Shining Light on the Aurora

Published in the May 2019 Issue May 2019 Feature Lane Lindstrom

Stand back and look at the ARGO Aurora. It just looks a bit different than other ARGO amphibious vehicles. The new Aurora has a nice fit and finish. Maybe you noticed the new tires or new bench seats.

Then it hits you. The handlebars have been moved. Like from the right side of the vehicle to the more traditional left side of the vehicle.

That seemingly simple change actually signifies a bigger shift in where ARGO is headed with its new Aurora. ARGO, under the direction of Brad Darling, president of the company, has been aggressively trying to spread the appeal of the niche amphibious vehicles.

We don’t think the Aurora is the “destination” though, but definitely a big part of the journey to put ARGO firmly on the off-road map.

Aside from the left hand steering, other “visuals” include these new features: seating, flat floor, body, tires and rims, controls and gauges, lights and an in-dash shifter. Less noticeable—to the eye at least—are things like new “progressive steering,” ergonomics, insulated fire wall and Start ‘N Gear.  

All that adds up to a new model—five different models actually—that looks familiar to previous and current ARGO models.

For 2019 the five different models come with two engine package (800 and 950) options. All Aurora models are in 8x8 tire configurations.

Here’s a breakdown of the five models.

Aurora 800 8x8 - 30 hp V-twin EFI liquid-cooled engine, the new body and ergonomic improvements, ARGO Admiral Transmission, APS (ARGO Progressive Steering) with Hayes Brakes, premium seating package, projector headlights and digital gauge and new 25-inch ARGO XT117 tires. It comes in either orange or green.

Aurora 800 SX 8x8 – All the above plus the ARGO Admiral Transmission has ST (Standard Torque) and HT (High Torque) options. HT is designed for use when the majority of the riding is in extreme terrain, moving heavy loads, track use, high altitude or continuous slow-speed operations. In HT, you can get up to 17 mph where as in ST you can top out at 20 mph on land.

Additionally, this model offers a brush guard and 3,500-lb. Warn winch as well as steel bead lock rims. Available in orange or green.

Aurora 800 SX Huntmaster 8x8 – All the same features as the 800 SX 8x8 except the color, which is Break Up Camo on this unit.

Aurora 800 Limited 8x8 – All the same features as the SX 8x8 with the difference being aluminum bead lock rims. Available in orange and green.

Aurora 950 SX 8x8 – The big dog in the Aurora series, the 950 comes with a 40 hp V-twin EFI fan-cooled engine that has an open loop EFI fuel delivery system compared to a closed loop on the 800. The 950 rides on steel bead lock rims and comes with the 3,500-lb. Warn winch, front brush guard and a premium seating package. It has the same wheels as the other Aurora models. Available in orange and green.

Additionally, every Aurora comes with a 2-inch rear receiver and 1,800-pound towing capacity, 9.5 inches of ground clearance, a 3-mph speed in water and 7.1-gallon fuel tank.

As a refresher, the Admiral Transmission, in use since 2012, is a skid-steer transmission with a triple differential design. The helical cut gears are designed for quieter operation (this vehicle is definitely quiet, even on land) and constant mesh gearing for easier shifting.

ARGO is using a new rubber compound on the 25x12-9 XT117 tires, which come with 30 traction “elements” compared to 29 on the AT189 tire. The new tires feature a secondary rib sidewall, which gives added strength and improves track guide operation.

It was interesting to note that, during the unveil in Ontario, Canada, early last fall, Jeremy Bauman, ARGO director of engineering, said that if ARGO is going to try and transition folks from side-by-sides to ARGO products, the best way to do that is to have its vehicles operate and behave similarly to a side-by-side.

That’s where, in part, the drive to move the steering to the left side of the vehicle while also improving the ergonomics, looks and ease of operation came from.

We don’t think the Aurora is going to replace side-by-sides but it is an intriguing option.

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