2018 Textron Off-Road Wildcat XX - RIDE REVIEW



The Textron Wildcat XX Is Here..Finally!

With many years of waiting and redesigning the new Textron Wild XX is out! Textron Off Road invited us out to get an early opportunity to test the new Wildcat XX here in Southern California leading up to the King Of The Hammers event. We met up with Textron Off Road at the famous Kemper Campbell Ranch in Victorville, Ca. where we would get up close with the Wildcat XX. The Kemper Campbell Ranch was established in 1929 and was hand built by adobe bricks made on the ranch in the sun. Many old western films were filmed at this location, although a little old and creepy in the rooms it was still a great facility to release a vehicle that would make its imprint on UTV history with its racing inspired engineering.


Although Textron Off Road did bring its Havok along, the spotlight was focused on the unicorn everyone has been gossiping about for years. Many of us in the media went up and started opening things and asking one of the product engineers questions on the design and functionality.

We started at the rear of the car checking out the huge cargo space where the 15″ KMC Wheel with 30″ CST Behemoth tires rest, the cargo space can hold up to a 32″ tire. The spare was held into the place with a spin type tire mount for quick changes. The tire laid down in the cargo area rather than on top of it like many aftermarket mounts to allow the driver an unobstructed rear view. With the tire out the cargo space can be removed by 4 quick pins which then allow quick and easy engine access.


Textron Off Road worked in collaboration with Roush Racing to help create a rear engine cradle that could drop the whole rear powertrain with 6 bolts. The new engine is a 998cc naturally aspirated 3-cylinder EFI engine which pumps out 125 ponies. The same motor can be found in the Yamaha YXZ’s which has been proven for its power and durability. Fox 2.5 Podium QS3 shocks with bottom out control have been placed at all corners. The rear shocks with bottom out control aide in greater comfort on the trail. The shocks are bolted to a one of a kind racing inspired rear trailing arm. Once the first photos of the Wildcat XX came out many people in the industry laughed at the idea with having no radius rods and how it would run and now we finally get to hear the reasoning behind the decision.

The rear suspension is unique to the UTV industry and I was curious how it would handle harsh off-road abuse. The rear trailing arms are racing inspired with its double sheared design which allows the wheel to travel up and down for less side to side movement. Robby Gordon said the “rear trailing arm design allows for less tire scrub.” Without the lateral links the track width has 80% less track width change than its competition. Even though the Wildcat XX does not boast the highest suspension travel numbers Robby Gordon said ” Its the quality of the travel that matters.” Another awesome feature that Robby helped design is that both rear trailing arms are interchangeable by just spinning the hub 180 degrees. Also, the front and rear hubs are alike and swap-able which will cut down on your big spare parts bins. The CVT has a tool-less cover which will making belt changes a breeze.

The CVT cover also has two ports to keep belt temperatures down. Robby Gordon said “We are seeing belts with thousands of miles of life easy.” The ports are vented to a scoop which the engine intake also receives its air. As we move towards the front of the Wildcat and open the door it is nice to see a full door rather than a half door. The door handle is on top and is a push style lever.

As we sit in the seat it is fairly comfortable I would like to see some better bolsters to help keep the driver in place. It is the largest cabin it its class and is designed to fit any size driver with the adjustable seat. The steering wheel and gauge cluster are also adjustable and move together in one for riders of any height. The dash has been designed to show 60% of the dashboard to the driver for maximum ergonomics and visibility. The center console is angled towards the driver with panels for easy customization. The big plate in the center console is made to fit an iPad mini which is a thoughtful and nice feature. Four switch panels are in the center console with wiring already pre ran behind the plate for easy installation of accessories. Textron conveyed that they already have a big list of accessories ready for easy installation including communication systems, stereo’s, and much more.

In between the seats is a zipper cargo bag for storage which also covers the battery and fuse box. “The reasoning for installing the battery and fuse box so high was to keep it away from water so where you could nearly be up to your waist in water and still drive” said Robby. It is nice to see that the 4 switch panels are already pre wired making installation of accessories extremely easy.

The glove box has 4 gallons of capable storage. Not sure what that equates too in actual stuff you would jam in there but its quite a bit. One of the reasons for the big glove box was of course for storage but it was also for something else. Robby took off his sweater grabbed someone else’s and stuffed them in the glove box an said that is one of the reasons. It does have plenty of room for two hoodies and hats for when you are out riding and don’t want to get them dirty plus two usb ports for charging your phone & other devices.

Speaking of getting dirty, the front fenders were added not only for aggressive styling but to aid in keeping mud out of the cabin for many of the southern mud boggers. The front a-arms are unequal in length with the shock bolting to the lower arm. All the steering and suspension components are double sheared for increased durability. The a-arms are bolted to forged aluminum front knuckles via heim joints with no ball joints in the suspension at all. The steering rack has been moved in front of the front differential for added leverage and to reduce bump steer.

Under the front bonnet is the aluminum radiator which was moved to the front for increased air flow. There is easy access to all your fluids up front with the bonnet off.

All Wildcat XX’s come with their new cage design with intrusion bars for added saftey. Textron Off Road and Robby Gordon wanted to come out with a strong, stylish & functional cage to where the consumer would not have to go spend another $800+ dollars just to get a decent cage. There are two options that are available for the roof, a soft top and then a hard top. The hard top is made out of thick metal and has already pre drilled holes for their line of Textron accessories like their optional LED light bar. Textron will offer more than 30 accessories from windshields, mirrors and bumpers to lights to let you style your Wildcat however you like.

With the night coming to a close everyone was excited to get behind the wheel of one. After dinner was served and we settled down with a couple drinks it was nice to get Robby Gordon to open up and share some of his favorite baja and racing stories. Honestly I couldnt go to sleep and kept thinking about driving the Wildcat XX but after a couple hours of looking at the ceiling counting sheep I finally got some rest.

Ride Day


Morning of the ride day we all car pooled to the ride site which was an undisclosed location out in Stoddard Wells. Once we arrived all the Wildcats were sitting pretty waiting to go out and stretch their legs. Textron had set up a few courses for us to ride in versatile terrain to really help us comprehend the Wildcats agility. After a brief safety meeting everyone ran to grab a Wildcat and we all strapped in and went for the first ride.

The first course was a mild mix of hill climbs, corners and rocky terrain as we got used to the Wildcat. One thing that I noticed right off the bat was how easy the shifter shifted into all the gears. The UTV felt extremely stable and well balanced even with the tall sidewall on the 30″ tires you did not feel much sway. The steering felt a little too responsive for my driving preferences (I am also a novice) but I’m sure they took into consideration the variety of aged drivers that would get behind the wheel. Once we all met back up after the first course we headed out towards Slash X Ranch. During our ride we got to push the Wildcat XX hard with some fast and deep whoop sections. The rear trailing arms helped track the Wildcat straight over the whoops without having the rear end kick out, all you had to do was point it straight and give it some gas. The Wildcat performed much better over the whoops at a greater rate of speed than I had anticipated.


We took a short break at Slash X Ranch and headed out to what Textron said would be the toughest trail of the day. There was some nice slow rock crawling before the mountain which was fun and where I got to slide it on its belly over some rocks. While waiting for the guy in front of me to climb some rocks I started going through the gauges in the instrumental panel. You have your basic temp gauge but you also had your intake air temperature gauge which is nice to have for more data.

Once we got to a plateau on the trail everyone got out to grab their cameras and prepare as we faced the steepest and rockiest trail of the day. I was a little nervous as to how it would do but I threw the 4wd lock on which helped distribute the power equally to all four tires and I hit it. The low end torque of the 3 cylinder motor kept the Wildcats momentum up and the 30″ CST Behemoth tires drove over just about anything, it was a breeze and worth the view once we got to the top.


As I arrived to the top of the mountain I was greeted with a gorgeous panoramic view of the Stoddard Wells OHV. Everyone made it up the mountain safe without any issues so we enjoyed some snacks with a view.


Lunch was approaching and I was starting to get hungry so we started our trek back which we were told would be fast grated roads. I stayed pinned until I hit the limiter at 75mph, with the limiter off Robby told us it would go 89mph. After some tasty smoked bbq ribs and a lot of napkins it was time for our last ride of the day. Textron had set up a comparison run for us where we would test the Wildcat XX against a Can-Am and Polaris RZR through a fast whoop section. It is nice to be able to get out of one and into the other to really give an accurate comparison test.


I was put first in the Polaris RZR which was stock besides Assault rear trailing arm guards, we were all assured that none of the vehicles have been altered for the test. I made two passes on the whoop section and I was able to get it to roughly 35mph before it started getting too sketchy with it being bounced around. Next vehicle I got in was the Can-Am which was bone stock off the lot. As I started making the pass down the whoop section I pushed the Can-Am to 40-45mph before it started bucking like a bronco. Now it was judgement time for the Wildcat to see how this rear trailing arm set up drives. Once I started giving it gas the Wildcat seemed to like more mph over the whoops making the ride smoother, and I did not feel any tire scrub or violet bucking like the competitors. I did not really get a good look at the mph on the first pass but on the way back I decided to see what it would do if I pointed it straight and put the hammer down. In no time I was quickly approaching 54mph with the ride being the stable through the whoops, the starting line was coming up fast so I had to back off but I was convinced that was the best riding one out of the group.

My adrenaline was running through the roof thinking I was pushing the Wildcat to the limits… that was until I got the chance to be the first to sit in the passenger seat with Robby Gordon and go for a ride.

Watch the video below!

We leave you with these final images and question, was it worth the wait?!


Photography & Words by Daniel Schenkelberg // UTVUnderground.com

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