how we test

Outdoor Life - - GEAR -

THERE’S NO SHORT­AGE of tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion and data avail­able for the units fea­tured in our ATV and UTV test. But those specs, de­tails, and schemat­ics sim­ply don’t tell us what we re­ally want to know: Which ma­chines best serve our needs in the field?

With that in mind, we eval­u­ated units on work­ing farms where we hunt white­tails, tur­keys, small game, and wa­ter­fowl. Our pri­mary course was a 1.3-mile loop cov­er­ing open ag fields, rolling hard­wood tim­ber, and thick, nasty swamp­lands. A se­cond route in­cluded a pair of tight hair­pin turns. Record rain­falls lead­ing up to the test dates en­sured plenty of mud and muck. Stor­age was eval­u­ated by load­ing each unit up with tree­stands, sprayers, trail cam­eras, and other hunt­ing gear.

Noise lev­els were recorded by plac­ing an elec­tronic deci­bel me­ter 6 inches from the vent of each ve­hi­cle’s tailpipe. Read­ings were taken at idle, 10 mph, and 20 mph dur­ing op­er­a­tion on the 1.3-mile loop course, in or­der to min­i­mize variations in tire and en­vi­ron­men­tal noise. In-cab sound lev­els were recorded while a pas­sen­ger held the deci­bel me­ter at shoul­der height.

Ground clear­ance was mea­sured with a driver (who weighs 192 pounds) in place and the ve­hi­cle parked on a con­crete slab. A flex­i­ble tape mea­sure was em­ployed to mea­sure the dis­tance be­tween the con­crete and the low­est por­tion of the ve­hi­cle.

Top speeds were ver­i­fied with a pair of hand­held GPS units.

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