If "Cushman" brings to mind the two-speed Eagle scooter of the 1960s, or the three-wheel traffic hazard the Postal Service once used, you need to take a second look at the company's new 1600XD Hauler as a recent entry in the crowded utility vehicle market.
We've had a Patriot Blue (almost black until you look closely) at our place for the last month and have found it to be a formidable competitor to the more traditional brands of side-by-sides we've driven.
This nearly street-legal machine (you can order it to comply with traffic codes) came with a windshield, turn signals, high-and low beams, brake and taillights, a horn and windshield wiper. Our particular test vehicle also had a cab with front-opening doors to accommodate the ample bench seat inside. While the cab would be an excellent addition where rough winters are routine, we thought it was pretty hot in June/July in Oklahoma, particularly with windows that only slide open about 5 inches. We'd probably opt out of the cab here, but could see its value in many other parts of the country. The cab also holds in a lot of the engine noise, which wouldn't be a problem in a cabless model.
Powering the 1600XD is a 1007 cc., three-cylinder, Daedong diesel engine that lights right up and idles well until you ask it to pull or push -- and then it's ALL THERE! Running torque through a two-range CVT transmission, this package is stout! When you add in selectable 4WD and a locking rear differential and limited-slip ratios up front, it's hard to imagine what you'd have to get into that would stick the Hauler. We didn't challenge the off-road capabilities of this Cushman during our tests, but I wouldn't be hesitant to take it mountaineering on any OHV trail I've seen in the Rockies. You could go a long way, too, on the 7.4 gallon diesel fuel tank located amidships.
The interior is roomy, the seat is comfortable and the instrument cluster will tell you everything you need to know about speed and engine conditions. Control levers are handy on the dashboard, and there's a very sizeable glove box where you'd expect it. A full ROPS structure surrounds the passengers, and the Hauler features three-point seat belts for the driver and "shotgun" passengers. The only complaint I had with the interior was the parking brake lever at the driver's left thigh -- when it's pulled upward to set (as you're supposed to do when exiting the vehicle) it is squarely in the way of an easy slide out of the door. A foot-pedal parking brake would make more sense in this machine.
Up-front, the tough resin hood opens to expose all the electronics, the four-wheel disc brake system's master cylinder and the radiator to cool the 22 horsepower diesel. In back, the 14.4 cubic-foot cargo box features an easy-open set of latches on the back and a gas-assist strut to dump bulk cargo. An optional hydraulic actuator would be a good investment, because the box will hold more (1,100 pounds) than you might want to help the gas strut lift.
We liked the feel of the 1,830-pound machine (probably more with the cab) and appreciated Cushman's attention to off-road details, like brush guards on the front half-shafts to protect the CV joints; easy-to-access service points, the ability to install a hydraulic system for PTO work, and a 690 CCA 12 VDC .to preheat the cylinders and turn the engine in super cold weather.
Options include heat and defroster, a variety of light packages, the auxiliary hydraulic system, a remote dumping system, turf or mud tires, a bed extension kit, falling object protection, a soft enclosure cab and a host of other amenities.
The Hauler is built by Daedong and assembled in Augusta, Ga., by Cushman. Its MSRP base price is $11,500.
I think it's a worthy competitor to any of the other utility vehicles you read about in the ag media, and holds up well to the reputation the old two-wheel Eagles and Super Eagles carved out on delivery routes and in the hearts of millions 50 years ago.
For more information, visit www.cushman.com.