The results are in for this year’s Glacier FarmMedia (GFM) machinery challenge, formerly the Grainews Machinery Challenge.
Even though this year’s usual venue, the Ag in Motion farm show, went digital, both I and former Grainews machinery editor Scott Garvey headed out to Carman, Man., for two days to test UTVs (utility terrain vehicles).
This year, the 2020 Can-Am Defender Pro XT, 2018 Mahindra XTV 1000, Kubota Sidekick 850, and Bobcat UV34 were up for appraisal.
In our most challenging course to date, we tested the vehicles’ manoeuvrability on a tight wooded trail, also used for our loaded test with 500 pounds loaded in the box. The test wrapped up with a towing test, with UTVs hooked up to a trailer also loaded down with 500 pounds of cargo.
As with any good test, we got stuck; we spun some tires and we put these models through the ringer to see how they handle day-to-day life on the Canadian farm.
Mahindra XTV 1000
Displacement: 1,000 cubic centimetres (cc)
Transmission: CVT (continuously variable transmission)
Ground clearance: 12 inches
This diesel-fuelled UTV had the necessary power to complete our unloaded portion of the challenge, but simply didn’t perform as well as our other three models in the speed or power categories.
The model provided had very little air ow in the cab, making it hard to work for long periods of time when the temperatures topped 25 C. Manoeuvrability was very comparable to the other three models, but lacked power for quick acceleration.
It handled well while towing, but noticeably lacked power when navigating inclines with the loaded trailer in tow. We were unable to test this machine with the weighted box due to the shocks bottoming out while loading. For safety reasons and to avoid damaging the machine, we withdrew this model from our loaded manoeuvrability test.
Kubota Sidekick 850
Displacement: 851 cc
Ground clearance: 9.8 inches
This model was easily the fastest of the four vehicles in this year’s challenge. With its quick acceleration and easy handling, the Kubota Sidekick became our go-to for running around the test site and travelling any far distances.
The cab had the familiar Kubota-style seating and adequate airflow for hot days.
This model also came with a windshield wiper and the best lighting kit of the four models.
It handled our tight-weaving trail with ease during the loaded and unloaded portions of the manoeuvrability test.
Towing a trailer with 500 pounds’ worth of bricks didn’t prove much of a challenge for the gas-powered machine.
Overall, we scored this model very high and had a hard time coming up with things we disliked.
Displacement: 901.3 cc
Ground clearance: 11.7 inches
Sitting behind the wheel of the Bobcat UV34, you immediately get the impression of a quality-built machine.
Ranking alongside other high-end UTVs like the Can-Am, the Bobcat feels well made and drives like it too.
Speed and power were no issue for this model. It handled our unloaded manoeuvrability test with no problem, and loading our 500 pounds into the box made almost no difference while driving through tight turns and uneven ground.
This model arrived late to our testing site and therefore we were unable to test the UV34 with our trailer.
However, given its above-average handling and excellent power, we assume towing 500 pounds would be no issue for the machine.
Can-Am Defender Pro XT HD10
Displacement: 976 cc
Ground clearance: 13 inches
The Defender Pro XT was surprisingly nimble given the extended box length and long wheelbase. I was expecting to have trouble weaving through our wooded section of trail, but the Defender Pro XT actually handled like any other smaller UTV. I was genuinely surprised at how well it handled small spaces.
If you like this machine but aren’t sure about the long wheelbase, I can testify that you won’t even notice it after sitting down and hitting the gas. The loaded portion of our manoeuvrability test felt identical to the unloaded portion. The load feeling was almost invisible in the box while taking tight turns.
Initially, I expected to have trouble turning while connected to our trailer. But again, this model felt like any other shorter UTV, even with a trailer and the extended length.
This machine scored very high in this year’s test and is definitely a contender for top place in all categories.