For the performance-craving editors of this magazine, the fact 6-person side-x-sides are intended almost entirely for utility use is sometimes hard to grasp.
Arctic Cat’s HDX Crew has sporty aluminum wheels, independent suspension at all four wheels, halogen headlights and Fox Float air shocks out back – all things you’d expect to find on a sport-targeted vehicle – and do.
The fact is, this particular 6-seater can play and play well. It’s just first and foremost, meant to be a workhorse – hauling people, carrying extraordinary amounts of gear and, with its convertible bed, provide a useful workbench for on-site projects.
First, lets discuss what makes the HDX Crew different than the competition. Its specific role is really defined by its unique, full-size cargo bed that converts into a flat platform by folding down its tailgate and hinged side panels for hauling oversized cargo like lumber or plywood or on the jobsite connecting a vise, drill press or a saw to it and making it into a mobile workshop. Brilliant, really and it soon becomes addictive because of its sheer convenience.
The air shocks are really intended for utiiity use and not so much for performance. The idea is the shocks will compensate for the size load you’re carrying, to keep the ride decent and the Crew’s body level.
There’s 10-inches of travel in the rear and even when you’re loaded up with passengers and cargo, you can prevent bottoming by simply boosting the air supply to the rear shocks.
The cab area is fully featured with decent legroom front and rear and nice shoulder support for all the outside-seated passengers. Tilt steering with EPS helps ergonomically and there’s a good digital gauge to keep you posted on what’s going on with the engine.
The seats are nicely contoured with good bolstering to keep every passenger in their correct space and the grab-bars and belts are, at the very least, adequate.
Storage space is excellent with a good amount of space allotted to in-dash storage and a cavernous reservoir of storage under the hinged front “hood”. There are also a couple of side storage panels ahead of the rear seats with doors on them to keep gear you’re not too worried about getting wet, stowed.
If there’s anything we’d wish for it would be a bit more power than the EFI 695cc SOHC single provides. We’re thinking long, greasy slopes with six people onboard and a half ton (literally) of tools and materials in the bed.
The Duro Kaden tires and full-featured 4WD will provide the bite but on those hard pulls it’s nice to have more power on tap.
As it is, the engineers have done an excellent job of calibrating the Crew’s CVT for those very situations. On the flats with an empty cargo hold and with a more reasonable four people on board, the Crew is really a blast.
It’s ride and handling are very predictable and its level of comfort is high. We give it an “A” for great utility.