this year’s ATV and UTV test was a testament to the breadth and depth of the field.

Our mission was simple: Find the units that are the best fit for those who work and play in the outdoors.

We evaluated tech-laden units that boasted features and gadgets not dissimilar to those found in high-end cars and trucks (with price tags to match), and we checked out basic work-focused utility vehicles that made up in value and function what they lacked in bells and whistles.

All told, we put a field of 18 new ATVs and UTVs to work in southern Michigan’s farm belt and discovered a crop of machines more capable, more refined, easier to use, and, yes, more fun than what was available just a few years ago.

UTV Test | How We Test


Editor's Choice: Brute Force 750 EPS | Score: 88.5


atv test kawasaki brute force 750

The Kawasaki Brute Force 750 EPS proved especially powerful.

Matt Nager

The Results
Handling 9.5
Build Quality 9.3
Versatility/Utility 9.0
Noise Level 7.9
Ground Clearanace 6.2
Serviceability 9.2
Top Speed Score 10.0
Ride 9.3
Value 8.8
Ease of Use 9.3
TOTAL 88.5

Top Speed (MPH): 74
MSRP As Tested: $10,599

After ripping through the test course’s mud hole, we needed a pit stop to hose the muck off this ATV. And not just because we wanted to clean the unit up for photos. We wanted to make sure we’d read the engine size correctly. In a field of the highest-powered machines, the Brute Force 750 EPS blew the others away and ran off with the Editor’s Choice honors while doing so.

The amount of torque throughout the power band of this unit stunned the test panel. Hit the throttle from a standstill and you’d best hold on, because you could find yourself up on two wheels in a hurry. The four-wheel-drive system with rear differential lock engaged crisply. The independent suspension front and back earned high scores in the ride category as well as handling.

The base MSRP of $9,899 was a pleasant surprise as well.

 

Can-Am Outlander DPS 570 | Score: 87.9

atv test can am outlander dps 570

Can-Am Outlander DPS 570

Matt Nager

The Results
Handling 9.0
Build Quality 9.3
Versatility/Utility 8.3
Noise Level 9.5
Ground Clearanace 7.9
Serviceability 8.0
Top Speed Score 8.6
Ride 9.0
Value 9.3
Ease of Use 9.0
TOTAL 87.9

Top Speed (MPH): 66
MSRP As Tested: $9,799

With a snappy response and excellent build quality, Can-Am’s Outlander DPS 570 gobbled up every challenge we could throw at it, and did it without excessive noise or vibration.

The Outlander includes Can-Am’s Dynamic Power Steering system, an outstanding feature that provided crisp, accurate response on the course. Our test unit came with the Mossy Oak package, adding $3,000 to the price, which hurt its value scores a bit and put it just behind the Brute Force 750. Take off the add-ons and you have a base unit with an MSRP of $6,799 that’s a heck of a value.

Yamaha Grizzly 700 EPS | Score: 84.4

atv test yamaha grizzly 700 eps

Yamaha Grizzly 700 EPS

Matt Nager

The Results
Handling 8.7
Build Quality 8.7
Versatility/Utility 8.7
Noise Level 7.2
Ground Clearanace 7.4
Serviceability 8.7
Top Speed Score 8.9
Ride 8.7
Value 8.7
Ease of Use 8.7
TOTAL 84.4

Top Speed (MPH): 68
MSRP As Tested: $10,149

The Grizzly garnered plenty of praise for its solid, work-focused performance. With a 708cc fuel-injected engine, the unit trailed only the Brute Force in power and torque considerations.

It earned respectable marks for its overall build quality as well as its handling and ease of use. We found little fault with this machine, which contended for Editor’s Choice but couldn’t quite match the Brute Force in raw power.

As with other ATVs in the category, on-board storage was lacking, but front and rear cargo racks were included.

Can-Am Outlander XT 850 DPS | Score: 82.9

atv test can am outlander xt 850 dps

Can-Am Outlander XT 850 DPS

Matt Nager

The Results
Handling 6.7
Build Quality 9.7
Versatility/Utility 7.7
Noise Level 7.6
Ground Clearanace 7.9
Serviceability 8.7
Top Speed Score 10.0
Ride 8.3
Value 8.3
Ease of Use 8.0
TOTAL 82.9

Top Speed (MPH): 74
MSRP As Tested: $11,799

If you’re looking for a big, burly ATV, this is your machine. It stands nearly 50 inches tall, and is 46 inches wide and 86 inches long. Powered by a beefy V-twin engine capable of producing up to 78 hp, the Outlander XT 850 has plenty of power and an eye-catching design.

On the course, its quality of build and layout stood out. But all was not perfect. We encountered a couple of instances of belt slip when the machine had to work hard in high range, like climbing over downed logs. The ride received mixed reviews—some loved the softer feel, others not so much.

 


Great Buy: Polaris Sportsman Big Boss 6x6 570 EPS | Score: 82.3


atv test polaris sportsman

Polaris Sportsman Big Boss 6x6 570 EPS

Matt Nager

The Results
Handling 7.3
Build Quality 8.3
Versatility/Utility 9.3
Noise Level 5.0
Ground Clearanace 9.1
Serviceability 8.3
Top Speed Score 8.0
Ride 8.3
Value 9.7
Ease of Use 9.0
TOTAL 82.3

Top Speed (MPH): 63
MSRP As Tested: $10,999

When we rolled this six-wheeled beast off the trailer at the test location, there were a few snickers. Then we drove it, and the scoffing stopped. The machine’s additional axle makes it significantly longer (and louder, which cost it some key points) than the others in this category, and testers initially worried that the length would make the machine too unwieldy in the woods. But by the end of the first run around the course, those fears were allayed.

The Big Boss proved surprisingly nimble, thanks to its power steering system. Yes, the additional length does make for a larger turning radius than that of a standard two-axle machine, but the difference was less noticeable in the field than expected. And that extra axle creates room for a second rider.

This is a true six-wheel-drive vehicle—­­we could not find any terrain or obstacle to stop it.

The Big Boss 6x6 fills the void between ATVs and UTVs. With an MSRP of $10,999, it’s not inexpensive. But its vastly superior storage capacity, all-terrain capability, and potential utility over other ATVs tested made it the unanimous choice for Great Buy honors.

Honda Rubicon DCT | Score: 76.2

atv test honda rubicon dct

Honda Rubicon DCT

Matt Nager

The Results
Handling 7.3
Build Quality 8.3
Versatility/Utility 9.3
Noise Level 5.0
Ground Clearanace 9.1
Serviceability 8.3
Top Speed Score 8.0
Ride 8.3
Value 9.7
Ease of Use 9.0
TOTAL 82.3

Top Speed (MPH): 63
MSRP As Tested: $10,999

Honda’s Rubicon DCT EPS Deluxe proved to be a solid, work-­focused unit with a few hits and a few misses. The machine—which features electric power steering, independent rear suspension, and a 475cc single-cylinder engine—was a pleasure to ride and handled our course’s rutted mud tracks as well as the rock pile with similar ease, so long as the manual shift paddles were employed.

When relying on the unit’s automatic transmission, riders felt the engine shifted into higher gears too quickly, thus robbing the machine of power. Its lever-activated reverse also cost it points.


How We Test: How We Test: The Best ATVs and UTVs for Hunters

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