SXS Gets 700 Engine

Published in the September 2013 Issue September 2013

It was no big secret that KYMCO would be coming out with a more powerful side-by-side this year.

We’ve had a pretty good idea since the summer of 2012 that the UXV 700 was coming this year. It was last summer that KYMCO unveiled the MXU 700i at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. After that unveiling it seemed logical the company’s side-by-side, the UXV, would be next in line to get the 695cc powerplant. In fact, during our ride report on the MXU 700i we speculated that the UXV 700 would be released this year.

To be brutally honest, we thought the UXV would get the bigger powerplant before the MXU but it turned out to be just opposite.

Even though we had a pretty good idea a KYMCO 700 side-by-side was coming we were still very excited to slip behind the wheel and see how an extra 196cc would make the UXV feel.

Right Conditions

Our chance to give the new 2014 UXVs came this past June in the rugged mountains of western Colorado near the tiny hamlet of Gateway. KYMCO couldn’t have picked a better locale to show off its new UXV 700, which comes in five different models: 700i, 700i LE, 700i SP, 700i HE (hunting edition) and 700i Turf.

The high desert and mountains around Gateway put the UXV to the test, showing the vehicle’s strengths as well as its weaknesses, just as it would have any vehicle we chose to ride there. The riding was a lot of fun; wide-open at times and technical and slow at other times.

Our focus for the two days of riding and in our report here is mostly on the 700 engine as not much else changed on the UXVs for 2014. The suspension, seat, tires (except for the Turf model) and most other chassis components and vehicle features stay the same from 2013 to 2014.

Since the engine is being spotlighted, here’s a brief refresher on the KYMCO 7. As mentioned, this engine was first introduced in the company’s off-road lineup last year and is the biggest engine KYMCO has made for its off-road vehicles.

The 695cc engine is fuel injected, a feature first introduced two years ago, and is a single overhead cam design with four valves. It generates a company-claimed 48 hp—compared to KYMCO’s 500i horsepower rating of 36. The top speed on the 700 is 54 mph, whereas the 500 has a top speed of 44 mph.

It is the same exact engine as what’s in the MXU 700.

500 vs. 700

Fortunately we were able to test ride the newest UXV fairly soon after spending four consecutive days riding the UXV 500i in Moab, UT, at the Rally on the Rocks. That allowed us to make some detailed comparisons between the 5 and 7.

First, there is a noticeable difference in the power, as you would expect.

In rocky terrain or on slickrock like you find near Moab, UT, we think the Kenda tires on the UXV SP model have a better grip than the stock tires on the other KYMCO models.

The engine is predictable and smooth, the same as what we find with the 500 powerplant.

It’s not come-on-hard, arm- stretching power but rather the power builds gradually from low range to mid to high until you hit the rev limiter. We like how it builds power on straightaways.

We think, as we have ever since we first drove a UXV, one of the engine’s overriding strengths is its torquiness, especially in rocky, technical sections on trails where speed isn’t a big factor. It’s that torquiness and ability to help the UXV navigate that kind of trail that helps keep the new 700 in the game, if you will.

One reason the engine is predictable is the EFI. Better starting and smoother power delivery are realized compared to the old carb models. And EFI is ideal, especially in the mountains where changes in riding elevation are fairly common. In fact, on our second day of riding the new UXV in western Colorado, we started out at 4,699 feet and climbed up to Pace Lake, which sits on the Colorado/ Utah border at 8,169 feet, a change of 3,470 feet. Regardless of where we were elevation-wise, the 700 ran well.

Price Tag Goes Up

With the new 700 powerplant comes a new price tag for the UXV, which poses an interesting situation for KYMCO. Planting a 700 in the UXV chassis puts this vehicle in a much more competitive class, which includes the newly introduced Honda Pioneer and also newly introduced Yamaha Viking. There is also the Arctic Cat Prowler and the Polaris Ranger (granted, the Ranger is an 800). Just looking at prices, the UXV ranges from $10,099-11,399, depending on the package you want from a base model to one with a roof, aluminum wheels, etc. That’s a bit more than $1,000 more than the comparable UXV 500i prices from a year ago, which isn’t too bad for the bump in horsepower.

However, the 2014 price tags put the UXV between the Honda Pioneer (MSRP $9,999) and the non electronic power steering Yamaha Viking (MSRP $11,499-12,499). The Prowler 700 XTX is on the high end at $13,299 while the Polaris Ranger 800 EFI (also non EPS) is $10,499.

We’ve long viewed the KYMCOs as price-point vehicles, meaning they are basic machines with a low MSRP, which appeals to a fair number of riders. Now that KYMCO is past the $10,000 mark, the challenge for the company is to maintain that following at higher prices. It’s going to be a tougher sell considering there are is no power steering option on its side-by- sides. We did hear some rumblings, however, that power steering might not be far off. That would be a bonus.

Now that KYMCO comes to the dirt and rocks with a 700 in the UXV, it’s probably time to upgrade the suspension to go with the additional speed and power. When the MXU got the 700 engine, the suspension seemed to handle the added power okay, but the UXV is packing an additional 430 plus pounds of just vehicle weight, plus an additional passenger and possibly gear so the suspension, and subsequently, the handling, are asked to do more with the same equipment.

This suspension issue is not so noticeable at slow speeds, crawling over rocks or navigating some technical spots, but if you want to gain some speed and cruise a little faster in those riding conditions, it’s more noticeable. It can get a little rough sometimes.

Good Times On SP

Having said that, we did spend a fair amount of our ride time in the Baja-inspired UXV 700i SP, which features KAIFA high performance fully adjustable shocks and Kenda Bounty Hunter tires. The ride was a little better on the SP but we don’t pin the entire ride experience on the suspension. A more plush seat would be helpful.

In addition to the SP model, which, along with the more performance-oriented shocks and tires, includes red alloy wheels, a hard top, hardside half doors, a half windshield, light bar with four LED lights, rear cab net, rear cargo net, spare tire rack with a spare tire and a rear bumper, there is the HE or hunting edition, which features a hard top, hood rack and brush guard, half windshield and winch mounting plate. The HE also has True Timber camo paint. The Turf model, also new for 2014, has an open rear differential designed to turn sharper while reducing damage to a surface such as grass.

The LE version of the UXV, probably our favorite of KYMCO’s side-by-sides along with the SP, has aluminum alloy wheels, a 3,000-pound winch, hard top, soft enclosure and full windshield.

When it comes to storage space on the UXV, this side-by-side trumps its competitors. There is a good amount of underhood storage, a glove box and underseat storage. All this is in addition to the cargo box.

With its newfound power, the UXV 700i is still a good buy and with promises of more features down the road, it will continue to improve.

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