What do the new 6000- and 7000-Series engines ride like? How do they compare with each other?
Those have been the questions swirling through my head ever since learning of the two new-for-2014 Arctic Cat powerplants. Thanks to several days riding them in Island Park, Idaho (plus a day in Thief River Falls), I have some answers.
The first time I rode the new 600 was about a month ago with a group of Arctic Cat engineers in TRF. My first impression of the engine there was confirmed when I rode it again in Island Park for four days: It rips!
It’s easy to pull-start and idles with less ski-tip-vibration than the 800 (and with much less exhaust smoke). The sound is strong and typical of a 2-stroke spinning at 8100-8300 rpm.
It feels strong from the bottom through the top. Really strong, in fact.
If I had gotten on the sled “blind” and was told that it was an 800 twin, I would have believed it. Not an 800 H.O., but more like the first-gen Suzuki 800. It revs quickly, which I love!
The sled is light, flickable and so dang much fun. Of all the 2014 models I rode, I could go the hardest on it.
Like the 600, the first time I rode the Yamaha triple in the ProCross chassis was month or so ago in TRF, in the same group mentioned above. My first impression of it was that it was strong (especially on the bottom and mid-range), but that it seemed tame compared to what I remembered it feeling like on the Yamaha Nytro.
Peg the throttle and it jumps to around 8500 rpm and then builds up around 8800 when it gets its full legs.
The sound is great, but it’s definitely more muted than on the Nytro. It’s smooth and quick-revving. Engine braking is minimal except when it really idles down, like during those moments just before you come to a stop.
Because of its sweet sound, instant response and strong punch, it accelerates and behaves more like a 2-stroke than the Suzuki 1100 and Turbo. While it’s something like 10 lbs. lighter than the 1100 non-turbo, it’s still a 4-stroke and thus you can feel the added weight up front.
Before I compared the two side-by-side, I thought the 6000 would have out-accelerated the 7000. I was wrong.
Comparing the 5000, 6000 and 7000
First of all, let’s get the chest-thumping out of the way… Drag race these three sleds for a quarter-mile and the 7000 will win by a few sled lengths ahead of the 6000, with the 5000 more than a few sled lengths behind the 6000. Where the 7000 beats the 6000 is on the bottom and mid-range, where its extra 10 hp makes the difference.
I had no place to stretch these machines beyond a quarter mile, but based on how the 6000 was starting to creep back up to the 7000 at that point, my guess is that terminal speed is similar between the two.
I’m not sure if any of this makes a difference, though, as both are close, both will put a huge smile on the face of anyone in the market for this kind of horsepower. After all, if you wanted to win drag races, you’d skip 123-135 hp class and jump to an 800 or Turbo.
Far more interesting to me is how these sleds worked on the trail.
There, I absolutely fell in love with the 6000. The combo of 123 hp and the lightweight package makes the ZR6000 a complete hoot and hits the sweet spot of performance.
The 7000 is great on the trail and, like all machines with a heavier engine, stays nicely planted in the corners. However, you feel that extra weight (and its higher mounting position in the chassis) when you need to slow down in a hurry, or when you want to play in the bumps, or when you negotiate an off-camber corner.
In those circumstances, lighter is always better.
I wish I could tell you the MPG of these machines, but that wasn’t an option and will have to wait until next winter.
One final thing to say regarding comparisons: While the 5000 (1100 non-turbo) is down a bit on performance compared to these new engines, I am still impressed by this engine. Really, I believe the only characteristic that this motor suffers from is its poor sound quality… which is a statement that needs additional discussion.
Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
I’ve concluded with certainty that engine sound plays a significant role in my riding experience.
Above I wrote that, prior to actually comparing the two; I thought the 6000 accelerated quicker than the 7000. When the opposite was true, I realized that the deception was the difference in sound between the two engines.
The 6000 sings like a typical 2-stroke while the 7000 is more muted and civilized than I expected, especially compared to the Yamaha Nytro (whose exhaust exits behind the seat).
Is There a Winner?
Yep… us! Because we have exceptional options.
If you want the 120-135 hp range, your choice now is whether to go 2-stroke or 4-stroke. With a clean 2-stroke and (what I believe is) the overall best 4-stroke now in the Arctic Cat arsenal, that choice has become more difficult.
The new 7000 is a sweetheart of an engine. It’s clean, lighter than the 1100 4-stroke and delivers the kind of acceleration that’s just plain fun. That kind of fun is one of the things I love about snowmobiles. I don’t care too much about top speed, but I love to accelerate, and this sled does so superbly. The ProCross chassis package hides its extra weight quite well. Its U.S. MSRP is $12,599.
The new C-TEC2 is clean. It builds EPA emissions credits rather than consuming them. Yes, there’s a bit of exhaust smoke, but only a very little. It’s light, pulls hard and helps make the ZR6000 extremely easy to affect. By affect, I mean decelerate; jump; lean to plant both skis; lift (for something as simple as ski dollies); sidehill (yes, I still do this with short track sleds); and play in the bumps. It’s U.S. MSRP with E-start is $11,599 (or $11,199 for pull-start only).
Truly, I would be thrilled with either choice. I’m picking the ZR6000.
3/5/2013 10:18:00 AM
Now that seems like a very fair and honest report, thank you for that, John. I have a question, and haven't seen any press photos to answer yet, so I will ask you. On the Viper, they have added a "boomerang" brace, (for lack of a better term) from the clutch end of jackshaft across the frame effectively locking the jackshaft down and isolating it from the engine, my question is, does Cat do this on the 7000? And, are they doing it for the 6000? Thank you for any clarification you can give.
Paul Hein says:
3/5/2013 12:18:00 PM
You're making me very jealous John ! I'm in a quandry after riding the 1100 na for 2 years I've really come to like the 4 stroke. Not sure I want to carry oil again on long trips. From what I've read about these 2 motors the 600 requires 91 octane gas and the 1049 triple can run on 87 octane. Can you confirm that ? That will be part of my decision process.
Thanks, keep the info coming !
Paul Hein says:
3/5/2013 1:27:00 PM
John, couple more things. Does the 600 reverse work by the engine reversing ? Also, I sure wish they would let us have more options on spring order sleds like they did when the Firecats came out. I'd love a 7000 El tigre like the 6000, or at least an all black one. Who at Arctic Cat actually thinks we like orange sleds ?? I'd probably have to go with the black and white 7000 but may regret it. (too anal ) lol
3/5/2013 2:31:00 PM
The engine has ENGINE REVERSE! Stated numerous times on here since the introduction. Limited build reallyi limits the options on colors as well. My favorite color is Orange. Love that compared to the drab green and black. Wish they had orange as a color of choice. Now I have to wait a year. I see more orange sleds here in Minnesta than any other color.
3/5/2013 4:14:00 PM
I never trust ride reports. There is always so many blanks left in. It is 2013 where everybody has a GPS in there pocket. The sled is made in the land of 10,000 lakes and rivers, the state is currently sporting the best sno pack and grooming we have ever seen in the history of the sport and nobody knows top speed, fuel economy, 1/4 mile times, not nothing? A 100 mile ride on good conditions like we have is about a 3 hour activity from start to finish for your average 45 year old rider that could easily be split up amongst lake,river,rough trail, smooth trail, tight woods, open field, abAndoned rail road grade, loose snow breaking trail, ditch banging,the whole 9 yards and the whole test takes about 3 hours. Pretty simple to test a new sled. I have bought a lot of new sleds over the years and after that first 3 hours and 100 miles I pretty much know what to expect for the life of my ownership of the machine minus break downs. This is a pretty simple sport.
John Sandberg says:
3/5/2013 4:15:00 PM
snot: Yes, that same brace is used on the Arctic Cat 7000 models (and only on these models).
Paul: Yes, the 6000 engine requires 91 octane, while the 7000 requires 87. If you opt for the 7000, you will love it. Guaranteed or Tom will refund your money with 10% added "for pain and suffering."
And as JimR says, yes the 6000 has engine reverse.
I hear y'all on the colors. FYI that the orange/black limited must be seen to be fully appreciated... it's stunning!
UPDATE on 6000 engine MPG: At the Snow Shoot event happening right now, this engine is consistently hitting 17-18 MPG. (I'm waiting for an answer about what the 7000 gets and will report it when I do.)
3/5/2013 4:15:00 PM
How does the ZR 6000 compare to the Sno Pro 500? I'm looking for a sled that is DURABLE. Like you top speed isn't important. Your past articles have sold me on the 500.
John Sandberg says:
3/5/2013 4:24:00 PM
Wow Flintstone, you can glean far more from a 100-mile ride than I can.
I have 1000 miles on my F800 this year and am surprised how different it continues to feel in "new" conditions. For instance, the wet slushy snow on which I rode the last 250 miles gives it a completely different feel when cornering compared to the powdery stuff at the beginning of the season (as well as the hard-packed snow from in early Feb.).
It snowed a foot while in the four days I rode the 2014 MY sleds in Island Park. There was no place there where we could (conveniently) get hardpack conditions longer than a quarter-mile. So telling you that the highest speed of 92 mph I saw on the 6000 really doesn't tell the whole story.
I can't tell you my own MPG numbers because we were filling out of pumps that didn't have a flow gauge.
And contrary to what you might think, timing lights aren't part of the process.
I would be far more skeptical of these two scenarios:
1. Someone who claims they know everything about a machine after 100 miles;
2. Someone who claims they know everything about a machine after just a few days on it.
Big Poppy #34 says:
3/5/2013 4:51:00 PM
I will take an El Tigre 6000 please. Oh mean a 2014 that is...Nice job CAT!
Todd Ulschmid says:
3/5/2013 5:39:00 PM
Everyone should be happy, now. A clean 600 2 stroker! I tell ya, after spending a really good season on the F1100, I'm glad to see another normally aspirated 4 stroker in the line up. After some tweaking, I've got my F1100 performing better than stock. I really have fun riding this sled. I've never ridden a Nytro or Vector to experience how the Yamaha motor accelerates/performs but, I've read the Amsnow shootout and this motor spanks all the sleds in the current 600cc class. John, your write up confirms that, too... Not that I care all that much about drag racing... Yawn. The new ZR 7000 really has my attention! Well, the 6000 does, too!! Another great insider article! Thanks John!
Kevin Hooper says:
3/5/2013 5:56:00 PM
As much as the performance of my 1100NA is a bit disappointing, I'd find it a real hard thought to go back to a 2 stroke anymore. The 4S engine is truly gas and go. I'll get to test drive both here in Marquette soon but the 7000 has my interest right now.
3/5/2013 6:35:00 PM
Great report...glad Cat let's you be so candid. IMO, both these sleds would look better with a white leopard print seat cover. But that's the only detail Cat seems to have missed.
3/5/2013 7:20:00 PM
Hi John. It's Greg from down the street. I was really disappointed that Cat is not offering the 6000 in a Snopro version. Any word on the possibilities of a late release or simply adding it to the lineup? Good write-up... Saw you on the trails this afternoon with the F8 and SP500... Cheers
3/5/2013 7:38:00 PM
John, the fact that the 6000 "sounds to you" like its out accelerating the 7000 just goes to already prove that in true Cat fashion their calibration is out of whack.
A truly calibrated engine of 2-stroke variety will not sound like its enjoying just another day of "Singing in the wind" (AKA: screaming its guts out)
Work to be done no doubt.
3/5/2013 7:42:00 PM
And like someone else said, orange has no lore.
The black with green is absolutely their most awesome combo of all. Hell, I want one over my 2010 SP just based on those colors!!
John Sandberg says:
3/5/2013 8:10:00 PM
Greg: the 6000 is a Sno Pro (even though it isn't named as such). It has the FOX FLOAT 3 ski shocks, both suspensions are more aggressively calibrated.
Rusty: I think you're reading way too far into what I mean when I say "the engine sings." Way too far. Lugging the 6000 300-500 RPM lower would not have made it out-accelerate the 7000.
Sound plays a significant role in our perception of power. It's why riding the Turbo is kinda weird... because it's so quiet. The sound of the engine doesn't correspond with the velocity of the machine. For the most extreme example of this phenomenon, ride an electric motorcycle.
The humorous corollary of course are the thousands of snowmobilers who have purchased certain aftermarket exhaust systems and brag about how much faster the sled is because of it, when in fact it goes slower (but it's certainly louder).
John Sandberg says:
3/5/2013 8:17:00 PM
One more thing: It should go without saying (but I'll say it now anyways), my pick of the 6000 is my choice, based on how I ride. Another rider will pick the 7000.
Neither of us is right or wrong. There is no universal truth about which sled is better.
I say beware of people who try to be so damn definitive. Such conviction usually masks a pile of uncertainty (or a whole bunch of political gamesmanship).
3/5/2013 8:30:00 PM
I would love to try the 6000 side by side with my SP500. I like my SP500 alot, but having that extra hp (not a ton extra like the 800) like my firecat 600 has would be nice. I'm going to keep my eyes on this one for sure. And if the suspension is truly set up to a snopro calibration, all the more better... Thanks John... Stop by for a beer sometime...
3/5/2013 9:29:00 PM
Who said 300-500 RPM's lower? Usually it's approximately 100-250 lower at most. (It's amazing what a slightly increased load can do to g-force increases for acceleration,, just sayin' ).
Really only ever found one Cat production sled even close to correct directly out of box, and it was indeed the consumer 1997 ZR440. Did awesome twisting 8300-8450 right up to around middle 80's, then went into slight 100-150 rpm over rev.
Never before (or after), has there ever been one nearly as close right out of the box.
3/5/2013 9:30:00 PM
Fuel MPG and top speed numbers when done at altitude are the opposite when you come down to nearer sea level unless you have a turbo. MPG will decrease and top speed will increase.
Jamie Christofferson says:
3/5/2013 9:59:00 PM
Just wondering why Cat did not put the 6000 in the XF chassis? I would think they would sell a ton of those,maybe next year.
3/6/2013 7:01:00 AM
Don't know how I missed the pipe/exhaust portion last night,, Lol.
I fully agree John,, i have lost count of all the times in past I've told folks they were wasting their money by doing such.
Side by side testing vs sleds they were previously neck and neck even failed to convince many because they loved the sound so much it made them blind to the fact they'd lost performance (and began reliability deterioration issues).
To each their own I guess. (Dunno)
3/6/2013 3:10:00 PM
I was curious as to your opinion on the ride conformt and ergonmics of the new taller/contoured seat compared to the 2013 sled seats. Do you like it better? Were you able to hustle the sled easier on the trails and rough trails?
I think I would like the taler seat better. Hopefully I can upgrade my 2013 with the new seat and/or larger fuel tank.
3/7/2013 12:33:00 AM
John your right on the money with the new 7000 it pulls so hard on the bottom and midrange that it makes the top end seem alittle light. This will be the best 4-stroke AC sled on the trails and in the twisties. The only way the turbo is better is when your going for top speed. The 6000 is very quick it can might even top end the 7000 on a long strech it just. I still just love the 600 class sleds very quick and light. Both are get sleds.
3/7/2013 7:22:00 AM
Wow! Some of you please give John a break! John has given us what we have been waiting for,a preliminary report on his observations and comparisons of the new 6000 and 7000 Arctic Cat snowmobiles. I like what he wrote and think he did a great job. Just because he did not write what some want to hear does not call for the slight bash posts that are popping up. As for top speed,fuel economy,oil consumption etc.etc. anyone that has ever purchased a new sled knows that most of that is set-up,riding conditions and how you are riding. John I'll take an el tigre' thank you. Why? I like a lighter feeling sled that has decent power so that I can have fun on the trails,no battery to worry about (unless you opt for es) but the main reason is that even know the 600 does not have the power of an 800 or the 1049cc Yamaha the 600 class has a fun factor that is hard to beat in tight winding trails or ditches with nice jumps to hit etc etc. Keep up the good work because most of us appreciate it more than words could ever say.:):):)
Ryan Teach says:
3/7/2013 8:48:00 AM
Mr. Sandberg... You a on your game these days!
Without going on too much of a rant, as honest as I can put it, my '12 RR rode like a "buck'n" stubborn mule for the first 100 miles! "You idiot, you're over year head". "What did you just buy!?". "Bad idea".... said them all as I search for reason why my investment had turned out so wrong. Gone were the images of wide open road approaches, double nacker can free style jumps, blistering the tail stands with my "Race Replica". Hardcoresledder was right, I imagined,... order me a set of Sno Cross Springs, turn my sping dials up to 3+, bash Arctic Cat! Bash them fools! Stupid Vikings...
Wrong! To find out I had waaay to much air in the fronts, center and rear on -3... So what, I now had a bench mark.
1500miles and more later, I love this snowobile. I simply cannot put into words how happy I am that I bought what I did. Since my '04 F6 SP, I hav never had such a desire to tune and improve on the base that Cat gave me.
Its been a good winter!
3/7/2013 7:43:00 PM
Thanks for the write up John, Over the last week I have said this several times, The more I see and read about this El Tigre 6000,the more I'm satisfied I didn't wait (since they are a limit build) before placing a deposit/order. As with any order its a long summer but, this one is going to be longer yet. I'm already wishing it was here....lol
Thanks again, and anymore information would be great.
3/8/2013 12:38:00 AM
Thanks for the review John. With any luck I will be on each of these sleds tomorrow at Old Forge Snow-Show.... was all set for the 600 BUT the Nytro motor now has me SERIOUSLY considering a 4 stroker. Hopefully they will let us really ride these demo sleds and not keep us under 20 mph on a 1/2 mile "track" so I can really try to see how each is different.
John Sandberg says:
3/8/2013 8:21:00 AM
ws6ta99: The new seat shape is a significant improvement, because of the added foam (especially towards the front, where I would too frequently bottom out on the '12-13 seat) and the more contoured shape. I could see Cat making the new seat an accessory option for '12-13 machines.
Jamie Christofferson says:
3/8/2013 1:12:00 PM
Would love to know the weight of the XF7000 Cross Country. A few years agon I had the Nytro XTX and didn't care for the weight and hated the chassis,but loved the motor.
3/8/2013 7:28:00 PM
Direct from a Yamaha dealership technician yesterday: "I love the 3-cylinder Nytro engine, but want the lower weight and better handling of the 2-stroke. I had planned on getting a Viper with Cat chassis, but am now leaning towards just getting a leftover Nytro instead. It will save me money AND since they're Isnt really any performance difference (advantage wise), I'll save my money for a while to see how this works out."
3/8/2013 8:46:00 PM
what I really want to know, is why has cat chosen to NOT have a radiator up front on the 7000? I feel like yamaha has it on there for a reason. what are other differences? is yamaha being overly cautious, or is cat trying to be lighter? thanks for the great write-up!
3/8/2013 8:59:00 PM
looked a little more, and apparently they have the radiator. I stand corrected, and now I notice the vent in your pics. I was going by the cat website pics. that was apparently a mistake!
3/8/2013 10:15:00 PM
Rode them today..... report posted in forums. John, I saw a lot of similar things you mention in your report.
Cat has 2 winners here for sure !!!
Eric...both the Viper and ZR7000 will have radiators up front. Very few differences between the 2 sleds. Body panels, windshields, and clutches (Yami gets theirs and Cats get theirs)
3/10/2013 3:58:00 PM
Rode the snopro 7000 with the yami motor today. I am as unbiased a person as you will ever find. I rode and raced arctic cats for more than 30 years, but in 2005 switched to ski doo. The switch was based on primarily on fuel mileage, but after working on handling I found that they would turn as good as the cats and you never got those spine jarring jolts in the bumps. I just want to ride a sled that doesn't beat you to death and you can get off after 300 miles and not be sore. So that said the cat power wise was a really disappointing compared to the Nytro. Hopefully the just had them turned down for the demo rides. The handling was decent, with a slight push center off on the throttle. But there wasn't any ski lift coming off the corner, which is great. I'm sure with a few adjustments the push could be fixed. The trail was perfectly smooth so I didn't get to ride it in the bumps.
All and all I would say it has potential to be a great sled.
Hope it works out and I can get back on a Cat.
3/10/2013 7:33:00 PM
Just a note to the girly-men wining about how heavy the 4stroke sleds are. Either you have never driven a Procross or XF or you better start going to the gym! Try riding a nytro or apex,(I've owned both) now those were tanks and a handfull to ride aggressively. I agree a 4 stroke sled isn't for everybody but "4 strokes don't belong in snowmobiles" is just plain dumb!
Paul Hein says:
3/12/2013 3:59:00 PM
I think I may have finally learned my lesson. 'NO MORE 1st year sleds". I went through the angst with my 03' F7. Didn't really bother me. I waited until the 08's for the twin spar . There were improvements from the 07's. But better yet in 09'. Had to have a 2012. My god the sleds are beautiful ! Rode 1500 miles last year without reverse option. No big deal, I've only had one other sled with reverse. Dented tunnel, my great dealer and Arctic Cat took care of me there. No other serious problems but it is hard on hyfax.
Spent the last 3 days on a saddle bag trip with my wife. Absolutely the best snow conditions in years ! Spent better part of yesterday taking my reverse servo on and off. Sled stuck in reverse ! Not being a Cat Master I was having trouble getting the gears to mesh or something. Finally got it and finished the 150 miles home. The more I ride it the better I like it. I don't want to go back to trying to carry 2 stroke oil on a 4 day trip. When I hear terms like "shoe horn" and "higher center of gravity" in regards to the 7000 I probably don't need 10 more h.p. 1100 na is fast enough. Pulls like crazy when you want. I've got over 3600 miles on original belt. I do have to figure out something on the hyfax. Brand new ones tempered per the manual, excellent snow and they are about shot after 525 miles. I'm going to stick some money in it and drive it. Cat engineers say the motor could go 100,000 miles. We' ll see.
Tony G says:
3/14/2013 9:00:00 PM
I had the opportunity to ride about 20 miles on the new 6000 and loved it . I dont agree with some that my opinion does not matter because i only had 20 miles on it. I have owned cats since I was 12 years old and in 20 years I have owned everything from an 89 Jag 340 to a 660 Turbo ST. I have had quirks about almost everyone of them. My biggest issue with the new chassis is that i felt uncomfortable on it in the turns after loving the old ZR. But as I get older I find the newer rider position is about surviving the day without feeling a 3 foot mogul at 2am the next morning. The new 6000 has plenty of power and responds great to rider "english" so I was easily able to keep up with a friend on his 800 without breaking a sweat. In comparison with a 2013 Renegade i found this sled easier to handle and more comfortable. For someone my height 5'5'' the newer seats tend to be uncomfortable where the new cat seat was nice. I liked it so much i drove my old sled to the dealer, traded it in and ordered one. I am looking forward to seeing it when it arrives. I think this sled is going to turn alot of heads.
J.J. Teal says:
3/14/2013 9:17:00 PM
hey, i was just curious if anyone knows the weight on the xf 7000. I rode a nytro a few times a couple of years ago, and i said i loved the motor, but it didnt handle like a Cat. Thanks for the report John!
3/15/2013 5:30:00 PM
What is the supposed deal with the belt issue on the Turbo's? Cat telling you anything? I ride with them all and so far has not been an issue but maybe we are not the group of people that over ride a sled or better yet once a belt goes more than once gets a real dealer to look it over and find the issue than to keep putting big bucks into belts. Not saying there is not but to me, heat is the issue here and you need a clutch to slip to build heat and that tells me that most of the repeat complainers are not taking care of the first as in get your dealer to do something about it. Those repeat complainers could fill a school gym but there are not that many of them unless they are cloned.
3/20/2013 3:31:00 PM
Fellas, Fellas, Fellas. RL nailed it for me. John is right on the money. I've been away from the sport for a few years now but the news about the el Tigre has this old man having impure thoughts. A 2015 Tiger is what I'm thinkin about. Most of the bugs will be ironed out, the clutching will be right, and the graphics will likely be better. I like the looks of this sled but would like some orange and purple highlites just to brighten things up a bit. Please forgive my ignorance on this issue but what's up with yammie motors in my favorite sled. I remember when the switch was made from Kawasaki engines to Suzuki power but someone earlier mentioned that the ZR 7000 is being built on a yammie production line. Did I read that right? Say it isn't so.
Keep up the good work, John !
4/12/2013 3:10:00 PM
I have never drove the 6000 but i want to race it in the iron dog next year so how do you ppl think it would do for 2000 miles of hard riding.