Since middleweight 500 4x4 ATVs represent the most competitive class in the utility ATV world - why not do an ATV comparison test featuring the most popular utility ATVs in that class? So that' s what we have here.
If you have work to do and still want to have some fun with your ATV - 500 4x4 utility four wheelers fit the bill. Big enough to handle hauling and towing chores - and small and nimble enough to be plenty of fun for recreational riding. The pricing shown is for 2009 models.
Most of these 4x4 ATVs, or very similar ones, are still offered as 2012 models. Examples would be the Suzuki KingQuad 450 becoming the 500, and the Arctic Cat 500 spliting into a 450 or 550. We don't feel any of the changes were significant enough to change the results of the comparison.
Arctic Cat 500 Auto
Can-Am Outlander 500 H.O. EFI
Honda Foreman Rubicon GPScape
Polaris Sportsman 500 EFI Deluxe
Suzuki King Quad 450
Yamaha Grizzly 450
For this test manufacturers were asked to enter what they thought was their most competitive middleweight 4x4 ATVs with an engine under 500cc. Most of the riding was on well maintained trails with some special tests thrown in to simulate some typical utility type chores like hauling and towing.
Opinions from five test riders were gathered and we also consulted several owner surveys to back those opinions up. The test results are biased slightly toward the trail riding ability of these 4x4 ATVs. They all performed normal utility work fine, but the trail riding parts of the test produced some clear favorites. Prices shown are for 2009 models.
Note - There are a couple of ATVs not tested here that are worth mentioning. The new Honda Rancher 4x4 AT with power steering and independent rear suspension. This is Honda's first major update to a utility 4x4 in years and I think the new Rancher would have done very well in this comparison.
The Suzuki KingQuad 500 with power steering is the other significant model. More expensive than the 450 - it does solve most of the few problems mentioned.
The Suzuki 4x4 ATV finishes at the top with best performances in handling and chassis stability. Engine performance was second only to the bigger V-twin Can Am. Overall utility was rated as third best in this group. That all adds up to a winner. Owner surveys and other tests back it up with the KingQuad always getting high marks. Plus it's one of the best values for the price in any category!
These Polaris 4x4 ATVs have been favorites for over 10 years. That's how long it's taken the competition to catch up. The Sportsman 500 still holds its' own - but the others are getting much closer. The second place finish shows why it's still one of the best overall utility ATVs out there.
The 500 Can Am 4x4 ATVs - aren't really in to the utility side of things. That hurt the Outlander's finishing position in this test. If you ride faster more open trails and don't care so much about doing chores with your ATV - this 500 that runs like a 700 might be for you!
A middle of the pack finish for this Yamaha 4x4 ATV when it's the smallest, lightest, least powerful, and cheapest machine in the group. Not bad and it puts the Yamaha in contention for the best value of any of these ATVs.
If you need to haul heavy loads over rough terrain, the Arctic Cat 4x4 ATVs may be your best bet. That seems to be what this ATV is designed to do, along with slow trail riding in extreme terrain. Just don't ask it to go too fast or you may have a more thrilling ride than you really wanted!
I don't know that the Foreman was one of the best Honda 4x4 ATVs for this test - but that's the one Honda went with. No diff lock and a solid rear axle on a swingarm are really old and out of place among this group of ATVs.
But the Honda can handle work chores without breaking a sweat and requires less maintenance for the transmission and driveline. That and the Honda name could be enough for a lot of folks.
Think we're clueless? Tell us why you think so and then tell us about your favorite 4x4 ATVs. Of course, if you think we're right, we would really love to hear from you!
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Good Comparison - Right on the money
Basically I agree with this comparison except I think the Polaris should be in the #1 spot. I may be biased because I own the identical Sportsman 500 efi …
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