Driving impression: Arctic Cat Prowler XT side-by-side utility vehicle Powered by the same 29kW/39hp motor as drives the established Arctic Cat 650 H1 3in1 ATV, the firm’s Prowler XT shares similar off-roading ability, too. Indeed, for many buyers this vehicle type will be seen as a strong argument for moving to side-by-side seating. James de Havilland assesses whether the Prowler is worth the £650 premium over its long-wheelbase ATV brother

There was a time when driving a utility vehicle with off-road pretensions was a frustrating experience. Although seldom lacking in traction, the first designs often suffered from poor ground clearance, and it was this tendency to ‘bottom out’ that compromised their capabilities in tough going. But much has changed over the past five years, to the extent that there is now a choice of true off-road utilities on the market.

The above utility posse encompasses the likes of Polaris’ Ranger, Kawasaki’s Mule 660 and Yamaha’s Rhino, each proving to different degrees that the right side-byside machine can go almost anywhere an ATV can. On top of that, of course, a ‘ute’ design has its own inherent advantages, such as room for two – or three – a rollover frame and an integral load platform. Which brings us to the featured Prowler XT. In terms of configuration, a quick peek underneath reveals that this machine is based around conventional ATV thinking.

XT’s power unit and transmission sit in the middle of the machine too, the hood tilting for service access and providing a useful, if not watertight, 90kg worth of stowage. Further back, the utility’s rear platform has a handy 272kg capacity, and measures 800mm long, 1,235mm wide, and has 330mm sides. This is relatively accommodating but the load cannot be tipped and, with an 820mm load height, it is unlikely to win the machine too many farming friends among those who have to regularly hump heavy feed sacks and lumpy hay bales.

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