In the world of modern day off-roading, the UTV market has absolutely exploded over the last few years. Nearly every major manufacturer is offering UTV models in hopes of getting a piece of the proverbial cash pie. The Kubota name is synonymous with hard work and epic reliability. Check out the local rental fleet of compact and mid-size tractors at your local equipment store and I guarantee you'll see it full of bright orange Kubotas. In the genre of UTV's that focus primarily on work applications, that just so happens to be Kubota's specialty. While other manufacturers have lined their pockets by manufacturing high-performance machines, Kubota has done just the opposite. Shoppers walking through the door of their local Kubota dealers aren't interested in top speed. Instead, they're dead-set on buying a machine that they can put to work. This summer, we were able to secure our first-ever Kubota RTV to test, and the model they hooked us up with was the new Kubota RTV-X1120D.
Common practice when we take delivery of a new demo machine is take a bunch of still images to document just how clean and pretty they are when they roll out the door of the dealership. With my RTV-X1120D still on the trailer on my way home from the dealer, I noticed my neighbors out trying to drag their horse arena with a Jeep Liberty because their tractor broke down. I looked in the rearview mirror, considered my options, and figured anyone in the market for a Kubota RTV is probably more interested in how it performs than keeping it pretty. So...off the trailer and straight to work before "glam shots" was our demo's first order of business! Behind the wheel went my neighbor, who just so happens to be a former Navy pilot. He'd never driven an RTV before and was immediately smitten with the smooth operation and tight turning radius when using it on his farm.
Powering the RTV X-1120D is, of course, a Kubota diesel engine. Sourced from their tractor line, this machine makes just shy of 25hp in this particular tune. Now, for a great deal of our audience, that number may not raise your flag when comparing it to many of the machines on the market surpassing the 100hp mark. To those folks, I'd caution them all to "pump the brakes". On a machine that is meant to work, horsepower is much less important than torque. Don't believe me, ask any of the 3/4 ton truck crowd if torque or horsepower yanks their toy haulers up mountains! The biggest asset in this engine's arsenal is the torque. Off the bottom end, this thing literally chugs along like a little tiny diesel locomotive. It's designed for low speed pulling and long-term reliability, and that's exactly where it excels.
If the mighty diesel is the heart of every Kubota RTV, the soul has to be the transmission. If your only experience with UTV transmissions are belt driven CVT's or manually shifted transmissions, you'll need to reset your thought process. The Kubota transmission is what they call a "Variable Hydro". What that essentially means is it operates more like a hydrostatic tractor transmission than a typical UTV transmission. Pushing the accelerator does increase the engine RPM's, but it's not exactly the same experience as the typical CVT transmissions. In all honesty, the Kubota is often able to traverse terrain faster if you don't "floor the throttle". It seems counter-intuitive, but once you get used to it the functionality makes sense. Less throttle input keeps the tranny in a lower gear ratio, while more throttle input forces the tranny to operate in a higher ratio. Therefore, giving it just the amount of throttle it needs keeps the RPM's and the gear ratio in a more optimal operating environment.
The RTV transmission allows the operator to chose between high and low range, like other UTV's. Low on the RTV is LOW....meaning you can really operate this thing at a slow, controlled speed when doing precision work like perhaps plowing snow in a minefield. Another cool feature that I really liked on this machine was the tractor-style foot operated rear differential lock. The rear diff remains open for tight turns and to prevent it from damaging the terrain. When you need the rear locked for a little extra traction, simply pushing on the diff lock with your left heal locks in the rear. Unfortunately, no front differential lock is available.
I own a Kubota B2920 compact tractor, and I can assure you they have zero suspension, which causes them to "ride like a tractor". In my mind, somehow I was prepared for the Kubota RTV to drive like my Kubota tractor. Fortunately, I can assure you I was dead wrong! Four wheel independent suspension with 8" of wheel travel does a great job of soaking up the bumps. This machine will never find itself over 30mph, so the valving is setup to keep the 1300lb RTV firmly planted, but able to handle inconsistencies on the trail or job site. Whether I had the bed loaded or empty, I felt the ride was super plush and far beyond my expectations...
Kubota is officially the only UTV I've ever tested that gives buyers the option of choosing their tire of choice. Our demo came with the "ATV" tire option, but there is also another option for a Heavy Duty work site tire. Some of the other RTV models offer a turf tire option as well. Just like their tractors, Kubota gives buyers the option to customize the tire choice for the environment where they'll operate, and I think that makes great business sense. Good looking cast aluminum wheels come standard on the RTV-X1120D.
Braking on the RTV is strong, like nearly every other UTV on the market. What separates this machine from the pack is Kubota's Dynamic Braking. Since the transmission is very much like a hydraulic tractor tranny, simply letting off the accelerator puts the transmission into Dynamic Braking mode. This means the RTV receives braking power from the transmission to help slow it down. What speed the Dynamic Braking isn't able to scrub, the standard foot operated brakes handle with ease.
The interior on the RTV-X1120D is pretty much no nonsense. It has basically everything you might need and nothing you really don't. A 60/40 split bench seat handles occupant comfort, while a digital multi meter helps the driver to track speed, engine hours, and odometer miles. Beneath the 60/40 bench is a plethora of under-seat storage. The half doors do a decent job of keeping most crud out of the interior, and they open and close with ease.
The RTV-X1120D is available in Kubota orange or Realtree AP camo. I really like the fact that the bed is steel and comes standard with a hydraulic dump feature. There is also a really simple old-school lock (that looks like a door hinge) to keep the hydraulic lever from being accidentally actuated from getting into and out of the pilot's seat. The bed also has a "headache rack", which is essentially a steel screen that keeps anything in the bed from flying into the cab and smashing into the occupants' head. Very obvious to me was how beefy the roll cage was constructed You'll notice from the specs that the cage is SAE, OSHA, and ANSI compliant, which is beneficial on the job site.
On cold mornings, it's a good idea to give the glow plugs a little time to generate heat before firing up the RTV. With a quick flip of the key, the diesel glub-glub-glubs to life with authority. I found shifting between High, Low, Neutral, and Reverse took a bit of getting used to. By either pushing hard on the brake, or "blipping" the throttle while stopped and simultaneously moving the shifter, gear changes are more easily actuated. Without doing either of those things, it was a bit harder to move the shifter. As a compact tractor owner, I was super familiar with hydraulic transmissions. So, getting used to the RTV transmission was an easy transition for me. Pushing the accelerator pedal not only increases the engine RPM, but it puts the transmission into a higher gear ratio. This means stabbing the throttle from a dead stop won't necessarily give you the best or most efficient acceleration. The same goes for negotiating a steep hill. Floor the RTV and you'll be disappointed. But, use the throttle a bit more gingerly and this thing will crawl up damn near anything you put in front of it.
I found the turning radius to be exceptionally tight. That's due in part, to the fact that the rear differential operates in an open state by default. In the few situations that I ran out of traction by purposely forcing the RTV to lift a rear tire, all it took was a push from my left foot to actuate the rear diff lock and get us back in action.
Like most diesel engines, they sip fuel much more efficiently than a gasoline engine, and minimal fuel consumption is one of the things that jumped out at me during my time with the RTV. I hauled plenty of mulch and rock, used it to tow my boat into and out of my driveway, and used it to do general maintenance around my driveway. I think when you put a giant load behind the RTV or fill the bed to capacity, that's where the capability really shines. Even with a lot of weight, the transmission operates silky smooth with no odd characteristics like many of the belt driven CVT's do under extreme use
The hydraulic rear dump bed is awesome. We used the RTV to spread mulch in the numerous planting beds around our property and the hydro-dump feature save alot of shoveling time. With as much cargo as I had in the bed,lifting it by hand would have been nearly impossible.
With tons of Kubota accessories like plow blades, rotary brooms, and rear spreaders to name a few, the Kubota RTV-X1120D was born to work. If you're looking for a new UTV to speed down the trails or negotiate the dunes, there are definitely better options out there. However, if your primary use it to do hard, laborious tasks, you'll be hard-pressed to find one that does this better than a Kubota!
|Type:||3-cylinders, 4-cycle, diesel, OHV|
|Displacement:||cu.in (cc) 68.5 (1123)|
|Battery:||650 Cold Cranking Amps|
|Transmission:||Variable hydro transmission (VHT-X)|
|Gear Selection:||Hi-Lo range forward, neutral, reverse|
|Max Traveling Speed:||mph 0-29|
|Front Differential:||Limited-slip differential|
|Rear Differential:||Foot operated differential lock|
|Steering System:||Hydrostatic power|
|Parking Brake:||Rear wheel, hand operated|
|Front Suspension:||Independent, Dual A-arms with adjustable spring preload|
|Front suspension travel:||8in/205mm|
|Rear Suspension:||Independent with coil over shock|
|Rear suspension travel:||8in/205mm|
|OCCUPANT PROTECTIVE SYSTEM (OPS):|
|Tubular overhead structure:||2" steel tube|
|Certification:||SAE J2194, OSHA 1928 ROPS and ANSI B71.9|
|Headlights:||Two 37.5 watt blue-tint halogen, optical axis adjustment|
|Length:||122.5in / 3110mm|
|Width:||63.2in / 1605mm|
|Height, overall:||79.5in / 2020mm|
|Front tread centers:||48.8 / 1240mm|
|Rear tread centers:||48.8in / 1240mm|
|Wheelbase:||80.5 / 2045mm|
|Turning radius:||13.1ft / 4.0m|
|Weight:||2061lbs / 935kg|
|Towing Capacity:||1300lbs / 590kg|
|Payload Capacity:||1510 / 685kg|
|Front:||10.5in / 266mm|
|Rear:||10.4 / 263mm|
|Under foot platform:||11.0in / 280mm 11.0|
|Width x Length x Depth:||57.7x 40.5x11.2in / 1465x1030x285mm|
|Volume:||15.2cu ft / 0.43m3|
|Bed height (unloaded):||34.9 / 887mm|
|Cargo bed load:||1102lbs / 500kg|
|Dump:||Hydro power lift|
|Fuel Capacity:||7.9gals/ 30L|
|Sound Rating at Operators ear:||84 dB|
|Front and Rear:||ATV 25x10-12, 6PLY|
|Front and Rear:||Heavy-Duty worksite tires 25x10-12, 6PLY|
|Front Guard Design:||Center, bumper, lens|
|Hydraulic Bed Lift:||Standard|
|Spray On Bed Liner:||Optional|
|Colors:||Kubota Orange, Realtree AP Camo|