Arctic Cat Sno Pro 500 $8,299
What started as a dominating race sled has become a real-world supersled for aggressive snowmobilers. Suspension and handling are the Sno Pro 500’s most redeeming qualities as this chassis was designed to be the best at tackling the bumps and carving twists in the trail. This platform’s future within Cat’s lineup isn’t clear, but even if it stays restricted to this 500cc model, it will push the other manufacturers to build better cross-country snowmobiles, because this one truly kicks butt.
Polaris 550 IQ Shift $5,999
Yes, it’s still possible to get a new, great-handling, fun-to-drive and comfortable snowmobile for less than $6,000. The Polaris 550 IQ Shift may be the best bargain in snowmobiling. This lightweight machine handles marvelously, holding its line in corners and never provides unpleasant surprises. The shocks are less expensive than those on the IQ Dragon, but Ryde FX MPVs do a fine job, and the 60 hp, 544cc fan-cooled twin creates sporty fun.
Ski-Doo MX Z 600 E-TEC X $10,449
While some other snowmobile manufacturers over-sell the performance of their so-called “rough trail” sleds, the marketing department at Ski-Doo delivers what it claims, an ideal sled for rutted-out trails. We chose the 600 for its high-tech, clean-burning E-TEC direct-injection with quiet and precise performance, and quick acceleration. If you’re an aggressive rider, you won’t be disappointed with this machine. It turns sharp, eats bumps, handles well and runs flawlessly from idle to peak rpm.
Yamaha RS Vector GT $10,499
Returning to our Top 10 because it’s a rock-star, everyman’s trail sled, the RS Vector GT gets upgrades to the powerplant, electrical system and the suspension. Fuel injection was added to the 1049cc triple, allowing engineers to tune it in better for 6 additional horsepower and 15 more foot-pounds of torque. A new stator and handwarmer system keep digits warmer, while the MonoShock II skid gets new drivers and a new track. The result: A really good sled got better!
Ski-Doo MX Z $10,199 800R Adrenaline
This truly is a great, all-around snowmobile that doesn’t get enough accolades, until now. There’s something about Ski-Doo sleds that proves you’re on a sled that’s solid and well-built; they’re precise. The MX Z 800R Adrenaline is a flexible, no-frills machine that delivers excellent handling, comfortable ergonomics and spirited engine performance that suits the needs of most snowmobilers, whether they want to take it easy to see the scenery or wick it up on a bumpy trail.
Arctic Cat M8 HCR $11,999
The M Series has always been good, but a few minor revisions this year make the HCR the best machine in the mountains. No sled is more maneuverable off-trail (it lays over with a flick of the wrist), and the new H.O. 800 engine is a sweet power upgrade (about 10 more horses over last year); not to mention its superior off-trail ergos (new seat, adjustable handlebars, serrated footwells). This is the new highmark for mountain performance.
Yamaha FX Nytro MTX SE $12,199
A cutting edge all-air rear suspension combined with other upgrades make the 2010 Yamaha FX Nytro MTX SE the best, most high-tech four-stroke mountain sled yet. Yamaha re-engineered its rear suspension to use air shocks front and rear and create a snowmobile that floats better in powder, climbs higher and feels notably lighter than last year’s FX Nytro MTX. A slightly wider front end adds stability, while a new tunnel and track add to its agility.
Ski-Doo Renegade Backcountry $10,699
This is the sled for flatland adventure riders. New for 2010, the Backcountry package offers a wider, deep-lug track and wide skis for more off-trail capability than other crossover sleds. The 151 hp 800R is our engine of choice for powering through deep, backcountry snow in Alaska, the Michigan U.P., northern Minnesota or Maine, and the lightweight REV-XP chassis is easy to handle when navigating over and through the deep-woods creeks, swamps and brush.
Arctic Cat Z1 Turbo EXT $13,699
With 177 turbo-assisted horsepower on tap and a 144-inch track, some people might be intimidated by Cat’s Z1 Turbo EXT, but don’t be afraid. It makes our list because it’s a hyper sled that handles great on trails, with a smooth, controllable powerband, planted and predictable front end and roomy, comfortable ergonomics. We liked with the original Z1 Turbo last season, but the additional track length is a winning addition to control the massive power produced by the 1056cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected twin.
Ski-Doo GSX SE $11,849
Ski-Doo redefines luxury solo touring with the 2010 GSX SE. It features a refined version of the 1170cc Rotax triple four-stroke, with notably less engine braking to make the machine far less fatiguing to ride. In back is the adjust-on-the-fly rear suspension that allows drivers to select between five air-spring settings on the rear air shock with the handlebar-mounted control. A heated seat, tilt steering, multiple power outlets and all of the ergonomic benefits of the REV-XR chassis complete the deal.