When you consider the DNA of a company and the amount of financial backing they preserve as a whole, it’s no surprise Textron Off Road can come to market with a new, dependable and quiet utility machine. Textron “the mothership” is famous for Citation Jets, the fastest personal jet in the world, and other incredible feats of pure engineering genius. When I started seeing products like the Prowler Pro XT come to the market, I figured they knew what the general public needed in a working-class UTV.
At first glance, the Prowler Pro XT is a very stylish and classy looking ride. But looks are not the only impressive feature in this package. Looking straight into the heart of this machine, the whisper-quiet 50hp, 812cc inline triple gets your attention quickly for simply not getting your attention. It’s subtle when simply idling at a stunning 59dB, to the point of becoming unnoticed, and that is what Textron was hoping for. This electronically fuel injected engine idles with little vibration or annoying squeaks that may be found on competing models. There is value in a machine that allows you to carry a conversation from start to finish along the trail or job site, and the Prowler Pro is capable of this. Although the volume of the engine does grow more as the speed increases, up to 76dB, it is still an acceptable working level.
Some creature comforts in the cab include tilt steering and the mechanical gear selection lever/knob. The knob is mounted on the steering column with a large round handle, making it easy to place the CVT transmission into the drive ranges. This transmission range includes P-N-H-L-R and feels more like a typical farm truck shift mechanism. It was my experience that this shifting mechanism worked as expected, unless parked on a steep grade as the machine tends to hold the shifter tighter. It can then be tough to get into or out of gear once placed in park in that situation. I’d say most transmissions could get locked in that situation anyway, but it is worth noting as it caught my attention a few times.
Looking at the cab you may first notice, as I did, the different coloration between sections of the top of the dash and as well as the lower half. The dash is two distinct colors, and while this might seem to be a production mishap, there is actually a purpose here. This color difference from black to grey at the bottom not only allowed me to easily identify the placement of switch locations, switch blanks or pre-cut switch spaces, but the twin 12-volt power outlets were highly visible as well. It was also a nice change from the traditional all-black cab dash. The digital readout dash is also clearly visible, should you need to know the vitals of the machine as it is being driven.
Looking a little closer, you might notice some small storage spaces at the bottom of the dash for stowing smaller items. Something that many will miss, however, is the incredible storage space behind the middle and passenger seating. It goes all the way across the complete seating area, but it is only accessible from the passenger side. If you simply loosen the small fastener then pull the top of the upper seat forward, you will find this compartment. You can even remove the lower portions of the seats and store excess items there. It is a pretty impressive use of space that also doubles to subdue noise for the engine to cab space in between. As for entry and exit to and from the cab, it is really easy, and the seats are comfortable even on rough terrain.
Another notable feature in this machine would be its Turf mode. If you purchase this Prowler Pro XT to work on sensitive terrain, one unique feature is the unlockable rear differential. This machine incorporates a dash-mounted switch to unlock the rear wheels for those sensitive lawns or terrains that need a little more care. It will also eliminate the noises and damage to the tires when turning around on the pavement. It’s a great feature not offered on many stock machines.
My test ride was a full day spent in the incredible landscape most would call wine country of northern San Luis Obispo County. We had the run of about 60,000 acres. The large lot offered up all different types of terrain to see how the Prowler would perform. Some of the steep climbs followed by what looked like steeper descents were taken like a Sunday ride on a flat country road.The Prowler Pro has many unique features that make a day of riding quite enjoyable. Of course, the quiet aspect is in the forefront, which is very important to hunters and anyone spending a long day on the job. I also grew to appreciate the great pass-through design of the cab, which came in handy when getting in and out of the vehicle. For a job site or working the ranch, this drastically cuts down on the fatigue from multiple ins and outs. The front-to-rear opening style of the doors is easily operated with a press of the door-mounted latch – much easier than pulling a latch. The rearward opening gives the rider much more room to get inside comfortably.
Having spent the better part of the day behind the wheel of several different machines, I grew to appreciate the model with the power steering the Power Steering equipped model. EPS on an ATV or UTV is pretty much industry standard these days but there are some who prefer to simply muscle it out instead of paying for comfort upfront — I’m all about the comfort!
When you get to the power delivery, you will find it is very linear and does give the driver power to tackle all obstacles. It slows on the really steep stuff, but performs well for most conditions. In low gear, the engine could pull a freight train — it and has every bit of the power you need for a good day’s haul. This machine is no speed demon, but it’s not built to race, it’s built to work. If desired, you can regulate the speed via the dash in case you have any lead-footed employees on the job. This is a great feature I can see benefiting construction or farming jobs immensely.
Although I didn’t have an opportunity to drag a trailer, the towing capability as rated by Textron is impressive. It is rated to tow 2,000 lbs., while the bed is also capable of carrying an additional 1,000 lbs. This is at least right in the ballpark with other machines, and speaks volumes for Textron’s desire to be competitive. The bed is very robust, and the tailgate is also built for heavy-duty use. Lifting the bed allows for full access to service items tucked underneath. If you are the kind of owner who wrenches on their own stuff instead of depending on outside help, there are two small plastic service panels that are easily removed from the forward rear wheel wells. This allows access to even more of the engine and driveline. Textron definitely thought of maintaining this machine while designing it.
The Textron Off Road Prowler Pro XT is a quality machine and priced so that many will be able to enjoy the outdoors. Job sites, as well as hunters and the average enthusiast, will also benefit from this latest offering from the company that builds quality into every product they make.