Cub Cadet Side by Sides: Are They Good Quality?

The Cub Cadet side by sides are good quality, they offer a variety of accessories included with their UTVs such as a winch, full doors, roof, front and back windshields, and a full bumper.

Quality is one of the biggest things consumers look at when buying an item, so in this blog, we will discuss the quality of Cub Cadet side by sides.

Everyone has a different opinion as to what they personally like or want in a side by side and what they believe good quality is.

Some people put affordability over durability, others like something that is more luxurious and comfortable. So finding the right UTV for your specific wants and needs is important.

The cub cadet side by side known as the Challenger is a great all around UTV and in reality is a perfect starting UTV for anyone who is just breaking the ice in the UTV world.

The Challenger is a great UTV and further down we have some specifications that show just how good Cub Cadet’s quality actually is.

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Specifications on the Cub Cadet Side by Side (Challenger):

This chart below shows many of the specifications of Cub Cadets 2017 side by side, the Challenger. We will discuss more later on in this article about some of the other specifics of the Cub Cadet Challenger, but it is always nice to have a spec sheet to show just how much power this machine has packed away.

Spec Chart:2017 Cub Cadet 750 And 550
Engine Type:735cc/546cc liquid-­‐cooled OHC 4-stroke
Fuel system:Fuel Injection
Clutch/Trans:CVT w/ high, low, neutral, park and reverse
Drive system:4WD with Difflock and Turf mode
Suspension (Type/Travel)
Front:Double Wishbone; 9.0”
Rear:Double Wishbone; 8.1”
Front:Hydraulic disc
Rear:Hydraulic disc
Turning Radius:11.3’
Claimed curb weight:1648 lbs.
Ground clearance:12″
Length/width/height:118″x 61.4” x 79.7”
Fuel capacity:7.6 gal
Load Capacity
Cargo capacity:500 lbs.
Towing capacity:1200 lbs.
Colors:Black, Camo

Cub Cadet as a company has been around since 1961 and have been making UTVs for the past 10 years, not to mention that Cub Cadet also makes all of their vehicles in the United States. So if you are a consumer that loves the United States and likes those “in house” products this model is just right.

This Challenger model, in particular, has a chassis similar to a slightly older UTV the Yamaha Rhino which was a very popular and trusted UTV model of Yamaha’s. It has been said to be very similar to the Yamaha Rhino in general, but has the added features that consumers wished would have been put into the Rhino.

Other aspects of the challenger include dual sway bars to help keep the vehicle sure-footed and while there is no power steering included in 2017, it is offered as an $800 option on both models. In the 2018 model, it comes standard.

Protection wise the Challenger has skid plates underneath that will help protect the undercarriage from debris, a full cab with front and rear windows, and the poly molded features are well fitted and durable.

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The Challenger really is a great vehicle of good and lasting quality when used as it should be. If you are looking for an affordable side by side for doing chores around the ranch, this really is a good fit. It’s certainly in the running as a top-notch UTV with the Honda Pioneer 700, Kymco 700, Polaris Ranger 570 and Can-Am Defenders.

Related Reading: Massimo Side-by-Side: Are They Good Quality?

Pros of the Cub Cadet Challenger

  • Affordability
  • Accessories
  • Power Steering
  • Differential Lock & Width
  • Included Tool Kit
  • Solid Stability


One of the biggest pros of this side by side is that it is so affordable as far as side by sides goes. One of the biggest competitors to Cub Cadet and specifically in the UTV field is Polaris.

Their competing side by side, in this case, is the Ranger XP 900. While this UTV does boast higher horsepower the price tag on its base model is $12,299. So for a buyer who is financially conscientious and just simply doesn’t want to spend so much money on a UTV, but still wants to get the job done, the Challenger is a great fit.


Cub Cadet really went above and beyond with including all the accessories that they did. Every Challenger comes with a roof, full doors, front and back windshields, a 3,500 lb wench, and a full bumper. It also includes side mirrors, aluminum rims, aggressive all-terrain tires, and over-fenders to help keep the machine from throwing up so much mud.

For the first time, buyers that might seem like things you would think should come standard, who doesn’t want doors? However similar accessories for the competing Polaris could run you an extra $16,000.

Power Steering

Power steering is a huge aspect to any vehicle that a person drives, especially if you don’t want to feel like you’re still living in the 1950s. While the 2017 model listed above does not come standard with the Challenger, it most certainly does for the 2018 model. That in and of itself really puts the Cub Cadet Challenger above some of its competitors, primarily the Polaris Ranger.

Differential Lock & Width

The differential lock on these Challengers is really what gives it a leg up from the competition. Although the differential lock can stiffen up the steering quite a bit, it really helps to get over almost any obstacle.

Users have even found that with that added aspect of the differential lock and the fact that the Challenger is a bit slimmer in width than some of the Polaris’s and Yamaha’s, that they can get into more places than the others.

Included Tool Kit

While this isn’t something that is overly amazing that Cub Cadet did with their challenger, I feel that it is worth mentioning. The Challenger comes equipped with a full tool kit that will allow you to make adjustments to your shocks and other things on the machine and was surprisingly well stocked compared to other manufacturers who may have been a bit stingy in adding certain tools to help with light maintenance to the vehicle.

Solid Stability

In many of the reviews done, primarily the one performed by “UTV Driver,” they found that there was no jiggling of parts or anything to be particularly worried about in the Cub Cadet Challenger. They really didn’t foresee any heavy maintenance needing to be done on these machines.

Cons of the Cub Cadet Challenger

  • Horsepower
  • Carrying Capacity
  • Steering (w/o Power-Steering)


Perhaps the most noticeable con of the Cub Cadet Challenger is its power. This can be a really big turn off to a lot of people who are looking for a mean machine with horses under the hood. The Challenger only has about 37.5 horsepower and tops out at 45 miles per hour, while it’s lead competitor boasts 68 horsepower and can get up to 60 miles per hour.

Keep in mind however that these machines aren’t sports machines. They are usually meant for doing work around ranches and farms not so much racing, so you don’t really need to go faster than 50 miles per hour in them. Not to mention that most owners have stated that they really have no problem keeping up with the more powerful models.

Carrying Capacity

The carrying capacity of the challenger leaves a little bit to be expected as well. As the specification sheet said it can only carry 500 pounds in the bed and can only tow about 1200 lbs.

Now this really isn’t anything to scoff at, 1200 lbs towing and 500 pounds bed weight is actually very good. However, if you are looking for a “heavy duty” machine there are other UTVs that offer a larger carry and towing weight.

Steering (w/o Power-Steering)

For those who choose to go with an earlier model such as the 2017 Challenger without the power steering option, the steering will be a bit tricky. UTVs are known to have that option between power steering or not and most people get by without.

However, it has been noticeable harder in those tight turns when one is trying to go a bit slower around things. When driving in two-wheel drive the Challenger showed no big issues, however, once put into lock and four-wheel drive, the steering becomes a bit heavier but not so much that you would feel out of place driving the machine.

Related Reading: Honda Side-by-Sides: How do they compare with Polaris?

Other UTV Brands Worth Considering

When it comes to UTV manufacturers, Cub Cadet is one of many. Polaris is likely the most common and praised side-by-side brand, but their price shows this. Below, we’ll introduce you to several noteworthy brands in the UTV market that will save you a little money compared to Polaris.

Honda UTV:

Honda has recently made significant strides in the side-by-side industry with its 2023 lineup. The Honda Pioneer, priced between $11,899 and $16,999 depending on the model, is a mid-range utility UTV designed for trail maneuverability with its narrow 50-inch width.

  • Transmission: It offers both automatic (AT) and manual (MT) modes through paddle shifters.
  • Performance: Equipped with a 475cc, liquid-cooled engine featuring electronic fuel injection, this UTV excels in handling various conditions and can tow up to 1,000 pounds.
  • Suspension/Drivetrain: The TRAXLOK system provides 2WD or 4WD traction, while the suspension offers 5.9 inches of travel for both front and rear wheels. Ground clearance stands at 8.5 inches, though overall suspension travel may be somewhat limited.

While the Honda Pioneer boasts transmission versatility, it does have some limitations in terms of ground clearance and suspension travel. For a detailed comparison with Polaris, click here.

CFMoto Side-by-Sides:

CFMoto, a Chinese manufacturer, defies stereotypes associated with products from China. They have built a reputation for producing robust and competitive UTVs that rival top North American brands.

One area where CFMoto shines is their engines. Despite their lower price point, the 2019 UForce 1000 features a V-Twin cylinder, 4-stroke engine, competing favorably with models like the Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000. With 79 horsepower, it offers impressive performance and a higher displacement than the Can-Am Defender XT.

For more information on CFMoto UTVs, click the link.

Can-Am UTVs:

Can-Am, a division of Canadian company BRP, is a well-known brand in the UTV and ATV industry. They offer a wide range of UTVs, including models for work, sport, and recreation. Some popular series include the Can-Am Defender, Can-Am Maverick, and Can-Am Commander, along with youth-oriented models like the Can-Am DS and Can-Am Outlander for ATVs.

Can-Am UTVs are acclaimed for their performance capabilities, featuring powerful engines, advanced suspension systems, and innovative technology. They excel in comfort, design, and customization, offering a tailored experience for a diverse range of customers. Can-Am is also known for pioneering industry-first features.

To compare Can-Am with Polaris, click here.

Massimo UTV:

Founded in Texas in 2009, Massimo manufactures UTVs in various series, including T-BOSS, Warrior, MSU, and Buck. Here’s a quick overview:

  • T-BOSS Series: Offers nine models starting at $8,999.99, combining premium features without excessive pricing.
  • Warrior Series: Features five models starting at $15,299, including advanced features like a 4,500-pound winch and hydraulic/electric dump bed.
  • MSU Series: Offers two models: 2021 MSU 800 at $12,999.99 and 2021 MSU 800-5 at $15,999.99.
  • Buck Series: Includes four models starting at $6,699.99, such as the 2021 Buck 250 at $6,699.99.

Quality and customer service experiences may vary, so carefully consider your needs and budget before making a purchase. To learn more about Massimo UTVs, click the link.

Bobcat Side-by-Sides:

Bobcat’s side-by-sides are renowned for their ruggedness and high-quality construction, making them ideal for demanding terrain and work environments. These UTVs come equipped with a range of accessories that enhance their utility, whether you’re handling tasks like plowing, landscaping, or pallet lifting. While they may not be the fastest options, Bobcat side-by-sides offer substantial power, impressive carrying capacity, and towing capabilities.

For further insights into the Bobcat brand, click here.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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