As I've posted in recent months, I've been looking to add a second side by side. Our first side by side, a Kawasaki Mule 610 4x4 XC-SE was purchased for use at our 13 acre cabin in the Ozark's, with limited hunting use on our 40 acre ranch which is leased out for cattle grazing. With the move last summer to a 20 acre property in NW Missouri, the Mule moved from the Ozark's to our new place. It was not long before we realized how much we depended on the UTV for wood hauling, checking and cleaning the property and relaxing rides on the country roads. So, a search for a second SXS was in order.
Our needs include:
A unit that will easily fit in the back of our full size pickup.
A good utility box that tilts easily
A price point under $10K
A machine that has a good reputation for quality
A machine that will allow the addition of a jump seat (hey, we've got grandkids...)
4 wheel drive
Storage area for ax, small chain saw, etc...
Our needs DID NOT include:
Having to go over 25 MPH
Sound systems, cab, heater or (good grief...) A/C
Super suspension (a must for faster machines)
Quad cab (negated ability to fit into truck)
My first thought was the John Deere mid-size models, but we decided to do some shopping. Thus, we looked at the Polaris Ranger 500, John Deere 560E and Kawasaki SX. I immediately discounted the "off brands" sold at the farm stores and Walmart. I'm sure some of them are great machines, but not what I am looking for.
For the first time, I included my wife in the decision process, and her comments influenced the process for than I thought. To her, the Polaris Ranger 500 looked "cheap," and more like a toy. I liked the specs (suspension travel, engine), but did agree it looked cheap compared to the JD or Kawasaki. Price, with discounts, was the lowest, but only by $200.
The 560E looked nice, but had "too much plastic" according to the budget committee. The price, with required accessories, brought it right to the budget limit. The bed was smaller than the Kawasaki. The two dealers I talked to didn't want to discount much, even when I showed them ads from other dealers selling them for $1000 less. Of course, cost really didn't matter, as the budget committee had already spoken.
The Kawasaki SX, which is a facelift of the older 610 series, the was last one we looked at. The XC-SE edition provided LED lighting, roof, nice paint, nice wheels and larger tires that give greater ground clearance and better ride. It also was at a great price, $8200 "out the door." This is the unit we ordered. It will be a week or two before it arrives (they are built near Omaha, Neb).
I would have been happy with any of the brands we looked out, but note the following:
There is very little plastic on the Kawasaki SX. Lots of plastic on the John Deere and Polaris. Plastic is not a bad thing, but I like the "built like a Mule" feel of the Kawasaki.
The factory 3 year warranty beats the one year warranty offered by the others.
As for performance, if one wants to go 30 mph or more, the Polaris is the answer in the new "under 10K" category. For utility and fun, the John Deere would provide the best balance, wth a top speed of 28 mph. For utility alone the Mule is hard to beat, and has a reputation that backs up this claim. Its top speed is 25, which makes it a "no go" for many users.
I'll post some pictures when it arrives.