BEST IN CLASS: 500-Class Sport Ute

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Since many 500-Class ATVs have jumped into the 550cc range the last couple of years, their appeal has increased measurably.

We call these rides “Mid-Rangers” because they deliver all the features and zing of the Big Bore segment with just a smidge less power and torque.

Our staff voting was so close this year we had to split the award and give two first place trophies in this segment.

WINNER: Yamaha Grizzly 550FI Auto 4×4 EPS

Don’t let its incredibly long name fool you, this ATV is an icon of efficiency. We like the 550 Grizz without electric power steering but we absolutely love it with EPS added.

Yamaha has done an amazing job of calibrating the suspension so its ride harmonizes with its tight handling making the 550 an absolute joy to ride on all kinds of terrain.

You can squirm through low speed gnarly stuff and never, ever get the bars ripped out of your hands. At higher speeds, when the suspension is in its zone you can feel the shocks and springs ironing out the trail hits.

The Grizzly’s quick accelerating 558cc EFI engine is a willing SOHC revver and when combined with its full-featured On-Command 4-wheel drive system, there¬ís almost nowhere this ATV cannot be ridden comfortably.

There’s a temptation to believe that EPS is a good way for an ATV-maker to mask the nastiness of a bad chassis.

It’s not the case here. The Grizzly 550 is a very good ATV platform that has been made significantly better with the addition of power steering!

WINNER: Polaris Sportsman XP 550 EPS

The Sportsman scores some major points for its classy looking 14-inch aluminum wheels and rolled IRS suspension.

The Yamaha is a lighter, tighter package but riding the two, it’s tough to decide which one is best. No question, bigger wheels and tires play an important role in slimy, grimy conditions and the Polaris, with its upgraded tires and better ground clearance, is an effective mudder.

You could argue until the cows come home that the Polaris AWD system is better than the Yamaha’s electric selectable setup but we’d have to reply that a significant weight reduction will float you plenty of places a heavier ATV won’t.

When you compare engines and power steering systems there are minor differences but both work amazingly well. The Polaris delivers great handling, an exceptional ride and a long menu of great features including Lock & Ride rack attachments and roomy sealed storage up front.

EPS is the icing on the cake, though, and in this class, it adds a deeper dimension to both these mid-range ATVs.

Dirt Trax Online
Dirt Trax Online
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