A Golf Cart No More!

New Club Car well suited for getting around the farm.

What once was a name relegated to fairways and club houses, should become a more familiar sight on farms and ranches in the form of the new Club Car XRT 1550.

We tested a bright red XRT1550 this summer, and found it to be a very handy, powerful, capable workhorse. Ours came with the IntelliTach hydraulic system which gives the operator the ability to quickly and easily mount a bucket, a pallet fork, a push broom, a blade and a mower with a 60-inch deck. We chose the bucket for our testing purposes. IntelliTach may ring a bell with folks who remember similar things from Bob Cat skid loaders. Until recently, Bob Cat was owned by Ingersoll Rand, the makers of Club Car, so the engineering lineage is identical. You'll also find litter mates to the XRT1550 in the contemporary Husqvarna and Bob Cat product line. They're all made on the same assembly line in Augusta, Ga.

The new XRT1550 is a side-by-side utility vehicle with an aluminum frame, automatic all-wheel (IntelliTrak) drive, driven by either Kawasaki's 675 cc two-cylinder 23 horsepower gasoline engine, or Kubota's 719 cc 20 hp. three-cylinder diesel engine. The transmission is an automatic low-high box controlled by a dash-mounted F-N-R lever. Four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes and a foot operated parking brake feel very "automotive." Independent A-arm coil-spring front suspension and rear swing-arm with coil-over-shock design give the XRT excellent clearance and rough-terrain ability. Rack and pinion steering is precise, but somewhat heavy at zero-speed.

The XRT is five feet wide, a little over six and a half feet tall, and weighs 1,559 lbs. in diesel configuration and 1,430 lbs. with the gasoline engine. Its electric-over hydraulic system will dump 800 lbs. from the cargo bed (with 1,050 lb. version available as an option.) The front bucket, if so-equipped, will lift 500 lbs. with the same electric-hydraulic system, and requires no extra weight for counterbalance. The vehicle's total capacity is 1,600 lbs. to account for passengers and front and back loads.

While the XRT is not a skid loader, my wife and I logged 12 engine hours using it to distribute the 8-9 truckloads of wood chips we'd arranged for some erosion control. The console-mounted joystick controls the up and down of the front hydraulic system, as well as the "wrist action" of the bucket.

Remember, we said the hydraulic system is electrically-operated -- which means you can dump the cargo bed or operate the front arms without the engine running. That's handy. It also means you have to take precautions with the electrical system! In one extended session where I was moving chips only a short distance from the "mountain of wood" I depleted the battery -- even with the engine running the entire time. That's when I realized the XRT is a good little loader, but not quite meant for professional duty moving commodities. (That's very forgivable since it's not billed as that kind of machine.) A 20 minute stint on the battery charger and we were back in business.

Two improvements I'd make to the machine include, more secure tie-down of rear brake lines and headlights on the ROPS. The current installation on the brake lines leaves room for brush a utility vehicle will encounter to catch the rear lines. The excellent front headlights on the XRT1550 do a great job, until you lift the front bucket, then you can't see anything but the rear of the bucket. So, higher-mounted lights would solve that problem.

CLUB CAR UTILITY: Hauler, loader, transporter all summarize the abilities of Club Car's XRT1550 aimed at

farms, ranches, and large suburban properties with things to move and loads to haul.

The diesel XRT was a fuel-sipper. Twelve hours of stop-and-go running time consumed less than half the vehicle's 10-gallon fuel capacity.

Creature comforts include a glove box, an in-dash open storage compartment, a cell-phone compartment, two fender storage compartments and a 13-position, adjustable driver's seat, and adjustable steering column. And, yes, there's a cupholder!

The XRT 1550 comes in two- and four-passenger models, with bench or bucket seats. You can get standard or full-size cargo beds, and in the Special Edition model three metallic paint color choices. MSRP for the XRT Series ranges from $9,899 to $14,799 (as we tested).

For more information on the XRT Series, visit www.clubcar.com.

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