2008 Arctic Cat Prowler XT 700

Since the first time we saw UTVs being used in the recreational market, the industry has exploded with an abundance of aftermarket products, not to mention the advancement of existing OEM models such as the exciting new Arctic Cat Prowler XTX. Arctic Cat has been manufacturing the Prowler since 2006, with the introduction of their Prowler XT 650 H1. In 2007, they had two models of the Prowler, both of which were 650 carbureted engines. And, in 2008, with the increased UTV sales by all manufacturers, Arctic Cat stepped up with a brand new EFI equipped 700 XTX Prowler. In addition to this new model, they still have 3 other 650 equipped Prowlers to accommodate everyone’s needs, whether it’s a base model, full-featured unit, or a camo version for the hunters out there.

Needless to say, we had a chance to spend a few days in the driver’s seat of the brand new XTX 700 EFI model, and we’re going to share with you our initial thoughts. To start, my initial thought is that in comparison to the original Prowler I drove, this new XTX is leaps and bounds ahead of that in every way. Here are some welcomed features I noticed right off the bat:

  1. Truck Style Parking Brake – Short throw, positive engagement on even the steepest of inclines
  2. Digital Dash – mph, clock, odometer, fuel & rpm
  3. High & Low Beam Lights – lighted toggle switch
  4. 12V Power Sockets – 2 right in the center of the dash, one for each passenger
  5. Cup Holders – 2 in easy reach of driver and passenger
  6. Tilt Steering Wheel – Great for varying driver sizes and easy entry/exit
  7. Spacious Interior – Plenty of room for even the largest of folks
  8. Rearview Mirror – Every manufacturer should have this as standard equipment
  9. Electronic Fuel Injection – In my opinion, the only way to go
  10. New Intake & Exhaust Design – Reduced noise levels that are noticeable
  11. Capped in the undercarriage sides – better looking finished off appearance

In addition to the features above, there were a few things we’d like to see at least as options if not as standard features:

  1. Larger Glove Box – a stronger latch would be a plus, as well, but it’s better than nothing, that’s for sure.
  2. Rear Tailgate – Instead of folding down past the bed, mimic a truck tailgate that’s strong enough to support some weight.
  3. Seatbelts – 3-point seatbelts would definitely provide some additional security.
  4. Leg Minders – Adding some netting to hold legs and arms in would be nice.

Now, you’re probably thinking, how’d it drive, right? Before we jumped into how it drove, we wanted to let you know that Arctic Cat did a great job adding the features that consumers really desired. And, not only did the above features make this new model a lot better on the surface, but the drivability of the new XTX is considerably better than previous models in nearly every way.

And, if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering how all these new cosmetic features added up to a better handling ride, right? Well, surprisingly, the overall package makes for quite the nice machine. Our testing consisted of desert riding that included high-speed washes, slow-speed rock crawling, high-speed whoops, and low-speed technical trail riding. After checking the tire pressure (10 psi), we were off to test the XTXs and put them through their paces. One of the first things I realized as soon as I pulled away from the parking area is that the steering was much lighter than previous models. This was a very welcome feature, because the previous models seemed overly stiff at speeds less than 20 mph. I don’t know if it’s the size of the steering wheel being slightly larger, the steering rack being adjusted, or both, but it made a huge difference.

After pulling out onto the trail, I immediately noticed a nice quiet motor and exhaust with no more drone inside the cab at higher speeds. You can easily talk to your passenger at most any speed without having to yell. Secondly, it was apparent that the new 700 EFI engine provided quicker throttle response and better low end torque, and according to the Arctic Cat engineers, results with a few more psi in the tires at higher speeds.

After talking to the Bi-Polar Racing team at the press intro, one of the things that amazed me is Arctic Cat’s success with their CVT clutching system. After driving in excess of 830 miles (further than anyone else in a UTV) in the Baja 1000 this last year, Bi-Polar sent the entire clutching system back to Arctic to review its integrity. And, to Bi-Polar’s surprise, Arctic Cat said the clutch looked brand new and could easily run another 1000 miles with no trouble. I couldn’t believe it, quite honestly, because I don’t know another UTV out there that has such a durable clutch setup. In fact, in the same Baja 1000 race, there were other manufacturers’ vehicles that had gone through upwards of 5 belts in less mileage than the Bi-Polar Arctic Cat had gone with no belt replacement. So, when I was out testing the XTX for two days, it was my goal to get the clutch to at least make weird noises, start slipping, something to prove these guys wrong. Okay, well, not exactly, but I did want to see under certain loads how the CVT reacted. And, after spending two solid days driving up and down steep hills, somewhat soft sand washes, and running whoops wide open, the clutch never changed how it felt. In fact, my impression is that this clutch setup puts the engine’s power to the ground better than any UTV I’ve driven. In addition, there isn’t a UTV I’ve driven that has better engine braking. We’re excited to do some additional testing on the Prowler XTX in the deep soft sand found at the dunes, because that seems to be hardest loads on these CVT transmissions. If I were to guess, though, I think it’s going to surprise us who does the best and lasts the longest in the sand dunes.

Now that we’ve covered the soft sand wash riding, the excellent clutching system and new features of the Prowler, let’s touch a little bit on the XTX’s ability to rock crawl. One of the great advantages UTVs have over Jeeps or any full-size vehicle is their ability to drive fast over rough terrain without beating the driver/passenger to death, in addition to being able to drive slow over very technical rocky terrain. And, rock crawling is something I’ve always loved to
do, and the Prowler doesn’t disappoint. With roughly 12” of ground clearance and 10” of suspension travel, the Artic Cat will rock crawl with the best of them, all while feeling very stable. The front differential lock engages instantly, and you can tell it’s locked in. But, don’t try to make a tight turn with it locked, so just flip the switch up and it instantly opens the front differential for much easier turning. We took it up some very technical, rocky terrain where we often had only 3 tires on the ground, and the Prowler didn’t miss a beat. I never felt like I was going to flip over, and the low speed torque of the EFI motor provided excellent throttle control at the slowest of speeds. And, this brings me to the next thing I really liked about the foot pedals on the Prowler. They provide plenty of clearance for size 13 boots to use both feet for perfect control over the rocks.

Lastly, for all you high speed junkies that like to run whoops wide open and high speed desert type riding, the Prowler is at home in this type of terrain, as well. I was able to push the limits of the vehicle and remain very stable with very little evidence that the rear end ever wanted to pass the front. The suspension was very plush, yet stiff enough to prevent it from bottoming out through deep whoops.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the performance of the Arctic Cat Prowler XTX 700 H1 LE, and we’re really looking forward to doing some longer term testing in additional types of terrain in the near future. And, on this note, it’s sad to me that the Prowler hasn’t had quite the presence some of the other more widely known names have, because I honestly think this vehicle is much better than folks realize. Over the initial models, this unit is definitely far superior in every way, so I look forward to seeing more Prowler XTXs out on the trails hanging with the rest of them, because I know it easily can do it. For more information go to: http://www.arcticcat.com and don’t forget to check out your local dealers for a test drive.

Review By: UTV Off-Road Magazine