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New! Kubota RTV X | The Work Oriented Utility Vehicle

Tags :  kubota  | 

Neil Messick: Neil from Messick's here to walk you around the new Kubota RTV-X. This is the next iteration of Kubota's well-regarded work-oriented utility vehicle. Going to walk you around this machine here and show you some of the things that have changed from the prior generations.
Neil: We're going to talk about two different things with this machine. First, what has changed? Then also if you're new to the RTV series, what are these machines all about? If you're an existing RTV owner, you have a frustration or two with your machine, right? Every piece of equipment, regardless of what it is and who makes it, it's got intricacies. They all do, let's call it quirks and features sometimes.
The one, probably the biggest quirk that we have had for 20 years now with the RTV series is the difficulty of shifting ranges. This is a machine that has a tractor's transmission and it's a hydrostatic drive. It's not a belt drive. If you get a little bit of pressure on that transmission, pushing those gears together, it's hard to shift ranges. This new model is a significant improvement in that way.
They've re-geared some things inside the transmission. They've changed some straight-cut gears over to bevel-cut gears, changed some of the lashing between the gears, and also I believe changed the way that the pressure is released from the transmission when you step on the brake. That makes this way easier to shift than what any of the other RTVs have been before.
Take a jump here to the end of the video, you'll see me going out on some hills, testing that out a little bit. It is a significant improvement. Mechanically that's really the biggest change here to this machine. However, there's a lot of other changes that have happened here in some packaging and in some features. In the prior models, we had both in RTV 900 and in RTV 1100, those came in at 21 horsepower and change and 24 horsepower and change.
That 21-horsepower model is now gone. It's not offered anymore. All of the RTV-X series now is going to come through with that 24-horsepower engine. In that prior series, the higher horsepower variant could go a little bit faster. It's a 30-mile-an-hour machine where the rest of them are 25-mile-an-hour machines. When you cross over that 25-mile-an-hour mark, you have to have different safety equipment on the machine, including shoulder seat belts that come across some side doors in order to keep you from coming out the side of the unit during a sharp high-speed turn.
In order to avoid putting those things onto what is a work-oriented vehicle, all of these now go 25 miles an hour. There is no longer a 30-mile-an-hour option, but we're going 25 miles an hour with more horsepower than what we did before. That means this has a little bit more get-up-and-go. It feels a little bit more sporty than what the prior models did. I can confirm from running it around myself. It is more fun to drive, even though it is a work-oriented machine. You can tell differences in that horsepower and gearing for sure.
Now, in addition to the reduction of models from two models down to one, there's also a change in how accessories are packaged on these machines. Before, we would've had a general purpose, a work site, a camo, a special addition, there's a whole lot of different variants of these utility vehicles, the way those variants are constructed and packaged changes in this generation.
There's now a standard deluxe and premium machine. It's a little hard to go through their website and see the differences between those, but they're usually around two different areas. The grill guards are going to change, the headlights are going to change, and there's some changes in regards to the bed. In a standard machine, you're going to have a smaller grill guard, standard headlights, and no dumping bed.
When you move up to deluxe, you're going to get a wraparound grill guard, a brighter headlight, and a standard bed that is a hydraulic dump. By taking the final step up to premium, you're getting everything that's in the deluxe model and adding this, which is the pro-convert bed. I've said it a thousand times now, but this is a work-oriented machine. Along with that oftentimes comes say different needs out of the bed.
You might be carrying skids or bales or whatever in the back of the machine and sometimes a traditional bed isn't necessarily what you want. Like all beds, this is going to have a folding tailgate in the back that goes down, but the pro-convert bed is also going to have folding sides. By going through and removing little catches there and dropping an extra release here at the front, you can fold these sides down and that's going to give you side access here for long things, flat things, whatever that don't fit well into that traditional bed.
Now, this is easy, these drop right down. You can go a step further and actually remove the rings here and take the bedsides off completely. That would be recommended because if you're going to drive around with these folding down, there's really nothing here to keep them from bouncing around. There's some rubber stoppers and stuff down here, but the likelihood of being able to say, catch a corner of this bed as you're driving around is probably pretty high.
I wouldn't look at it in that way. I would look at this and say, if you're going to fold these bedsides down, you'll also want to take the pins out here and remove the side completely. That does give you the option for this to be a complete flatbed across the back. It's going to have these tie downs here in the back and allow you to carry, say, maybe loads and stuff that you can't with a standard bed on the rear of the utility vehicle.
Those are the changes and improvements in this generation but if you're not familiar with this series of machines or what it's all about, there's a couple of things here that we should probably talk about. The way that I usually explain the place in the market for this utility vehicle, it's when all these companies have moved into this utility vehicle space. Most of them came into it from power sports and they took what they know.
They took a four-wheeler and then used the four-wheeler's transmission and an engine and everything in order to make a utility vehicle. Kubota, though, being a tractor company, took the tractor technology that they knew and then applied that to building a utility vehicle. What you have here is a lot of tractor technology. These are all offered in this series, the work-oriented series with diesel engines.
They have hydrostatic transmissions like you would have in a tractor. You have real hydraulic cylinders here that dump the bed, not electric screws. Your power steering up in front is hydraulic power steering. It's not an electric assist power steering. You've taken this technology that we're used to seeing in tractors and applied that technology to a utility vehicle. Now, that comes along with some quirks, right?
When it comes to the capacities and the towing, you're going to find this machine very, very capable, very, very underrated, won't have any trouble whatsoever, finding people that are very surprised by the work that they can get done with this machine, but it does mean that it's not a blast-around type utility vehicle. It's not something that is super, super sporty. It's not something that's going to go 50 miles an hour down the road.
It is made to work. It is effectively a tractor if you think of it in that way. When you drive the thing, because it is a hydrostatic transmission, when your foot is on the gas, you will go, when you take your foot off the gas, you will stop the machine coast to a stop very quickly. That gives you that control in some situations, particularly if you're going up and down hills.
I come to like it, but it does throw people a little bit if they've come from a CVT transmission, so it behaves a little bit differently than what some people might be used to, definitely, worth going out and going for a test drive if you're considering picking one of these up. Significant resources were put in finding a new tire for this machine now for the next year. Now, this is a camo model, and so it's fitted with ATV tires.
For us here, a vast majority of these machines are sold out with a heavy-duty hybrid tire on it. A little bit thicker ply, a little bit more oriented towards farms, job sites, construction jobs, that kind of thing, where you want a little bit thicker, a little bit more durable tire. Kubota has a now-designed for them tire that's going to be going onto those utility-oriented machines.
It's going to be a little bit more attractive when going forward, but also not aggressive in the way that it's going to tear up the turf. Very clear, this is not an off-the-shelf tire that they just went and plucked from somebody else. Actual development and field time was spent in order to find the right tire for the machine, which I think is a cool investment. If you're used to this kind of equipment, you know what a big impact your tires have on the performance of the unit.
This should elevate the performance a little bit of the work site oriented models. All right, so all that fufu stuff said, at the end of the day, what we care about is how the thing drives. We're going to take it for a quick spin here now. Principal complaints on the old models, you'll usually hear a little bit of performance grumbling and hard shifting and sometimes some frustration with the parking brake linkage.
All of those things seem to be [unintelligible 00:09:04] approved in this model. Now, let's keep in mind, like we said before, you break up the industry of utility vehicles into a couple of different segments. This one sits in a segment that's all about work. This is not a performance-minded utility vehicle. If you want to go 40, 50 miles an hour, you got to look in other places. Kubota has a sidekick utility vehicle. I used to own one.
They're very quick and they get around a lot faster than what this does. This particular machine is in that kind of work utility segment. If you want to pull, you want high cargo capacities. This is a tractor with four wheels, essentially is the best way to describe it. Now, it is quicker. You notice like get on the gas there. In the previous generations, you had an RTV 900 at 21 horsepower and an RTV 1120 at 24 horsepower. Those are rounded. There's some decimal points in there. That 24-horse machine when you cross over that 25-mile-an-hour barrier you start to have to have now shoulder seat belts, side guards, side doors. Not wanting to have those things in the everyday work-oriented model where you want to get on and off a lot. The speed on this is lowered a little bit so you have that 24-horse engine but geared to go 25 miles an hour and the end result of that is it's quicker now.
We're sitting here from a stop, we step on the gas, off it goes. You get a little better acceleration. Now that's in low range if I stop here and do it in high, feels much the same. Suddenly you start going faster. I would say I feel like from a performance standpoint, it does legitimately feel a little quicker than the old models do because of that low gearing, higher horsepower.
Again at the end of the day if you're looking for a performance-oriented utility vehicle you should be over in the Sidekick because this thing is all about work. That said I could throw the back end out a little bit. I'm over here in the stone parking lot. I'm going to take a good corner. Yes, all right. It's got a little bit, a little bit of swing. It's fun. A little bit of an increment there in terms of performance.
Now one thing that is undeniably better is the range selector. Again, because this is a tractor's transmission, that hydrostatic transmission when it gets a little bit of pressure on it can be under load, those gears can be hard to shift, it can be hard to get out of gear. They changed in this some straight-cut gears over to bevel-cut gears and also changed some of the backlash in the gearing and the transmission that makes it easier to shift.
If I'm moving along here, currently in low range, stop and pop it back down into high. That was really easy.
Let's go find a hill over here because that's where it gets tough when the thing sits on a hillside. Now in the later iterations of this thing if you're sitting on a hillside you can't get it out of gear, stepping on the brake pedal releases the pressure from the transmission. It helps you to shift, it but it is not always perfect. I'm sitting here at a really hard angle. I just went from high to low with no problem at all.
Yes, no question, I would say the principal complaint about the RTVs and being hard to shift is dramatically improved on this model. Now what if I don't use the brake? Let's go back and try this again. Ah, yes there I can't. Okay, so if I don't use the brake, remember I pulled up on this hill, it's a steep hill, so I got to use my brake to hold me on the hill. When you press that brake pedal down it's releasing the pressure of the transmission making this easier to shift.
If I pull up onto the hill, I'm going to drift backwards here, get that pressure on the transmission and then try to shift, that doesn't want to come out. You could feel that but as soon as I hit the brake pedal, in fact there's a point there that you can even hear it go. I'm sitting here on the hillside and I'm going to half-push the brake. Listen for the hiss. Right there it is. That's the pressure getting dumped out of the transmission when I start rolling backwards there a little bit.
That's what's enabling that shifting to be easier, right? They must have reworked how that works. As soon as I step on that brake pedal, I can shift like butter. Nothing to complain about there. It's cold today and this is a hydraulically driven transmission. I'm having no trouble at all getting up to 25 miles an hour. Sometimes these can be a little cold-natured. If you get out on it, it's been sitting outside, it's 20 degrees out, you turn that key for the very first time, it doesn't always want to get up and go right away.
Now I've been out here for three, four minutes now and I can get up and go a lot faster. I don't notice that. Now it might take another time or two to be confident that something has changed there, but it's possible these might be a little bit better in that cold weather. If you're running any other RTV, do be careful about your transmission fluid. You got to run Kubota's Super Udt2. You put anything else in one of these things, you're going to end up with substandard performance.
That grade of transmission fluid is really important in the performance of the RTVs. More so than just about any other equipment Kubota sells. Now I say I used to own a Kubota Sidekick. Back when the market was really hot, I sold my machine and I now have nothing for myself to drive, unfortunately, but a Polaris for my kids. One thing that has been notable about owning some other brands of equipment is the amount of parts that sometimes it takes to keep a powersports-oriented machine going.
I've spent 25% of the cost of that initial machine fixing it to this point and pouring additional parts into it, which has been frustrating. When I go out with one of these things, personally, I want to go have a good time and I personally gravitate towards that more performance-oriented machine, but I totally understand the appeal of the RTV series and the fact that it's not that blast-around machine.
We see these come back in again with three and four and five thousand hours on them sometimes, having done little to nothing with them in order to keep them going. That is an experience that is completely different than what I have had personally with some other makes of equipment. Sometimes it's hard to get excited when new machines come out and you look through the list of improvements and nothing just jumps out at you, but this is different. Another case where I'm just more impressed than I expected to be by a new product.
The driving dynamics of this are undoubtedly improved and if you've got one of the diesel RTVs over the last 20 years, you should look at this as a notable improvement in about every way. I'm expecting this machine to be really popular for us. It's going to be another case where we're going to have supply and demand issues here. It might be a little while before we start to see lots fill up with this because the demand is going to be there for them.
If you're shopping for a piece of equipment we can help, or if you've got parts and service needs for a machine you've already got, give us a call at Messick's. We're available at 800-222-3373 or online at

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