Suzuki has a high, easy-access engine intake, which is good
for water crossings and facilitates filter maintenance. We
wish they would make the CVT drain plug easier to access.
In not-so-deep water crossings, the Honda Rancher does well.
On the down side, the lack of front differential lock and a low
ride height will keep the Rancher from going through deep mud.
Top “C” Ranch was the location of our work chore testing. Here, they train dogs for
herding sheep, and raise sheep to be used in the television and movie business.
Check them out at www.taskfarms.com
has the least amount of onboard,
water resistant storage of the bunch.
There is only a small compartment
behind the taillight that can barely fit
a small bottle of water and an extra
pair of gloves.
Suzuki and Yamaha equip their
midsized machines with two compartments that provide an adequate
amount of storage. The Polaris
Sportsman has a huge rear storage
area that will out haul all of the other
machines. However, when Polaris
redesigned the Sportsman’s bodywork, they eliminated the old, under
rack front storage area.
That feature was one of our favorite
things about the Sportsman. Polaris
tells us, that was a cost-saving measure for the new Sportsman models
and an accessory storage box can be
purchased from your dealer.
To get a feel of how these machines
performed in real working situations,
Even with a smaller engine, the
Honda Rancher did not struggle dur-
ing our hauling and towing tests. The
smaller Rancher is also much easier to
load in a pickup and takes up less
room in a storage shed than the others.
Our only complaint with the Rancher
is that the reverse procedure is a has-
sle compared to the others. There were
no standout complaints or accolades
aimed at the Grizzly or the King Quad.
Our trail test session took the four
machines over a variety of obstacles
and through the type of gnarly ter-
rain ATVs were built for. We tackled
hill climbs, smooth twisty dirt roads,
rocks, tight roller coaster style paths
On the hill climb test, all three of
the larger CVT equipped machines
performed much better than the
smaller engined Honda. The Honda
could make it up every hill we
encountered, just at a slower pace.
Out of the other three, the King
Quad and Grizzly were dead even
halfway up every time . However, by
the time we reached the 500-foot
summit the Grizzly would start
pulling away. We think the King
Quad 500 actually climbs hills better
than the old King Quad 700. At the
end of our runs, the Polaris was no
more than three quad lengths behind
the Suzuki 500.
In the rocks, Suzuki’s and Yamaha’s
steering systems seemed to absorb
the feedback through the bars better
than the other two machines. The
Polaris and Honda offered more
feedback through the bars than we
expected. Ground clearance is obviously better on the larger Sportsman,
Grizzly and King Quad, but the
Honda never had a problem with
getting hung up or high-centered,
thanks to a sturdy set of skid plates
that we tested often.
Through the tight wooded sections,
our Honda did not like to be run in
automatic mode. The computer did
not shift exactly when we wanted it
to. On the good side, the push-button
shifter is fun to use and it works well.
The smaller Honda fit the best
through the tight stuff.
The Polaris had a little difficulty
navigating several tight sections, not
because of its size; because the front