2011 John Deere Gators

2011 John Deere Gator 825i

2011 John Deere Gator 825i

Like many of you, I have used ATVs for years. Now as I get older and wiser, well older anyway, I find myself wanting less speed and more utility. That is what I like about the side-by-side UTVs that are so popular right now.

While these machines are real workhorses, they do offer some fun.

Deere hunting
The newest 2011 Gator models from John Deere blend the workhorse with the stallion. I had the opportunity to drive these machines in the hills of South Carolina at Carolina Adventure World. I came away impressed.

Like many of you, I have used ATVs for years. Now as I get older and wiser, well older anyway, I find myself wanting less speed and more utility. That is what I like about the side-by-side UTVs that are so popular right now.

While these machines are real workhorses, they do offer some fun.

Deere hunting
The newest 2011 Gator models from John Deere blend the workhorse with the stallion. I had the opportunity to drive these machines in the hills of South Carolina at Carolina Adventure World. I came away impressed.

Let’s ride
The highlight for the media release was the ride. We all got to take the new machines out for a spin to see what they could do. The terrain was a mix of hills, tight corners ruts and open roads. Here’s what I thought of each machine.

825i
The new flagship model 825i has all the function of a hard working UTV and crosses that with the power, speed and handling of a machine built for serious play.

Some of the key features are an 812cc, three-cylinder, four-valve, dual-overhead cam, automotive-style engine that produces 50 horsepower yet is the quietest engine in the UTV category that I’ve ever experienced.

It also has independent front and rear, dual-wishbone suspension and a 16.4 cubic foot cargo box with multiple tie-down anchors and a power assist dump option. They also have many tire, wheel lighting and protection options to suit every need.

As I mentioned, the engine was very quiet but it had a lot of torque. The suspension was smooth, and I noticed that it would pull me out of the ruts instead of into them. I managed to bottom it out a few places, but it didn’t throw the steering off. John Deere claims that the machine can get up to 44 miles per hour. I hit 42 on the straightest piece of road they had.

The comfort was good. They have three seating options including a bench, bucket seats and a high-back bucket seat. All were comfortable. I would have liked some adjustment in the steering wheel and the seat belts, which are a great safety feature, could use some adjustment in the mounting location.

Coming in early 2011 will be power steering as an option to the 825i. I test drove a prototype, and it was definitely a nice option, although I don’t know what it will do to the base price, which is $11,199.

Hunters are going to dig the Realtree camo finish option and all of the guards and bumpers. They offer a tube fender guard that I tried out by snagging a few trees. It worked well. There is a winch option and tire options that will allow you to drive this machine back into anyplace you’d like to bag your trophy.

855D
The diesel model was a powerful beast. It had the same smooth ride as the 825i and you didn’t really notice the extra weight of the diesel engine. It was slower, obviously but got up to a respectable 30 miles per hour on the straight.

Climbing the steep hills is where this unit shined. The engine never bogged down once and it clawed its way to the top of the steepest hills in the trail with power to spare. Very impressive. If you’re in the market for a diesel UTV this year, this is a model worth checking out. The base 855D starts at $11,299.

625i
Okay, I may have been a bit biased driving the 825i first. I wasn’t as impressed by the 625i model. It seemed underpowered and it had a few issues climbing the hills. The base price on this model is $9,999. The base price on the 825i is $11,199. Not enough of a difference to make me buy the 625i. For an extra $1,200, you get a lot more machine.

Still, if you had light duties in mind and the extra money wasn’t available, the 625i is a decent machine. There wasn’t anything around to compare it to, so that will have to wait.

The Outwrite Truth
With the popularity of the UTV getting bigger each year, it is nice to see manufacturers building machines that the consumer wants. And as a consumer I can say that this is a machine that I want (The 825i). I can see myself loading it up in September and heading out to set decoys for early goose, or loading it up in November for deer hunting deep in the backwoods of the Upper Peninsula. I think this machine could handle just about anything I would throw at it.

Now if John Deere would only see fit to give me one.