The 2016 Arctic Cat Prowler HDX 700 XT EPS
Derrek Sigler 07.08.15
The email was short and sweet. It was from Arctic Cat media guy, Kale Wainer, and it simply said, “Hey, we’ve got something coming out soon that you’re really going to be interested in.”
Kale knows that I love ATVs and that I do a lot of hunting and land management, so I expected something cool. Kale did not disappoint.
The 2016 Arctic Cat Prowler HDX 700 XT EPS is a beast of a machine for hunting and working, and you have to admit, it’s sharp looking, too.
The first thing you’d notice if you went into a dealership and saw a 2015 sitting next to the new 2016 is the physical appearance. This comparison might be hard to do, as Cat dealers are selling the HDXs just about as fast as they get them in. My dealership, Peacock, Ltd. in Baldwin, Michigan, would have loved to be able to put my test unit on the sales floor. When AC showed all of us media goons the redesign of the standard Prowler last fall, we all knew it was only a matter of time before the HDX got the treatment. The style gives the HDX some smooth lines and sleek appearance. But it’s not just for show.
Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful
Starting at the front of the Prowler, there is an automotive-style hood release. Many UTVs have some kind of hood that allows access to the radiator and electronics. AC added in over 22 gallons of semi-sealed storage. I say semi-sealed in that there is a rubber gasket surrounding the area. It’ll keep dust and moisture out, but don’t submerge the HDX and think your stuff is going to stay dry. There are also very handy storage compartments just in front of the rear wheels. They are a great place to haul some tools, tie-downs, or other gear. Let’s face it, you can never have enough places to store gear. They also tweaked the dashboard and added a 1.9-gallon glove box. The layout of the dash is superb, with an easy-to-read digital display, plenty of spots for accessory switches, and one of the best steering wheels in the industry.
Part of the redesigned appearance is the headlight package. You get standard low and high beams, which are plenty bright. The cool factor comes from the sweet LED driving lights that outline the lower half of the headlight assembly, much like the higher-end luxury cars. Aside from doing a great job as driving lights, they just look cool as heck. That’s part of the HDX’s appeal. It looks sweet. From the aluminum rims to the sharp color contrasts, it’s a great-looking machine that is just as functional.
Kitty’s got claws
The heart of the HDX is the 700 H1, 695cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: with some people being very vocal that big engines need to be V-twins, big single-cylinder engines have just as much place in the market. Often the argument against a single is they are loud and vibrate. The HDX isn’t very loud. In fact, Cat made it eight decibels than previous models. The new closed-loop EFI system uses an oxygen sensor, much like a car engine, to automatically adjust for the ideal exhaust air-to-fuel ratio. What you end up with is a powerful engine that has a lot of torque (something I’m a big fan of) and a pretty smooth ride.
Oh, the ride—now we get to talk about suspension. The HDX has 10 inches of ground clearance and 10 inches of wheel travel at all four corners riding on double-wishbone A-arms. The front shocks work very well, but it’s the rear shocks that will get you excited. Arctic Cat equipped it with Fox Float coil-over shocks. Aside from Fox being one of the premium brands in suspension, the Fox Floats are infinitely adjustable with an included air pump. Have a really heavy load, like a bunch of fertilizer, or an elk? Pump up the shocks for a better ride quality. It’s very cool and a feature you’ll really like.
That brings us to the monster dump box. At 56 inches wide and 42.5 inches long, the huge cargo box hauls up to 1,000 pounds of equipment and materials. Need more space? It converts to a flatbed in minutes. Need to haul more? There is a two-inch receiver and a 1,500-pound towing capacity. Arctic Cat has a plethora of accessories available, including a serious set of Speedpoint implements for working up food plots, gardens, and the like.
I like it—I really, really like it
When I first brought the Cat home, I took off on a nice, leisurely 50-mile trail ride. I didn’t get on the gas or anything—I just wanted to cruise. I noticed right away that the seats are very comfortable as is the seatbelt. The side restraints are good too, as are the sleek net doors. I wonder if Cat will come up with a hard half-door at some point. That would be a nice touch. The flat floors are good for getting in and out, as well as drainage. The steering wheel adjustment is really nice, too. It’s pretty easy to get comfortable in the HDX. My only gripe is that the gas pedal needs to be closer to the floor. It takes some getting used to for taller guys with big feet.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the HDX. I’m planning to use it for some camping trips this summer as I can haul all of my gear in it and then some. It is a machine that has the ability to work and play evenly, making it a great choice for those with an adventurous spirit and a lot of stuff to haul into the great wild places. The MSRP for the green and black models is $13,999 ($14,399 for camo). Good luck finding one at your dealer, though. They are selling faster than Girl Scout Cookies outside an overeater’s anonymous meeting.