❏ If you were a fly on the wall of the
boardroom at all of the major ATV
manufacturers, you would hear them
say that the 500cc utility/4X4 ATV
class has the most sales of any ATV
category. It may not be the most profitable since in some cases they are
now basically like the big 700–1000cc
machines feature-wise, just with a
smaller piston and price. But if you
want people to buy your brand, a
good 500-class machine will attract
them. Recently, Honda, Polaris and
Can-Am have all responded and
have released new models.
Can-Am’s offering is probably the
most solid. They took some proven suspension and engine technology and
attached it to a proven chassis and
left out a couple of bells and whistles
to come up with the Outlander 500L.
The L still has EFI, IRS and EPS (three
modes, in fact) and a V-twin engine.
The biggest difference between this
model and the standard Outlander is
that it doesn’t have fancy LED lights,
dual taillights, rubber-coated composite racks or the digitally encoded
security system. We were not fans of
any of those features anyway. Our
test unit, the DPS model, still has aluminum wheels, steel racks that accept
the Link accessory system, and great
storage for $7999. The Outlander 450L,
which uses the same components,
starts at $6399 without EPS.
Honda’s mid-sized 4x4 stable actu-
ally has six Rubicon models, nine
Rancher (420cc) models and a stan-
dard Foreman that all range in price
from $6200 up to $9600.The 475cc
Foreman only comes with a solid-ax-
le swingarm suspension and uses a
manual transmission. The Ranchers
are all powered by a 420cc engine
and come in many different transmis-
sion and suspension configurations.
For this test we are using the fea-ture-filled Rubicon 500 with IRS, EFI,
EPS and Honda’s dual-clutch, automatic, five-speed transmission (DCT).
It’s the highest-priced machine in the
comparison at $9149 and only slightly more expensive than the Yamaha
Grizzly 550 at $8699. During the test we
did spend a little time on the manual
foot-shift version, too, to get a feel for it.
Polaris has had a winning
500cc-class 4x4 since the mid-1990s
with their early IRS-equipped
Sportsman automatic. Recently,
they have been experimenting with
engine and chassis combinations,
and for 2015 have two models to
choose from that are both powered
by the 570cc single also found in the
RZR and ACE lines. Basically, the difference between the chassis are the
front suspension systems. One uses
a dual-A-arm setup like the discontinued Sportsman 550 had, and the
other is a MacPherson strut set up like
the original 500 used. The Sportsman
570 with the dual-A-arm front suspension system sells for $8500 and
only comes with EPS. Both have IRS
and EFI. For this test we are using the
with EPS selling for $7399, plus another $500 for the camo. The non-EPS
version sells for $6499.
POWER AND SPEED
Can-Am’s proven four-valve, over-
The Sportsman uses the same ProStar 570cc engine that also
powers the Ace and RZR 570s. It’s even quicker in this chassis and never has you yearning for more power.
Can-Am uses a nice Rotax V-twin. We think the programmers
of the EFI system made the low-end grunt a little too mellow
on this machine.