I would rate my 04 Yamaha Kodiak 400 at about an 8 or 9. I had a passenger on the back going up a hill and it temporarily paused and then continued on. On the positive I really like the ultramatic auto shift and the auto-brakeing feature. It can do more hauling than I can any more too!!!
personally last year i had enough of my 1985 honda fourtrax 300. my buddies were plumb tired of pulling me out of the mud. we went hunting and i swear i got stuck somewhere around 400 times in 8 miles.....i was sore for a week. however after healing up i went out and bought a 06 arctic cat 650 h1. its soooooooo nice. 12.5 inch of clearance. i can even slide under it on a creeper! havent put it to the test yet but running around the valley its just perfect. the only down is the tires, it really needs a set of good tires on it, other than that id say its a 10. price was around 8 with the winch. i dont know about you but a full 3 year warranty sold me on arctic cat.
I'll have to give the Griz a 9. It has exceded my expectations. With better tires, modifing the suspension, and a few other mods it works real good. Only dislike is that if it is 70 degrees or hotter, creeping slow in low range with a load on the motor it will vapor lock. If I pull the plastic side panels off it so it gets air circulaiton it's no prob.
2005 Griz.660 9.5 I like the ride and the ground clearance. It is a bit of a thumper with the single cylinder but it is a gutsy machine and will go like the dickens. A bit of a pain to shift from forward to reverse as you have to brake it first.
2000 Arctic Cat 500. 7.5 It rides pretty well but has always run very rich and will poof black smoke when you jump on it especially in higher elevations. I have had the carb. off of it but I see nothing wrong there. It uses more gas than my Grizzly 660 which is no surprise due to the black exhaust. It shifts between gears easily so I plow snow with that one.
I'll be realistic here and give it an 8. The thing is amazing as far as where it will go, but being SRA it is limited on clearance. It will haul a monstrous load as well as tow over 1000#'s. Turning radius can be a problem since it is so much longer than a 4x4, which is a problem in tight trees. Riding comfort is a 10. It is soooo much smoother than a 4x4 because of the long wheel base.
1992 Honda Fourtrax 300
This one gets a 7. The machine is bulletproof, but small for me (I'm 6'4"/250#). It goes pretty good if you pick your trails and avoid the deep stuff. Again, SRA limits clearance and I'm not a fan of full time 4-wheel drive. Fairly powerful for a 300, but after getting used to the belt drive automatic of my 6x6, I am frustrated with having to manually shift gears!
Owned a 1995 Honda Foutrax 300 which is still running strong, sold it and the guy who has had it for 4 years says its still running great. Is slightly underpowered when hauling whole moose but got the job done just fine. Rate it a 8. Lots of years in bad stuff, never broke down, always started when I pushed the button, and zero mechanical repairs.
My 04 Foreman 450 ES, love it. Has given me no headaches at 700 miles its had zero repairs done, has plenty of power and has been flipped, hydrolocked and beat to hell. I give it a 9 the only reason I dont give it a 10 is because when I spend enough time crossing bodies of water (deep creeks and Rivers) I have to switch it over to manual as the ES will quit working for 5 minutes or so, but this is only when the machine is more than half submerged in water for a long enough time. I can live with this glitch so she loses a point for that fault.
I have an 04 660 Limited Grizzly. I like it just fine except for one thing. When I put new tires on it I decided I would try to see what it could do. I got into some serious mud that I had to pull my buddy out 4 times but I never got stuck but what I did do is go into some deap swamp water that was up past the headlights and ingested a bunch of swamp moss,mud, small sticks into the air intake that cools the clutches filling them up with muck! I did not have a good time cleaning all the crap out of there either! Thats the only problem I have ever had with it to this date, but it only has about 1100 miles on it though too.
I'll give it an 8. It has loads of power and torque. It is the smoothest 4x4 ATV I have ever driven by far thank to the IRS and cushy seat! I still get between 17-20 mpg (depending on load and throttle use) even though it is a 700. It handles extremely well. The efi is awesome! Starts up with the turn of the key Every time hot or cold (also in any gear). The AWD system is really nice. Stock tires are very effective.
Down side: its heavy! The rack system is proprietary meaning that it is very hard to install universal accessories on it. There is only a couple of metal strips on the racks for tying down a load and they seem to have put the strips in the center of the rack so when you put what ever on, it covers the strips up. The plastic is very tough! (at least 1/4 in thick). Also the Polaris AWD system makes a grinding noise when letting off the throttle (sounds like gravel being rolled around in a metal barrel). Everyone I have talk to that owns a Polaris says the same thing (even the Dealer). It's not loud, its just annoying. It's just one of those things that goes against everything we know about grinding sounds in mechanical machines.
Man, after reading this thread, sure sounds like you can't go wrong with any wheeler choice out there. Everybody is at least a 8 or above. So if I was shopping around, I'd probably go for the cheapest one I could find since they all rate awesome
A lot of these new machines have not been tested, tested meaning they are new(2-3 years old or less). Unless you plan on buying a new machine ever few years , it would be nice to have one last you 10-15 years and not give you a lot of headaches and still give you the same reliability it did when it was new year after year. Thats the reason I go Honda and the only reason! I am pretty good at preaching Honda too, and have convinced many a guys to buy them with no regrets on either side. Talk to miners that live on theres every day for 6 months of the year and work them into the ground, all the fancy gadgets and bells and whistles aint worth nothing when the machine is sitting in the dealership service department in Fairbanks and your up at the mine with no wheels! Have seen them boys destroy lots of them(especially Polaris and Yamahas") but werent none of them Hondas! They eventually learned though the hard way.
I already posted about my Griz and Cat 500 so I will post about the Kawasaki 400 Bayau that I sold last spring. It was a 1993 which I bought new. AlaskaCub wanted input on older machines. The Kawasaki was a good trouble free machine and I really put it to the test over the years. It's biggest fault was the rear drum brake in that it filled the drum with muddy water and held it in causing brake damage if you didn't drain it out. I replaced the o ring on the drum but it still filled with crap. It became a matter of course that I would jack the right wheel off the ground and I'd pull the drum. I would flush the brakes with water and let it dry before reassembling the wheel. A real pain in the patootie but as long as I knew about it I was fine. It had a plug to unscrew on the drum to drain it but that doesn't take care of the swamp mud that was in the shoes.
My two 2005 King Quads I would rate at 9. The only disadvantage is the size of the motor. I think they are 700cc's.
It is simply to big of a motor for a utility quad. I would perfer a 550-600cc which would be more fuel efficient. After adding 26 in Mud Lites all around they are fabulous machines.
My 2005 Polaris 6x6 would rate 8.5. Its only faults are skinny front tires, lack of fuel injection, and it could use about 5 more hp.
I kinda' think 4-wheelers are like your truck. If you're brand loyal, and most of us are, you'll favor one make over another. Plus, there's been great advancements in technology over the years. You've gotta' match the ATVs attributes for your intended use. Engine/Transmission longevity & torque are probably basic concerns. Then there's ground clearance vs center of gravity, suspension, ignition, 4 wheel drive systems, etc. And your principle interests in a machine's functionality will differ from mine. My old machine is a '93 Yamaha Big Bear 350. The one the dealer suggested I not spend another $50 on. That's the same one that hauled out two black bears this spring on 3 plugged, bald, OEM tires. The front brakes are shot. After a couple three beers it might rate a "2" as far as attractiveness. It looks like the next to last running vehicle in a state fair demolition derby contest. Durability, well, it still starts on command and it quickly burns off the leaked oil on the exhaust. I'd buy another Yamaha, as soon as my '99 Polaris Sportsman starts to show it's age, or maybe a Polaris 6X6, or maybe a Suzuki Quad, just don't know.
I drove several brands before I bought this one, everything from a to z in a400 to the 800's and while the 800's are nothing short of a thrill for 8-10k there is alot of other stuff I would like to have. I went with the 400 because the deal was very sweet with a 2500lb winch, handwarmers, and racks. The dealer had at least six of them and he was looking to move them.
Short comings are the weight at 700lbs+, however I have never been unable to do anything or go anywhere I wanted to. I have driven it in very deep snow, ice, slush, mud and everthing else you can imagine, both solo and two up. It has not let me down. I was close to buying a 500 however the only difference I could tell between the two was the 500 had a little more snap in the trottle. To me it didn't justify the price difference.
89 Honda 300 2-wheel drive: blast to drive, no major work, ugly, goes through all kinds of crap that a heavier 4x4 would get stuck in = 6
04 Honda 450EX 4x4: needs more clearance and better tires, have driven it through water up to the seat without any problems, no mechanical issues, hauls meat/logs/people/trailers/towed a camaro no problem = 9