Who doesn’t like a surprise? We know we do, even when it comes to having to wait to find out what a company has up its sleeve until we arrive at a new model intro and test drive.
It’s not uncommon to not always know what vehicle it is but it’s also not uncommon to at least have some idea as to what the vehicle is. We always hear rumblings and little bits and pieces of information sometimes leak out.
We were already pretty stoked to spend some quality time on ARGO’s Xtreme Terrain Vehicles (XTV) line of amphibious vehicles as we haven’t had much seat time in them. So we traveled to ERX Motor Park in Elk River, MN, with that excitement in mind.
So when Brad Darling, the still fairly new president of ARGO (he joined the company about 14 months ago), started talking about ATVs, we were a little more than surprised.
Yea, an ARGO ATV, or, as they are officially known as, Xplorer ATVs.
Where did this come from? That’s a good question. The quick answer is Darling and ARGO are trying to expand ARGO’s portfolio and give its dealers some options to increase their business. According to Darling, in a survey of ARGO XTV owners, 67 percent of them already own an ATV and 27 percent own a side-by-side.
The ATV project began about 18 months ago. Anyone who follows the dirt powersports industry knows that’s pretty quick to get a vehicle to market. ARGO made it happen by partnering with a Taiwanese manufacturer. Darling, who declined to name that manufacturer, said the company ARGO chose is very strong outside the United States, holding the No. 1 sales position in several countries and is the largest manufacturer of CVTs. It was pointed out that while the manufacturing of the ATVs may take place overseas, “this product is ARGO-engineered.”
In its first foray into the ATV business, ARGO is putting three different versions—seven models in all—on the dirt, including the XR 500 series, the two-seat XRT 500 series and two-seat XRT 1000 series. The 500 is going head-to-head with the other 450s and 500s already on the dirt. Polaris and Can-Am were two names bandied about during the media intro, specifically the Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O. and Can-Am Outlander 450. Not mentioned, because it is still so new and not on many folks’ radar is the Yamaha Kodiak 450.
That’s some pretty stiff competition.
So how did ARGO do? Not bad. Not bad at all. There are many things we like about the XTV ATVs and some not so much. The likes do outweigh any dislikes we have so let’s get to it.
What We Like
First, near the top of our list of likes is to see a company jumping into the ATV business. As the popularity of side-by-sides has grown, ATVs have kind of been kicked to the curb. There is a place in the industry for ATVs, including smaller cc ATVs, as evidenced by the new model releases by Yamaha and now ARGO. And with the introduction of the Xplorer lineup, ARGO has just given its dealers an option to the present competition and its own XTV vehicles.
Of the 500-class ATV, Darling said, “We’re bringing in a 500 as a price-point vehicle to compete with the 450s.”
Also near the top of the likes is the range of vehicle options being offered by ARGO. ARGO didn’t just come out with one model to stick its toe in to test the waters. Rather, there is a 39-horsepower 500 (503cc) in a base, EPS (power steering) and LE configuration as well as the two-up 500 in the same configurations along with the two-up 1000 XRT LE with all the bells and whistles and a stout V-twin 997cc 4-stroke single overhead cam engine with a claimed 85 hp.
The EPS models are equipped with Tri Mode Speed Sensitive Electronic Power Steering while with the LE you get EPS, 26-inch Innova tires on 14-inch black aluminum wheels, a third headlight (mounted on the handlebars) and brush guard.