Each year, manufacturers release new models and technology that pushes each other forward, and snowmobilers reap the benefits. The sleds handle better, ride more comfortably and run stronger.
But with each new model and technological improvement comes more market segmentation and confusion for sled buyers. Aggressive trail riders used to have just one choice from each factory. Now each manufacturer offers a broad range of engines, suspensions and tracks to choose from. How do snowmobilers know what machine is right for them and if it will meet their needs? That’s where we come in. We test and examine the new machines and provide feedback about what works and what doesn’t.
In this examination, we’ve taken a close look at four new models that don’t necessarily fit neatly into specific market segments: the Yamaha Apex RTX; Polaris 700 Fusion; Ski-Doo MX Z 550 Fan “X”; and Arctic Cat T660 Turbo LE. We paid particular attention to the marketing claims of manufacturers to see if each one does its job.
The Apex RTX represents the company’s entry into the rough trail segment of the sport. But will it meet the expectations of aggressive riders?
Polaris says its all-new 700 Fusion provides the best all-around performance. That’s a broad statement about an exciting new model. Why is Polaris fielding such a cautious marketing plan?
Ski-Doo was sneaky for 2006 and introduced its MX Z 550 Fan “X” after other manufacturers recently bailed out of the boy racer niche. It’s a solid fan-cooled sled that’s loaded with extras, but will its price tag keep it out of the hands of its target audience?
Arctic Cat and innovation go hand in hand. It pushes the technological envelope forward faster than any other manufacturer. For 2006, it plugged a few new technological treats on its T660 Turbo LE. But is that enough to make demanding solo tourers appreciate this dated sled?