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Feeling the Love: 2015 ZR 4000 Review

2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000 prototypes

I’m feeling a lot of love for the new 2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000 models, and I know I’m not the only one.

If I were to put the two machines in human terms, I’d say each is like a first-love: the kind of gal who you might later say goodbye to because you’re smitten with something a little more exotic. And just like in life, you might find yourself wondering why you ever left your first love.

Either way, the ZR 4000 is unlikely to cause any regrets.

Here’s why I love it:


2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000 LXR

One – It has (almost) all of the performance I need. At 85 hp and with a top-speed of 80-85 mph (the variance was influenced by wind direction and snow conditions) in the ditch when I rode one in TRF a month ago, it satisfies at least 80 percent of my riding needs. I’ve owned a 2010 Sno Pro 500 (which runs dead-even with the ZR 4000) since it was new, so I’m very familiar with the acceleration and speed.

The 20 percent it comes up short is confined to times I’m riding backcountry along the border by my family’s cabin, and on occasion when I’m riding open/fast trails. I can deal with not being the fast guy on long stretches of trail, but for sure there are times when busting through deep snow that 85-hp just isn’t enough.

Conversely, for sure there are times when you can ride harder (and longer) on this sled than on something with more power, because it’s light and doesn’t fatigue you as much or as quickly.


Two – They’re light. I don’t know how light (Arctic Cat doesn’t provide weights and nobody else has weighed one), but I can tell you it feels really light. Lighter than my ZR 6000.

I love lightweight sleds because they’re fun to ride; they reduce rider fatigue; they decelerate quicker; they infuse confidence in my son or my wife when they ride; and they’re easier to move around the shop.


Three – They’re better than the two sleds they’ve replaced: the F5 in the Twin Spar chassis and the Sno Pro 500.

The ProCross chassis is an overall much more enjoyable platform than the Twin Spar, especially in terms of fun factor.

Compared to the F5, the ZR 4000 LXR has better shocks, better ergo’s (especially the seat) and better handling. Riders who like to knock off 250-mile days may prefer the cush and easy-as-pie steering of the Twin Spar, but not many of those riders are opting for the 4000-Series 500 EFI engine.

Part two of the story will be something of a comparison between the Sno Pro and the ZR 4000 RR, coming next week.


Four – Great value. There are a lot of people asking for a low-cost ProCross sled. At $8,300 U.S./$9,400 Canada MSRP, the ZR 4000 LXR is as close as we get to a cheap date. By comparison, that’s $2,700 less (U.S.) than a ZR 6000 LXR.

Like the Sno Pro 500 and most sleds in this price/performance range, I expect the various ZR 4000 models to retain their values as the years click by.


Five – Your mother would approve. From a mother’s perspective, nobody (or sled) is perfect for little Johnny, but this is one that she’ll brag about at bridge club.

There’s a lot to boast about: a stout 500 EFI twin that runs best on 87 octane; ProCross chassis; SLIDE-ACTION rear suspension; ARS front suspension; and an exceptional ride quality for a wide range of riders.

If it’s the LXR we’re talking about, it also comes with push-button mechanical reverse, Arctic Cat IFP rebuildable gas shocks at both ends; 1.0-in. Ripsaw II track and a great windshield.

The RR comes with FOX FLOAT X EVOL skis shocks with clicker dampening adjustments; FOX ZERO PRO clicker-adjustable reservoir shocks in the skidframe; the race-version of the SLIDE-ACTION skid; lightweight drilled brake disc; and a 1.25-in. Cobra track. This sled is going to win a lot of cross-country races next season, and it will ruin the day of many wanna-be ditch bangers and bump riders who can’t keep up with it on their more powerful sleds.

Are these sleds perfect? No sled is. In a perfect world, both would have push-button engine reverse; and the LXR would have electric start.

And they would happily clean the house and cook dinner.

Next week I’ll have more to say about the RR model and how it compares to the Sno Pro 500.

Thanks for reading.


Arctic Cat engineer Bart Magner preps the ZR 4000

Arctic Cat engineer Bart Magner preps one of the ZR 4000 RRs for a ride in January. The big window was added because it was a cool -15 degrees.


Riding prototype Arctic Cat ZR 4000s in TRF.

The day of riding in TRF occured during the USXC I-500 in January. I tagged along with Bart and engineers Larry Coltom and Terry Anderson. We rode more than 100 miles, running river, ditch and trails.


4000 Series Suzuki 500 EFI twin

The 4000-Series Suzuki 500 EFI twin is a sweatheart engine, pumping out 85 hp on 87 octane and satisfying a wide range of riders.

I know some people scoff at 85 hp, but I also know that ZR 4000 will keep up with bigger sleds in most conditions (and run circles around some on tight trails).


2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000 LXR

Arctic Cat ZR 4000 LXR Specs.


2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000 RR specs

2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000RR specs.


Arctic Cat ZR 4000 LXR and RR Comparison

Above are the main differences between the 2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000 models.



  1. John, Great news! Can’t wait for some seat time on one. One thing I noticed with the Pro Chassis over the last couple years (dealer set up out of the box) is how much flatter and faster it corners as the engine gets smaller. I’m sure it’s releated to the operators power managment, 🙂 but it’s amazing how much more enjoyable things are when your sled is going about the same speed as your reaction time and your mind does’t have to work overtime to keep up with the sled. I love pushing faster sleds to their limits but am always caught thinkin about all the things that could have happend at the sleds limits. Deer, rogue drifts mechanical failure. you name it. I’ve always loved the 500 engine.

  2. John…. you’re a tease !!! I’m waiting for the 4-RR vs the 500SP report …. But glad to read the report on the LXR above. I’ve been waiting for this move into the ProCross chassis and almost thought it wasn’t going to happen. Glad it has and have already sold my 500SP to pre-season a 4000…. just need to determine RR or LXR. RR would be the obvious choice, but with no reverse….and 3 extra sets of RR shocks, LXR is the leader right now. Pending your review of the RR of course !!!

  3. I knew it, that’s what was behind that curtain in trf when you were their late last year, wasn’t it John!!!! My hats off to cat for this awesome sled!! Lower costs keep average people buying new sleds!! This is a perfect addition to the pride!!! One question John, why no electric start on lxr?? CAT TILL I DIE!!!

  4. They should come out with a retro wrap in the form of a 1997 ZR 440! Man I loved that sled!
    Nice sleds! This will give my oldest son motivation to work harder this summer and save up!

  5. Can’t wait to read the comparo between the two sleds! The new ZR 4000RR has my interest for sure. I agree with Shannon, I love the graphics on my 97 ZR 440, great sled for its time and I just can’t seem to give it up!

  6. John I figured that was you and friends parked off to the side of the Goodridge loop. Good day to test the secret stuff, everybody is paying attention to the race 😉

  7. I wish they spend a few extra bucks and put the F5 motor in it. It would eliminate the power problem, and still be under 9k. If any of you have owned a 03 F5 you know exactly what I’m speaking of. I used to ride one, and it would hang with my 05 F6 and with a buddies 05 Sabercat 7. It was 100 percent stock.

  8. John-I agree on the Firecat 500 engine but was it only available in a carbed version? I had an 05′ F5 firecat and it was a very snappy sled @ 105hp I believe.

  9. I’ve bled green since I was a kid, first sled ’74 Cheetah (still love the leopard print seat), second ’97 zr 440, third ’00 Blair Morgan 600, since then then have been a rental mechanic. I have seen the same problems over and over, if Cat could have an ear to us little guys as to what is wrong, as we have several of the same models, like this year the new starter on the f5 is twisting flex drives at a alarming rate, pre 14 570 starters are terrible also. At least 70% of our maintenance problems were electric start. I think they have a decent starter for the 570’s, today was the first day I actually got time to look at it, and kudos for that, really looks beafy. But to put it in the f5s, I am sure it was a supply agreement, but never had to replace a starter in the f5, and for this year not to offer electric start in the new chassis, kills the rentals. They want (demand electric start). Someway, somehow, I as a mechanic that maintains a lot of sleds would like a voice in what works and what doesn’t. I can’t say I have a solution, but that is not my job. For 2015 Arcticat eliminated the starter problem instead of fixing it.

  10. Even a better reason to go with the f5 motor. Carb has to be cheaper than efi. Run the quad plug head to help keep the epa happy. A good running 105 HP sled will run with a 130 HP class 600. I’m sure the 4000 will be a big hit to the big bore guys. I’ve driven a 700 speedwerx 500 snow pro. A true please to run. All the power and lightness we all want. I hope cat has an answer for the axis. I’m a service manager at a polaris dealer. It looks promising…

  11. John, I am not looking for a big bore kit. I am looking for a reliable machine to rent. And i would go with efi over carb any day, just because of simplicity. Not looking at big bore kits, they wreck enough as it is, just want a simple, reliable, e-start, zr4000, AKA f5

  12. The 105-hp Suzuki was a great engine, but it’s DOA because of EPA. If 85 hp isn’t enough, then the other options are the 5000 engine at 120 hp or the 6000 at 125.

    The reason for no e-start on the 4000 is that that engine was designed for e-start mounting location on the back side of the case, not the front where it needs to be for the ProCross chassis. It’s a bummer, but there is no e-start option for it.

    Good feedback, everyone, thanks!

  13. John,
    What is the reasoning for no reverse on the RR?? Weight?? Can it easily be added?? Now is when one wishes they would have kits like the ZR or Firecat did!!

  14. John,

    with the push toward better fuel economy and more range, what is the average mpg the 4000 lxr? My wife used to have a sabercat 500 efi and it sipped fuel, compared to the sno pro 500 or f5 post 2007. I really like the thought of this to replace the f6.


  15. John, what is the model number of those handlebar muffs that you have on those sleds? And how well did they work?



  16. Went to Old Forge show yesterday and the 15s look better in person. No 4000 to demo ride, but the LXR was on the floor to look at, sit on, & “play with”. Where’s the report on the 4-RR vs 5SP ???

  17. As far as the epa excuse goes.. I’m not buying it.
    The lineup has a large number of extremely clean 4 strokes, and the 600 is very clean as well.
    IMHO the 500 powervalve motor would wax the 5000 series sleds in performance, ride, and handling.
    No electric start on an LXR is almost as bad as not implementing engine reverse

  18. Don: As I mentioned above, reverse can’t be added to the the 4000 models because that engine was built to have reverse mounted on its backside, which isn’t possible with the Torque Control Link on the ProCross chassis.

    BleedGreen: I don’t know what the fuel economy is on this sled. Sorry.

    Steve: I’m not sure if they’re the EXACT muffs, but the Arctic Cat Soft Muffs (P/N 6639-280) are either very similar or same.
    They work excellent, by the way. I’ve used a similar type for more than 20 years, they’re always either mounted, mounted but pushed over the middle of the handlebar because they’re not needed, or stowed in my tunnel pack. I like warm hands.

    krom: The EPA isn’t an excuse, although that’s just shorthand for a more detailed explanation. Arctic isn’t interested in bringing back a dirty carbureted engine. And it’s doubtful Suzuki would even sell that engine anymore… it’s been nine years since it last saw production!

    Every company in the world has only a fixed amount of resources, both human and monetary. Even if the 105-hp 500 was available from Suzuki (which I doubt it is), for Arctic Cat to certify it and put it in a production machine would consume resource. I’d much rather they used that resource to move forward with new engines, rather than trying resurrect an old one.

    Do we as consumers really need a 105 hp engine to slot in between the 4000 and 6000 engines? It’s not a rhetorical question… I really don’t claim to know the answer.

    I do know that I spent this past Sunday riding with an El Tigre 6000, a ZR 4000 RR, a Sno Pro 500 with a 50% throttle block and another SP500 with the stock block. At no point during that ride did I feel like there was a missing link in performance between the Tiger and the 4000/500.

    Ride report coming later this week. Thanks for your patience.

  19. John: I can only assume you mean Electric Start not being available due to the engine design right? Reverse should be standard on both models or at least an option for the as of now no reverse RR version. Just a freaking chain case.

  20. Thanks Jim, I was going to ask the same. I did read where the Electric start can not be fitted because of mounting but the LXR has Rewind the RR should be able to take it. At least one would think.

  21. Oops, yep, in my head Don was asking why no E-Start. Sorry.

    So… why no REVERSE on the RR? Because it adds weight. And cost.

    Plus this will be Cat’s 85-hp/Junior race sled next season. No way is extra weight and unnecessary mechanical stuff added to a production race sled.

    From what I understand, there will be a reverse kit for the RR.

  22. I am a little on the fence still as weather or not to snow check a 4000 rr my dealer is advising me to go to an off season 14 el tigre but I think I will have more fun ditch banging the rr. I am hoping the speedwerx store will have some more info for me as to clutch kit timing key reeds and can that I called about. John do you think these will be a good combination of parts to liven up the 4000 for a ditch banging trail shredder? lol anxiously awaiting your review of the rr right now

  23. Thanks for the reply John. But ya just made the decision that much harder knowing there will be a reverse kit available…….lol

  24. Well it made my decision for me. No electric start means that I will not be buying new sleds this year. We (my wife & I) don’t need 125 hp but we do need electric start under $10,000.

  25. MN Tom Cat, It does stink that ES isn’t an option for this motor, John has laid out the reasons why. You might want to look at the ZR5000. Same chassis, 120+hp, ES, reverse, tunnel bag all standard. Bullet proof mill. 8999.00 MSRP! On the other hand the 500 Zuke is so easy to manually start. Three pulls at -30F, once even a little warm first pull every time. My 71 year old 115 lb Mom doesn’t have a problem! If that doesn’t help for this year, have faith there are some interesting things coming…….Jeez I sound like a salesman! Good Luck!

  26. John,
    I’m under the impression that unless they are able to use the same pipe, muffer, and ecu software as an existing sled, the 4000 will have to be epa certified.

    Any word on how long the agreement with zuke is for?

    I’m not sure if we didn’t see any new engines this year because of development problems, or if its because zuke came and offered a low enough price on the existing engines that it was cheaper then building them in house

  27. Well I put my deposit on a 15 ZR4-LXR with Krom’s place of “work” …. reverse was the factor for me. It’s easier for me to get the suspension what/where I want vs messing with the wiring and mechanical “add-ons” that would be needed to put reverse on the RR…even in kit form. And actually having a windshield is nice too….

    And maybe someone can check their sled, but I honestly remember our son’s 07 F5LXR having the electric start going under the front of the engine…. Maybe I’m remembering wrong…. Is there at least a kit being engineered for later add-on like the 2012 F8LXRs ???

    And John… come on with the 4-RR vs 500SP comparison !!! I’m dying to read your thoughts and feedback !!!

  28. Thanks John on the feedback on the muffs. I have one set of the new semi rigid ones and they work okay but the old style ones like what you have been using I think work much better. I will order a set of the soft ones this summer for the second sled for the wife.

  29. I am currently riding a ZL 600 and love its performance on the trails. The price of the 4000 LXR makes me want to take a look at this as my next sled. Will I be happy with its performance on the trails? I would be ok with a slight decrease in acceleration. Also, top speed is not important to me. A dealer did not recommend this sled for me saying it’s best to run it at full throttle all the time. He recommended a 6000 instead. Can I get another opinion from John or anyone else…


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