how we test
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.