Since Textron Off Road took over the Arctic Cat line of ATVs and snowmobiles, I have been excited to test the VLX 700. I was curious to see where they cut to keep the price so low.

I got my chance when Shawn Keller of Mountain Tech Motorsports in Layton offered one for me to take out on the trail. The VLX 700 comes in two models: one with power steering and a full instrument cluster and one without either of those two options.

There is a $1,000 difference in the two models — the base model is $5,999 and the EPS model is $6,999. I prefer the model with electronic power steering and the instrument cluster. The EPS model is still almost $3,000 less than most 700-class machines on the market.

Power steering is nice, but the anti-kickback feature it comes with is there for safety reasons. It will save your wrists on the trail when either of the front wheels hits a stump or rock that jerks the handlebars. As far as the instrument cluster goes ... well, I am just a bells and whistles kind of guy.

They did cut, but not in areas that count when it comes to carrying its weight against the big guys. It doesn’t have fancy wheels or even the little rubber hub guards. Colors are limited to black and camo.

The racks are tubular steel, but the back rack is designed to carry 200 pounds and the front will handle 100 pounds.

The Carlisle 25-inch tires have good tread depth to allow a lot of riding before replacements are needed. The engine is a 695cc single cylinder with closed loop EFI, so there is no carburetor requiring special jetting for high altitude riding.

The braking is hydraulic discs on all four wheels controlled by a single lever on the left side of the handlebar. The suspension is double A-arm in front and back with 10 inches of wheel travel. Ground clearance is 11 inches.

Switching from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive is done electronically with the flip of a lever on the right side of the handlebar. Because it is electronic, you can shift on the fly.

The transmission has a position for park as well as high, low, neutral and reverse. There is a 2-inch receiver that will handle a full-size hitch, and the towing capacity is rated at 1,050 pounds.

The headlights are dual halogen with high and low beams. The rear tail light is also a stop light.

It was now time to climb aboard and see how well the Aterra VLX 700 EPS would handle the trail. My first impression came when I sat down on the seat. What a comfortable seat; it is one that I could ride on all day.

I chose the Hobble Creek Trails east of Springville to test this machine. We traveled up the Right-Hand Fork to a meadow and unloaded. With the push of a button, the machine came to life and we were off.

The 11 inches of ground clearance, the 10 inches of wheel travel and the suspension made this a comfortable ride. The machine felt agile and ready to handle anything we came upon.

We did hit some logs in the trail, but the VLX climbed over them without hesitation. The power steering made handling the rocky sections more bearable. I know because part way through the ride, I changed machines with one of the other riders. His machine didn’t have power steering. I couldn’t wait to get my machine back.

The change to four-wheel drive with the flip of a switch at any speed made handling rough terrain much easier. The engine and transmission are well matched. I had power to spare in any situation.

The throttle response made it possible to work my way through technical situations with ease. Stopping was made easy with the hydraulic braking system, and the single pull lever worked well.

This machine is one to consider with its features. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and type Textron Off Road into you browser.

You can email Lynn Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

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