After a too-long wait and a couple premature introductions, the Wildcat XX is finally ready for prime time. Is it worth the wait?
Read on and decide for yourself.
• RG PRO rear suspension features a wishbone-style, trailing arm design delivers race-proven performance throughout its 18 inches of travel, with an 80 percent reduction in track width compared to other designs. .
• Double A-arm front suspension features unequal length A-arms that allow the front tires to preserve optimum zero-to-negative camber through the full 18-inch range of travel and reduced track width change by up to 40 percent.
• FOX 2.5 Podium QS3 gas shocks provide quick and easy 3-position compression adjustability, plus precise rebound damping for fade-free, race-proven performance.
• Three-cylinder 998cc DOHC 4-stroke engine delivers 125-hp performance, ultra-quick response and maximum durability.
• TEAM Rapid Response drive and Rapid Reaction driven clutches provide maximum power transfer and instant response to varying loads with minimal friction and wear.
• Race-inspired ROPS cage features extra V-shaped intrusion bars for the ultimate in rigidity and strength.
• TEAM front and rear transaxles are specifically designed and built by TEAM to support the high horsepower and extreme performance of the Wildcat XX. The rear transaxle features and all-gear design, eliminating chain-drive reverse used in other models to allow easy shifts between gears when parked or stopped on inclines.
• Full-panel half-doors are fully finished inside and out, with an integrated armrest and grab handle. Automotive-style dual mechanism operation features a top-mounted push button entry plus a inside latch lever.
• Cast-aluminum 15-in. KMC wheels are custom built just for the Wildcat XX, delivering lightweight, ultimate strength and a signature style.
• 30-inch CST Behemoth tires are the largest in the UTV Performance category
• The driver seat features 6 inches of fore/aft adjustability, plus tool-less quick-release removal. The passenger seat can be removed via two bolts.
• The curved dashboard focuses 60 percent of the viewing surface toward the driver.
• Plug-and-Play accessory installation features pre-wired with four key switch-basted powered accessory connections and four independently fused and switched circuits for fast and easy installation.
• Class-Leading 14-inch ground clearance.
• Double-sheer mounted steering and suspension components deliver optimal durability. Large forged-aluminum front steering knuckles with large automotive bearings bring desert racing performance and durability.
• Removable rear cargo box handles a 300-lb. payload and can accept a spare tire up to 32-in. with a built-in fastening mount. The box can be removed for access to the engine in just seconds via four tool-less 3-inch screw mounts.
• Two packages and more than 30 purpose-built accessories from Textron Off Road
Ride Over Everything
The new 2018 Wildcat XX from Textron Off Road (TOR) unleashes professional-level, big-bump performance for side-by-side enthusiasts who want to ride over everything. It’s equipped with the ultimate off-road features and technology, including the RG PRO swingarm rear suspension, double A-arm front suspension, FOX 2.5 Podium QS3 gas shocks, 125-hp three-cylinder DOHC 4-stroke engine, custom 15-inch KMC wheels and 30-inch CST Behemoth tires.
Born in the rugged race environment of Baja and refined in partnership with off-road racing legend Robby Gordon, the RG Pro rear suspension features massive wishbone-style trailing arms delivering 18 inches of travel with true wheel tracking and no unwanted scrub that hurts handling performance. It looks just like trophy truck rear suspensions because it IS just like them.
The back is matched by a double A-arm front suspension featuring unequal length arms that preserve the optimum wheel camber through its full 18 inches of travel.
Dampened by FOX 2.5 Podium QS3 shocks featuring remote reservoirs and simplified 3-position compression adjustability, its a suspension package that delivers the ultimate big-bump control, 14 inches of ground clearance and a significant handling advantage in the most demanding conditions.
Power comes from a mighty 998cc three-cylinder DOHC 4-stroke EFI engine producing 125-hp, ultra-quick response and maximum durability. TOR claims it has the most horsepower for a naturally-aspirated (non-turbo) engine in the class. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who supplied the engine, and it’s interesting that TOR is getting more power out of it than the supplier.
A standard 65-amp alternator provides ample power for accessories. Feeding that power and torque to the ground are the TEAM Rapid Response clutches and new TEAM front and rear transaxles with electronic selectable 2WD/4WD, front differential lock and easy shifting between gears.
If the ROPS cage looks race inspired, it’s because it is, with added V-shaped intrusion bars brings the ultimate strength and rigidity to the occupant canopy. Wonderfully robust suspension mounts, steering knuckle and front-mounted steering system were built to withstand the pro-level performance the XX is aimed at.
The 15-inch cast-aluminum KMC wheels are custom units available only on the Wildcat X models, with massive 30-inch CST Behemoth tires delivering ultimate traction and performance. Electronic Power Steering (EPS) keeps the steering light and precise.
Additional comfort-and-control features include high back bucket seats with upper body supports and 3-point seat belts; full-panel half doors that are fully finished on the inside with integrated armrest and grab handle, plus automotive-style dual mechanism door operation with push button entry
A curved dashboard gives the driver 60 percent of the viewing space. TOR is claiming it’s the largest cab in the class, plus it also features an adjustable driver seat and an infinitely adjustable steering wheel with a new digital gauge that tilts in unison with the wheel. Smart!
Class-leading LED headlights and taillights shine extra-bright, while the dual-piston caliper hydraulic brakes. The composite 300-lb. payload rear box is large enough to carry a spare 32-inch tire where it won’t block the rear view. Plus it can be removed in seconds via four tool-less 3-inch screw mounts for easy access to the engine. Another smart idea!
A massive 4-gallon glove box provides additional storage space, with a standard 12v accessory plug in and an optional USB port. Adding additional electronic accessories is quick and simple thanks to its integrated plug-and-play system with pre-wired and key switch-based connections that are independently fused and require no additional wiring. TOR claims that adding a light bar takes half the time as other machines.
The Wildcat XX was also designed for easy serviceability. The engine, rear transaxle, CVT drivetrain, intake and exhaust are combined as a single assembly and can be removed via six easily accessed bolts after simply removing the rear skid plate. Likewise, the front transaxle is mounted in an easily accessible front clip that can be removed via four bolts. Plus tool-less cover latches offer quick and easy access to the drive belt.
The Wildcat XX comes with color-matched suspension arms and is available in Lime Green, Satin Charcoal Metallic or a limited edition Horizon Blue. It’s covered by a six-month warranty. The price is $20,499 and it will arrive at dealerships this spring.
Last month I had the great fortune to ride the Wildcat XX in desert off-road mecca of Southern California. Other journalists and I spent a day pounding through whoops, crawling over rocks and making dust in the exact conditions this machine was built for.
I know this machine has had a couple false starts (aka: premature introduction) that might have scuffed some of the luster had it not truly delivered an outstanding experience. This machine is so wonderfully capable that the best analogy I can think of is modern 1000cc sportbike motorcyles, which are machines that can easily do so much more than what 99.5 percent of the riders EVER ask of them.
XX is much the same.
I’m talking specifically about the suspension and handling. If you’re willing to blast through 3-foot sand whoops at 50-plus MPH, the XX shrugs it off as if it were a drive through the park. There are no jolts to the spine. There is no careening off course. There is nothing except smooth confidence and predictability from the XX and astonishment from the driver (me).
I remember the first time I rode the original Wildcat back in 2012. Having come off of riding Prowlers and one ride on an original RZR, I was shocked by how capable the Wildcat was in the rough. I couldn’t imagine wanting to go faster in gnarly terrain. My only wish was for more power, because the 1000 V-twin was seriously overmatched by the suspension.
Six years later, the XX illustrates a progression in suspension performance and a GIANT LEAP in engine power. 125 horsepower transforms the driving experience and complements the suspension performance. Now we can roost to our heart’s delight, throttle steer and hit speeds that will scare the crap out of us. Balance at last!
Steering is light (some media thought it was too light, but I preferred it); occupant position is great; sightlines for a short guy like me were decent, but I would prefer a custom seat that was a few inches taller; and quality appears top-notch.
There is no question this is a machine designed for gnarly use and with ease-of-service in mind. From the double-sheer suspension mounts to the massive steering knuckles to the outrageously massive trailing arms and ROPS cage, it’s quite obvious that this machine was built to go racing. The specifications reveal that it’s a bit heavier than the competition, but such is the consequence of 30-inch tires, a race-ready ROPS system, massive fenders that actually work and all the beefy stuff.
For sure there will be some who are disappointed that the XX is not available with boost, especially those who ride the dunes. TOR isn’t saying if turbo-charging is a future option. But they are saying that the bulk of the performance UTV market buys non-turbo models, which is interesting. Based on the comparisons that occurred between the XX and the two principle leaders of the perf UTV category during the press launch, would-be XX owners can smile knowing they will not be outperformed in suspension or handling.
Will XX be the upgrade that Wildcat owners are looking for? Absolutely.
Will this be the machine that puts TOR straight into the mix against the Maverick and RZR? For sure.
Is it the flagship model that TOR needs to compete against the other brands? Yes.
Will it satisfy the 1-percenters who talk the loudest? Probably not without a turbo.
For the majority of riders though, the Wildcat XX is exactly what they’d hoped for. It was a long time coming. It was worth the wait.
Thanks for reading.
(Ride photos below, specifications at the bottom of the page.)