The 2016 Ski-Doo MX Z Blizzard is one of the most intriguing and impressive snowmobiles that will hit the snow next winter. It includes new ski technology and a longer track than some other MX Z models, not to mention it brings back an iconic name for Ski-Doo.
In addition to test rides in Quebec, Montana and Idaho, we’ve recently had the opportunity to log a few hundred miles in Minnesota on a 2016 Ski-Doo MX Z Blizzard 800R E-TEC ($13,149) demo. Here are some of our impressions of it:
With a 129-inch track spinning around the rMotion suspension, it’s fair to assume that translates to another 3 to 4 inches of track on the ground when compared to a 120-inch MX Z. Though that’s only a few inches, the extra length makes the chassis feel more stable so it tracks more predictably over bumps, chatter and uneven trail surfaces. The added weight of the longer track and suspension also probably contributes to the increased stability.
The longer track leads to an obvious question: Does it affect handling? Hardly. Ski-Doo sleds based on the REV-XS platform have razor sharp handling on smooth trails. Steering response is quick and handling is sure-footed. And even with the extra 9 inches of track out back, the MX Z Blizzard still carves corners impressively well. Some riders might notice that steering is a fraction slower than a 120-inch sled, but it’s negligible – at most. Frankly, the added stability does more than make up for the very slight reduction in steering response.
Snowmobile suspensions, clutches and handlebars have been adjustable for decades, but not until now has a snowmobile ski been easily adjustable. Ski-Doo invented a new ski that will be standard on the 2016 MX Z Blizzard, and as an option on some models ordered this spring.
The Ski-Doo Pilot TS (Tunable Ski) is a cool option that works as expected. Initially we thought the system was too much of a gimmick for our skeptical taste buds, but a test ride in January showed that it works quite well. More testing last month reinforced the notion that it’s convenient and fun to have the ability to dial in front-end traction to suit conditions.
Now after more extensive testing during several days this month in varied snow conditions during mornings (hard, set-up), afternoons and evenings (soft, sloppy), our appreciation for the technology has grown considerably. We’re still not particularly fond of all of the “stuff” in front of the spindle because it looks busy and vulnerable (nor do we like the appearance of the rMotion accessory Quick Adjust system on MX Z and Renegade running boards for the same reasons), but Ski-Doo designers and engineers did a nice job styling the TS system and making it seem durable and rugged. Time will tell.
Another notable feature that is standard on 2016 Ski-Doo MX Z Blizzard models is the Ice Ripper XT track, which is similar to the Camoplast RipSaw track, but with the studs embedded in some of the track lugs. The metal studs increase traction for slick conditions like icy corners or parking lots, but they do not provide as much acceleration, cornering and braking traction as push-through studs.
The Blizzard package fits between the high-end MX Z X (has a 129-inch track for 2016) and the everyman’s MX Z TNT (still a 120-inch track for 2016), in terms of features. Blizzard and X models each have the high-end gauge with analog speedometer and tachometer, and customizable LCD screen between the two meters’ needles. Blizzard and TNT models have the same windshield setup and steel HPG Plus shocks; X models get externally adjustable, aluminum body shocks. Unlike X models that are only available for order during Ski-Doo’s Spring Fever promotion, Blizzards will be available to buy from dealerships all season.
Here’s the full scoop on the 2016 Ski-Doo snowmobiles lineup.