Arctic Cat released their new Wildcat Sport and Wildcat Trail earlier this summer, but the media had not yet had a chance to experience this newly designed UTV. We were kindly invited out to the beautiful Bryce Canyon area of Utah for two days of technical information and trail riding. This offered a great opportunity to discover all the plusses, and the possible minuses, of these new machines and enjoy some amazing riding terrain and scenery.
If you are starting your search for your next trail UTV, then you are a definite candidate for the 2014 Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport or Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail. These two capable machines are 60″ and 50″ wide (respectively) and offer a 700cc engine built specifically for these models. Add in the factory-included features and you’ll find a great buy in UTV’s.
I found the Wildcat Sport very predictable…power slides, low speed control, overall handling…it was a pleasure to drive. I believe the styling is well done too…not too desert-ish, not too racecar-ish, very appealing. And size-wise, the length and width make it perfect for the woods or the rocks…short and narrow enough to be maneuverable, but wide enough to be stable.
- Maintenance access (plugs, filters, belt)- YES…the motor was designed for garage mechanics! Access panels (from the top) to the oil filter and spark plugs make everything super easy, and the air filter is very accessible from the back. And should you actually wreck a belt, access is simple enough. (pics below)
- Factory doors- The partial-door of the base and XT models is nice, but the added protection and space with the full Limited door is far nicer.
- Engine and transmission- Transmission shifting was among the best I’ve experienced, and the engine power was smooth throughout the range.
- Space for larger tires- 28’s fit with ease on both models, and 30’s only rub the Trail front sway bar in certain situations. No plastic modifications needed.
- Power Steering (Limited only)- Great feedback, not over boosted. Helped to dampen the hits as well in the rocks and ruts.
- Front Locker- I love the selectable front locker, particularly in the XT without power steering. Open front (and easier steering) for normal challenges, lock the front only when needed.
- 2WD/4WD- there is no bias difference between 2WD and 4WD…when 4WD is selected, the front receives the same power as the rear.
- Seats and belts- For short runs, the factory seats and belts are adequate…but 100 miles a day of spirited riding adds up.
As we all know, it’s very hard to not purchase a new UTV and quickly add accessories to your wish list. My choices for the Wildcat Sport are noted below (in order of importance)
- Mirrors: Why manufacturers don’t include a factory rear-view mirror is beyond me. For The Wildcat Sport/Trail, stick with a pair of outside mirrors…The Arctic Cat (or aftermarket) spare tire carriers, or any other cargo in the rear bed, will block the use of a center mirror.
- Seats and Harnesses: Suspension seats are usually 3rd on my list, but the added legroom and comfort from good seats ups the necessity here…and add a set of factory-style 4-points too.
- Skid plates: There is no such thing as enough underbody protection, and a simple set of UHMW skid plates is good insurance
- Tires and Wheels (and spare): These machines will fit a 28″ or 30″ tires with no other necessary modifications…some “minor” rubbing on the front sway bar is possible with 30’s on the Trail, but nothing damaging…and get a spare too!
Personally, Arctic Cat has hit a home run with their new Wildcat Sport and Wildcat Trail. I still firmly feel the double A-arm suspension is at home for most trail uses and dominates for playing in the rocks. You do lose out on the high-speed bump and whoops abilities, but there is still the Wildcat 1000 XT for those buyers. If you are like me, and enjoy twisty trails and rock crawling, the Arctic Cat Wildcat Sport is for you 🙂
(Bryce Canyon City: If you haven’t visited, please add it to your short list of destination riding areas. Our two days barely scratched the surface of the spectacular beauty and enjoyable UTV trails that wind through Garfield County. We were able to ride-in/out of the Ruby’s Inn, making our day on the trail even better with their convenient accommodations.)