ARCTIC CAT recently introduced several new models of ATVs and announced improvements to its current models for a 2006 lineup that is moving into its dealers' stores now. The company also unveiled its new utility vehicle called the Prowler XT. While the new models didn't make the Farm Industry News ATV and UV Rodeos, we were invited to try them all in a wooded area in northern Minnesota. The new models were impressive; they produced power while providing a comfortable ride. The vehicles would have been very competitive in the FIN Rodeo.

Here's a rundown on Arctic Cat's new vehicles and changes in current models.

Prowler XT

While riding the Prowler through an obstacle course and on a dirt road, I discovered that Arctic Cat engineers put a lot of time and thought into producing the company's first utility vehicle. The Prowler is fast and powerful, driven by the company's own 641cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine. It will hum along at 49 mph, yet crawl over boulders and ruts with its 12.5 in. of ground clearance and 10 in. of suspension travel. The Prowler features fully independent front and rear suspensions and foot-operated front and rear disc brakes to stop fast and solid.

The Prowler's cab is equipped with a digital instrument gauge that displays 14 operation indicators. The rear cargo box is built of composite plastic and boasts hydraulic-assisted tilt to help dump its 600-lb. loads. Two-inch truck-style receiver hitches are located on the front and rear of the vehicle. The vehicle is rated to tow 1,500 lbs. In the front, a large, under-the-hood storage container holds 25 lbs. of gear.

Overall, the Prowler XT will do the work on farms but has a sporty feel. It feels safe, yet powerful. The vehicle retails for $9,499. Circle 209.

650 Class

Arctic Cat built its first ATV engines this year and hopes to expand the rollout of the engines in the future. The company's new single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 641cc, four-stroke engine provides plenty of low-end and mid-range torque for the 650 H1 ATV. Because the engine sits on rubber mounts, the ride is smooth and comfortable.

Arctic Cat also offers a Kawasaki V-Twin cylinder, liquid-cooled, 633cc, four-stroke engine for the 650 ATV. The 650 V2 model provides smooth power and performance. Both the 650 H1 and V2 models are equipped with a Duramatic automatic transmission and on-the-fly shifting between 2-wd and 4-wd.

The 650 models feature double A-arm, fully independent rear suspensions and double A-arm front suspensions with adjustable shocks. Ground clearance is 12.5 in. on the H1 and 13 in. on the V2. SpeedRacks for accessory attachments come standard on the 650 models.

The 650 H1 4×4 model retails for $7,699, and the 650 V2 model retails for $7,549. Circle 210.

Two-rider vehicle

The two-rider vehicle market is catching on as more ATV companies add a second seat to various models. For 2006, Arctic Cat revamped its two-rider vehicle (TRV), which it first sold two years ago.

The new model rides like a Cadillac with its engine installed on rubber mounts. Engine vibration is minimal, and the vehicle floats over tough terrain. The 500 TRV has a liquid-cooled, 493cc engine, and the 400 TRV has an air/oil-cooled, 376cc engine. Both models have a Duramatic automatic transmission.

Arctic Cat lowered the TRV's ground clearance to 10 in. to improve vehicle stability for tandem riding. It also included adjustable shocks and cut the weight, to 742 lbs. for the 500 and 722 lbs. for the 400 models.

The passenger seat may be removed in just seconds and switched to a TBX-style plastic box or an accessory SpeedRack. Price of the 400 TRV is $6,849, and the 500 TRV costs $7,599. Circle 211.

500 Class

On its 500 class ATVs, Arctic Cat added a new digital instrument pod with 14 different indicators, a new large-diameter, stainless steel header pipe for exhaust and a new one-piece toe shifter for manual transmissions. The 500 models are powered by a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 493cc engine with either a Duramatic automatic transmission or a five-speed manual transmission.

The 500 models are equipped with plenty of extras like the SpeedRacks on the front and rear, adjustable shocks, 12-in. ground clearance and weight capacity of 100 lbs. in the front and 200 lbs. in the rear.

A high-capacity alternator on the 500 helps power electronic devices, such as a winch and extra headlights. A 500 4×4 auto ATV retails for $6,699. Circle 212.

400 Class

The company updated two models in its 400 class. The new 400 4×4 and 4×4 auto models feature selectable 2-wd and 4-wd with differential lock and a rear gas tank with a 6.5-gal. capacity compared to a 4.8-gal. capacity in earlier models. They also boast a higher ground clearance at 12 in.

Across all 400 models, Arctic Cat redesigned the fenders to increase mud and water protection. The company also equipped the ATVs with its new Slimline SpeedRacks that allow quick-and-easy installation and removal of accessories.

All of the 400 models are equipped with a 376cc, air/oil-cooled, four-stroke engine. The 400 models feature a smooth ride with fully independent rear suspensions and fully independent, double A-arm front suspensions. The 400 4×4 model comes with either the Duramatic automatic transmission or a five-speed auto-clutch manual transmission.

Arctic Cat boosted driver convenience with digital instrumentation that includes 14 indicators. Engine noise was reduced with a new air intake system. The new 400 models will handle 100 lbs. on the front racks and 200 lbs. on the rear and will tow 1,050 lbs. A receiver hitch is standard equipment. The new 400 weighs 669 lbs.

The 2006 400 4×4 models retail for $5,749, and the 400 4×4 auto models cost $5,949. Circle 213.

TBX models

For 2006, Arctic Cat improved its TBX line of ATVs with dump boxes. The TBX models, available on the 400 and 500 auto ATVs, are handy for jobs like hauling feed bags or carrying fencing wire or calves. Arctic Cat increased the wheelbase 8 in. from a standard ATV and installed adjustable shocks to handle a heavier load and provide a smooth and stable ride. The gas-assisted dump boxes on the TBX models carry 300 lbs. and include a pickup-style tailgate handle and latching. The TBX models also are equipped with a 2-in. automotive-style receiver hitch and will tow 1,050 lbs.

Suggested retail price is $6,449 for a 400 4×4 auto TBX and $7,149 for a 500 4×4 auto TBX. Circle 214.

250 Class

Arctic Cat went to work on its smaller ATVs and developed the 250 2×4 ATV. This new model comes equipped with features like digital instrumentation and hydraulic brakes that are typically found on larger ATVs. The 249cc, four-stroke, single-cylinder engine feeds power through a fully automatic continuously variable transmission with high/low, forward and reverse. Weighing just 477 lbs., the 250 model is easy to handle, especially for new drivers.

The ATV is still capable of doing utility work with a 50-lb. front capacity, 100-lb. rear capacity and towing capacity of 500 lbs. Arctic Cat also gave the 250 model unique styling with cat-eye headlights and bold grille bodywork. Also attractive for new drivers is the suggested retail price of $3,499. Circle 215.

For more information, contact Arctic Cat Inc., Dept. FIN, Thief River Falls, MN 56701, 218/681-4999, or visit www.arcticcat.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.