Real Truck Club Challenge had a few surprises for us, including the one that came nestled between two rental golf carts on the back of a Utility Vehicles of Indiana trailer. The surprise we're referring to is this Club Car XRT 1500, and it's one of five new Rough Terrain Vehicles offered by said company. As we soon found, it's worthy of its name.
The first thing we did was point it up a hillside that was dotted with melon-sized rocks. Hey, before we put it to work, we had to gather an idea of what its capabilities were. It shocked us when the machine scrambled right to the top. We'll admit that up to that point we just considered the XRT 1500 nothing more than a golf cart with a four-point rollbar and big tires.
The XRT 1500 made climbing the hill extremely easy for several reasons. First, the machine is powered by a stout 614cc Honda GX620 engine that produces 20 hp (there's also a yummy Kubota diesel option). This engine can actually scoot the XRT 1500 up to a governed 25 mph. In addition, it features a continuously variable transmission (CVT) so power is really smooth. Second, the vehicle utilizes a four-wheel-drive system that Club Car calls IntelliTrak. IntelliTrak is the industry's first fully automatic, on-demand four-wheel-drive system. It continually senses driving conditions and automatically engages and disengages four-wheel drive without requiring the driver to stop and shift gears or lock differentials. It works like this: Power is always being sent to the front and rear axles via the transmission/transfer case. The rear axle sports what is essentially a gearless locker. The front axle sports a unique front differential that features bi-directional overrunning clutches. Hence, the XRT 1500 uses a totally mechanical means of getting power to the tires without using electronics. Speaking of tires, they're the third reason we could climb that hill. The tires on our XRT were aggressive mud tires, and they dug right in and got the job done.
After we were done goofing around on the hill, we actually had to get to work. We loaded the XRT 1500's cargo bed with camera gear, a day pack and a bunch of Band Aids and peroxide (we're accident prone), which was nothing for the machine to handle because it can carry up to 1,050 pounds in its cargo area. The bottom of the cargo bed features a rustproof aluminum floor, which is the same material used for the vehicle's box-tube frame and its chassis.
As we worked, we were in and out of the vehicle a lot. This is when we appreciated the adjustable bench seat and the tilt steering wheel. As we drove over the rough terrain of the Badlands Off Road Park, we were amazed at how well the vehicle was to handle, thanks to the rack-and-pinion steering, double A-arm front suspension and swing-arm rear suspension. Both front and rear suspension offer 6 inches of wheel travel.
Other cool stuff on the XRT 1500: 2-inch rear receiver hitch; external fuel fill; 12-volt dash-mounted power outlet; four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes; and the industry's best two-year limited warranty.
We thought it was funny that the Club Car came to the Club Challenge, but hey, we're easily amused. We're not so easily impressed, but the XRT 1500 impressed us.
Vehicle model: '05 Club Car XRT 1500
Base price: $8,999 (gas) $10,300 (diesel)
Colors: Red, green or camouflage
Type: Air-cooled Honda GX620 two-cylinder four-stroke
Displacement (cc): 614
Bore x stroke (mm): 77x66
Compression ratio: 8.3:1
Carburetor: Keihin BG22GA
Starter: Key-activated solenoid shift electric starter
Transmission: Automatic, continuously variable
Final drive: Shaft
Front: Double A-arm IFS, 6 inches of travel
Rear: Rigid swing arm, 6 inches of travel
Front: Hydraulic disc
Rear: Hydraulic disc
Weight (lb.): 1,339
Ground clearance (in.): 6.4 (at differential)
Length (in.): 124.6
Width (in.): 57.8
Height (in.): 78.0
Wheelbase (in.): 82.7
Fuel capacity (gal.): 6.5
Total vehicle capacity (lb.): 1,200
Bed load capacity (lb.): 800 (1,050 with high capacity option)
Towing capacity (lb.): 1,100