John Deere Gator XUV 850 D

 

First impressions:

Most golf buggy-like of them all, but well built, neat and thoughtfully laid out overall.

Chassis and suspension

Rubber bushings and engine mounts fail to dampen a raucous, ear-splitting clattering at idle that recedes to nothing once you give the 3-pot Yanmar a few revs.

The suspension is relatively hard and willing to “cock a leg” but this doesn’t seem to affect traction.

Engine and transmission

Yanmar motor and belt-drive CVT put the power to the ground in a smooth, progressive way. And, like the Kawasaki, there’s rarely any cause to shift out of high range.

Braking

Discs on all four corners but left-foot braking with a gentle dose of throttle is the only way to stop the Gator breaking for cover.

Watch the buggy test

Driveability

The centrally mounted gear selector can be a bit fiddly for larger drivers, but electrically-engaged 4×4 is a bonus. Traction is unbelievable and it scaled everything we flung at it, even in high range.

Practicality and servicing

Mucking out isn’t as easy as it could be because of the central console but drain holes in the floor mean slurry won’t slop about for long. A proper wrap-around bull-bar provides decent protection to the front and flanks.

Cab

The Gator’s cab looks to be the most comprehensive on test. But larger drivers may find that not being able to adjust the seats is a problem (and there’s no bench seat option).

Passenger seats go forward to access air cleaner and battery. Dash has least functionality with warning lights only for oil pressure, overheating and parking.

Pros

* Anti-roll bar on front – good at speed

* Drive train – no lack of power and no belt slippage

* Smooth and manouverable

Cons

* Rattly engine (noise) at idle

* Hard to get in, little space between seat and steering wheel – knee knocks against plastic

* Storage poor (windscreen gets in way)

To see results from the other buggies click on the link below:

Kawasaki Mule 4010 Trans 4×4 – best all-rounder

Massey Ferguson 20 MD – best handling at speed

JCB Groundhog 4×4 – best load independentsuspension

Kubota RTV 900 – best at braking

And for more pictures from the tests click here.