Analyst’s test ride pits RZR XP 900 vs. Wildcat 1000

Minneapolis-based analyst Mark E. Smith of Feltl and Company recently pitted the Polaris RZR XP 900 side-by-side against the Arctic Cat Wildcat 1000i H.O. in a “unscientific” comparative test drive. In a research note provided to Powersports Business on Wednesday, Smith gives the edge to the RZR XP.

According to the note, Smith tested the vehicles “in the desert in rural Idaho and drove through rocky terrain, steep climbs, forded streams and on straight roads to test speed, handling, suspension and power.”

The result? “The Wildcat gives tough competition, but we think the RZR XP is a better overall machine,” Smith said.

Here’s Smith take:

“Beginning with overall speed, both machines seemed comparable at both the bottom- and top-ends of our unscientific test rides. Acceleration and top speed are impressive. We tend to think, and hope, the speedometers were giving faulty readings given our exceptional speed through rough terrain (70+ mph).

  • Through rough terrain we think the Wildcat has a superior suspension with a much smoother ride. Chasing antelope through the desert at high speeds we found the Wildcat gave superior comfort over whoops and bumps. The RZR’s 14 inches of suspension travel are impressive, but don’t hold up compared to the Wildcat’s 18 inches of travel over very rough terrain at high speeds.
  • However, overall handling easily goes to the RZR with its tighter turn radius and lower body roll through turns. In diverse riding environments, we think the RZR is the superior vehicle.
  • Climbing and overall power is impressive as both machines went up roads and trails beyond our immediate comfort level (and out-climbed another competing four-wheeler).
  • Reliability seems to favor the RZR. Both of our test vehicles had been previously ridden, and the Wildcat seemed to be worse for wear with a missing door, and we blew a tire after an hour of test driving. Our channel checks with dealers and their shops shows an impressive lack of major problems with the Wildcat in its inaugural year, but it does seem to need minor repairs more often than the RZR.
  • Overall we think these vehicles are fairly evenly matched with impressive speed and power. We think the difference comes in RZR’s longer history with more precise handling and more reliability. For niche customers who are predominately driving straight through rough terrain we would give the nod to the Wildcat.”

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    1. I hope he wasn’t going faster than 70mph as that is dangerous and also gives ohv’ers a bad name. Please revise the speed limit to a respectable and safe 35mph. If you cannot do that, I advise you to take the article down before people that care about safe driving throw an absolute fit.

  2. What kind of minor issues are they running into with the Cat? A missing door, and a blown tire after an hour of riding on a machine that has been used for testing as it was here, doesn’t exactly sound like manufacturer issues, but rather misuse/abuse. (Suspension is something entirely different). I think a real “scientific” test is needed, because anything otherwise means nothing. Take a look at any combination of riders opinions, whether it be cars, boats, snowmobiles, etc. Everyone has their own idea of what’s best, and what works for them. This type of “misleading reporting” could sway someones purchase decision. Let the facts speak and keep the personal opinions to yourselves.

  3. That’s one hell of an “Analyst”! Ever hear of a gps to check speed with? My guess is this guy has never riden an atv/utv before.

  4. Why criticize the article? It was stated as non-scientific and was the opinion of an individual after taking both vehicles for a test drive. I have been debating the purchase of either the Wildcat or the RZR 900 for about a month now. I’ve been reading “scientific” comparison articles as quick as they come out and was ready to purchase the Wildcat. I’m 46 and wouldn’t mind a smoother riding vehicle. Yesterday I went to the dealer to make my purchase. I had previously taken each vehicle for a test drive around their parking lot and was happy with the Wildcat. Before I signed the papers I noticed a dirt test track behind the dealer’s store and asked if I could tear it up a bit with the Wildcat and the RZR 900. THE BEST MOVE I HAD EVER MADE. Everything that the above article stated was exactly what I noticed. But let me elaborate. My test vehicle was brand new and the Fiberglas doors rattled to the point of cracking the mounts that hold them on. I didn’t blow a tire like in the test above. I’m guessing that was a fluke. Lol. The low end torque of the Wildcat did not compare to the RZR at all and the control was not close either. While driving the RZR I had complete control in the turns, over whoops, and doing wheelies (lol – kidding about the wheelies). With the Wildcat I felt like it controlled me. I couldn’t keep the rear end where I wanted it when cornering thru whoops. I’m not a pro and you guys could probably do better, but as an average Joe after taking a test drive, my purchase went toward the RZR. I think the article above is just what the average person needs to read… Thanks.

  5. There are some definite issues with this test report. First, a blown tire and missing door are results of abuse moreso than failure of the machine. And to the poster that talked about the doors rattling, the doors aren’t fiberglass like you said. Rattling is a result of either poor setup or damage. I’ve been around several Wildcats and none have rattling in their doors.
    For the body roll, that is a result of long travel suspension that is designed like true off-road racing machines. When you move the suspension pivot arms closer to the center of the machine to achieve greater travel, body roll will increase. Center of gravity isn’t though and the machine remains quite stable. The body roll is something that most off-road racers have learned to deal with in long travel machines.
    That being said, the steering is a problem with the Wildcat, it doesn’t turn as tight as it should by any means. This an issue Arctic Cat should look at and improve.
    But for overall off-roading at speed, the Wildcat will beat the RZR XP. The RZR is a good machine, but needs to have a completely redesigned chassis to achieve the true long travel that the Wildcat has. And the RZR also needs to toughen up their suspension mount points and rear radius arms, those have both been trouble areas.
    I think the final proof in the testing would be for each individual comsumer to test drive each machine in an environment that replicates how they will drive typically. Then choose the machine that works best. Some will choose the RZR, but some will choose the Wildcat..simple as that.

  6. I have a customer with both (to make a fair comparison), he noted the Cat rode better, but did have to go back with parts falling off (exhaust, door, etc.) after a short ride. He also noted the Wildcat made for a much dirtier ride. Running in slightly wet conditions proved imposible to stay reasonably dry. RZR on the other hand, has better deflection.

  7. Honestly this is an individual opinion, and you know what they say about those. Each is a great choose depending on the type of riding you want it for. Nither one off the show room floor will out climb or mud the rzr 800s which may not have the top end but will no doubt give you all the bottom end and power you need for off rode trail riding. The ride isn’t as smooth but if they would put a similar suspension under them as the 800s, and get them low bars out of the way they both would better in the mud and climbing hills for sure.

  8. All of you guys who tell them to take it down just shut up. All they are doing is testing these machines to their max and you complain about speed and wildlife when you guys all know that when you get something you test it too because everyone does

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