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2017 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles Released

The thunder rolls: Cat pours out a torrent of new models, upgrades and a new Thundercat
2017 Arctic Cat Thundercat
By the power of Yamaha, Cat has the horsepower! To the tune of purportedly over 190 ponies, the Cat version of the new Yamaha/Arctic Cat joint snowmobile adventure is called the Thundercat. For Yamaha, it's called the SideWinder.
Lightning strikes both high and low this year in Arctic Cat’s new 2017 model year lineup. The powder crowd gets a menacing green machine for the maniacs of the mountains in the new Mountain Cat. In the trails and on the lakes, the new Thundercat will be eating the lunch of most any other big speed freaks.

This year has more than doubled the amount of new models that were introduced in 2016 (eight), as 17 new machines are unveiled for 2017. American Snowmobiler got to take almost all of these new sleds for a short test ride, and it’s clear that Cat is investing in the future!

Powerful Direction
Cat’s new chief marketing officer, Greg Williamson, summed it up in telling us that they are investing well over 25 million dollars in upgrades to the Thief River Falls plant, the St. Cloud manufacturing facility, and a new building in downtown Minneapolis, Minn. We think Cat is making some power moves and is poised to stay healthy in the industry for some time. Arctic’s own Snowmobile V.P. Brad Darling told us that even though their year-to-date sales numbers were down 20% on Jan. 1, sales in the month of January were up 28% over the same month last year. He believes that even with the poor snow this year, the industry will be down less than 10% at end of season. That’s good news, especially considering the dismally warm start to this season.
2017 Arctic Cat ZR 9000 Thundercat 137
ZR 9000 Thundercat 137
Speaking of power, we won’t keep you in suspense, but unfortunately there will NOT be a new 800cc 2-stroke motor from Cat this year. We expected something, but the brass at Cat told us the new 800 is just not 100% ready yet. It IS coming … just not for 2017. So the old Suzuki 800 stays. 

The big engine news is this: The Suzuki turbo in the Cat 9000 will be replaced with a new C-TEC4 998cc Yamaha-built triple EFI 4-stroke turbo with triple throttle bodies. This engine puts out over 190hp, and it’s in a new Thundercat! 

That’s right. Arctic Cat will continue some joint operations with Yamaha for another year, and the HP wars will undoubtedly begin again with the announcement of this lighter weight 4-stroke to replace the current reigning horsepower king. Yes, you read that right; the new Yamaha 4-stroke in this sled will be both lighter in weight AND significantly more powerful than the 1056cc twin Suzuki 4-stroke turbo it replaces. The new 998cc turbo with 3 injectors is roughly 10 lbs. lighter than the Suzuki. It’s designed and built by Yamaha, but integrated into a Cat-built ProCross chassis as a joint work between Cat and Yamaha. We’ve ridden this beast, and it has instant response when you mash the gas. It also compensates at all temps and altitudes, and it is super sneaky fast.

There is tons of new tech to go along with this motor, DOHC cylinder head and turbo, but there is too much to mention in this short introduction. Some high notes include a lighter, better intercooler system that is farther out front and less subject to heat soak, and a solenoid-controlled wastegate so you have a more pleasing sound than the constant blow-off you hear on the Suzuki turbo. Basically everything is new, from the automatic belt tension design (no more manual deflection settings all the time) to the exhaust manifold and muffler, to ceramic-coated cylinders, oiling system with oil tank and breather system, and the forged crankshaft.

With the exception of the chassis, this sled is totally new from the ground up. It has new body panels for more airflow and engine heat management, as well as better fit and finish and ergonomics for the rider. Easy-to-use twist knobs allow you to take the panels off quickly (on the Limited sleds), similar to the newer ones on the AXYS sleds from Polaris (which we love). A new LED light keeps the high and low beam on together, so there isn’t such a gap in sight distances from low to high, or in the “intermediate” area of lighting at night. The lights last longer, project five degrees farther down the trail, and cause less stress on your eyes.
2017 Arctic Cat Crosstrek 600 800 2-stroke 4-stroke
You can get the 2017 Crosstrek with the 600cc C-TEC or 800cc Suzuki 2-stroke motors, or the new Yamaha 4-stroke turbo motor in the 9000 CrossTrek. This has the new TEAM II clutch too!
2017 Arctic Cat Cross Country LE 600 800 2-stroke
The 2017 Cross Country LE is available in a 600 or 800 2-stroke motor (with the new TCL engine plate), or the 9000!
2017 Arctic Cat TCL engine plate Cross Country LE
TCL engine plate
Finally, there is a new TEAM Rapid Response II clutch for the Thundercat, with new post and idler bearing. Cat engineers worked with TEAM industries to keep the belt tight in the clutches throughout the wear of the belt. 

The 9000 will be available in 129-inch versions in the ZR Limited and ZR RR; 137-inch versions in the ZR, XF Cross Country, and XF CrossTrek models; and in 141- and 153-inch High Country versions. 

New For The Trails and Crossovers
The new-last-year 3000 engine, Cat’s value 4-stroke motor that puts out just about 65 HP, will be available in the ZR chassis this year as an LXR model. There were several upgrades made to this for 2017, including a new intake boot and clamp and an air box breather tube joint, bigger bellows and more. Also new for 2017 is a ZR 5000 that is now available in the longer 137-inch rear suspension. This 1100 naturally aspirated 4-stroke still puts out about 120 hp and is a great efficiency option that will be super smooth in the slightly longer ZR track.

Other changes to the ZR line of sleds include a switch from FOX Float shocks to new 1.5 Zero RC ski shocks on the Sno Pro sleds. RC means rebound and compression adjustment. These are coil-over shocks, and they are calibrated for a slightly plusher ride. The 2.0-inch diameter rear shock in the Sno Pro also has a new calibration for more comfort in small and intermediate bumps to go with the same big-bump performance. Brian Dick, the man in charge of the performance trail side of things for Arctic Cat, was instrumental in coordinating new calibrations for shocks to make all aspects of the Cat trail ride more compliant for 2017. Finally, the ZR 4000 RR is no longer available; it’s now simply a ZR 4000 Sno Pro. 

The rest of the RR sleds have a new suspension calibration closer to the Sno Pro, so they do not ride as stiff as the RR from last year. The RR sleds get new FOX QS3 R ski shocks with Kashima coating and compression and rebound adjustment. The QS3 shocks were new last year and greatly reduce the possibility of confusion as far as shock settings go, with three easy clicker positions for compression. The center shock is a QS3 with Kashima but no rebound adjustability, and the rear is the QS3 R with compression and rebound adjustment and Kashima. Also, you will notice that the 2016 race sled graphics are now the graphics for the 2017 RR sleds.

Not to be left out, the 6000 and 8000 engines were upgraded too, with a new torque link (engine plate) that reduced weight by 0.75 lbs. There is a new lower intake plenum that lost 1.3 lbs. and a new exhaust deflector too. The ZR sleds also got a new longer front arm shock on the 129-inch models (which are now the same as the 137-inch models) and there is a new front arm in the rear suspension for a revised limiter strap mounting location for more shock clearance. A new bolt design for the Torque Sensing Link arm in the rear suspension is also standard for 2017. 

Many of these small changes were made to simplify parts between the 600cc and 800cc motors, including a new exhaust pipe mounting and more. Also, the 6000 got a revised fuel map and a few changes in the electric start for durability. Your choice of LXR, Sno Pro, Limited, El Tigre, and RR options in 129- or 137-inch lengths still exists over much of the ZR line (certain trim level lengths are not available for certain engine packages), and engine options include the 3000 4-stroke, 4000 2-stroke, 5000 4-stroke, 6000 2-stroke, 7000 4-stroke, 8000 2-stroke and 9000 4-stroke.
2017 Arctic Cat M Mountain Cats 153 162
It took a few years, but 2017 might be the year the Arctic Cat M sleds return to the top of the mountain sled market. The new 153 and 162 Mountain Cats will be hot sellers this year.
2017 Arctic Cat dropped driveshaft Mountain Cats M sleds
A new dropped driveshaft in the Mountain Cats is what sets them apart. Pluses are more clearance, floatation and foot room.
Our favorite “do-everything” sleds from Cat for 2017 are the new Cross Country Limited models in the ProCross trail-friendly chassis. These come in 6000, 8000, or the new 9000 engine packages and feature 137-inch Backcountry X tracks with 1.75-inch lugs. This is the ultimate 50/50 Cat for us Midwesterners, northern Ontario folks, Quebeckers, northern New Englanders and upstate New Yorkers. You get off-trail extras like a mountain seat and grab bar on the handlebars, and they come with the new FOX Zero QS3 shocks with Kashima coating on the ski shocks and the rear suspension shock, as well as the new front arm design in the skid with new limiter strap mount. All the other upgrades (bars, grips, etc.) are standard too. There are ProCross 6 skis up front, along with a sway bar and an adjustable 42–43-inch stance. These all get a cool rear rack on the tunnel too!

The newer CrossTrek line of sleds also gets the new C-TEC4 turbocharged Yamaha motor as an option for 2017. So that means you can get the 137-inch-long Cobra track with big 1.6-inch lugs to go with the CrossTrek’s generous storage, big windshield with mirrors, and your choice of the 6000, 7000, 8000 and 9000 engines. Like all 600 and 800 Cats, these get the new TPO composite air intake plenum, which replaces the nylon unit for a 1.25-lb. weight loss. 

Mountain Cats draw new blood
The Mountain Cat is back, and puns will undoubtedly fly! Joking aside, the new ProClimb sled has a dropped driveshaft (1.125 inches) that allows more clearance for the big 3-inch lugged track and new 8-tooth drivers. This means better floatation due to a flatter approach angle of the track. The greatest impediment for a mountain sled is getting up on top of the snow, not sawing through it, so this is a big step forward and will most likely end up in all of Cat’s M sleds. FOX Float 3 Evol shocks suspend the entire sled. There are also new running boards that are one inch narrower for sidehilling, and your feet stand two inches further forward – also better for sidehilling and deep snow response. Tunnel weight was cut by 2 lbs. as well, with a total of 4 and 6.5 lbs. coming off models in 153- and 162-inch lengths, respectively. The new Float-Action rear suspension lost 1.5-2.0 lbs. with the new rails, and all the other 6000 and 8000 motor upgrades happen in the mountain lineup too. 

There is also a new XF 6000 High Country Limited 141 model for 2017. We consider the High Country sleds to be mountain sleds, even though they have a sway bar, because they are in the ProClimb mountain chassis. The new 6000 gets the mountain AMS front suspension and Float-Action rear suspension. Like other High Country sleds, the 6000 has a 141-inch track, an adjustable ski stance, telescoping riser on a vertical steering post, FOX Float 3 Evol ski shocks with Evol R rear shock, and a big 2.25-inch lugged Powerclaw track. We rode the 6000 right alongside several 153- and 162-inch mountain sleds, and it held its own pretty darn well in the mountains. The 8000 version of this sled gets electric start for 2017, and the new 141-, 153x2.25- or 153x1.75-inch XF 9000 High Country with the new Yamaha turbo motor offers big power! 

Other news in the mountains is that the M 6000 lost almost 6 lbs. thanks to lighter rails in the rear suspension, a ceramic-coated muffler and other areas we’ve already mentioned.
2017 Arctic Cat handlebars grips
The Cat test riders were all excited about these, and until we rode them, we were only mildly enticed. However, the new alloy steel bars have a smaller outside diameter (with thinner walls) and are on all kinds of new Cat sleds like the new Thundercat, ZRs, XFs and more. The new hand grips around the bars are SUPER comfy! The grips are made of dual-phase material for more strength and less weight, but they are also thinner so they allow the heating elements to warm them up more quickly. In addition, the new 120cc youth sled from Cat finally comes with handlebar heaters and new grips! The kids will never come back in the house now!

Look for heated seats on the 5000, 7000 and 9000 4- stroke machines from Cat for 2017! Also, there are new halogen headlight reflector optics to extend the high beam pattern of Cat headlights down five degrees compared to last year. Pattern, aim and coverage are said to be improved.

Due to the huge push last year with the new Pantera and many new Bearcat additions, these touring sleds and utility sled lines will be in limbo, for the most part, for 2017. You will see that these sleds get the new handlebars, grips and headlight, and you’ll see some subtle use of the old Pantera purple colorings coming back … retro is still cool!
Ryan Thompson - RLT Photos
M 8000 Mountain Cat
"The 2017 Thundercat took an otherwise normal trail ride and flipped it to beastmode! I might be admittedly a little ga-ga over this new engine/chassis venture with Yamaha, but this sled is an even bigger difference between riding the 800s than the Suzuki turbo was... but the Thundercat has smoother, usable, and more seemless power. It is as fast as advertised, but the 137-inch version is fun to drive too. Initial riding impressions were positive as far as handling and trail manners go, but we have not had it in the SUPER tight twisty trails yet. We are cautiously optimistic that this is a hyper-quick sled that can handle too! Finally, our initial test rides of the new 800 Cross Country and the longer 137 RR sleds were all also positive. The shock recalibrations were dialed for all around on and off-trail fun. We will see what the production sleds are like soon enough!" - Mark Boncher, Editor

"The Mountain Cat was balanced. I am fairly short and so the best balancing spot tends to be tricky for me, but the new chassis with more forward running boards helped. It responded quickly to inputs and there were tree lines I was comfortable taking, that I normally wouldn’t even try. I was leery about the narrower running boards since I tend to over jump when changing sidehill direction, but I didn’t notice the narrowness. Most rider’s won’t and that is a good thing. Cat has done well making their M-sleds more 'user friendly.' The 3 inch power claw is awesome for snorkeling champaign powder and with the drive shaft positioned lower, and the angle of approach flattened out, it does get up on the snow quicker." - Ryan Thomspon, Western Editor
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