Testing the 2016 Alterra 700 XT

We took Arctic Cat’s new full-size Alterra ATV for a test ride on the trails near Cranbrook, B.C.

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The Arctic Cat Alterra 700 XT in white.

The Alterra 700 XT comes with electronic power steering, aluminum rims, aluminum style paint, dual-halogen with LED accent headlights and dual rear LED tail lights. — Kirsten Armleder photo

The photo on the cover of our Summer 2016 issue was taken by yours truly while testing the 2016 Alterra 700 XT from Arctic Cat. What did I think of it? Well, to be completely honest, I have some mixed feelings.

Before I tell you why, let’s review the specs. With new bodywork, a chassis that has been refined and Arctic Cat’s Ride-In suspension, the Alterra boasts a more aggressive riding position, as well as 11 inches of ground clearance and 10 inches of suspension travel. The front and rear racks—which are coated with a rubberized, impact-resistant material—can carry up to 100 and 200 pounds, respectively. The Alterra’s towing capacity is rated for up to 1,050 pounds. Under the hood, it has the same 695-cc liquid-cooled single cylinder with EFI that powered the XR model of years past. The electronic power steering has been refined, however, to calculate resistance and adjust to speed.

Now, the ride experience. I can’t say I really noticed the more rider-forward positioning of the Alterra, but something inspired me to be a more aggressive rider. Around corners, the Alterra helped me hold a confident line and it soaked up the bumps surprisingly well. I also appreciated the 11 inches of ground clearance, which enabled me to clear rocks and logs that severely limited the other quads I was with.

On-the-fly two- and four-wheel drive was a feature that came in handy when tackling deep mud puddles that were spread across the trail. The Alterra also has full front diff lock, a feature I believe no quad should be without.

The Alterra 700 XT is a very capable trail machine that is also equipped with some handy workhorse features, such as a two-inch rear receiver and rubber-coated racks that have 14 attachment points for easy on and off accessories. — Kirsten Armleder photo

Overall, I was impressed with the Alterra but one drawback was how it handled down hills. The H1 powerplant does have active engine braking and you can certainly feel it kick in when you let off the throttle. It worked well, until I applied the brake. One tap and the engine would disengage completely. To be fair, however, this was happening in high range and it probably wouldn’t be much of an issue if you were a rider who’s willing to stop at the top of every hill and shift into low range before descending.

With the Alterra, or any quad for that matter, it all comes down to personal preference. For me, I feel the 700-cc is a little bit of overkill and would gravitate towards the smaller displacement version of the Alterra if I were to go that route. But, if you’re a rider who likes to go fast, haul hefty payloads and have a quad that will clear just about anything in its path, then the 2016 Alterra 700 XT is for you.

For more info, see the Arctic Cat website

Not a subscriber to our magazine? Sign up for free. — Cover design by Josh Lorincz

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