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Kubota RTV-x1100 Review

Tags :  kubota  |  rtv500  |  rtvx1100  |  rtvx1120  |  rtvx1140  |  utility-vehicle  | 

Kubota has been the leader in the diesel utility vehicle space here for nearly ten 10 years, commanding a vast majority of the market. This machine is a lot different than a lot of the other machines that you'll find out there, and Kubota has made a lot of improvements here for this latest iteration of this machine. Let's take a quick look.

What makes a Kubota RTV different than the rest of the utility vehicles that you find on the market? Is that Kubota puts a lot of tractor technology in these machines. The RTV500, RTV 900, RTVx1100, and RTVx1120 all use hydrostatic transmissions as opposed to a belt drive CVT or centrifugal clutch which is typically what you find in golf carts and four-wheelers. Kubota looked at this application and thought these are heavy duty applications, so let’s put heavy-duty tractor technology into these machines and so that's what we have. When you look at along the features, the benefits, the operational characteristics of these machines, they're just like tractors.

In the case of this one that we're standing by right here, the RTV 1100, this with the heat in the air conditioning as well as the RTV 1120, both use the larger D1105 engine for just under 26 horsepower. The RTV 900 is 23 horsepower and thus runs about five miles per hour slower on the top end. The RTV 500 is a smaller framed gas machine, all of which share a hydrostatic rear end, which is an important feature to these machines.

What the hydrostatic gives you is a tractor-like behavior when you go on and off the gas. So when you step on the gas, the machine goes; when you take your foot off the gas, the machine stops. A centrifugal clutch-based machine would freewheel and coast where this does not. The nice thing about that is if you're going down hills, or you have a 1,500-pound load in the back of this thing, or you are pulling a heavy trailer, the loads won't push you around. When you stop, the machine will stop, just like a tractor does. That is something that when the early generations of these machines came out, there were some complaints about because the stop was really abrupt. As Kubota has gone through iterations and improvements to these machines, the stop is a little bit more gradual and predictable now and less harsh than it had been in early versions.

This latest version of the RTV features a new suspension system. The original version that we had out, the original RTV series, had a fixed axle on the back. Not a bad design; a very heavy-duty design, but not the best riding design. This latest version here in the X series, Kubota has improved upon that and fitted an independent suspension to the rear end. You can see right here in the back, there's a large adjustable coil-over shock that is on both sides of the machine.

Also in here are improved U-joints. The older series RTVs when you start to hit around the 1,500-hour mark, oftentimes, we'd see guys having to make repairs and stuff to some of the U-joints in here. This later series has an upgraded and updated design that does not suffer that same flow. Hopefully, we should see years of problem-free service out of these machines.

 The RTV-x1100 is the cabbed version of these machines. One unique thing about this cab is that it is one of the only utility vehicles with a true factory cab. If you look here, the frame of the machine is a unibody design, and when you close those doors, they're nice and tight. It is a cab that is made for the machine. Most of the other competitors in this space will use a bolt one cab. Bolt one cabs tend to rattle and make quite a bit of noise. They don't fit nearly as nice, the doors don't close as tightly. This is a new automotive quality, so when you close the doors, it's nice and tight, and it's a nice sealed cab. We do have bolt one cabs as well on our lower serious machines, we hardly use them anymore. We take a base RTV900, bolt a cab on, you're nearly within a $1,000 of this, which is just a much nicer machine as far as fit and finish goes. This is a machine that has both heat and air conditioning in it, which is what you're use to as far as automotive style, speed controls, and temperature selections, the ability to recycle inside air or bring in fresh outside air. It's just a nice efficient air conditioning system.

The one frustration that we do sometimes have with these integrated cab systems is the doors don't come off, So in the summertime, it's not a case where you can just simply remove the doors from the machine, but Kubota does give you windows that will roll up and roll down just like your truck. It does keep the interior clean. One issue we do is see when the doors come off is just the inside of the machine tends to accumulate dust and that kind of stuff. Keeping the cab on does help keep the machine in a little bit nice condition.

They have a new digital dash down here that will give you a miles per hour read out along with some idiot lights just to give you some simple indicators of what's going on in the machine. These are two or four final compliance so there is no need for this diesel particulate filter or any of those emissions systems in this horsepower class. It's a simple small diesel engine just like you're used to from any other machine.

Another movement that Kubota made in the X series here over the other RTVs are the shifting is now a little bit easier than it had been in the past. When you depress the brake, it releases all the pressure from the transmission making this easier to shift. There's also two ranges now while the old RTV series had three. They were able to get rid of the middle range by matching that torque demand of the transmission and the torque supply of the edging closer to one another. It's less shifting heating down here, and you’ll pick up, and get up, and go. Feels a little bit more snappy and a little bit faster just because the power of the engine and demand of the transmission match each other much better.

Kubota has a good supply of accessories and aftermarket items available for the RTVs from tire options, and rims, and work lights, and bed liners, and mirrors and CV guards, and mudflaps. The list goes on and on. Being one of the most popular utility vehicles as well, there's good aftermarket support for these as well. On our website, Kubota's Orange Aftermarket, you'll find a lot of accessories for the RTVs as well as from other companies as well. You'll notice here, this unit is fitted with a Boss snow plow. Kubota offers two of their own snow plow options, and we do a lot with the Boss line. Our preference for these really comes in that this is a little bit easier piece to install. Kubota’s large plow options are pretty complex, require some additional hydraulic pumps, and these are really cost effective and very, very well built. We think very highly of this and Kubota’s V-plow and straight plow options are pretty good as well.

Operationally here when we want to run one of these machines around, we have a couple of things here on the dash. There's a tilt steering wheel so we can lower the steering wheel down to a comfortable angle, parking brake over here in the side, and a range selector here on the on the orange handle. We're going to release the parking brake by pushing the button and then letting that go forward. Then move this off in the high range. Then once we're there, we just step on the gas and off we go. The larger RTVs all have power steering on it, so there's very little steering effort that it takes here in order to straighten the machine out. You'll notice here too that we talked about this being an integrated cab and not an aftermarket thought, so the amount of noise that's in here is really quite low. I mean, easy to have a conversation with somebody, and you don't need to shout or wear earmuffs or anything because of the reverberation that happens inside of a loosely filled cab.

We do pride ourselves in giving a fair and honest assessment of the equipment, and no machine can be perfect. There are two shortcomings that we could really come up with when we're talking about the RTV Series.

First can be that hydrostatic transmission. While it has a lot of pulling power, there are times that it doesn't feel like it is a gutsy, fast, fly-around-type design as what some of the other higher speed gas utility vehicles are. If you want to go out and blast through trails and go 50 miles an hour down the road, these are not the machines for you. This is a machine that's really geared more towards work and heavy duty applications for hauling loads really at moderate speeds. 25 miles an hour in one of these things oftentimes feels plenty fast. It feels a lot faster than what it sounds like. But if you're looking to go blasting up a hill at your hunting camp to go chase down deers and keep up with your friends, this is not the machine that you'll be wanting to look at.

Another shortcoming that we can come up with too here in the X series is Kubota really did a lot to increase the cooling capacity of this machine. And if you look down here underneath the hood, there's a radiator for an engine, but there's actually two radiators for the transmission, a large one here in the front and another one around the side. While it's great at dissipating heat, the one downside to that is that in the winter time when it's cold, this thing does take a couple of minutes to warm up. If it's near zero degrees outside like it gets here periodically and you hop in there and kick the thing off and go, you won't get a whole lot beyond 10-12 miles an hour until the hydraulic fluid start to warm up and the thing is able to pick up speed and go. You'd find exactly the same behavior form a tractor's hydrostatic. That pump just can't pump fluid efficiently when it's cold and thick, and so it does need to warm up. And with two large radiators in this machines, that can take some time. So if you keep those two caveats in mind, these are absolutely outstanding utility vehicles. We here at Messick's sell one of these things every four days. They're very, very well accepted among our customers and very, very prominent in the marketplace for good reason.

Kubota has built an absolutely outstanding utility vehicle that really no company has been able to deliver at this price point. So if you have any needs for a machine like this, then we can help you out. Stop by any of our stores, visit us at, or call us at 800-222-3373.

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