2014 John Deere Gator XUV825i

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Although this Gator isn’t necessarily the newest fork in the drawer, to be honest, we had been ignoring it thinking it was just another utility model best suited for repairing divots and raking sand traps at the golf course. We had no inkling how our preconceptions were going to be erased.

We’re not kidding – to a man, our core of racing, jumping power-sliding maniacs who write this mag and produce DirtTrax TV were impressed. And yes, the 825i is a very good handler and has an extremely plush and controllable ride over rough terrain.

Better than that is the 825i’s smoothness. We have never experienced an off-road vehicle with this kind of velvety power delivery, slick power steering and overall user-friendly operation.

The competition could learn encyclopedias about how good a SxS can feel to its driver by checking out the 825i. If ever a vehicle deserved copying, it’s this one.

Frankly, we’re not sure if some of this handling joy is because of the high quality of the hydraulic power steering on the 825i (because it is nothing short of perfect) or whether it’s just because this rigid frame design and dialed-in front end geometry is so good. As you can guess, we strongly advise buyers to go for the power steering option on the 825i.

The inline 3-cylinder DOHC Chery-built mill (Chery is an automotive manufacturing conglomerate in China) sets a new standard for power and silkiness. Some of this is due to its 3-cylinder’s 120-degree power pulses but a lot of it has to do with the engine’s ability to deliver smooth bottom end and build power up through the mid-range.

Admittedly, this is a heavy vehicle. Its immensely strong truck-like frame and heavy (although strong) suspension parts pack on the weight. It goes without saying that a 3-cylinder mill is heavier than a twin or a single and we hate that doggone governor. Please, just get rid of it.

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