The new Yamaha Grizzly 450 is now available with electronic power steering (EPS), making it the world's first middleweight ATV with EPS. Yamaha was the first to introduce power steering to a production ATV and its patented speed-sensitive EPS system is designed to reduce handlebar kickback from ruts and bumps, while at the same time reducing rider fatigue.
The 450 uses the same mechanical technology as its heavyweight 550cc and 700cc brothers. But the EPS has been reprogrammed to suit the different characteristics of the lighter 450cc quad. Adding the EPS to the 450 meant redesigning the chassis. Yamaha engineers took the opportunity to develop a stronger, lighter one-piece frame. A new rear gear case and sealed wet multi-plate rear brake were developed, adding to the rigidity of the rear section of the frame and increasing stopping power.
New steering column and suspension parts, as well enhancements to the generator, seat, bodywork and graphics, plus the fitting of a new type of tyre, improve the 2011 Grizzly 450 still further.
Polaris has new models and features in the 2011 Sportsman and Ranger ranges. Styling on the Sportsman chassis has been updated and new transmission introduced. Sound emission is improved, there is a new radiator, 50W low-beam headlights, a lower winch mount location and a Lock and Ride rack or box on the Sportsman 500HO and Sportsman 800.
The Sportsman 400 returns to a full-size chassis machine, with full instrumentation. The value-for-money 400HO boasts 19 per cent more suspension travel, 25 per cent more ground clearance and increases to towing and rack capacity. Polaris's premium models, from the 550 to the 850EPS, feature weight reduction, STX seat vinyl, improved EBS and splash protection and upgraded gears, wheel bearings and ball joints.
The latest quad from Apache, the RLX 400 4x4, is a utility and agricultural model brought in to satisfy a demand for 4x4 capabilities. It features push-button three-way locking differential, 2WD, 4WD, locked 4WD and shaft drive. Power is supplied through a 360cc OHV engine.
Transmission is CVT automatic, with reverse. Standard specification includes a front winch with handlebar control, tow bar, carry racks and fully independent transmission. The RLX 400 can be used for medium to heavy duties and in December a number of local authorities used 400s with snowploughs and gritting equipment.
The popularity of side-by-sides continues to grow, driving demand for development and updated models. A demand for quiet-running, fume-free transport gave a boost to electric vehicles, with Avid's E-Warrior all-electric utility introduced in 2010. Costing less to buy and run (4p per mile) than an average diesel or petrol utility, the E-Warrior has a single charge range of up to 40 miles and a 250kg payload.
The vehicle is the first in its sector to use dual DC electric motors - one on each axle - to improve off-road performance and vehicle stability, while reducing weight and cost. Charging takes three hours, using a standard three-pin plug, though Avid can supply a small wind turbine for those off the grid.
It has been a busy 12 months for Polaris, with the introduction of diesel and electric 4x4 side-by-sides. Now it has replaced its full-sized Ranger 500EFI with a mid-size chassis model. It carries the proven 32hp engine, returning 71 kmph (44mph) top speed, and is fitted with 20cm front struts and rear IRS to give 25.4cm of ground clearance.
For those needing extra space and passenger capacity, Polaris has introduced the Ranger Crew 500EFI. This four-seater, offering multi-passenger capacity at a mid-size price, retains its off-road capability.
Last year saw more electric vehicles come to the market in the form of ePower's XT320E 3.5-tonne van and E-merge E2 golf buggy - the UK's first road-legal golf cart - and Ransomes extended its range with the addition of the E-Z-GO TXT 48 golf car.
Latest news from JCB is that the Groundhog has changed its name to Workmax. New for 2011 is the Workmax 800D - a diesel utility with 600kg maximum payload. Likely to appeal to estates, golf courses, garden centres, nurseries and leisure parks, it is fitted with a 784cc Yanmar diesel engine coupled to a two-speed CVT with Kevlar belt - a deliberate move to position the new model in the middle of the growing UTV volume sector. Features include 4WD plus selectable electronic diff lock.
New Holland Groundcare entered the utility vehicle market last year with the Rustler 120 two-seater in off-road and road-legal versions. Powered by a 20hp diesel engine, it has automatic 4WD and auto differential locks. The chassis is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, aircraft-grade aluminium and the driveline is a belt CVT, with one ratio giving forward speeds up to 40kmph. Cargo capacity is 476kg. It can tow up to 797kg.
The Cub Cadet Big Country 4x4 utility, available from Barrus, has had an engine change - an upgrade to the Yanmar 3THV70 diesel - giving it a five per cent increase in horsepower, while John Deere has introduced an olive-coloured version of its popular XUV850D as an alternative to the usual bright green.
For reviews of quad bikes and UTVs, plus listings and buying advice, see whatkit.co.uk