Arctic Cat Alterra 600: starting over


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The Alterra 600 is an all-new model that was introduced last year by Arctic Cat. The implementation work continues this year with the introduction of the TRV two-seater version and the deep mud specialist Mud Pro.

Strategically, Arctic Cat has decided to relaunch with a model that targets the core of the mid-engine market, which is the most sought after on the market by consumers. Instead of continuing with the first Alterra introduced in 2015, the Thief River Falls manufacturer decided to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch: new chassis, new engines, new design. The Raven Media team was invited to travel to Minnesota to try out the new Alterra line.

Arctic Cat Alterra 600: starting over

Bodywork and finish

The new body design introduced by Arctic Cat is sober and consensual. It won’t displease with excess styling, but it doesn’t have the boldness of the older Alterra introduced in 2015. As an example, the square-shaped headlights are tucked into a black plastic grille that covers the entire front of the quad. The assembly and the quality of the plastics are very correct and have good quality. Obviously, this opinion is purely subjective, but we think the looks don’t suggest as premium a presence as the previous generation.

Either way, the wide fenders provide excellent splash protection, and the integral running boards protect well against branches, wheel-thrown rocks, and the like. Arctic Cat also dwelt on details that seem little, but which are important. Note, for example, that the exhaust system has been developed by passing it through the underside of the chassis. In addition to reducing noise, this helps keep heat away from the driver. Also, all versions offer the driver a closed storage compartment on top of the false tank. Power steering is also standard on all models.

Arctic Cat offers the Alterra in five trim levels, the differences of which are briefly listed in the table below:

Alterra 600 EPSAlterra 600 XTAlterra 600 LTDAlterra 600 SEAlterra 600 Black Hill Edition
Power steering Steel wheels
Basic front bumper

25″ aluminum wheels
Premium front bumper

Added to XT  features: • 3500 lb Warn winch • Front and rear bumpers • 26 inch aluminum wheels Thermoplastic luggage rack Lockable front differential Headlights with LED accent
Added to LTD features:
Luggage rack extensions

Added to SE features :
28 inch tires on 14 inch rim
High clearance suspension arms Global premium front and rear bumpers Adjustable handlebar riser

The luggage racks are designed with a steel structure covered with a thermoplastic and rubberized coating. They have a capacity of 100 lbs at the front and 200 lbs at the rear and are equipped with the SPeedRack II quick-attach system that allows you to quickly attach equipment offered by Arctic Cat. The manufacturer also had the good idea of ​​keeping the 2-inch hitch receiver.

The ergonomics of the seat and grab handles are well designed

Ergonomics, instrumentation and lighting

The riding position is neutral and the position of the handlebars in relation to the rider has been optimized. The running board/handlebar/saddle ratios will suit riders of any height. The seat is well padded and will be comfortable during long rides.

The presentation of the digital instrumentation is familiar from Arctic Cat and it will present the usual information: speed, fuel level, odometer (total or daily), time, time stamp (in sub-menu), 2WD/4WD selection, dipped or high headlights and the transmission gear engaged.

A word on the lighting of the headlights of the quad which is of the halogen type which could not be tested. On the other hand, we expect an average power that will not be able to compensate with the competition which offers LED headlights.

Handling and power

Arctic Cat is introducing an all-new 600cc engine to the Alterra, which is a single-cylinder powered by electronic fuel injection. This engine is 100% Arctic Cat manufacturing. It develops a power of 45 horsepower, which is in the upper average of the category. Power is transmitted to the wheels via a CVT-type constant mesh automatic transmission. The powertrain is bolted into an all-new chassis to which is hooked a four-wheel independent suspension. The ATV has a 4×4 system that is electrically engaged on the fly by a switch on the handlebars and, in the LTD, SE and Black Hill Edition versions, the locking front differential is electrically lockable for maximum traction.

Rear suspension details

When you start the engine while sitting on the quad, you can see that the noise and vibration control is very well controlled. Barely do we feel vibrations in the handlebars and in the running boards. The 600cc engine has a nice powerband and responds well to the CVT-style constant-mesh transmission that’s always in the right gear ratio. The power is present at both low and high rpm and the performance seems to us to be comparable to that of other equivalent engines in the industry.

The suspension is independent on all four wheels and all equipment levels have the same calibration. Travel is 8.75 inches front to rear and there is a remarkable ground clearance of 11.3 to 12.8 inches depending on the version. Only the specification of the tires changes according to the equipment levels. Indeed, the direction is rather vague with the basic 25 inch tires of the Alterra EPS whereas with the 28 inch of the Black Hill Edition, the quad holds the course as if it were on rails. Considering the effect of the tires, we see that the work has been well done with the suspension, because the handling is the most beautiful surprise of this quad. When riding with the quad on the trail, you quickly notice that the damping of the ATV is stable and that by diving into a turn, you place the ATV in the precise location desired. Body roll is perfectly controlled. It quickly puts us in confidence and, to overcome the modest power of the engine, we enter a little faster in the long curves of the forest roads. The steering provides assured guidance without deviating one iota from its path. In short, you really have to push him to destabilize him.

Front suspension details

The quad’s power steering has an adequate level of assistance in all circumstances. The handlebars were easy to maneuver at all times, and we didn’t notice excessive high-speed assist. It allows maneuverability at low speeds which is still surprising for such a big quad. A word on the brake system which is very easy to modulate, powerful and which allows the quad to be immobilized in a record distance.

Alterra 600 TRV

This year, the old Alterra 700 is relegated to retirement and Arctic Cat introduces a two-seater TRV version with its Alterra 600. The chassis has a wheelbase extended by 6 inches to allow the passenger to sit in front of the axle. The space for the passenger and the driver is more than enough to avoid any unpleasant interference between the two occupants. The passenger seat is well padded and the cushion has strategic bolsters to keep the passenger in place. Finally, the two grab handles are arranged so that the passenger has a natural grip that will not cause fatigue in the wrists and forearms. The staffing of the different versions follows the same logic as that of the Alterra 600, namely:

Alterra TRV 600 EPSAlterra TRV 600 XTAlterra TRV 600 LTD
Power steering
Steel wheel

Added to EPS features:
Aluminum wheels
Front bumper.

Addes to XT features:
14 inch aluminum wheels and 26 inch tires
Composite plastic luggage rack
3500 lb Warn winch
Electrically lockable front differential,

Alterra 600 Mud Pro

Arctic Cat, it will be remembered, was the first to market a specialized ATV for mud, the Mud Pro 700. The manufacturer is therefore returning to the niche by presenting a Mud Pro based on the new Alterra. Fitted with 28-inch Maxxis Zilla tyres, it is easily recognizable with its radiator relocated to the front rack, its snorkel that supplies the engine with air. In order to advance further, the front differential is lockable on demand and the transmission ratio is reduced by 14% to provide more torque.

In summary

The Arctic Cat Alterra 600 is an ATV whose design has been well cared for by the project engineers. Whether we are talking about perceived quality, noise and vibration control, general comfort, engine performance, the Alterra 600 lives up to its aspirations. However, its overall presentation is too generic and it lacks the little WOW! which makes us want the Alterra 600 in our garage. It’s too bad,Textes because this Arctic Cat delivers decent performance as long as you avoid entry-level tires.