We Review Arctic Cat's 700 Auto Diesel

Performance of this Arctic Cat diesel ATV is surpring.

Published on: Feb 5, 2008

One of the main complaints you hear from folks about diesel-powered all-terrain vehicles usually has to do with their inability to get out of the way of a lunch-hour mail truck. Arctic Cat's 700 Auto Diesel ends that syndrome.

While you won't find the 700 setting any land world speed records, it runs quite fast enough for the workhorse it is. And, off the line, don't stand in the way of this Minnesotan! While weighing in empty at 823 lbs., the 700 Diesel jumps from a dead stop and will top-end in about 10-12 seconds, right around 40 miles per hour.

The continuously variable transmission has two ranges, but we jokingly wonder why they bothered with a "low" since the long-stroke diesel will handle just about anything in "high." In fact, the only time we used "low" over the machine's five-month stay at our house, was loading it up ramps into the pickup (where it fits nicely) and pulling a disabled 2,700-lb. Jeep CJ5 through some mud after an embarrassing U-joint incident. Even on steep mountain trails the high range had plenty of leverage going up, and excellent engine braking coming down -- with two adults on board! (The 700 Diesel is available with a second rider seat, and built-in foot rests.)

Up and down mountains, pulling disabled vehicles, or just playing on trails in the heat or snow, the Arctic Cat 700 Auto Diesel is an ATV you should consider for hard work on not much fuel.
Up and down mountains, pulling disabled vehicles, or just playing on trails in the heat or snow, the Arctic Cat 700 Auto Diesel is an ATV you should consider for hard work on not much fuel.

Power comes from an Italian-made Lombardini 686 cc.displacement (41.8 cubic inches) vertical two-cylinder diesel engine that will run a very long time on the contents of the vehicle's 5.5 gallon fuel tank. Arctic Cat recommends B20 biodiesel fuel, but the machine also will run on Diesel #1, #2/JP-5 or JP-8 turbine fuel.

To say the 700 is thrifty is putting it mildly. In the mountains of New Mexico, we took the Dark Green machine up three different trails, all leading to or above the timber line. In all, riding double, my wife and I put 38 miles on the 700 with lots of idling stops for pictures and sight-seeing. After those 19 miles up and 19 miles down, we topped it off with 1.8 gallons of diesel fuel. I filled it when we got back to Oklahoma and three months later, after another 30 miles or so doing chores around our house, there was still well more than half a tank of fuel on board. This thing is a sure-footed goat on the hills but eats like a parakeet!

Our impression of the 700 Auto Diesel is a very good one. The brakes are excellent - we seldom used the foot brake, relying mainly on the hydraulic left handle-bar lever to stop. The indirect-injected engine starts easily in hot and cold weather and everything in between with its glow-plugs and heavy-duty battery.

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The four-wheel independent suspension makes for smooth riding, but we noticed when you overload the 2-inch receiver hitch (and most folks will) there's quite a bit of "squat." Still if you stay within Arctic Cat's recommendations all is well. The machine will easily tow any reasonably-loaded trailer.

Four-wheel-drive is available on-the-go at the flick of a switch on the right handle bar. If the going really gets tough, a front differential lock hooks both front wheels together to climb whatever is in their way.

The lights are excellent.

Complaints? On our machine, the thumb-operated throttle had excessive travel. You have to move the lever almost half of its total travel before the engine tips in. You get used to it, but it's an irritation that needs to be adjusted or redesigned.

Because it's a diesel, the 700 uses a small, but very high-capacity battery to power the starter against the engine's high compression. Also, it has to light the glow plugs in cold weather. The machine we received had a defective battery from the factory (which happens to any manufacturer), and, while Arctic Cat immediately paid for a new one, it became apparent AC dealers weren't stocking replacements yet, and that was six months into the production of the 700. The AC dealer in Albuquerque pointed us in the right direction to a battery store that had the item on the shelf.

The 700 Auto Diesel is a big machine and at first it feels "heavy" to maneuver, particularly at very slow speeds. After some seat time, however, we became accustomed to the "feel" and found the machine to be a very faithful companion, and one we would certainly consider if we were buying. The fuel economy and the once-a-year maintenance schedule are very attractive.

You can buy one for $9,299 and it comes with front and back cargo racks, an owner's manual and small tool kit under the seat, and the ability deliver just about anything you decide to do.

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