For more than a decade, Kubota has been a market leader in the RTV (rough terrain vehicle) market, having produced and sold more than 300,000 units of their popular diesel-powered models that fit into the pure RTV segment. These machines are great for users that are looking for an all-around vehicle that can assist with chores, and maximize efficiency through the use of Kubota’s renowned diesel engines.
Since their 1969 entry into the U.S. market, Kubota Tractor Corporation has made a name for itself as the best-selling compact utility tractor line, but in the 21st century, that name recognition has extended beyond just tractors as Kubota has expanded their product offerings. The extensive RTV offerings from Kubota signified that growth, and now yet another addition has been made to the product offerings.
The new RTV-XG850 Sidekick RTV is Kubota’s first RTV entry into the mainstream multipurpose gas-powered RTV market. This is a huge market segment (180,000 units sold per year) which comprises sales potential equal or greater to all of the diesel-powered RTV markets Kubota has done so well in. Kubota is known around the world as a leading manufacturer of diesel engines, so that makes sense. But why enter the multipurpose gas-powered market? The answer is simple: Customer demand.
Kubota prides itself on being a company that listens to its customers, and has a process by which the customer needs are discovered, evaluated, and ultimately conveyed to product engineers. The end result for Kubota is typically a product that fills the customer’s needs while also adhering to Kubota’s standards. So with this new RTV, those customer needs were for a machine that offers a gas engine, higher top speed, cargo capacity, and towing capacity. A true multipurpose rough terrain vehicle that can do it all.
To fit this market, Kubota built the RTV-XG850 all new from the ground up, as the existing diesel RTVs in Kubota’s lineup were built on compact tractor platforms. That platform gives those units fantastic durability, power, and versatility with hydraulic capabilities. But that platform is not compatible with the gas engine necessary to fit into this new market segment.
The powerplant in the new RTV-XG850 is a Kubota-designed engine, built by Subaru. Kubota says they have plans to manufacturer this engine at some point in the future, but for now Kubota has a relationship with Subaru to build the engine.
The engine itself is an 851cc twin-cylinder liquid-cooled DOHC electronic fuel injection unit that produces 48 horsepower at 5,750 RPM. The engine features an idle speed control feature, fully sealed starter, auto-decompression, and hits peak torque around 4,450 RPM. This power gets the RTV-XG850 to a stated top speed of 40 MPH (we registered 42 MPH in our test).
Transmission & 4WD
The gas engine is mated to Kubota’s CVT-Plus transmission. This transmission features a continuous tension cogged CVT belt, centrifugal clutch, and a fully sealed CVT cover. The Sidekick also comes standard with 4WD with differential lock.
Kubota has fitted the RTV-XG850 with standard electric power steering, with a speed sensitive feature that adjusts the speed response depending on the speed of the vehicle. At low speeds, more power makes for easy turns, while at higher speeds better steering response is achieved through a reduction of steering assist.
An all-new independent font and rear suspension with increased dampening and larger axles provide a smooth ride and stable handling across many different types of terrain. The suspension features urethane bushings for longer bushing life and improved performance.
In order to take on rough terrain, the RTV-XG850 has 9″ of front suspension travel and 8.5″ of rear suspension travel.
While the Sidekick offers increase speed and agility over its diesel-powered cousins, those increases came without compromising cargo capacity. The 1,000-lb bed capacity is substantial enough to make the RTV-XG850 a great worksite vehicle, or a formidable hauler for farmers, ranchers, and homeowners alike.
Kubota has tuned the suspension so that at full load capacity, the Sidekick’s bed lays flat a a 0 degree tilt angle. This makes for safer load transport and better handling when hauling.
Kubota’s designers were tasked with adding more aggressive styling to the new Sidekick RTV, and they didn’t disappoint. The new unit features an aggressive front end and three paint options: Kubota orange, green, camo, or special edition black (which includes some unique decals).
More Than 50 New Accessories
Tricking out the Sidekick is made possible by a variety of new accessories that can be fitted. Kubota offers three different windshield options, multiple lighting options, two different roofs, and a long list of other items. The special edition trim line includes a number of these accessories and that cool black paint job, too. Whether it’s an open station summer configuration, or a cold weather setup with heater, the Sidekick can be setup to fit your needs.
Like all Kubota RTVs, the XG850 is built from scratch at Kubota’s Gainsville, Georgia plant. Even RTVs sold in other markets are manufactured in Georgia, making it Kubota’s only RTV plant. (The engine and other parts are manufactured in other locations.)
So, how much is all of this new stuff going to cost? List price on the entry level general purpose with ATV tires comes in at $13,651, while the Kubota Special Edition model comes in at $15,552 before adding options. Fully optioned, you can get over $20,000 for the special edition model, so the price point will largely depend on your application.
Without a doubt, Kubota has invested a lot of time and resources into bringing the RTV-XG850 to the market, and as with every single product in their lineup, buyers can expect to find the type of quality, durability, and dealer support that Kubota’s reputation stands for. Those in the market for a new RTV will definitely want to give the RTV-XG850 a test drive.