Cub Cadet Challenging Rec/Utility with New Vehicles

Published in the May 2017 Issue May 2017 Feature Lane Lindstrom

You have to be pretty confident about your side-by-side vehicle to try and grab a share of the ultra competitive rec/utility (or sport/utility) market these days.

It appears Cub Cadet is up to the Challenge(r) (okay, bad pun) with the release of two new side-by-sides this past March, the Challenger 550 and Challenger 750.

Cub Cadet isn’t exactly new to the side-by-side industry, having other Challenger and Volunteer models on the market for a few years, but the Ohio-based company has pretty much flown under the radar while watching the market grow by leaps and bounds.

So Cub Cadet decided to ratchet things up a bit by releasing the 550 and 750, each with 50ccs more than previous Challenger models and with a lot of nice standard features that can be expensive add-ons its competitors would have to add to be comparable. Those standard features are impressive and include a roof, full front acrylic windshield, 3,500-pound winch, horn, LED turn signals, two side mirrors, full doors (with interior and exterior handles), alloy wheels and tilt cargo bed. The 550 and 750 come with the same features except the engine size.

Those are the kinds of things a manufacturer has to do (and include) to be competitive in the rec/utility segment.


Pricing is another big element in being competitive. The Cub Cadet Challenger 550 has an MSRP of $9,999.99 for the yellow, blue, red and black models while the Challenger 550 Camo is $10,299.99. The Challenger 750 has an MSRP of $10,999.99 for the yellow, blue and red models, $11,299.99 for the Camo version and $11,899.99 for the black model with EPS.

Those MSRPs are a tad higher than the competing brands, like the KYMCO 500i at $8,299 or Polaris Ranger 500 at $8,999 or Honda Pioneer 700 at $10,499 but you have to figure in the Challenger’s standard features that are not standard features on competing models.

“We want to let the world know we are serious about this segment,” Tom Mielke, UV product manager, Cub Cadet, said, adding that “utility vehicles have been skewing towards recreation” in recent years and prior to the release of the Challenger 550 and 750, Cub Cadet’s offering wasn’t keeping up with that trend.

Mielke then talked about Cub Cadet’s relationship with China-based Hisun, a manufacturer of ATVs and side-by-sides under its own name as well as Massimo, Bennche, Coleman and, of course, Cub Cadet. Hisun provides a rolling chassis—complete with engine and drivetrain—to Cub Cadet, which completes the vehicle at its Martin, TN, manufacturing plant.

“We needed a way to break away from the pack,” Mielke said. The result is the sporty-looking Challenger 550 and 750, with all the aforementioned standard features. “This vehicle will help us stand out against our competitors,” he said.

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