This year will always go down as one of the best, if not the best, year for growth in the side-by-side market. It is a wonderful time to be looking for a machine, not only because there are so many on the market but also because there are so many great machines available these days. It seems like there are new side-by-sides popping up every month from the manufacturers, and this fact alone gets us excited about what’s next!
We have the privilege of logging many miles behind all of the machines you see at your dealerships. While our testing can become gritty and arduous at times, it is all done so that we can bring you the best feedback on the latest machines to hit the market. So, from all of our experience this year, we thought it would be helpful to round up the top machines released in 2018. It was very tough to narrow down our choices, but our debates were well worth the effort. Here are our top off-roaders and UTVs of the year:
Textron Off Road Wildcat XX
Textron has quietly been climbing up the ranks of the UTV market the past couple years, and they made a huge leap of faith when they purchased Arctic Cat in 2017. Not only did they immediately have a larger dealer presence than ever before, but we all knew that Arctic Cat had vehicles in development that were sure to be good sellers in the industry. With Textron’s vast resources paired with existing industry know-how, a venerable force was created, and the first vehicle to show that this force is one to be reckoned with is the Wildcat XX.
While the Wildcat XX has seen its fair share of hiccups in the first model year, including delays in getting production out and some factory quality issues here and there, the overall package is what makes this machine so special. The XX’s suspension system has set new benchmarks for performance right out of the factory, and the cabin also includes numerous innovations that allow the owner to customize the unit with ease. Safety is also a priority in this vehicle, and the race-inspired ROPS system provides one of the best protection systems in the industry, if not the best.
Kudos, Textron on a stellar year, it’s onward and upward from here!
The redesigned 2019 Yamaha YXZ1000R has over 70 enhancements for the new model year, and every single one of those enhancements make this vehicle a much better overall package. We love the gearing and transmission logic changes, radiator relocation, and larger 29” stock tires.
Polaris RZR XP Turbo S
The 2019 Polaris RZR XP Turbo S deserves a mention because Polaris really came out swinging with this one by unveiling many enhancements to accompany the new 72” wide stance. It is packed with the industry’s only factory Live Valve suspension technology, a full glove touch 7” display with GPS navigation, powertrain upgrades including that stellar high-performance front differential, and so many more improvements that make this machine a winner in the desert and dunes!
2019 Yamaha Wolverine X2 R-Spec
Yamaha has been on a streak of releasing all-new and updated vehicles the past couple of years, but none seem more significant than the all-new Wolverine X2, hence the reason it is without a doubt our Sport/Rec UTV of the year! Tried and true elements remain on the X2 to make your trail adventures unforgettable, including the large capacity dump bed and a plethora of interior storage areas, but new items like the parallel twin cylinder 847cc engine and new interior layout are what really make this vehicle something very special in the marketplace.
ALSO SEE: 2019 Can-Am Maverick Sport Review
Providing all-day comfort, great fuel mileage, and that amazing Yamaha Ultramatic transmission & 4WD system, the Wolverine X2 is the standard for Sport/Rec side-by-side enjoyment. It is a blast to drive on the trail with its tight steering, and we’d easily take it out for a multiple day adventure. All of these reasons and more are why the Yamaha Wolverine X2 gets our vote for Sport/Rec side-by-side of the year!
2019 Can-Am Maverick Sport Lineup
This race in the sport-rec market was very close this year because the Maverick Sport is truly a great vehicle. However, it just didn’t push the needle forward enough like the Yamaha Wolverine X2, especially considering the Maverick Sport is essentially a grown-up brother to the Maverick Trail. With that being said, the Maverick Sport is still one of our favorite vehicles released in 2018 because of its nimble handling, great Ergo Lok chassis that allows you to be comfortable on all day rides, and 2 powertrain options to choose. The depth of the Maverick Sport lineup is also great – 4 seaters, mud hounds, and rock crawlers are all available in the Maverick Sport family.
2019 Polaris Ranger 150 EFI
It might be the least celebrated side of the UTV market, but the utility segment is rolling full steam ahead and still accounts for about 70% of all UTV sales. That’s exactly why the manufacturers put so much effort into their utility vehicles, and this year the biggest shaker wasn’t a big 900- or 1000-class machine. Instead, it was a machine focused on the youth market – the Polaris Ranger 150 EFI. Why is it significant, you ask? Because your kids will not only love the machine for its nimble handling, adjustable seat and steering wheel, protective cage, and peppy 150cc EFI-controlled engine, but you might be more appreciative of the technology that is included with it. The Ride Command technology delivers a better experience for kids because they are able to learn to drive in a controlled environment. Parents and instructors have the ability to use their cell phone to control the Ride Command app, which allows you to set Geofencing areas so that your kids can ride in controlled environments. The Ride Command app also has password protected safe start technology to control who drives the machine, along with digital speed limiting.
Not only is the Ranger 150 packed with technology, but it is also ready to rip around the yard with power and capability. It truly grows with kiddos as they mature, and that is what we appreciate about the Ranger 150 EFI.
Textron Off Road Prowler Pro Lineup
The Textron Off Road Prowler Pro and Prowler Pro Crew were both unveiled this year to great fanfare, and for good reason. Both have an ultra quiet powertrain package, innovative storage solutions on the inside of the vehicle, and countless accessories that give you the opportunity to build your ultimate workhorse side-by-side.