The newest 4×4 utility vehicle (UV) on the market is the result of a cooperative effort between a company that typically makes golf carts and another known for skid-steer loaders. What's going on here?

Industrial powerhouse Ingersoll Rand Corporation owns both companies and wants to maximize distribution by using both dealer networks. So while some dealers will carry a UV labeled as the Club Car XRT 1500, others will be selling the same machine decked out as the Bobcat 2200. In either set of clothes, this work-focused machine enters the increasingly competitive UV market as a top contender.

A recent media tour of the Club Car factory in Augusta, GA, where the machine is built, showed that the new 4×4 UV isn't just a retrofitted golf cart. It's built heavier, with a factory-welded rigid aluminum frame. It comes with a choice of diesel or gas engines, and it shares some steering components with the Bobcat Toolcat 5600 utility work machine.

After the tour, we tried out the new machine on Club Car's off-road testing area, where a number of competitors' products were also available to drive. The course focused on rough terrain and low-end grunt work. We didn't come close to the machine's 25-mph top speed. In terms of size, price, design and functionality, the closest comparable competitor to this machine is probably the recently introduced Kubota RTV900. In fact, while the standard engine on the XRT 1500/2200 is a 20-hp gasoline-powered Honda, it will also offer a 20-hp Kubota diesel engine option.

Full auto diff lock

Faced with many worthy competitors, the 4×4 Club Car/Bobcat's ace in the hole is its IntelliTrak drive system, making it the only vehicle in its class equipped with automatic locking differentials that engage immediately when a wheel loses traction. There are no switches to flip. The system provides power to all four wheels as needed, preventing one, two or three wheels from spinning without the fourth. In our test runs, the all-mechanical system provided exceptional climbing abilities, even crawling slowly up steep slopes. On rough terrain there was no loss of traction if one wheel came off the ground, which seemed to happen a bit too often on the extremely rugged test course. As with most UVs, more suspension travel to help keep the wheels on the ground would have been welcome.

Other features

An all-aluminum, tubular frame helps make the machine lightweight yet strong. The gas model weighs 1,361 lbs. and the diesel model weighs 1,433 lbs. A four-point ROPS is standard with a cab enclosure available as a dealer-installed accessory. Four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes provide excellent stopping power and hold the machine secure on steep slopes. A heavily padded, adjustable driver's seat provides exceptional comfort and legroom.

The vehicle has a 1,200-lb. vehicle load capacity and comes standard with an 800-lb. cargo box. On our test runs, the machine easily handled an 800-lb. block of concrete in the back, plus a driver and passenger up front. A 1,100-lb. cargo box and electric box dump are available as options. You can mount a winch on the front and a receiver hitch on the back. All-terrain tires are standard, with mud tires also available. Prices for the gasoline model start at $9,000. Diesel models sell for $10,300.

For more information, contact Club Car, Box 204658, Augusta, GA 30917, 800/800-1227, visit www.clubcar.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 201; or contact Bobcat Co., 250 E. Beaton Dr., West Fargo, ND 58078, 701/241-8700, visit www.bobcat.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 202.