Cat’s new 800 DSI mill comes wrapped in new clothes for MY 18 and the XF Cross Country might be the slickest looking of all the new ProCross models.
The big news for those familiar with the AC oil injection tank filling ritual is this: It’s fixed. Now you can access all the important stuff under the hood in just seconds. Fit of the side panels and top cowl is automotive-tight and that’s big progress.
Arctic Cat has answered the call for improved instrumentation. The gauge cluster is now identical to the 600 DSI’s instrumentation and this cutting edge digi-gauge allows you to select where you want info to appear besides including all the stuff you demand info on.
The missed opportunity here is the inability to toggle info with a left side switchgear button similar to what the Polaris and Ski-Doo offer.
So, there’s definitely solid improvement as a result of its potent new mill and svelte skin.
What else has Arctic brought to the table to give this ride extra appeal in the hottest segment in the sport? How about a coupled Slide-Action skidframe with a 137 x 1.75 Backcountry X sneaker wrapped around it?
This is the familiar Cat set-up we’ve rated highly the past three seasons. The Slide Action front arm capably looks after trail jigglers while full rear-to-front coupling handles big hits.
Most important is the Cross Country’s use of Fox Zero QS-3, 3-position shocks – arguably the best dampers in the sport at this writing.
With QS-3s you get three substantially different settings: Soft, medium or firm. In our opinion, over 95-percent of riders will find the perfect setting in these three, easy-to-select clicks.
Start your ride on full soft then twist the clicker incrementally while you tweak rear torsion spring preload. If you end up in firm you’ve either been too liberal with the cheeseburgers or your last name sounds like “Hibbert”.
ProCross handling is very familiar after six full years in the industry. This means 6-inch single rod carbides are necessary to generate strong initial turn-in and maintain a solid line through the center of turns. Ditch the standard anti-darting dual, staggered factory runners.
Cornering posture is mostly level however you can generate inside ski-lift when required to counter loose snow mid-turn.
The new DSI’s throttle response tangibly improves the Cross Country’s handling by transitioning smoothly from off-throttle to on-throttle in the tight, twisty trails we all love.
The 1.75 lugger, with the new DSI 800’s abundant torque, produces serious bite on loose trail surfaces or in deep boondocking powder. You can argue the competition’s longer rails are superior in deep fluff and maybe you would be right under certain conditions, however, one pull down your fave trail and you’ll agree, this XF’s handling and trail manners are at the top of this class.
Our final thoughts on the XF 8000 Cross Country 137 are as follows: While this motor rings the bell and is a big step up from the former Suzuki 800 twin, the opportunity to equal or one up Ski-Doo with an 850cc mill has been lost.
Certainly the new 800 will please buyers in this segment but the writing is on the wall. The 800-class will go to 850 in the next few years.