Over the last few months Kubota has unveiled two significant model additions to their utility vehicle lineup that will be available at dealers in the first part of 2018. The first reveal was the all new RTV-XG850 Sidekick. The Sidekick is a gas powered UTV being marketed as fast, strong and agile with a 48 hp engine, 40 mph top speed, a CVT with centrifugal clutch and speed sensitive electronic power steering.
Kubota is clearly trying to expand their more work-oriented customer base with the faster, crossover oriented Sidekick. However, the RTV-XG850 still maintains solid work specs with a 15.2 cu. ft. and 1,000 lb. capacity steel cargo box and a 2,000 lb. towing capacity. The cargo box has an optional electric hydraulic lift.
Additional features of the Sidekick designed to widen the vehicle’s appeal include:
- Improved ergonomics with a new digital display, steering wheel and shift knob
- LED headlights
- Green and Black color options beyond the traditional Kubota Orange and RealTree AP Camo choices
- Sidekick specific accessories including a premium audio system, sports roof, alloy wheels and bed extender
Other key specs and features of the Sidekick include:
- Selectable 2WD/4WD with limited slip front differential
- 4-wheel hydraulic disc brakes
- Front and rear independent suspension
- 9″/8.5″ of front/rear suspension travel
- 9.8″ of ground clearance
- Tilt steering
- Front guard (standard on Worksite and Special variations)
- Optional spray-on bed liner
The Sidekick will come in three different variations: General Purpose, Worksite and Special. The Special comes with a front guard, alloy wheels, tilt steering and spray-on bed liner standard. The Worksite comes with the front guard and tilt steering standard. The General Purpose does not come standard with any of these options. The Kubota RTV-XG850 Sidekick will be available at dealers in Spring 2018. A quick internet search shows pricing in the $13,000 to $14,500 range.
The other addition to the Kubota UTV lineup is an updated version of the RTV-X1120, a heavy duty work-oriented utility vehicle. The updated model comes with a significantly lower price tag compared to the older version, $13,999 compared to approximately $16,000.
The RTV-X1120 is powered by a 24.8 hp diesel engine and has a Variable Hydro Transmission, a top speed of 29 mph and 4WD with limited-slip front differential and foot operated rear differential lock. Kubota aimed to improve ergonomics and styling with new shoulder restraints, ergonomic 60:40 split bucket seats, digital display, easily accessible parking brake and under seat storage compartments.
Additional key features and specs include:
- Hydraulic power steering
- Steel cargo box with optional hydraulic lift
- Front and rear standard 2″ hitch receivers
- 1,300 lb. towing capacity
- Optional machine-polished alloy or black alloy wheels
- Optional spray-on bed liner
- Colors: Kubota Orange or RealTree AP Camo
The RTV-X1120 will be available in General Purpose, Worksite and Deluxe configurations with a starting base price of $13,999 The new RTV-X1120 models will be available at Kubota dealerships in February 2018.
SVR’s Take: The work and multi-purpose use segment of the UTV market has become more competitive over the last several years as manufacturers have identified the segments as key growth areas. No doubt Kubota has felt the encroachment of this competition on their traditional customer segments of farm, ranch, large area home owners and construction. This has come from larger brands such as Can-Am with their new Defender line, Honda with their expanding Pioneer line and market leader Polaris with their dominant Ranger line, as well as from smaller brands like the value oriented and expanding Cub Cadet Challenger line and the likes of Toro and New Holland that have partnered with larger UTV manufacturers to develop vehicles to sell under their own brands. The most recent in the latter category is the construction oriented Caterpillar.
As the pace of new model development in the UTV market has increased in the last five years, one could argue that Kubota has been at the slower end of the scale among the large manufacturers. The Sidekick in particular may be an indication that Kubota will be accelerating their product development moving forward with an eye towards expanding their appeal. A key difficulty for Kubota in growing their customer base will be how to reach new customers with their existing farm and construction oriented dealership network. They may look to add new types of dealers or partner with other companies to reach new distribution channels.
Marc Cesare, SmallVehicleResource.com