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"This could be a best buy, considering it is a diesel and a well-built, well-equipped machine,” says Dave Mowitz, Successful Farming magazine’s executive editor of machinery and technology, after taking the Bobcat 3400 for a spin during the Ultimate UTV Evaluation.
John Lumkes, ag engineering professor at Purdue University, adds, “This is a solid machine, easy to drive, relatively quiet, and with the diesel engine, it makes for a great work machine.”
To be a true workhorse, a machine needs to haul a load without a problem, and the Bobcat certainly did. The Successful Farming team loaded the Bobcat up with 550 pounds (half of the rated cargo capacity) and took it out on the test course.
“The 3400 maintains the same handling characteristics loaded as it does unloaded,” says Mick Frazier, evaluator at Little Goose Ranch in Sheridan, Wyoming.
“It doesn’t even seem like there is a load,” adds Laurie Bedord, Successful Farming magazine’s advanced technology editor. “This machine handles well with nice power.”
The Bobcat’s suspension system provides a smooth, loaded ride. “The loaded ride is very good with the suspension; it is well behaved,” says Lumkes. “The machine never bottoms out on the trails even where most others do.” Lumkes adds that the Bobcat is unique, compared with other machines evaluated, because it uses MacPherson struts for the front suspension, similar to most passenger cars. In cars, this is done to provide more room for the engine bay and transverse-mounted engines. However, there are performance-related design trade-offs, because the vertical motion is coupled with a bending component in the strut that maintains tire camber (vertical alignment) and causes undesirable friction in the vertical motion.
The Bobcat has “the best downhill engine braking control,” says Mowitz. “I never had to use the brakes on a steep grade.” He also likes the tie-downs in the cargo box and thinks they are a nice touch.
Lumkes appreciates the accessibility of the machine. “It is easy to get into and out of,” he says.
One thing to note on this machine is that it is not a sport vehicle. “The Bobcat is a little weak on engine power compared to a sports utility. But for a strict utility vehicle, this is a very solid machine,” says Mowitz.
Evaluators rated each machine on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 as the best rating) on 12 performance criteria. The machines were evaluated unloaded and loaded by each evaluator.