Sales of those modern "iron horses" continue toward peak torque. Here is astable of new models designed to meet your work needs.

Arctic Cat

This longtime serious player in the snowmobile market is aiming to take itscurrent seven-model ATV lineup and surpass its own snowmobile sales withinthe next three years. Some would consider this quite a feat consideringthat the company entered the ATV market barely four years ago.

New for 2000 is the company's first ATV with automatic transmission, theArctic Cat 500 4x4 Automatic. Farm Industry News put the ATV's Duramaticbelt-driven, constant-velocity transmission (a joint Arctic Cat/Suzukidesign) to the test for a day on rugged, steep terrain in the CanadianRockies near Banff. The new four-wheeler responded beautifully to everypower, acceleration and handling challenge it met.

The ATV's steering design, once an Arctic Cat weakness, has been improved.The 500 now has reduced steering pressure, which, combined with last year'simprovement of a shortened turning radius, enables it to compete with anybrand, according to Ron Solberg, ATV product manager.

Other features we liked include impressive front and rear suspension; goodengine braking going downhill; front and rear hydraulic disc brakes(controlled by a single lever); a foot-operated rear service brake; a full9-in. ground clearance; in-gear starting; top-rated hauling and towingcapacities; 12v plug onfront and rear for tools; and several features thatlower maintenance, such as suspension bushings, front and rear sealed driveshafts, constant-velocity joints and sealed transmission case. And forthose riders with a need to shift, the 500 also is available with a manualtransmission.

Suzuki

For the Y2K model year, Suzuki has upgraded the QuadRunner 500 suspensionwith more wheel travel, increased ground clearance and a longer wheelbase.But the biggest news is the new utility QuadMaster 500, which borrows fromthe success of the QuadRunner and adds the convenience of an automatictransmission and the choice of 2-wd or 4-wd.

Suzuki claims that the QuadRunner's 493-cc, liquid-cooled engine offers themost torque of any ATV in its class. The engine also features a brakingsystem that reduces freewheeling on downhill slopes to enhance control.Other features include taller handlebars, more seat padding, full-sizesteel floorboards, dual 12v electrical outlets and a 325W charging system.

Kawasaki

If your on-farm fuel supply is diesel only, Kawasaki is listening. Thecompany has revamped its top-selling Mule 2510 and added a diesel-poweredrig for 2000.

Kawasaki, which helped create the market for multiuse, lightweight utilityvehicles when it launched its first Mule 1000 in 1988, now offers sixunique models. It added its new flagship, the 2510 Diesel, because someusers like the higher torque at lower rpm that diesel engines deliver,along with their well-earned reputation for durability and longevity.

Driving the latest Mule is a Japanese Daihatsu 952-cc diesel engine (25 mphgoverned top speed) designed to Kawasaki specifications. A continuouslyvariable, belt-drive automatic transmission transfers power to a dual-modedifferential in the rear and limited-slip differential up front. On-demand4-wd is standard as well as a two-speed transfer case that allows you toshift from high to low range when conditions go south.

Compared to its 2510 gas cousin, the diesel version is a beefier machine.At a dry weight of 1,437 lbs., the 2510 Diesel is 300 lbs. heavier due toincreased engine weight, added rear coil springs, larger tires andstrengthened drive components to handle the increased power and torque. Thechassis is a ladder-type frame that rides on a semi-independent rearsuspension featuring leaf- and coil-type springs and hydraulic shockabsorbers, with MacPherson struts up front. And four hydraulic drum brakesprovide the stopping power.

Bombardier

This $8 billion Canadian company, maker of Ski-Doo snowmobiles, Learjetsand high-speed trains, slowly entered the ATV market with a utility modelcalled the Traxter last February (see our story "A sneak preview,"Mid-March 1998, page 32). For 2000, the company has expanded distributionfrom 13 states to all 50 states and introduced a 650-cc sport ATV.

The Traxter for 2000 has no significant changes. However, it now has afive-way, pre-loaded, adjustable rear shock, and it is offered in green.John Gale, ATV product manager, says that the company's demo ride programat dealerships and the Traxter's step-through design and strong workfeatures are driving sales. "Buyers like this machine for several reasons,"he says. "One, the step-through design is easier for workers needing to geton and off many times. Two, riders like its traction capability due to realall-wheel drive lockup (auto-locking front differential). The third featureis convenient under-seat serviceability access, and the other aspectsmentioned include our push-button shifting and up-front storage box."

Yamaha

Kodiak, the cornerstone of Yamaha's ATV lineup since 1993, goes automaticfor 2000. The Kodiak 400 Automatic 4-wd and 2-wd models are powered with acompact, liquid-cooled, 45 degree inclined, 401-cc SOHC engine and Ultramatictransmission.

The 4x4 model offers on-command 2- or 4-wd, changed by simply pushing abutton located near the right hand grip. Other features include hydraulicfront and rear disc brakes, double wishbone front and Monocross rearsuspension, full floorboards and an improved seat.

Also revised for 2000 is the Big Bear 400 2-wd and 4-wd. Both have an added50 cc of power with the new 400-cc, air-cooled, four-stroke engine thatdelivers an improved power-to-weight ratio. This addition, combined with asemi-automatic five-speed transmission (with a super-low first gear fortough work), provide more power to tackle many chores.