Snug Up Those Belts And Hang On!
If you threw a stick of TNT into a garbage can, slammed the lid on, sat down and held on tight, the upward accelerative force applied to your body from the explosion would be almost, but not quite as strong, as the forward force experienced when tramping the new Prowler XTZ 1000’s accelerator to the floor. By the way, never sit on a live stick of TNT without wearing a helmet.
What we’re talking about here is the two time All-Terrain Vehicle Magazine Best-in-Class Award winning Arctic Cat Prowler platform injected with the largest, most powerful mill ever seen in a SxS vehicle.
Take note, the Arctic Cat Thundercat’s 950cc V-twin lurks next to your right knee. The original Prowler platform powered by both 550 and 650 H1 carbureted “hemi” engines has been near and dear to our hearts.
In many ways, the Prowler is similar in layout to the legendary Yamaha Rhino. Its engine is located between the front seats, providing a slightly sportier look and feel than a Ranger XP. However, it’s important to understand its overall size is somewhat larger than a Rhino.
The frontal area of the Prowler is more Ranger-sized and the dump box is “Big Gulp” caliber, offering the highest sides in the biz. The Prowler’s double lined, molded plastic dump box is top-of-the-class for its precision finish and slick operation. The sides are high enough to contain messy loads and the tailgate is a tight fitting, consistent functioning piece with a one hand, truck style release.
Interior accoutrements are pleasing and mirror the classy level of trim in all Prowler models. The floor is an easy-to-clean and relatively flat plastic piece while the dash contains nice storage bins, a glove box and a multi-function gauge cluster identical to Arctic Cat’s Sport Utility ATVs.
Switch-gear for lighting and 4×4 activation is center mounted on the dash and falls readily to hand from either side. The steering wheel is a contentious item for most of our testers as it doesn’t tilt or telescope out of the way, interfering with entry and exit.
If you’ve got a two-cheeseburger gut, you’ll find the wheel downright intrusive. Seating is comfortable and both seats remove easily to provide access to the engine after removing the one-piece molded cover. We’ll make it clear from the outset, you cant haul three in a Prowler, period.
The Prowler has a stout and functional roll cage with a high mounted brake light. Combination shoulder and lap belts are a great inclusion and must be used to ensure both occupants stay put in this high performance vehicle. Actually, we felt uncomfortable at any speed in the XTZ without belts on.
The XTZ 1000 adds some pretty sweet stuff to the Prowler platform. Ryde FX take-apart aluminum body gas shocks hang on all four corners. The XTZ gets nifty box rails, rock crusher bars on the running boards and a functional front brush guard.
A fiery orange mist paint job and faux hood scoop are nice touches and grab attention everywhere you go. The V-twin reactor buried in the frame emits a deep and ominous melody capable of sending mothers and small children searching for cover. Lastly, the XTZ sports four sweet looking cast aluminum wheels shorn with gnarly rubber.
Obviously, Arctic Cat is targeting the performance buyer with the XTZ 1000 and even though their path is identical to both Kawasaki’s Teryx “S” and Yamahas Rhino SE, all three of these hot-rodded sport-more-than-utility vehicles have one issue keeping them from ultimate head-on comparos to the RZR “S”.
If you park the XTZ next to the RZR “S” you can easily identify the RZR’s advantage. The Prowler’s engine placement is probably as much as 6-inches higher than the RZR’s. This single issue makes a tangible difference in the handling traits of the two vehicles. Simply put, the RZR can corner faster and flatter than any utility based sport SxS.
Now that we have that out of the way, we can talk about the XTZ’s handling. Clearly, all Prowlers display even, linear turn-in and hold a steady line in the woods or on fire roads at speed. The suspension package Arctic Cat massaged for the XTZ continues the tradition of generous wheel travel and, as a result of a standard rear anti-sway bar, nice side-to-side balance in both powerslides and on off-camber tight trails.
This vehicle is stupid fast. As if its 75-mph top speed alone wasn’t formidable enough, getting there is cannon-like. This creates the deliberate need for pilots to not be just judicious but really careful with their right foot.
So abrupt is the power delivery from this 75hp V-twin, EFI, 950cc monster, we actually had to practice throttle application to achieve less than jerky response at both engagement and mid-throttle. Frankly, we were never able to sort out the engagement drill with the XTZ. This one area of operation, specifically throttle calibration is, in our opinion, not acceptable for the average consumer.
It simply is easier to just slam the throttle down and not bother feathering it. It’s that abrupt. We think Arctic Cat should revisit the throttle linkage and develop something less touchy in an effort to produce more linear action. Having said that, no one who drove the XTZ came away anything but impressed – very impressed – with the way the vehicle pulls.
If you’re a rancher, hunter, fisherman or weekend family ATVer looking for a UTV to compliment your fleet, we would caution you to ask yourself if you need this much bare-chested aggression and unadulterated power. The garden variety SE Prowler 650 is a superb UTV that performs at or near the top of this segment and might be a better choice.
The XTZ is an outperforming, targeted-for-competition vehicle capable of intimidating all but the very experienced. Don’t get us wrong, we love this thing. However, we don’t use it for hauling sandwiches to trail-side picnics.
Arctic Cat has a corporate edict it holds mostly true to in every business it participates in: “Always occupy the highest performance segment of the sport you build product for”. For readers unfamiliar with Arctic Cat snowmobiles, last year the company introduced, in response to a competitive snowmobile producing about 150hp, a turbocharged, intercooled 175hp model to effectively slam the door shut on the “who is fastest question”.
If you lean to owning the biggest, baddest and fastest, there’s simply no other place for you to go but straight to your Arctic Cat store and sign up for the most radically powerful SxS available… the Prowler XTZ 1000.