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  1. #1
    Silver Member Milo's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
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    199
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    Preston County, WV
    Tractor
    Kubota B7500, Polaris Ranger 500

    Default Considering Small Side By Side, Gator 550, Polaris Ranger 400/500? Any Thoughts?

    We have a Kawasaki Mule 610 that has been 100% trouble free in the 6 years we've had it. It's 52" width allows it to run over the local ATV trails which are sometimes pretty narrow between trees. The open sides and bench seat makes it easy to slide on and off which is desirable for us. It does almost everything we want a small side by side to do. The "almost" being it has 6.7" ground clearance, it would be nice to have at least 1.5 - 2" more. Our property is divided by a stream and while I've taken the 610 across it, itエs impossible not to drag over some of the rocks. A bit more power/speed could be useful on occasion but really only when going up hill on roads which isn't that often.
    So I'm just considering what alternatives are out there for side by side that has at least 8 of ground clearance, bench seat, and decent dump bed, and no wider than 56"?

    One could be a Mule 610XC, basically the same thing I have, but it comes with larger wheels and a bit more suspension which increases clearance to 8.1" The brakes are stronger and gearing is changed to allow for the larger diameter tires. It has a 11.8' turning circle.
    Short comings are just adequate power, 3" suspension travel, and independent front suspension only. It uses the same 13.5 hp single cylinder engine.

    Another is the Polaris 400 or 500 which weighs 1,150 lb. (same as the 610) 29 hp (32 for the 500) 56.5" width, 10" ground clearance. It has fully independent suspension with 8-9 travel. I didn't see the turning circle. It has a liquid cooled engine (maybe a slight negative to me)

    The other I just looked at (on line) is the John Deere Gator XUV 550. It's 70# heavier than the Mule and Polaris, has a 16 hp 2 cylinder, air cooled engine, 56.5" width, and 10.5 ground clearance. Like the Polaris it also has fully independent suspension with 8 - 9" travel. 12.3' turning circle.

    Any who are familiar with the Gator 550 or Polaris 400/500 I would appreciate your experience as far as overall satisfaction and any problems, what it does great, and maybe what it could do better. For instance sometimes small issues like mechanical noise, engine heat, etc., aren't apparent just driving around the dealer lot. Thanks for any advice!

  2. #2
    Silver Member IntervaleFarms's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
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    103
    Location
    Burtts Corner, New Brunswick Canada
    Tractor
    Case IH 485

    Default Re: Considering Small Side By Side, Gator 550, Polaris Ranger 400/500? Any Thoughts?

    I just recently bought a Polaris 400. I also looked at the 550 Gator but never had the chance to test drive one. This is the first side x side I have owned.
    I don't think I would have been happy with the slower speed of the 550 Gator and much lower power of the motor, though it may not be all that noticeable in actual use. I use mine as much for trail riding as work.
    I only have about 7 hours on mine now but I have found it to be very capable as well as comfortable to drive. It works well in the woods and on the trails and so far I have not run into a situation where the extra width compared to my Honda Foreman has been a problem. I am hoping I will still be satisfied without having the EFI once the cold weather arrives. It looks like servicing it will be fairly easy as well.
    The main reason I chose the 400 over the 500 Ranger was purely price. At the time when I purchased mine they were clearing out the 2012 inventory. This was the last 2012 midsize Ranger they had left and it was discounted almost $2000 as well as already having a roof and half windshield installed. Had it not been for the discount I may have leaned towards a 500 Ranger a little harder. The pricing on 550 Gators in my area was in the same ballpark as the Rangers.
    Case IH 485
    John Deere 430W
    Polaris Ranger 400

  3. #3
    Silver Member Milo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    199
    Location
    Preston County, WV
    Tractor
    Kubota B7500, Polaris Ranger 500

    Default Re: Considering Small Side By Side, Gator 550, Polaris Ranger 400/500? Any Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by IntervaleFarms View Post
    .... This was the last 2012 midsize Ranger they had left and it was discounted almost $2000 as well as already having a roof and half windshield installed. Had it not been for the discount I may have leaned towards a 500 Ranger a little harder. The pricing on 550 Gators in my area was in the same ballpark as the Rangers.
    Nice, I wouldn't hesitate with a $2K discount either! The local Polaris dealer is quoting $8,300 and $9,300, for the 400 and 500 Ranger. He say's they run about the same as far as felt power but they sell more 500's because of FI. I haven't had a chance to drive a Ranger but I just did drive a JD XUV550 around the gravel parking lot. I could tell it has a bit more power than the Mule 610 and I like it's steering, suspension, and brakes. I was a little disappointed in that it is noisier than the Mule, from both engine noise and rattles/squeaks mostly from the bed and tailgate. The bed is composite, maybe it transmits more noise than steel? Also the latch system to hold the bed down does so securely but not tightly, so there's noise from there. At least when the bed is empty. I want to try a Polaris, maybe later this week.

  4. #4
    Veteran Member sam5570's Avatar
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    Jan 2012
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    1,320
    Location
    south west virginia
    Tractor
    new holland tn70

    Default Re: Considering Small Side By Side, Gator 550, Polaris Ranger 400/500? Any Thoughts?

    Milo i have owned my ranger 500 6x6 sense 04 and i still love it i have not had any problems with it at all 1 thing to consider when bying them iss turning radias the 6x6 takes a large area to turn if you get the 4x4 it takes 28 inch less space to turn sorry don't know exact numbers on turning radias but as far as dependable my polaris has been top notch i couldn't belive i just took the orginal battery out last week and it still worked good but this winter hunting i didn't want to take any chances

  5. #5
    Silver Member Milo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    199
    Location
    Preston County, WV
    Tractor
    Kubota B7500, Polaris Ranger 500

    Default Re: Considering Small Side By Side, Gator 550, Polaris Ranger 400/500? Any Thoughts?

    Thanks Sam. A Ranger 6x6 wouldn't be nearly maneuverable enough for my needs. Nice to hear you've not had any issues with it, or your Polaris.

    One thing I'm trying to determine, on the Ranger 400/500, is if they have true 4-wheel drive in reverse? Also there seem to be a larger number of people talking about "problems" with Rangers than other major brands. It may be due to the fact there are more of them than other brands. Or maybe they get abused more, I don't know. I understand the production of 400/500's has partially moved to Mexico and soon they may all be assembled there.
    On the positive note Rangers have the reputation of going places where some other side by sides can't make it through. I guess Ranger's combination of power, suspension travel, ground clearance, and maybe how their AWD functions just works well.

  6. #6
    Silver Member qstott's Avatar
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    Jan 2006
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    196
    Location
    Elm City, NC
    Tractor
    '65 110 JD, 445 JD, 4720CabJD

    Default Re: Considering Small Side By Side, Gator 550, Polaris Ranger 400/500? Any Thoughts?

    I've recently been involved in a search for a side by side for both my boss, and a friend. I own a Yamaha Rhino, and it does almost everything I need. After a bunch of test rides, and conversations I really like the new Rangers. While top speed is not the primary concern, more than 30 mph is nice at times. If I was to get rid of my Rhino it would only be for a new Ranger XP900. But, if I didn't have the Rhino and was in the market, the Ranger 500 would be my choice on a limited budget. I will not buy anything like that without fuel injection. I especially like the fact that you can unlock the rear diff in the Ranger for use in the yard, and even for a shorter turning radius. The bed is quite large compared to the Rhino. The ground clearance is greater, but the wheel base is longer I think. The other good feature is that is so much quieter than the Rhino. A lesser plus is that you might could ride three in the Ranger. The new Rangers have been improved(I sure the new 900's have, but not no sure about the rest) as far as chassie and handling. With the older Rangers you can't unlock the rear diff.

    The mule is simply too slow and underpowered for me. The Rhino does great, but tears up the yard and is loud. I think the Ranger would be a good compromise. I will say the Rhino has made it through everything from muddy swamps to loose rocky mountain trails and always brought me back with no problems

  7. #7
    Silver Member Milo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    199
    Location
    Preston County, WV
    Tractor
    Kubota B7500, Polaris Ranger 500

    Default Re: Considering Small Side By Side, Gator 550, Polaris Ranger 400/500? Any Thoughts?

    Thanks for your advice qstott. Early on I went to look at the 450 Rhino but I guess they don't make them any more. The 700 or 800 Rhino is just more power than I need, too small of a bed, and too expensive for me. You're right about the value of an open rear diff. It's a feature I like on my 610 Mule, interesting the Rhino does not have this? I would think it has to be better for handling and easier on the machine on pavement too.
    Nice to know the Ranger is quieter too.

  8. #8
    Elite Member johnk's Avatar
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    Jun 2003
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    2,617
    Location
    western NY
    Tractor
    Kubota GST Grand L3130 w/ 723 loader, Ags

    Default Re: Considering Small Side By Side, Gator 550, Polaris Ranger 400/500? Any Thoughts?

    Check out the midsize FI ranger 500. Great suspension, traction and speed...........1 wheel drive, differential lock, and all wheel drive at the touch of a 3 position switch..
    Kubota grand L 3130; 723 loader; Hinged back Box Scraper; 7' HD Back Blade; Tooth Bar; PHD w/ 9 & 12 Inch Auger; PEC; Carryall

  9. #9
    Silver Member Milo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    199
    Location
    Preston County, WV
    Tractor
    Kubota B7500, Polaris Ranger 500

    Default Re: Considering Small Side By Side, Gator 550, Polaris Ranger 400/500? Any Thoughts?

    If I do a Ranger it'll probably be the 500 FI one. Polaris now offers the same mid size Ranger with a 800 twin cylinder but it would be over kill for my needs. And it's another $1,200.

    Interesting that no one has commented on the Gator XUV 550?

  10. #10
    Silver Member IntervaleFarms's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    103
    Location
    Burtts Corner, New Brunswick Canada
    Tractor
    Case IH 485

    Default Re: Considering Small Side By Side, Gator 550, Polaris Ranger 400/500? Any Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Milo View Post
    If I do a Ranger it'll probably be the 500 FI one. Polaris now offers the same mid size Ranger with a 800 twin cylinder but it would be over kill for my needs. And it's another $1,200.

    Interesting that no one has commented on the Gator XUV 550?
    I was looking at one of the 800's when I bought mine. The salesman told me it's just about like a rocket.

    All the gators around here seem to be purchased mostly for farm use and they are buying the largest gas and diesel models. The closest dealer is an hour away though.
    Case IH 485
    John Deere 430W
    Polaris Ranger 400

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