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Can the 2016 Argo XTV really go anywhere?

Posted in Features on May 5, 2016
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Photographers: Courtesy of Manufacturer

The Argo 6x6 and 8x8 amphibious vehicles go fast enough to chase down the neighbor kids, can launch into a pond, and can drive nearly anywhere you point them without getting stuck. Right now, you’re probably thinking, Shut up and take my money. If you’re like us and grew up reading Popular Mechanics, then you may have ogled the Argo XTV (extreme terrain vehicle) stories and ads sometime over the past 50 years Argo has been in business. If you haven’t followed the brand, you might think of the Argo as old ATV technology, which couldn’t be further from the truth. There are several different company divisions related to Argo that have been involved with well-respected, modern-day products you will certainly recognize, such as cutting the gears for the Jeep Rubicon 4:1 Rock-Trac transfer case, manufacturing components for the Allison transmission, and even developing a new moon rover for NASA, among other things. Utilizing some of this new technology, Argo set out to develop a faster, more comfortable, more capable XTV. The result is the Argo LX Series. With a total of 32 different Argo vehicle variations, there is sure to be an XTV that fits your amphibious, all-season, all-terrain, hunting, recreational, or commercial business needs and wants. We recently took a trip to the privately owned Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet, Texas, to put the Argo LX Series and several other Argo XTVs through their paces.

All Argo XTVs come with a Kohler V-twin EFI engine rated to 19 hp, 23 hp, 26 hp or 30 hp, depending on the vehicle model. The Argo H-Class XTVs, including the LX Series, feature the Admiral triple-differential steering transmission with a dedicated Hi and Low gear selector. This new transmission allows for a 25 percent faster top speed. The 8x8 LX Series vehicles (as well as others) have new ultra-low pressure tires and aluminum beadlock wheels. Optional tracks are available for even better flotation in deep snow and mud. Standard LX Series features include more ergonomic seating with upgraded front and rear cushions, handrails and dual side steps for easier entry, a water-resistant Jensen Bluetooth sound system with four marine-grade speakers, and more. Color choices are Black, Nautica (blue), Sunset (orange), and Cranberry, along with three different accent color options of Black, Silver, and Crimson. The 8x8 LX Series can carry six passengers on land and four in the water. It also has a tow capacity of 1,800 pounds. Land speed is said to be limited to 25 mph in Hi range (22 mph for the 6x6), but we noticed the speedometer tickling 27-28 mph in some cases. Water speed is much slower at 3 mph, but an optional outboard motor mount is available for those who plan to spend more time playing pirate ship.

The Argo XTVs are driven exclusively by hand controls. Piloting the XTV feels like a cross between riding an ATV and operating a skid-steer tractor. It’s very easy for anyone to operate, but what takes time is getting in the mindset of being in an amphibious vehicle. It opens up a ton of cross-country possibilities you never had before driving an Argo. You can run right through a field, plow through bottomless mud, run over downed trees, and navigate across bodies of water with very little worry of getting stuck. The Argo LX-Series 8x8s are very stable vehicles because of their low center of gravity, but driving through large ruts and climbing steep, uneven walls can be a little unnerving. The 8x8 is far more stable and smoother to operate than the 6x6 version. We found that the ultra-low pressure tires and beadlock wheels make a huge difference in ride comfort and improve your ability to maintain control of the vehicle over rough surfaces at speed. The new Admiral transmission makes the steering and shifting operations much smoother and more civilized and intuitive than on the less-advanced, older Argo models.

Launching the Argo in water is as simple as pointing it in the right direction and hitting the throttle. The Argo exclusive tires work like paddles to propel you forward. Reverse works, too, but it’s a little slower. You turn in water just as you would on land, however, you’ll generally use more aggressive steering and throttle input than you would on hard surfaces. We noticed the Argo will want to turn on its own if the tires randomly make contact with the bottom in shallow water. This can quickly spin the vehicle around in the wrong direction. The key is trying to make sure the right and left sides of the vehicle hit bottom at the same time. This can be tricky in murky areas or if the bottom is uneven. Empty Argo vehicles tend to lean forward from the weight of the engine and transmission while floating in water. Adding 100 pounds or so of gear to the back end would likely level it out. When crossing water alone, we felt more comfortable moving to the center of the seat to keep the XTV from leaning to the side. If you take in too much water from aggressive driving, don’t worry, the amphibious Argo LX has a bilge pump just like a real boat. As expected, aqua travel feels very slow, but in many cases it will be faster and easier than traveling around a large body of water.

Overall, the new Argo LX Series XTVs are a criminal amount of fun to operate in truly open areas with soft, unpredictable, and extreme terrains. The flotation afforded by the multiple low-pressure tires is unmatched. The Argo XTVs will absolutely run circles around a traditional side-by-side in very soft bottomless mud or snow. However, if ultra-high-speed driving on hard-packed predictable trails or desert two-track is more your thing, the Argo may not be for you.

The Argo vehicles are completely hand controlled. The handlebars have a motorcycle-style throttle on the right and a brake lever on the left. The LX Series Forward, Neutral, and Reverse shifter is centered near the floor, and the Hi and Low shifter is on the dash to the right of the gauge cluster, which is mounted to the handlebars. The winch control is activated via left thumb.

The new tires and aluminum beadlock wheels allow for lower tire pressures, which results in a smoother, more controlled ride and better flotation over soft terrain than with other Argo models.

Many Argo vehicles come standard with a grille guard and a Warn 3,500-pound winch. Lots of other Argo add-ons are available. You can even get a full top, windshield, tracks, and a snowplow.

The water-resistant Bluetooth Jensen boat stereo and four marine-grade speakers give you the ability to play your favorite tunes on the trail. A 12-volt plug and a USB outlet are standard on the new LX Series.

Under the hood, you’ll find a well-waterproofed engine. The 8x8 LX models come with a 30hp Kohler Aegis LH 775 and the 6x6 LX models come with a 23hp Kohler Command Pro.

All LX models come with a tow hitch. The 8x8 version can tow up to 1,800 pounds, while the 6x6 is rated for 1,200 pounds.

A see-through 7.1-gallon polyethylene fuel tank is found under the passenger seats. It is embossed with fuel level indicators and provides about 8 hours of operation time.

The wheels are chain-driven in pairs under the floor on the 8x8. This allows for redundancy if a chain should fail in the sticks. Automatic chain lubricators and tensioners keep everything working smoothly and rust free.

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